Nutrition for Relieving Premenstrual Syndrome

The discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome is normal. However, it's important to look for a solution, given that these symptoms are the result of an alteration in your body's functioning. Among the available solutions, nutrition is one way of relieving premenstrual syndrome.
Nutrition for Relieving Premenstrual Syndrome

Last update: 26 September, 2019

Premenstrual syndrome refers to a set of physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms that affect 80% of women. It’s also important to know that a more serious form is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This specific condition only affects between 1.3 and 5.3% of the population.

Premenstrual syndrome appears during the luteal phase, after ovulation. It tends to last until the second or third day of menstruation.

Are you tired of these symptoms getting in the way of your everyday life and of taking anti-inflammatory painkillers? Keep reading to discover how nutrition can be a way of relieving premenstrual syndrome.

The clinical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome involves one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Breast pain.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Weight gain.
  • Anxiety.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Tiredness.
  • Irritability and mood alterations.
  • Sadness.

Furthermore, these symptoms must appear in at least 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. With premenstrual dysphoric disorder, on the other hand, symptoms must appear for at least 5 consecutive cycles.

Nutrition for Relieving Premenstrual Syndrome

The causes of premenstrual syndrome

All of the symptoms have to do with fluctuations in a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels. This is a moment when women’s estrogen levels are low, and their progesterone levels reach their max.

As a result, they alter our neurotransmitter levels – including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, whose function is regulation mood. It also de-compensates arterial pressure by affecting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.

Nutrition focuses on providing the nutrients that reduce the symptoms that result from all of these processes. What’s more, these are nutrients that tend to decrease during this phase. Other risk factors include tobacco and stress.

Nutrition as a means of relieving premenstrual syndrome

Why is including omega-3 fundamental in relieving premenstrual syndrome?

Basically, because they’re anti-inflammatory and act in the brain to increase concentration. This is because the brain is mostly composed of fat. Omega-3 is key in reducing the severity and duration of depression, swelling, and anxiety .

Foods that are rich in this type of fat are blue fish (sardines, salmon, anchovies, and tuna), nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), and seeds. Primrose oil, which contains linoleic acid, is also known to be beneficial.

How to regulate your mood with vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a cofactor that intervenes in the synthesis of tryptophan – a precursor of serotonin and dopamine. Therefore, increasing them is fundamental, given that they suffer a notable decrease. 

Lower levels of these neurotransmitters make us more sensitive, causing us to become emotional more easily and to feel sadder.

You can find vitamin B6 in banana, oatmeal, pure cocoa, pineapple, salmon, eggs, and avocado.

Reducing muscle pain with magnesium as a way of relieving menstrual syndrome

Magnesium is one of the minerals whose levels in our blood decreases during this phase. In turn, this deficit causes aldosterone to increase, leading to the retention of liquids and, at the same time, decreased dopamine levels. 

What’s more, its main function is the communication between muscle fibers. Therefore, if we don’t have sufficient reserves, cramping occurs. You can obtain magnesium from seeds, legumes, millet, and quinoa.

The synergy between calcium and vitamin D

As we mentioned above, estrogen levels are low during this time. And what happens? PTH hormone levels increase, making calcium absorption difficult. If vitamin D levels also happen to be low, this makes the situation worse.

Therefore, it’s extremely important to consume foods like broccoli, kale, almonds, beans, yogurt, goat cheese, bluefish, and eggs. Also, don’t forget to take in at least 15 minutes of sun per day.

Nutrition for Relieving Premenstrual Syndrome

Foods that make premenstrual syndrome worse

As with any other ailment, there are certain foods that worsen the development and intensity of premenstrual syndrome. These include the following, especially:

  • Alcohol.
  • Coffee and energy drinks. The caffeine they contain reduces vitamin B6 reserves during this phase. Decaffeinated coffee and infusions are a good alternative.
  • Soft drinks.
  • Junk food, especially cookies.
  • Fast food (pizza, hamburgers, etc.).
  • Salty snacks.
  • Fried foods. 

Exercise is also therapeutic

Leaving nutrition aside, exercise has a relaxing, anaesthetic, anti-inflammatory affect. It also improves mood because it stimulates the production of endorphins.

Furthermore, exercise has positive effects on our physical health and metabolism. The following statement sums it up quite well:

“There is an agent that improves the lipid profile, is antihypertensive, positive inotrope, negative chronotrope, vasodilator, diuretic, anorectic, weight loss, laxative, tranquilizer, hypnotic and antidepressant. It’s called physical activity.”

–Dr. William C. Roberts–

To reap the maximum benefits of exercise, you should perform aerobic exercise at least three times a week. This can be walking, running or bike riding.

It’s also good to combine aerobics with strength exercise as well. Be sure to consult with a personal trainer who can indicate the right technique in order to avoid injury.

Now you know all you need to know about the therapeutic effects of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle in relieving premenstrual syndrome. Remember to take time to care for yourself and get the rest you need. 

It’s easy to forget that we need to take a break sometimes. Whether you believe it or not, your body suffers from nonstop activity – especially around the time of your period.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.