Nutrition for PMS: Part 2
In Nutrition for PMS: Part 1, our Holistic Living columnist, Veronica Qubrossi, explored a few tips for helping to alleviate symptoms of PMS. Here we’ll dive deeper into specific foods to support PMS.
You may already know that foods like sugar, caffeine, alcohol and excessive salt intake may worsen PMS symptoms — but did you also know that there are foods that can help alleviate symptoms? Below are my top 8 foods to help reduce PMS symptoms.
The family of cruciferous vegetables includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and bok choy. These superfoods contain compounds called indoles, which promote the breakdown of estrogen in the liver and facilitate increased excretion of estrogen metabolites in the urine and feces. A well-functioning liver and balanced hormones are both key to resolving PMS symptoms.
How To Use: Most of us are familiar with steamed or raw broccoli and cauliflower, but don’t be afraid to branch out a little! Make a cauliflower pizza crust, some kale chips, or an Asian-inspired stir-fry with bok choy.
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring contain essential fats that have been shown to decrease PMS symptoms by improving mood and reducing pain. These fish also contain Vitamins A and D, and deficiency of both of these vitamins has been linked to an increase in PMS symptoms and heavier periods.
How To Use: Mash up sardines with lemon and parsley for a rustic spread, and enjoy on some veggie chips.
Berries as a group contain high amounts of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids both of which assist in relieving the discomfort of breast swelling. Also important, berries are high in fibre. Fibre assists in carrying excess hormones out of the body, which can help ensure more balanced hormone levels.
How To Use: Just as they are!
Peppermint, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm and all other varieties of mint have an affinity for toning the nervous system, which may help lessen anxiety and stabilize mood swings.
How To Use: Lemon balm and/or Holy Basil (Tulsi) make a delicious tea infusion to sip before bed. Of course, you can chop fresh mint and use it to garnish your dishes, or use the dried herbs to flavour dressings.
Colourful Starchy Vegetables
Carbohydrate consumption during the premenstrual period may help to reduce cravings. However, you want to be mindful of the carbohydrates you’re choosing, as refined grains and sugars may actually exacerbate cravings. Instead, reach for colourful starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes (not regular potatoes though, as they as they increase blood sugar too rapidly!), winter squashes, parsnips, carrots and beets.
How To Use: My favourite way to enjoy root vegetables is roasted! I personally think root vegetables are most delicious roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some minty herbs like parsley, basil and oregano.
About seven walnuts contains the recommended daily intake of a little known mineral called manganese. Preliminary research shows that manganese consumed in combination with other minerals like magnesium and calcium can lessen PMS symptoms like back pain and mood swings. Walnuts are also a plant-based source of muscle-relaxing magnesium and significant amounts of omega 3s. In addition to their anti-inflammatory nature, omega-3s are also hypothesized to positively affect neurotransmitters and their receptors, and increase the body’s sensitivity to specific cyclical hormones.
How To Use:Walnuts are best stored in the fridge to preserve the beneficial oils. They are delicious on their own as a snack or sprinkled over a salad to add some crunch.
Your grandmother was wise to push you to eat your liver! Liver contains vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin B6, which may help stabilize moods and prevent cravings. B6 also aids in reducing water retention and can increase oxygen flow to the brain and other organs, including female reproductive organs. Plus, liver contains some of the most bioavailable iron we can find in food sources! Women’s stores of iron naturally drop as they menstruate each month, so liver is an inexpensive option to ensure an adequate iron intake.
How To Use: Beef liver can be sliced and sautéed in a stir-fry with onions, garlic, and other aromatic vegetables of your choice. Sage and thyme pair wonderfully with liver as well, especially in a pâté.
Tip: If your palate hasn’t learned to love liver yet, this powerhouse food can also be purchased powdered in a capsule form!
Dark chocolate has long been known for it’s significant magnesium content. Magnesium is a mineral that is a cofactor in over 300 different enzymatic reactions within the body that help to regulate everything from digestion to sleep, and energy production to muscle relaxation – all helpful during the premenstrual phase. Additionally, cacao contains a chemical called PEA, or phenethylamine, which creates a feeling of bliss. Couldn’t we all use a moment of bliss?
How To Use: Check out my Chocolate: 10 Ways eBook for some chocolatey inspiration!