Periods can be a bit of an inconvenience, but I think more of us are realising our periods don’t have to hold us back and stop us from doing what we want. Our nutrition and lifestyle can work together to help keep those pesky PMS symptoms under control you can get on with what you want to do without thinking about your period.
It’s estimated roughly 85% of women have at least one PMS symptom during their cycles, and many of these are mild. But sometimes bloating, fluid retention, irritability, fatigue, headaches, cravings and cramps can cramp our style. The good news is lifestyle changes can help! Today, thanks to U by Kotex I’m talking how nutrition, exercise and lifestyle can help you move on from letting your period hold you back.
A healthy diet is always important for us to feel at our best, and when it comes to nutrition there are a few things that have been found to help some who suffer from PMS.
One area that has been researched in regards to PMS symptoms is calcium. Calcium might play a role in PMS due to its relationship with the hormone estrogen. Estrogen helps improve the absorption of calcium as well as maintaining calcium levels within the blood. Estrogen levels drop sharply in the lead up to your period and one theory is that that either dysregulation of hormones or symptoms of calcium deficiency show up as PMS. One study found that calcium intake at around 1,200mg a day reduced the risk of developing PMS by 30%, while another study found that calcium supplementation significantly reduce symptoms of PMS including bloating, food cravings and pain. It took 3 months for the increase in calcium to have an effect.
And calcium is a nutrient that many of us lack. The last NZ Nutrition Survey found many women aged 15 and over do not get enough – so if you get PMS, you might want to think about how much calcium you’re getting in your daily diet. It’s recommended that women aged between 12-18 get 1300mg of calcium a day, and those aged 19-70 get 1000mg of calcium a day.
Rather than supplementing (which can have it’s issues), try getting adequate calcium from food sources first before discussing supplements. If you’re dairy free, make sure you include plenty of non dairy sources of calcium to get an adequate intake.
Calcium content of some common foods
|20g Edam cheese||162mg|
|3 sardines (from tinned)||102mg|
|80g tinned salmon (with bones)||198mg|
|1 cup fortified almond milk or soy milk
(check the nutrition panel – this may vary by brand)
|30g raw almonds||75mg|
|2 slices 12 grain toast bread||61mg|
|1 cup cooked broccoli||59mg|
|1 medium naval orange||42mg|
|3 teaspoons hulled tahini||50mg|
Other nutrients that may play a role in relieving PMS symptoms include B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin D.
Magnesium is thought to help with reducing fluid retention, breast tenderness and insomnia.
Magnesium rich foods include dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, legumes, avocado, fish and dairy products.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in making the amino acids which are precursors to the hormones seretonin and dopamine. Both of these hormones affect our moods. Some studies show that this vitamin helps with mood related PMS symptoms, but other studies show no effect. Vitamin B6 rich foods include meat, chicken, oily fish, wholegrains, soybeans, avocados, bananas, peanuts.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in the absorption of calcium, and may affect PMS. We get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure, but there are a few food sources of vitamin D such as oily fish and egg yolk. You can read more about vitamin D here.
So now we know more on what foods to include, what about things to reduce?
Reducing sugar intake, alcohol, caffeine, refined carbohydrates and sodium can help reduce fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness and irritability. These have been associated with increased cortisol (a stress hormone) and a decrease in the feel-good hormone serotonin. Sodium (aka salt) can lead to fluid retention, so cutting back on high salt foods and added salt may help minimise bloating and fluid retention.
While exercise doesn’t necessarily play a specific role in reducing PMS symptoms, it does have its benefits. Exercise increases endorphins which help boost mood and increase energy. Keeping active has so many benefits, and can make you feel good whatever the time of the month.
Last but not least, using well designed pads/tampons can help keep you feeling comfortable and secure. Dealing with your period doesn’t need to be a big deal, and a brand that knows that is U by Kotex so they’re letting you try their products out for free. Yah! To get your free sample, simply click here.
There are other options for helping deal with PMS symptoms, but lifestyle can be a good place to start. This is just some general information, so talk to your GP if you’re experiencing symptoms, before taking supplements and if you get painful periods – sometimes there are other underlying causes.
This post was made possible thanks to U by Kotex.
Thanks to U by Kotex, I’ve got a $100 voucher for Rebel Sport to give away! We’d love you to check out U by Kotex for a free sample then simply share this post on Facebook using the Facebook button on top or below the post and comment below. Competition closes
14th October 2016. Extended till the 22nd October!
NZ entries only sorry.
CONGRATULATIONS to the winner Bianca Harris. I have emailed you regarding your prize 🙂