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What to Eat During PMS

6 January, 2021

What to Eat During PMS

Approximate reading time: 2-3 minutes

You have probably heard about PMS which stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. Some symptoms of PMS include bloating, headaches and fatigue. It is also common to crave for sugary foods such as chocolates. Your levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop during your period, which may explain why these symptoms occur.  

Are you fed up of dealing with these symptoms? Do not worry as this blog article will cover some nutrition related tips on how to manage your PMS symptoms.

Here are some tips to manage your PMS symptoms

Make your you are consuming enough Iron and Zinc

If you haven’t already, get your Iron and Zinc levels checked by a health professional. Low levels of Iron and Zinc in your body increase your risk of developing PMS symptoms (1).

Food sources of Iron include: Legumes, beans, eggs, meat, fish, Tofu, oysters, mussels and green leafy vegetables such as spinach. Always pair foods rich in Iron with foods rich in Vitamin C such as cauliflower, broccoli, capsicum, chili, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries and potatoes. This is because Vitamin C tends to increase Iron absorption (1).

Food Sources of Zinc include: Lentils, oysters, mussels, beans, wholegrains, chickpeas. 

Increase Your Intake of Calcium

Foods rich in calcium may help improve PMS symptoms. Consume 2-3 serves of dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese daily. You can also increase your intake of calcium by consuming black beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds. A systematic review concluded that women who consumed 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium per day experienced a 50% decline in PMS symptoms. 

Boost your Omega 3 Intake

Omega 3 fats help reduce your inflammation and improve your mood. A study was conducted to identify the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on the management of PMS in 184 women. It found that omega 3 fatty acids can help improve depression, anxiety, bloating, headaches and breast pain which are all symptoms of PMS. (You can read the study here)

Food Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include oily fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, and in walnuts.

Increase Your Intake of Isoflavones

Isoflavones from soy products tend to improve PMS symptoms. This is because they tend to reduce any hormone imbalances by improving your estrogen to progesterone ratio (2). They act as antioxidants and are very beneficial in reducing PMS symptoms (2). Include more soybeans and lentils in your diet 

A study conducted aimed to assess whether or not isoflavones are beneficial in reducing PMS symptoms. This study concluded that women who consumed isoflavones from soy products had improved mood, behavior and reduced pain from stomach cramps, compared to those who did not (You can read the study here).

Limit Alcohol Intake

Consuming too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing PMS. PMS often results in hormonal imbalances and consuming alcohol can exacerbate hormonal imbalances. A review found out that the risk of developing PMS increases with increased alcohol intakes.

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  • Consuming too much alcohol can worsen your PMS symptoms.
  • Consume enough dairy products and make sure you are meeting your recommended serves of dairy.
  • Increase your intake of soy products and lentils.
  • Omega 3 fats are really beneficial in improving your PMS symptoms. Consume foods rich in Omega 3 fats such as oily fish, seeds and nuts.
  • Consult a dietitian to receive more personalised advice.
  • Try one of these tips first for 3 months, and if it does not work, try another tip to see what really works for you.

About the Author

Meher Vatvani - Bachelor of Nutrition Sciences student

Carla Battaglia - Senior Accredited Practicing Dietitian & Accredited Nutritionist

Accredited Practicing Dietitian Carla specialises in gut health. She's passionate about eating food to enrich our lives and health. She regularly helps with gut disorders, women's health and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. She's completed post graduate studies in the FODMAP diet for IBS and has many years experience working with gastroenterologists.

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  1. Patricia O, Chocano-Bedoya, JoAnn E. Manson, Susan E. Hankinson, Susan R. Johnson, et al. Intake of Selected Minerals and Risk of Premenstrual Syndrome, American J. Epidemiol. 15 May 2013, 117(10), Pages 1118–1127,
  2. Bryant M, Cassidy A, Hill C, Powell J, Talbot D, Dye L. Effect of consumption of soy isoflavones on behavioural, somatic and affective symptoms in women with premenstrual syndrome. British Jour Nutr. Cambridge University Press; 2005;93(5):731–9. 10.1111/jhn.12386