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Anti-PMS Diet: 10 Best Tips for Controlling PMS

10 Diet Tips for Controlling PMS

Discover how by revamping your diet plan you can prevent and control those pesky PMS symptoms. From eating more foods that contain vitamin B6 and magnesium to avoiding alcohol and sugar, there are numerous diet tips that can help you control PMS. Here's our pick of the 10 best tips for women who want to get started on an anti-PMS diet.

Note: The information provided below does not constitute a substitute for professional medical advice.

#1:  Include Foods High in Vitamin B6 in Your Diet

Some studies suggest that vitamin B6 may help relieve certain PMS symptoms, including breast tenderness, depression, and anxiety. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which may be involved in physical and emotional well-being. It also promotes the absorption of zinc and magnesium which are an integral part of the anti-PMS diet. Good sources of vitamin B6 include chickpeas, lentils, wild salmon, lean beef, chicken breast, oatmeal, and bananas.

#2:  Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

Cut out alcohol prior to your period — alcohol can lower blood sugar, which may increase irritability. Furthermore, alcohol depletes the body of vitamin B6 which has been shown to reduce PMS symptoms in some women.

Caffeine is known to increase mood swings, so cutting back on caffeine containing beverages prior to your period may be advisable. Caffeine has also been linked to premenstrual breast tenderness and swelling. Replace coffee and tea by decaffeinated coffee or herbal infusions. Chamomile tea is a particularly viable substitute for coffee as it has the additional benefit of reducing irritability and anxiety.

Foods rich in fiber and low in fat can improve hormonal balance.

#3:  Follow a High-Fiber, Low-Fat Diet

Yet another good diet tip for controlling PMS symptoms is to follow a high-fiber diet. Foods that are high in fiber enhance estrogen excretion and may thus help improve hormonal balance and relieve PMS symptoms. In order to allow the fiber to work properly, it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. A diet low in fat (especially in saturated fat) has also been shown to reduce estrogen levels and many PMS symptoms, such as emotional changes and bloating.

#4:  Choose Low-GI Foods

Carbs that have a high Glycemic Index (GI) rating are quickly broken down by the body and can thus cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels, which can worsen PMS symptoms such as mood swings and cravings. In contrast, low-GI carbs take much longer to digest, providing the body with a slow, steady supply of energy. In addition to choosing low-GI foods, you can decrease the GI load of your meal by combining some protein with the carbohydrate.

Magnesium, abundant in spinach, helps control mood changes and bloating.

#5:  Consume Magnesium-Rich Foods

Women with PMS have been shown to have lower blood levels of magnesium than women who do not have PMS symptoms. Some studies have shown magnesium to be effective at controlling premenstrual symptoms related to mood changes. Other studies suggest that magnesium might bring relief of bloating associated with PMS. Mild deficiencies of magnesium are fairly common in Western countries, where consumption of processed foods is common, as processing significantly decrease the magnesium content of foods. Also intensive farming, practiced in many Western countries, depletes the soil of magnesium, thereby reducing the magnesium content of the plants growing in the soil.

#6:  Cut Back on Sugar

In addition to causing intense fluctuations in blood glucose levels, sugar may also contribute to PMS due to its ability to increase the urinary excretion of magnesium. According to one study, women with PMS consume three times as much sugar as women who do not report symptoms of PMS.

#7:  Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc supplementation a few days prior to the onset of menses has been shown to prevent premenstrual pain and bloating. These effects were achieved when zinc was administered to the test subjects in very high doses (30-mg doses, 1 to 3 times per day, 1 to 4 days prior to the onset of menses). These mega doses were far beyond the United States RDA for zinc, but the researchers who conducted the study believe that large doses of zinc for a few days a month are safe and unlikely to cause disturbances in copper metabolism (a copper deficiency is one of the first signs of an excessive zinc intake). Zinc, which requires vitamin B6 for proper absorption in the intestines, is found in a variety of foods, the richest dietary sources being oysters, red meat, and poultry.

Green leafy vegetables deliver calcium which can alleviate PMS symptoms.

#8:  Ensure Sufficient Intake of Calcium and Vitamin D

Research has shown that women with a high intake of calcium and vitamin D report fewer and less severe PMS symptoms than women with lower intake of these nutrients. One study showed that women who regularly consume milk, which is a good source of both calcium and vitamin D, are at a lower risk of suffering from PMS than women who drink milk only occasionally. Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk were shown to be more effective than whole milk which contains more saturated fat. However, if you are sensitive to dairy products, milk may aggravate your PMS symptoms (in that case, choose other sources of calcium such as green leafy vegetables).

#9:  Cut Back on Salt

Reducing the amount of salt (sodium) in diet can help reduce water retention and bloating. If you feel the food is lacking flavor, try using spices and herbs instead of excessive amounts of salt. Be also aware of the "hidden" salt that is present in many packaged and processed foods, such as commercial cereals, canned vegetables, and frozen meals.

#10:  Eat Small Meals but Frequently

Try eating five to six small meals a day instead of a few large meals. This will provide your body with a more steady supply of energy, preventing rapid falls and rises in blood sugar levels.

More on PMS & Nutrition:

For further information on the nutritional approach to warding off PMS symptoms, see: