Foods That Ease PMS Symptoms
Even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that at least 85 percent of menstruating women experience one or more PMS symptoms each cycle (think bloating, cramping, irritability, and breakouts), popping pills isn’t the answer. What is? Food. “Diet can play a significant role in a woman’s experience during her menstrual cycle,” says Justin Shelton, DO, ob-gyn at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
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Best for: Cramping
“[Avocados are] high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation and relieve pain due to menstrual cramping,” says Kristen Carlucci, RDN, a wellness coach and registered dietitian in New York City.
Best for: Irritability, fatigue
“Salmon is the premier food source of the fatty acids DHA and EPA, which can help boost mood and reduce those PMS blues,” says Rima Kleiner, MS, a registered dietitian based in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Best for: Breakouts
“Brazil nuts are helpful in reducing breakouts that may occur during our menstrual cycle,” says Carlucci. “They contain vital nutrients including selenium, vitamin E, and other fatty acids that help hydrate the skin, neutralize oil production, and reduce skin inflammation to prevent unwanted breakouts.”
Best for: Bloating, food cravings
“Foods high in calcium have been shown to decrease the amount of menstrual cramps, likely because it’s relieving a natural calcium deficiency in your myometrium [a layer of the uterine wall] during menstruation,” says Shelton.
Best for: Fatigue
“Chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, and this makes us feel energized, which can help the fatigue and brain fog that is often a part of PMS,” says Shelton.
“Caffeine is a stimulant that causes stronger and more painful uterine contractions during our periods,” says Carlucci. Translation: Your cramps could get much, much worse.
Avoid: Salty Foods
“We already retain excess water during our periods, and eating a diet high in salt can make bloating and menstrual pain even worse,” says Carlucci. “Try to stay under 2300 mg of sodium per day, or under 1500 mg per day if you have a history of high blood pressure.”
“Alcohol naturally dries out the body, causing you to retain excess fluids,” says Carlucci.