Five foods to eat for PMT relief
PMT (also known as premenstrual tension/syndrome) is something most women experience. When the ‘time of the month’ swings around, symptoms such as bloating, abdominal cramps, irritability and headaches can play havoc with a woman’s emotional and physical well-being.
While there are over-the-counter medicines offering relief from these troubling symptoms, one of the most effective ways to address PMT is through diet. We’re going to explore five foods that can help prevent PMT.
What are the best foods to reduce PMS?
PMT can feel like a bit of a minefield for some of us. Our stress levels can rise and our energy levels can hit rock bottom. Eating the right kind of foods can help the end of our menstrual cycles feel easier.
Vegetables, fruit and high-fibre foods
Changes in hormone levels are thought to be a primary cause of PMT, so a fibre-rich diet can be highly beneficial for those with severe symptoms. Fibre reduces the stress on your liver – the organ that metabolises hormones, including oestrogen. Once digested, fibre absorbs excess oestrogen and transports it out of the body.
The added benefit is that fibre balances blood sugar levels which can help to control mood swings and fatigue.
Essential fatty acids
Eating foods rich in essential fatty acids – such as walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon and beef – can make a big difference to PMT symptoms. Essential fatty acids help produce prostaglandins, a group of lipid compounds that reduce inflammation in the body and regulate hormones, in particular, reducing the effects of the hormone prolactin which is said to affect mood.
Foods rich in vitamin B6
Bananas, whole grains, eggs, beans and nuts are among the foods that contain vitamin B6. This vitamin is effective not only for pain relief, but can also help the liver to remove excess oestrogen. Research also shows a link between vitamin B6 and reduced depression and irritability. Nuts and whole grains are also high in magnesium; this calms the nervous system by balancing progesterone and reducing cortisol.
Research suggests women who eat a diet rich in calcium have a lower risk of developing PMT by as much as 40%, especially those with added vitamin D. Just an eight-ounce cup of natural yoghurt contains 25% of your daily recommended intake of calcium, which makes it a great snack option for tackling PMT symptoms.
Although it’s not technically a food, including chamomile tea in your diet could make a huge difference to your PMT symptoms. Chamomile tea contains antispasmodic properties that can help to ease the severity of menstrual cramps and muscle spasms. It’s also highly relaxing and can help to soothe stress and anxiety. Try to avoid teas that contain caffeine as this has been shown to cause breast tenderness. It may also make you a bit more grouchy in the lead-up to your period.
If you’re finding the luteal phase of your cycle tricky, you may benefit from contacting a nutritionist who can help make a nutritional plan to reduce PMS symptoms. To find a qualified professional, please use our search tool.
This article was updated on 29th June 2023