5 Foods That Fight PMS

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The foods that can help alleviate cramps, bloating, and that overall icky feeling.

-Carolyn Gregoire, BettyConfidential.com

We all know the feeling—you're bloated, breaking out, and have killer cramps that make sitting at your desk all day nearly unbearable. Plus, your killer mood swings just caused you to yell at the old lady who bumped into you on the subway. Yes, ladies, PMS is no picnic.

But, before you decide to throw up your hands and hit the couch with a chick flick and a pint of Haagen Daz, consider these natural ways to combat PMS symptoms and feel your best during the worst time of the month. Whether your symptoms are debilitating or merely a slight annoyance, PMS doesn't have to interfere with your daily life.

PMS is largely caused (and exacerbated) by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the body, so it can be remedied by eating properly. In addition to getting plenty of sleep and exercise, these natural PMS-fighting foods will help you kick your PMS to the curb:

1. Magnesium
Studies have shown that women experiencing excessive PMS symptoms often have a deficiency of the mineral magnesium in their bodies. Eating foods high in magnesium helps to fight bloating by keeping water retention to a minimum. Plus, magnesium works to regulate your serotonin and hormone levels, which stabilizes your mood and can help keep the PMS blues (and mood swings) at bay. To get your daily dose, try pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cashews.

2. Calcium
Studies have also shown that getting plenty of calcium has beneficial affects on a woman's menstrual cycle. Getting your daily allotment of calcium can decrease bloating, cramps, irritability and mood swings. Try incorporating more low-fat dairy into your diet with yogurt or cottage cheese. For those who are lactose intolerant, almonds and salmon are also great sources of calcium. But, be careful not to overdo it with the dairy—too much calcium can actually hinder the body's ability to absorb magnesium.

3. Vitamins A, B6 and E
These essential vitamins are super troopers when it comes to fighting a variety of PMS symptoms. When you're about to get your period and feeling less than stellar, increasing your intake of vitamin B6 -- it's one of the most surefire ways to alleviate a number of symptoms. Vitamin B6, is necessary to regulate the body's estrogen levels because it reduces blood estrogen and increases testosterone (too much estrogen causes mood swings, anxiety and an inability to focus).  B6 also plays a crucial role in increasing the effectiveness of magnesium, so it also helps with bloating and muscle aches. To make sure you're getting enough B6, take a B complex supplement and add B6-rich foods such as bananas, spinach, potatoes (with the skins on), bell peppers and whole grains. Vitamins A and E are not only awesome for your complexion, they also help battle PMS by decreasing irritability and alleviating breast tenderness.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These healthy fats have been shown to reduce cramping caused by menstruation, and generally aid in lessening PMS symptoms, especially when combined with vitamin E. Salmon, tuna, olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans are all excellent sources of omega-3. 

5. Manganese
Found in pineapple, brown rice and spinach, this mineral has been shown to increase mood and decrease water retention.

Now that you know the foods that help PMS, make sure to steer clear of these PMS-boosters that will only make you more bloated, crampy and moody. Ick!

Now that you know the foods that help PMS, make sure to steer clear of these PMS-boosters that will only make you more bloated, crampy and moody. Ick!

-Skip the soda and coffee! Caffeine can increase bloating, worsen skin problems, and contribute to anxiety and irritability. And, unsurprisingly, it doesn't help with premenstrual insomnia either.

-Salt also contributes greatly to water retention and can dehydrate the skin, causing breakouts. 

-Stay away from the sweets! Sugar depletes those valuable B vitamins and can contribute to moodiness.

 Carolyn Gregoire is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.

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