How to Spell Relief for PMS
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) stands for Puffy, Moody and Stressed for 85 percent of menstruating women. These women have at least one of the following symptoms during the week or so before menstruation: bloating, tension, irritability, moodiness, food cravings and low energy.
PMS is no fun — for anyone. One of my favorite commercials pokes fun at PMS from the perspective that loved ones may also experience it as a Pretty Miserable Situation.
The good news for all is that there are several simple solutions that spell relief for PMS. As a bonus, these simple solutions are also good habits for overall health for every week:
- Plenty of calcium and vitamin D as a part of a nutrient-rich diet (every day) AND Pass on excessive sodium, sugary foods, caffeine and alcohol (about a week before menstruation)
- Move your body
- Stress management strategies
Calcium & Vitamin D
A high intake of calcium and vitamin D from food, not supplements, may ward off PMS. Research indicates that about four servings per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or low-fat yogurt significantly lowers the risk of PMS compared to consumption of one serving or less a day.
For those experiencing PMS symptoms, studies show that consuming milk, cheese, and yogurt is associated with fewer PMS symptoms including anxiety, loneliness, irritability, tearfulness and tension.
Studies in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology report that 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day reduce symptoms of PMS by nearly one half after about two months of increased calcium intake.
Food sources include milk and yogurt fortified with vitamin D, salmon with bones, sardines, fortified cereals, and enriched soy foods (soy beverage; tofu). Since it’s often difficult to get enough vitamin D through food, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or dietitian about a vitamin D supplement.
It’s possible that PMS symptoms may be caused, in part, by nutrient deficiencies. Eating meals and snacks that include a variety of foods from the five food groups provides vitamins, minerals and fiber, and will help cover the nutrient bases. Visit the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition Web site for tips and recipes.
Getting enough fiber may help decrease the bloating and abdominal discomfort sometimes associated with PMS. In addition, adequate dietary fiber and not skipping meals will help keep blood sugar levels steady which may keep energy and mood more stable. Adult women need 21-25 grams of fiber each day. Gradually increase fiber intake and be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Food sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes (dry beans, peas, lentils and peanuts), nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Move It to Improve Mood
Moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, biking or swimming, may decrease bloating and mood swings.
Decide to De-Stress
Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Get enough rest (aim for eight hours of sleep each night), talk with friends, exercise, or write in a journal. Some women also find yoga, massage, or relaxation therapy helpful.
Talk with your doctor about your PMS symptoms. It’s helpful to track symptoms to get a better picture—you can download this PMS Symptom Tracker for free. Your doctor may also suggest over-the-counter pain medications, or you may have a more severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) that requires medical treatment.