Having your period, and all the pleasant things that come along with it (I kid), can leave you suffering through a solid chunk of days each month. And while running (or any exercise) is known to help relieve some of your symptoms, usually the idea of getting out there for a run is the last thing that sounds appealing when you feel bloated and crampy.
While the crippling cramps, bloat, and roller-coaster of emotions are things that few of us can avoid (over 75 per cent of women experience these or worse), you can help alleviate the pain and suffering with some proven PMS-fighting foods.
Yoghurt is rich in calcium, a nutrient not only important for women (especially runners) all the time, but especially during that time of the month. Researchers have found women with lower calcium levels during the time of ovulation are more affected by mood and bloating PMS symptoms, and women who added extra calcium to their diets saw improvement.
Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in oats, quinoa, or brown rice, boost serotonin (the feel-good hormone), helping to fight those mood swings and leave you feeling perked up and pleasant versus down in the dumps. Oats also contain three nutrients proven to help improve PMS symptoms—magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B6.
Healthy fats, specifically anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, are a girl’s best friend when fighting PMS. The recent study found women given a pill of essential fatty acids, as well as vitamin E (both found in avocado) significantly reduced their PMS symptoms, including bloat and breast tenderness. Plus, fats are satiating so you’ll be satisfied and more able to fight off the junk food binge cravings. In addition to avocado, you can find (and work to incorporate) other essential fatty acids into your meals, including walnuts, hemp seeds, flax, eggs, and olive oil.
In addition to being a source of omega-3 healthy fat, flax seeds are a great source of fiber, helping to alleviate constipation and that feeling of bloat. Flax seeds also contain phytonutrients (specifically lignans), which are hormone balancing, helping to stabilize the changes in your body. It’s important to know that your body cannot break down whole flax, so using whole flax will offer you insoluble fibre but no other benefits.
It’s a fact. Women who have PMS want chocolate (and all the other junk food in the land). Well, now you can give yourself good reason to indulge in a little high-quality dark chocolate thanks to it being rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral crucial to body function, and research shows often these levels fall in women around the time of their cycle. Research shows incorporating higher levels of magnesium significantly decreases PMS symptoms by improving hormone metabolism and metabolic function in the body. Other food sources include pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens, fish, and beans.
Foods rich in B vitamins—which are naturally high in animal-based foods including fish, eggs, dairy, poultry, and meat— are proven PMS fighters. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who incorporate higher levels of B vitamins have a 25 per cent lower risk of experiencing PMS symptoms. Vitamin D and calcium (mentioned above) have also been shown to cut PMS by up to 40 per cent. An easy can of tuna with your lunch will offer you both high levels of B vitamins and vitamin D. Combine it with some organic Greek yoghurt in place of mayo for calcium (and better absorption of vitamin D).