Many women with PMS define their monthly nutrition needs in terms of their cravings for anything salty or chocolate. Although indulging in chocolate-dipped pretzels might seem like a fantasy-come-true, they won't improve your mood or reduce the bloat. There are many better options...
Research has shown that women with PMS have lower blood levels of calcium around their time of ovulation compared with women who don't have PMS symptoms. And when PMS sufferers take 1000 to 1200 milligrams of calcium supplements daily, their mood and bloating improves after just a few months. I consider calcium-rich foods an absolute must for women with PMS. Some of the best foods for calcium include low-fat and non-fat dairy foods, including yogurt (low-fat/nonfat), milk (skim, 1% reduced fat milk, and calcium-fortified soy milk), cheese (nonfat/low-fat), broccoli, white beans and kale.
Just as was found with calcium, women with PMS seem to have lower blood levels of magnesium compared with women who did not have PMS symptoms. In certain studies, women with PMS who ate ample magnesium-rich foods had better mood and less water retention than women who did not get enough magnesium (and really, doesn't less water retention sound good for everybody?) It is thought that magnesium might help regulate the activity of serotonin, the so-called feel-good neurotransmitter. Some of the best foods for magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, wild salmon, sunflower seeds, cashews, quinoa, potato (with skin), soybeans, beans (black, white, navy, lima, pinto, kidney), amaranth, peanuts, peanut butter, chick peas, brown rice, and whole grain bread.
Vitamin B6 is one of the necessary ingredients required by the body to manufacture dopamine, one of the mood neurotransmitters. Research into the effects of vitamin B6 on PMS have been mixed-some show that taking supplements reduces irritability, depression, and breast tenderness, while others don't find any effect at all. Still, I highly recommend eating vitamin B6-rich foods because they seem to have helped many of my clients with PMS. Some of the best foods for B6 include fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, garbanzo beans (chick peas), wild salmon, beef (extra lean), pork tenderloin, chicken breast, white potatoes (w/skin), oatmeal, banana, pistachio nuts (unsalted), and lentils
Other food fixes for PMS
-Avoid salt and salty foods. PMS causes bloating and water retention. Salt can cause bloating and water retention. Ergo, salt can make those problems of PMS worse.
-Avoid excessive alcohol. Premenstrually, alcohol can cause increased breast tenderness. Also, alcohol can lower blood sugar, which may make typical PMS mood symptoms worse. If you cannot totally avoid alcohol premenstrually, at least try not to drink to excess.
-Avoid caffeine. Some research suggests that the effects of caffeine are magnified premenstrually, leading to greater breast tenderness, more nervousness, and potentially more irritability. Instead of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soft drinks, try herbal teas and other decaffeinated beverages.
-Drink chamomile tea. Premenstrually, chamomile tea may be particularly helpful because it contains properties that relieve muscle spasms, and may therefore help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. In addition, chamomile seems to reduce tension that may lead to anxiety and irritability.
For meals plans, grocery lists, recipes and much more information on PMS, check out Joy's new book, Joy Bauer's Food Cures