3 in 4 women say that they experience some form of PMS symptoms.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is widely accepted as a medical reality, the symptoms of which are numerous including; headaches, mood swings, tearfulness, bloating, breast tenderness, acne, fatigue and cramping. In addition to these physical symptoms, PMS is linked to negative moods including depression/sadness, anxiety and irritability.
Well, what if we told you that there are a plethora of things that you can do to minimise your monthly symptoms that don't involve medication!
What causes PMS?
Simply put, PMS is due to the fluctuations in your hormones in the week (or two) leading up to your period.
For females, oestrogen and progesterone are the two predominant hormones that fluctuate over the course of the menstrual cycle and ultimately determine why you feel completely different on day 4 of your cycle compared to day 14!
Fluctuations in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter, which is also referred to as your ‘happy hormone’) is also thought to play a role in triggering PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
Research has also shown that various other factors such as high refined carbohydrates, fat, lack of calcium, vitamins and minerals, psychological factors (stress, depression, and anxiety), genetics, and lifestyle (alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, and eating habits) in addition to oxidative stress and inflammation are related with the incidence of PMS.
Top 5 PMS Symptoms Experienced by Women:
- Mood swings / irritability
- Tiredness / trouble sleeping
- Breast tenderness
- Oily skin / breakouts
These are our Nutritionists top things you can do to reduce PMS:
Eat lots of colourful fruit and veg
Fresh produce is packed with anti inflammatories and phytonutrients. Research suggests that oxidative stress and inflammatory response are also involved in PMS. The phytonutrients and antioxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables help to mop up the free-radicals produced in the body and reduce inflammation.
Increase Fibre Intake
The fibre also plays an important role in maintaining regular bowel movements which is very important for hormone balance. Make sure to include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts as they are particularly helpful in maintaining healthy oestrogen levels. Opt for whole grain carbs and add nuts & seeds to your diet to boost the overall fibre content!
Balance your blood sugars
Aim for 3 balanced meals per day, with 1 snack if you feel you need it. For each of your meals and snacks, try to ensure you have a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and some healthy fats. By ensuring our meals and snacks are balanced with all three macronutrients, we help our body maintain stable blood sugar levels. By eating balanced meals, you will control the release of a hormone called insulin. When insulin levels are managed it has a positive impact on cortisol and our female hormone levels which has a positive effect on PMS symptoms!
Move your body!
Exercise has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which has a positive impact on PMS symptoms.
Stop smoking and be mindful of alcohol intake
Smoking causes a huge amount of oxidative stress in the body which, as we have discussed, can significantly worsen PMS. Alcohol can also contribute to inflammation in the body and impair the absorption of nutrients from the diet .. leading to heightened PMS!
These are the BEST supplements for PMS
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant which can help soothe uterine contractions (cramps). Many of us do not get enough magnesium from the diet and it can also be depleted by stress. Magnesium is a miracle mineral for hormones as it calms the nervous system, it is often referred to as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ due to its soothing properties.
Supplement with Vitamin B6
Clinical trials show that vitamin B6 relieves overall premenstrual and depressive symptoms. This is a supplement works extremely well for clients, especially when taken in conjunction with magnesium! This Calmeze supplement contains both magnesium and vitamin B6 and it is definitely one ofour holy grail supplements for clients suffering with PMS.
Ensure you are eating enough omega 3 fats
Eat 2 portions of oily fish per week or take a good quality, high EPA omega-3 like Wiley’s Finest. Omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which can significantly reduce PMS symptoms given that many of them are driven by inflammation.
Consider trying a Chaste Berry Supplement
Chaste Berry/ Chaste Tree / Vitex/ Angus Castus (different names for the same herb) is a highly effective herbal supplement for reducing PMS symptoms. While the mechanism of action in the body is still not completely understood, it is believed to promote the production of progesterone in the body. Progesterone is a very calming hormone and when the body has enough of it, PMS symptoms will be greatly reduced. This supplement is not recommended while taking the contraceptive pill and you should check with your healthcare provider before taking it while on other medications as it can impact their effectiveness.
The most frequently asked PMS questions:
Why is PMS worse some months?
This can be due to a particularly stressful month or changes to your diet.
How can I relieve PMS naturally?
See above diet, lifestyle and supplement strategies!
What makes pms worse?
Things that can exacerbate pms symptoms include:
- Low-calorie diets,
- Low-fat diets,
- A diet that is high in pro-inflammatory foods such as too much refined carbohydrates or trans fats
- Illness e.g. Covid
Can you get PMS on the contraceptive pill?
While many women experience PMS-like symptoms while on hormonal birth control, due to the fact that you do not cycle your natural reproductive hormones while on the pill/patch/bar/implant etc. these are not usual PMS symptoms, they are actually side-effects of the contraceptive.