Can Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Be Managed With A Healthy Diet?

Written by Dr. Pramod Mane on Tue, 01 August 2023


Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is a common occurrence for most young women who menstruate. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS in which women experience 5 or more PMS symptoms. Some know a lot about it while some decide to shrug it off, no matter what the outlook problem remains.

Intense mood swings, irritability, anger, tension, anxiety, emotional behavior, breast tenderness, bloating, body pain, and brain fog are some very common symptoms of PMS.

It can all seem overwhelming but it sure can be managed with proper diet, nutrition, and food habits that are good for you. Here's how you can start.

1. Watching your proportions

Some premenstrual symptoms intense food cravings that arise not because of hunger but due to a constant fluctuation of hormones. During such times there is an increased tendency to overeat, binge eat or fall into the trap of emotional eating. To avoid these, you need to watch your proportions.

Eating small portions of meals or a small cheat snack is acceptable but hogging on unhealthy junk and fattening foods can worsen bloating, cramps, and mood swings during periods. Don't forget about the guilt trip you have to go through after having such a snack attack, This can lead to another array of negative PMS emotions swarming you. So be mindful of your food proportions.

2. Cutting the salt out

Reducing your salt intake might be one of the toughest choices to make considering there is hidden salt in almost all packed foodstuffs. Excessive salt can cause bloating, increased water retention, and digestive problems like constipation. Managing PMS can be easier when you watch the salt lurking in your food.

Avoiding packaged foods like seasoned crisps, packaged drinks, instant foods, etc can help you cut out salt and manage issues like bloating. Keeping a track of the hidden salts that go into your body can help you live a healthier life and take better care of yourself during PMS.

3. Choosing whole foods

Foods like grains, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables in their natural and unprocessed form are called whole foods. These foods are rich in a wide variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can prevent most PMS-related symptoms by keeping your body nourished and your hormones balanced.
A healthy diet can prevent and help in the management of PMS. With whole foods and a balanced diet, your daily requirement of essential trace elements and dietary fiber are met. This is a reliable armor against PMS that you should count on.

4. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine increases the heat in our body and is known to cause disturbed sleep that leads to hormonal imbalance. For some women, caffeine consumption can also worsen PMS symptoms like bloating and breast tenderness. Going easy on that caffeine can help you to maintain a healthy sleep cycle and thus regulate your hormones better.

Alcoholic beverages are prepared by fermenting Carbohydrates with yeast. This reaction produces alcohol and sugar in the process. You might think drinking alcohol can put you in a better mood if you're PMS-ing, but that's not the truth. Facts state the very opposite, drinking alcohol can lead to the rise of estrogen, testosterone, and prostaglandins in the body that exacerbate PMS symptoms like mood swings, irritability, and period cramps.

Gynecologists advise their patients to lay off alcohol and caffeine if they are prone to PMS as doing so can help in managing symptoms of PMS and have a healthier period.

5. Watch out for your sugar intake

Cravings for sugary foods can haunt you during premenstrual stress. These sugar cravings are pretty intense and there's a reason behind this premenstrual symptom. The hormonal imbalance caused by the shifting levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body causes the levels of happy hormone serotonin to go down. This can be the reason behind brain fog, fluctuating emotions, and irritability.

Eating lots of sugary treats and desserts causes a spike in your blood sugar level and can make you jittery and interfere with your sleep cycle further inducing mood swings. Sugar is inflammatory and also infamous for causing painful periods with uterine cramps and abdominal pain. It's best to watch out for the amount of sugar you are consuming as a preventive measure in the management of PMS.

6. Drink plenty of water

Water is the most essential detoxifying drink that our body needs. Being hydrated at all times helps our body and mind in maintaining stability. During menstruation, the receding levels of estrogen and progesterone in our bodies can lead to water retention.

This can cause various issues such as bloating, brain fog, and digestive problems. Sipping on plenty of water throughout the day can keep your body vitalized and eliminate PMS symptoms like bloating and water retention. So sip on at least 9-10 glasses of water per day and let water be your new best friend in the fight against PMS.

7. Consider supplements

We often fall short of essential nutrients and trace elements like zinc, copper, magnesium, cobalt, iodine, etc. Vitamins like A, C, D, E, K, and B vitamins are essential for the healthy functioning of our bodies. Minerals like Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, etc should be our top priority when it comes to nutrition.

Many times, it so happens that we are unable to fight conditions like PMS because our body lacks some very important components. Fighting PMS can become easier with the help of these supplements. They can make sure you get your daily dose of nutrients and don't fall short of any essential elements giving you the strength to stand up to PMS.

Let's gear up and put our best foot forwards in this fight against PMS. Premenstrual syndrome might be common but with some effort, we can learn to keep it under control. So practice healthy eating, and manage your PMS better. Have a Happy Menstrual cycle!


Dr. Pramod Mane

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Pharmacology., currently based in Mumbai, India, Dr Pramod Mane, comes with an experience of more than 20 years of working in Medical Affairs in the Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceutical Industry. Director of Medical Services at Mega Lifesciences since 2008, Dr Mane has been associated with several MNCS in the areas of Medical Affairs, Medical Services, Medico-marketing, Pharmacovigilance & Clinical trials in his illustrious career.

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  1. Bianco V, et al. Premenstrual syndrome and beyond: lifestyle, nutrition, and personal facts. Minerva Ginecol. 2014 Aug;66(4):365-75.
  2. Mona S, et al. "Premenstrual Syndrome Is Associated with Dietary and Lifestyle Behaviors among University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study from Sharjah, UAE." Nutrients vol. 11,8 1939. 17 Aug. 2019.

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Aug, 01 2023

Written By

Dr. Pramod Mane