Some months, PMS symptoms can be so severe that the pre-show is worse than the main event. Cramps, headaches, bloating, and muscle pain are just a few of the ways our bodies signal that our hormones are imbalanced. "Seventy-five percent of women experience PMS," says Nikki Ostrower, nutritionist and founder of NAO Nutrition in New York. "Women's estrogen levels increase and your progesterone levels decrease, or almost drop off completely, so therefore you have all of these symptoms like cramps, bloating, moodiness, and acne."
Reaching for the medicine cabinet for a painkiller or anti-bloating pill might seem like the obvious choice for a quick fix, but the temporary relief won't benefit your body in the bigger picture, and these symptoms will cause you discomfort again when your cycle comes around next month.
But there's hope yet! Turns out incorporatin certain foods in your diet can help provide relief. "Food gets broken down when it’s digested properly in our guts," explains Ostrower. “Once we have a healthy gut where hormones are made, we’re going to be working like a well-oiled machine and we’re not going to experience PMS." Read on for Ostrower's suggestions on what foods to add to your diet to curb common PMS symptoms.
1. Alfalfa tea
This herbal tea is an effective diuretic packed with vitamins and nutrients that will replenish the body, make it stronger, and alleviate bloating and water retention instigated by your cycle.
Consider this veggie the MVP of PMS-relieving foods. Not only does it strengthen female hormones, the green also aids in digestion by easing constipation and upset stomachs, and is a diuretic that flushes away retained water from the body.
Regardless of how you ingest it, this plant has a whole slew of benefits. Peppermint will rev up digestion to help soothe an upset stomach and reduce menstrual cramps.
4. Willow Bark
Consider willow bark nature’s aspirin. Most commonly taken as a supplement or sipped as a tea, this powerful anti-inflammatory can do wonders for a number of PMS symptoms, including curbing headaches, cramps (which are caused by the inflammation of the uterine lining as it contracts and sheds), and joint pain. Its calming powers also make it an effective ingredient for relieving redness from hormone-induced breakouts pre- and post-cycle.
High in probiotics, this fermented, slightly fizzy tea will relieve moodiness and upset stomachs. Probiotics aid in absorbing and assimilating nutrients which in turn helps create neurotransmitters that send messages to the rest of your body such as promoting digestion.
This leafy green is rich with magnesium which not only relieves joint pain, but is also good for reducing cramps.
7. Turmeric Powder
Sprinkle this mild herb seasoning on everything from oatmeal to eggs to ease joint and muscle pain.
8. Omega 3s
Foods packed with omega 3 fats like avocados and salmon are major PMS-fighters. Since omega 3s are considered brain foods and boast anti-inflammatory benefits, they’re great options to incorporate into your diet to deal with moodiness and muscle and joint pain.
9. Grass Fed Beef
Say goodbye to PMS fatigue. Grass fed beef is high in B12 which does wonders to boost energy levels.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar will settle an upset stomach.