Every woman has her own unique body signs that tell her when ‘aunt flo’ is about to visit every month. Bloating, headaches, mood swings and cramps can really dampen your spirits right before the periods start.
These symptoms affect different women differently, and if they have a negative impact on some aspect of your life, then it is termed as PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. PMS is a condition that may affect a woman’s emotional and physical health, as well as behavior.
Various over-the-counter pain medications are useful for treating the headaches and cramps, but there is another tool that you can use to fight off the wrath of the PMS-a healthy diet. It doesn’t matter whether you suffer a lot or very little. A healthy diet can help to reduce some symptoms of PMS, improve your energy levels, and keep you in an overall good shape.
So, before the next cycle of the mood-spoilers sets in, grab these PMS-friendly foods-
- Low fat yogurt
Yogurt is a great option for a quick snack or even as a meal accompaniment. It is a great source of calcium, which is an essential mineral for women with PMS. According to a study, it has been observed that women who consumed around 1,200 mg of calcium daily, were 30% less likely to develop PMS than women who ate around 530 mg daily. 1 cup of low fat or non-fat yogurt provides around 400 mg of calcium.
Other calcium-rich foods include low fat milk, paneer, ragi (nachni).
- Fatty fish like Salmon
Salmon, also known as rawas in India, is an excellent source of vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for proper calcium absorption. Research indicates that consuming at least 100 IU of vitamin D caused fewer symptoms in women with PMS.
Other vitamin D-rich foods include sardines, fortified milk or yogurt.
Chickpeas are a great source of vitamin B6. Some studies claim that vitamin B6 can help to reduce breast tenderness, irritability and depression, however, the results are inconclusive. Still, adding vitamin B6 to the diet will not be harmful. Chickpeas can be incorporated into a variety of recipes, which are healthy and delicious. However, do not go overboard with chickpeas, since it can cause flatulence or other GI issues.
Other vitamin B6 rich foods are eggs, chicken, lentils, whole cereals like wheat, brown rice.
Pineapple is a great source of manganese, which along with calcium, has shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS such as depression, mood swings and irritability. More research is needed to verify whether manganese really has a positive effect, but, it is still a good idea to include manganese in the diet.
Other manganese-rich foods include wheat germ, peanuts, quinoa, brown rice.
- Chamomile tea
A cup of hot chamomile tea will help to soothe those cramping muscles, since chamomile is effective in reducing muscle spasms and also irritability and anxiety.
- Pumpkin seeds
Women who suffer from PMS are often found to be low on zinc. Zinc is essential for the optimum functioning of the sex hormones. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, and are quite versatile. You can add them to a nuts mix, salads, hot cereals or on your yogurt.
Other zinc-rich foods are sesame, hemp or flax seeds, whole grains, milk and milk products.
Bananas are a great source of vitamin B6 and potassium, which can help to reduce water retention and bloating. Potassium also helps to prevent muscle cramps.
Other sources of potassium include oranges, lemons, cooked broccoli, sweet potatoes.
- Green leafy veggies
Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimum mental health. A study reports that consumption of magnesium supplements by women suffering from PMS helps them to be in a better mood, than those that do not consume these supplements. Dietary sources of magnesium are also quite beneficial in enhancing the mood. Leafy greens are a great source of this mineral, along with vitamin B6, calcium and iron.
Other sources of magnesium are cashews, quinoa, sweet potatoes, millet.
Ginger is a great antidote for an upset stomach, which may be caused due to PMS in some women. Ginger helps in digestion and has various immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Indian cooking does involve good amount of ginger, but if you don’t consume enough, you can just add it to hot water and sip it.
- Dark chocolate
A bar of good pure chocolate, containing at least 70% cacao, contains a good amount of magnesium to help soothe your headaches and cramps. It also contains anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Plus, a piece of good chocolate never fails to lift your mood!
To conclude, the best diet is the one that you find helpful. Note the foods that help to reduce the symptoms, as well as those that don’t. Modify your meals during those days of the month accordingly. It’s okay to have different requirements during different weeks of the month!
About the author-Siddhi Takalkar is a nutritionist and lifestyle consultant in Pune. She is also the founder of NutriWorks and is a Registered Dietitian in Pune with a Masters degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has a vast experience in advising diets for various age groups as well as medical conditions. She is one of the best women health consultants in Pune. A young dietitian in Pune, she knows how to make your diet healthy, as well as tasty!