Do you feel more irritable, moody, bloated or fatigued before your period arrives?
These are common symptoms of PMS that over 85% of women experience every single month.
Here's the thing: these symptoms are not normal! They are signs of an underlying hormonal imbalances that needs to be addressed.
The best place to start is by addressing what's on the end of your fork!
In this blog, we’ll talk about how food plays an impactful role when it comes to treating and relieving your PMS symptoms naturally.
Food provides your body with the nutrients required to make and metabolise hormones, so the food you eat is either working for or against your hormonal health.
So let’s look at some foods that nourish hormones and help to prevent PMS and period pain..
Organic fruit & vegetables for PMS
A diet higher in vegetables and fruits have been linked with a lower risk of PMS!
Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed full of essential nutrients, fibre and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy reproductive system.
We recommend focusing on cruciferous vegetables like brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and bok choy as these contain ‘glucosinolates’ which support the body’s natural detoxification system and prevent estrogen dominance (Kikuchi, 2015).
Try adding a cup of steamed, sauté or oven-baked veggies to every meal!
Healthy Fats For Healthy Hormones
There’s strong research showing us that ‘good fats’ such as anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent and treat physical and mental symptoms of PMS (including moodiness, brain fog, breast tenderness and painful cramps).
Cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel and anchovies are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, whilst vegans and vegetarians can also obtain their omega-3 fatty acids through algae, nuts and seeds.
Earth Seeds are an easy and convenient way to ensure you’re adding a hormone-healthy boost of fats & fibre to any meal.
Omega-3 supplementation has shown to be even more effective than painkillers for treating painful periods via its ability to reduce prostaglandins (pain-producing chemicals). How’s that for food as medicine?
Consume Zinc-rich foods to Improve PMS
Zinc plays an important role in the brain and can have positive impacts on our cognition and mood.
In a 2017 study, women who were supplementing with zinc for 3 months noticed significant improvements in their PMS symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability.
Zinc is also highly beneficial for those suffering from hormonal acne, which is a common symptom of PCOS.
Add extra zinc into your diet by adding more pumpkin seeds, oysters, red meat, and legumes to your diet.
Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory spices to Relieve PMS
Spices have been used traditionally for their culinary and health-promoting purposes including treating PMS!
Our top 3 spices for treating PMS are cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger - all of which you'll find in our Luna's Gold Latte blend!
Cinnamon has blood glucose-lowering effects which help to improve insulin resistance, reducing PMS cravings and protects the liver, our main detoxification organ.
Studies have shown that sprinkling a teaspoon of cinnamon on top of smoothies, oatmeal and on fruit can help PMS symptoms such as sugar cravings, fatigue and heavy period bleeding.
Turmeric is one of the most well-known spices and rightly so! It has strong anti-inflammatory effects which help to lower prostaglandins and reduce painful periods. It also helps to improve unpleasant gut symptoms such as premenstrual stomach cramps and bloating. Make sure to consume certified organic turmeric that has a high percentage of the active compound curcumin which gives it its anti-inflammatory health benefits (like the one we use in Luna’s Gold Latte)
Finally, ginger is another INCREDIBLE anti-inflammatory, pain-fighting herb. Numerous studies have shown consuming 1/8 of a teaspoon of ginger the first 3-4 days of your period significantly reduces period pain and is as effective as ibuprofen and other NSAIDS. Ginger has also been found to help with nausea, bloating and reducing heavy menstrual bleeding.
We love these spices so much that we’ve included them all in our Luna’s Gold Adaptogenic Latte.
A diet higher in vegetables and fruits have been linked with a lower risk of PMS.
-Hashim et al., 2019
Foods that can make PMS and Period Cramps worse
Whilst I don't believe in restriction or crazy extreme diets, there are certain foods to be aware of that don't support hormonal balance nor help to prevent symptoms of PMS and cramps.
Let's go over what these are...
Sugar cravings are one of the most common PMS symptoms and in our luteal phase and we will easily convince ourselves having a tub of ice cream or block of chocolate for dinner is completely reasonable (we’ve all been there).
However, there is no avoiding that sugar messes with blood sugar levels and causes hormonal imbalances which can worsen symptoms of PMS, acne, mood swings, period pain, fatigue and even contribute to vaginal thrush.
Become aware how much sugar you're consuming throughout the entire month. Don't forget to check packaging labels, and be mindful that most restaurants add sugar to their food!
If you're a chocoholic like me - there are healthier alternatives to everything! Try our Luna’s Lover adaptogenic elixir which tastes like a heavenly hot chocolate drink!
2. Saturated Trans Fats
I've said this before - our hormones NEED fat for us to thrive. However thee are certain types of fats our hormones don't need.
Limit foods high in saturated fats such as pastries, processed meats, and fried foods. Saturated fats are highly inflammatory which worsens PMS symptoms and provide little to no nutrients for our body.
Read labels of packaged foods and avoid as best as you can anything that contains inflammatory oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, safflower and rapeseed oil! On top of this avoid cooking your food with these oils and opt for coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil instead!
Inflammation is the root cause of period pain and PMS so the more you can reduce it, the better! Eliminating consumption of these oil will make a huge difference.
I’ve got good and bad news for you..
Here’s the bad news first: Coffee is a period cramp offender & PMS exacerbator.
However - the good news is that: You don’t need to quit coffee forever! Woohoo!
The extremist days are over!
You can have happier periods & enjoy your coffee too.
However, you gotta do one thing:
Sync your coffee intake to your cycle.
This means that in certain phases of your cycle - you can give coffee the green light! Whilst in others, it’s best to find an alternative if you want to help keep that PMS away.
Now - coffee is unfortunately no friend to a premenstrual & menstruating gal.
It has the potential to worsen cramps, headaches, trigger anxiety, irritability, mood swings, interfere with sleep & overstimulate the digestive tract, worsening bloating and making period poops even more problematic. Nooooo thanks!
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) even recommends that those who struggle with PMS & cramps avoid coffee.
But, I’ve got a better option for you: Enjoy your coffee as usual but in the 7 days before your period & throughout your period experiment with reaching for a delicious coffee alternative!
Consciously keep track of your symptoms in a journal over a few months and see if it makes a difference for you.
But what do you do about that period fatigue?!
Caffeine isn’t the only natural substance that boosts energy.
Adaptogens are a class of herbs that help the body cope with stress, anxiety & fatigue. They’ve been used for thousands of years in cultures around the world to enhance energy, alertness, & concentration.
And because adaptogens really are that good - we’ve included them in our famous Luna’s Lattes which make for the most delicious cycle-friendly solution to period fatigue, PMS & cramps.
Luna's Matcha makes for our favourite coffee alternative, as you get a sustained boost in energy, without the spike in cortisol or coffee crash!
Alcohol makes PMS worse. Period.
Alcohol depletes essential nutrients for hormonal health (such as B vitamins), causes inflammation and burdens the liver.
A healthy liver is essential for balancing healthy hormones and happy periods. Just a few weeks off alcohol can improve our cognition, moods, sleep, body composition, skin, and weight management.
Our period and PMS symptoms reflect our overall health and are directly influenced by our lifestyle and how we eat, sleep, and move.
Shifting the way we eat can have profound impacts on how painful, regular, short, or heavy our periods are.
Try incorporating these dietary tips and you’ll be shocked at how much of an effect food can have on our hormonal health.
It is our mission at My Moonbox to empower you with the tools you need to take charge of your hormonal heath so that you can thrive!
If you want to end the cycle suffering from PMS & period pain and learn the essential nutritional and lifestyle strategies to balance hormones naturally, check out our life-changing course Master Your Cycle.
Then for additional daily hormone support try our 3 step daily routine for PMS-free cycles here.
Author & Clinical Nutritionist Judy Cho,