Nutrition for PMS

by Grace Ingram

PMS – three letters that make every woman groan with exasperation. Once a month those familiar feelings of irritability, bloating and cramping (just to name a few) return to settle in for a few days.

Premenstrual syndrome, commonly abbreviated to PMS, refers to a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that many women experience during the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (right before the start of a period) (1).

Symptoms include cramps, breast pain, headaches, bloating, mood swings, fatigue, and food cravings. Though most women experience a unique combination of these symptoms to an extent, an estimated 20% of women experience PMS at a clinical level, which significantly affects their quality of life (1).

Does diet matter?

The cause of PMS is not fully understood; however, scientists agree that it is controlled by a combination of hormonal, neural, genetic, psychological, and dietary factors (1).

Good nutritional status is associated with less frequent and less severe PMS symptoms, so a high-quality diet is the key first step to PMS management (4). This means focussing on less processed whole foods and making sure you’re eating from the five food groups each day.