The best foods to prevent & relieve PMS

The best foods to prevent & relieve PMS

After ovulation (mid-cycle), you may notice a shift in how you feel both physically and mentally. You may feel a little more irritable, moody, bloated, fatigued. Welcome to your luteal phase a.k.a. the week before your period when the dreaded premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms commonly arrive. Everyone experiences PMS differently and you can read more about PMS in more depth on our blog here. But 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 quality of your daily diet is either working for or against your hormonal health and contributing to the severity of symptoms.

So let’s look at some foods that help PMS…


Organic fruit & vegetables for PMS

 

A diet higher in vegetables and fruits have been linked with a lower risk of PMS (Hashim et al., 2019). 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, cauliflower and bok choy as these contain ‘glucosinolates’ which support the body’s natural detoxification system and prevent estrogen dominance (Kikuchi, 2015). You can roast up a tray of brussel sprouts and broccoli with some good quality extra virgin olive oil to have as a side with meals, steam some bok choy into an Asian inspired soup or pulse cauliflower into lower-carb ‘rice’.

Good quality protein

 

A diet higher in vegetables and fruits have been linked with a lower risk of PMS (Hashim et al., 2019). 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, cauliflower and bok choy as these contain ‘glucosinolates’ which support the body’s natural detoxification system and prevent estrogen dominance (Kikuchi, 2015). You can roast up a tray of brussel sprouts and broccoli with some good quality extra virgin olive oil to have as a side with meals, steam some bok choy into an Asian inspired soup or pulse cauliflower into lower-carb ‘rice’.


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). Coldwater 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) (Behmanesh, Zafari & Mohammadi, 2012). How’s that for food as medicine?


Consume Zinc-rich foods for helping 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 supplemented 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.

Cinnamon has blood glucose-lowering effects which help to improve insulin resistance and protects the liver, our main detoxification organ (Jiang, 2019). Studies have shown that sprinkling a teaspoon 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 anti-inflammatory, pain-fighting herb and it’s been even shown to be just as effective to reduce PMS symptoms as pharmaceutical pain killers! 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 we’re all for taking an 80/20 approach to eating a healthy diet, we also know it’s incredibly tempting to fall face-first into a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts Homer Simpson style during our periods. But being conscious of eating a mostly whole food diet during this phase of your menstrual cycle can help significantly reduce PMS symptoms such as menstrual cramps, mood swings and fatigue. We recommend reducing your intake of packaged foods, refined sugars, caffeine, saturated and trans fats as these have been shown to worsen inflammation and PMS.


1. Sugar


Sugar cravings are one of the most common PMS symptoms and in our luteal phase we’ll easily convince ourselves having a tub of ice cream for dinner is completely reasonable (we’ve all been there). However, consuming excess sugar can worsen our acne, mood swings and even contribute to vaginal thrush. If you’re a big dessert person after dinner, try our Luna’s Lover adaptogenic elixir which tastes like a heavenly hot chocolate drink.


2. Saturated and trans fats


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 (Gold, Wells & Rasor, 2016). 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! Inflammation is the root cause of period pain and PMS so the more you can reduce it, the better.


3. Coffee


Coffee can worsen anxiety in susceptible individuals, deplete our nutrient stores and make our periods more painful. If the thought of cutting out coffee makes you run a mile, we recommend cutting it out after 12 pm and instead of replacing it with other non-caffeinated beverages such as our Luna’s beets adaptogenic elixir or Luna’s gold adaptogenic elixir. Or at least try to limit your intake in the week before and during your period to help prevent exacerbating PMS symptoms.


4. Alcohol


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.


Conclusion


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!

We’ve also created a Moonbox specifically for PMS to help you combat monthly period symptoms once and for all! This box is intended to help you feel energised, pain-free, and vibrant every day of the month (regardless of if it’s coming into that dreaded PMS phase!). You can find the box and what’s included inside it here.

Finally, we’ve provided you with an example day of how to eat on your period, it incorporates all our dietary tips! Note, this is just one day so please use it as a guide only. For a more indepth hormone healing protocol with weekly meal plans, shopping lists, recipes and supplement guides to eliminate symptoms check out our Healthy Hormones Ebook Bundle here.