Premenstrual Syndrome

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RD, CD
Premenstrual Syndrome

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Around 90 percent of women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, during their childbearing years. While symptoms vary, common ones include:

  • Tender breasts
  • Headaches
  • Swelling in feet, hands and ankles
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety and depression.

Despite research efforts, the exact causes of PMS are not known. If PMS is diagnosed or suspected, your health care provider may ask you to keep a symptom log, in which physical, mental and emotional changes are recorded for two to three months. Keeping a log may help address issues including those related to possible food or lifestyle triggers or trends regarding weight gain during your cycle.

Diet and PMS

Although PMS cannot be prevented, smart food choices may help relieve some of the symptoms related to it.

  • Choose foods that provide calcium, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, almonds, kale, beans or fortified foods, such as soymilk and tofu.
  • Include sources of vitamin B6, which can be found in pistachios, turkey, garbanzo beans, bananas, potatoes and fortified cereals.
  • Skip the salt to help decrease bloating and fluid build-up.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol, which may affect mood and sleep.
  • Incorporate physical activity most days of the week, as it may help with fluid status and to improve mood.

Focus on an overall healthy eating plan, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, lean proteins and unsaturated fats, to help you include a wide variety of nutrients to promote good health. 

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