It’s that time of the month… Again…

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is the most common menstrual problem and the related symptoms range from food cravings and constipation, to abdominal cramps and breast tenderness. PMS normally recur during the luteal phase of menstruation and will significantly diminish or disappear by the end of the period.

The exact causes of PMS remain unknown but a few possible reasons include:

  • Changes in hormones
  • Fluctuations of mood-controlling brain chemical
  • Depression

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How to improve the symptoms of PMS?

Try to eat a balance diet in order to improve PMS. Pick carbohydrate-rich foods such as wholemeal bread and whole grains that enhance the production of serotonin which regulates mood. On the contrary, caffeinated drinks, fats and refined foods are found to be exacerbating the symptoms of PMS and therefore should be avoided before and during menstruation.

Fish oil and Evening Primrose oil (EPO), when taken in the right combination can help to relieve breast pain and other symptoms such as mood swing and depression. EPO contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which blocks the inflammatory prostaglandins that are responsible for the abdominal cramps and breast tenderness.

Eat plenty of legumes, fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables and dried fruits to prevent excessive iron loss during menstruation. Eating vitamin C rich foods boost up the absorption of iron.

It is perfectly fine to indulge in a small piece of cake once occasionally, but consuming excess sugar can worsen the condition of PMS and disrupt normal blood glucose level. Fibre rich snacks including raisins, fresh fruits or whole grain crackers are good choices to curb your cravings and help the constipation problem.

References:

  1. Berkoff, F. and Schwarcz, J. (2013) Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal, United States of America: The Reader’s Digest Association.
  2. Mayo Clinic (2014) Diseases and Conditions: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20020003
  3. National Health Services (2015) Premenstrual Syndrome,
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Premenstrual-syndrome/Pages/introduction.aspx