Blasting to Reduce PMS

Editor's Note: This is a contribution by Krista Haynes, R.D.

The awful symptoms that accompany PMS can be physically devastating to the women who experience them and mentally and emotional straining to those who have to endure them, as well: spouses, children, family and friends. 

As a dietitian, I strongly feel that food is medicine. What we do eat and what we don’t eat can dictate our mood, health and energy. Particular foods can help relieve the discomfort and general malaise that comes along with that time of the month. Let me introduce you to some of your new best friends! 
 
B Vitamins 
Some new research shows vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin) may help reduce PMS symptoms. 
Thiamine is found in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cooked lentils, cooked beans, asparagus, green peas, flax, and spinach. Riboflavin sources include almonds, spinach, mushrooms, collards, broccoli, and Swiss chard
 
Magnesium 
Magnesium helps relax the muscles. Kiss those cramps goodbye! Here are a few foods that you might want to toss in your Blast that are rich in this mineral: nuts, seeds, cooked beans, Swiss chard and collard greens
 
Iron 
A new study in the February issue of American Journal of Epidemiology talks about plant-based iron sources for PMS relief. Luckily there are some tasty iron-rich options to add to your Blast. Try some spinach/kale/Swiss chard (pair greens with vitamin C rich strawberries or orange to increase absorption), sesame seeds, cooked garbanzo beans, turmeric, basil, pumpkin seeds, and beets
 
Zinc
Another important mineral for PMS relief is zinc. Foods with zinc include sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, yogurt, spinach, crimini and shitake mushrooms, green peas and asparagus.  
 
Oils 
Flaxseed and evening primrose oil have also been shown to ease PMS discomfort in some women. These, along with other foods containing essential fatty acids, help balance hormones, which we all know are somewhat wacky at this time. Toss in some walnuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or chia seeds for an extra boost of nutrients and sanity. 
 
Fresh Herbs 
Enjoying a tiny bit of fresh oregano daily during menstruation may help reduce cramps. It contains properties that relax the uterine muscles. If you’re dealing with a crampy tummy, then try some fresh mint leaves. Peppermint contains methanol, a natural compound that reduces intestinal spasms. 
 
Fluids
Most women succumb to sweatpants and don’t even bother trying to squeeze their bloated bellies into a pair of skinny jeans. This may sound contradictory, but the more water you consume, the less water retention you’ll have. Not only would I suggest upping your water intake, but also reduce the amount of water-retaining sugary and salty foods you eat a week before your PMS symptoms usually begin (or at any time, for that matter!)
 
In addition, some fruits and veggies contain high amounts of water and have a significant diuretic effect.  Include celery, parsley, dandelion greens, asparagus, artichoke, melon, watercress, cucumbers, and strawberries to reap these benefits. 
 
Green tea is another good diuretic option to help reduce bloating.  It will also provide a little touch of caffeine in case you’re feeling drained of energy. Ever tried to chill some green tea to use as the liquid base of your NutriBlast? 
 
Check out this article for more tips on how to beat belly bloat.  
 
Sleep
More and more research shows how lack of sleep messes with our hormonal balance. In addition, those who skimp on shuteye often crave high sugar, high carbohydrate junk foods. These often dampen your mood, cause blood sugar imbalance and more bloating. It’s hard enough as it is to keep your hand out of the cookie jar; make it a bit easier to stick to eating healthy. It will not only make you feel better in the current moment, but in the long term, as well. 
 
Exercise 
While exercise is beneficial at any time, it's especially important the week before and the week of your PMS.  Exercise has been shown to boost your “happy” chemicals, reduce bloating and cramps and help keep your sugar and salt cravings to a minimum. 
 
Try these Blasts to help reduce your PMS symptoms.