Do you suffer from mood swings, water retention, headaches, brain fog, fatigue or anxiety about a week or two before you period? These menstrual related symptoms can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life. Factors that may influence these menstrual related symptoms includes an interplay between Estrogen, Progesterone, Cortisol, Insulin, Thyroid hormones, diet and genetics. As you can see, the female hormone system is complex with many different areas to consider when managing symptoms such as PMS.
In this article I will discuss dietary suggestions that may help to alleviate or reduce some of these symptoms. I see many women in my practice who suffer from PMS, PMDD, perimenopause and menopausal symptoms. For most of these cases, I do recommend some basic diet, supplement and botanical therapies that often do help in alleviating some of their symptoms.
A woman’s diet may have a great benefit on her overall health and hormone health. A 2019 study published in NUTRIENTS found a diet high in calories, fat, sugar and salt was identified as strong risk factors for PMS.
The Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce some of the symptoms associated with PCOS (1)(2) This is the diet I generally recommend to my patients to manage hormone related symptoms. This diet is an anti-inflammatory diet high in mono-unsaturated fats (for example olive oil), fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. The focus is on whole foods, diverse fruit and and veggies, fiber (especially flax seeds), whole grains, legumes and nuts. Meals are built around these plant based foods. This diet includes protein sources such as wild-caught fish, non-medicated poultry, beans, eggs, limited dairy and limited intake of red meat. Avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar and avoid less healthy fats such as saturated and trans fats (3)
Following a Mediterranean diet may have many other health benefits including improved mood, improved cardiovascular health and reducing heart disease (3)
Regular exercise can also have a positive impact on both physical and psychological hormonal symptoms (4) Daily exercise, even just walking daily, may help.
Lastly, stress has a profound impact on PMS and other menstrual symptoms. Include some form of stress management into your daily routine. This may include meditation, yoga, walking, breathing exercises and, of course, enjoying time with family and loved ones. A woman’s hormone symptoms are complex. I suggest a variety of diet and lifestyle strategies to help reduce the symptoms and improve a woman’s quality of life. For more lifestyle suggestions please check out our ADRENAL HEALTH RESTORATION SUGGESTIONS
Wishing you a safe and healthy Fall season.
Yours in health,
Dr Tasreen Alibhai, ND