PMS symptoms

Improve PMS With These 5 Foods

According to the Office Of Women’s Health as many as three in four women say they have PMS symptoms at some point in their lifetime. Lucky for us there are many treatments out there to help including food. Symptoms generally tend to be mild but can be severe and affect daily activities. While there is no laboratory testing available the diagnosis is made largely on subjective symptoms.

PMS Symptoms are broken down into two categories: physical and mental/emotional. 


Physical Symptoms

  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Bloating or a gassy feeling
  • Cramping
  • Headache or backache
  • Clumsiness
  • Lower tolerance for noise or light


Mental/Emotional Symptoms

  • Irritability or hostile behavior
  • Feeling tired
  • Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Appetite changes or food cravings
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Tension or anxiety
  • Depression, feelings of sadness, or crying spells
  • Mood swings
  • Less interest in sex

The best way evaluate your symptoms is to use a premenstrual symptom tracker for 2-3 months.

Not only is this good for diagnosing PMS but lets you know the severity and follow for progress with treatments. 


Now, wouldn’t it be nice if we could eat in a way that has been studied to improve PMS?

Well there is! In a time of information overload, especially when it comes to diet, it’s hard to know how or what to eat. So let’s dive into foods proven to improve symptoms. 



Oh my goodness, all the bloating! I’m already more emotional and now I can’t zip up my pants?! That doesn’t seem fair does it. The shifts in our hormones end up having an effect on how aldosterone functions. Aldosterone is a hormone that is made in the adrenal gland and it  helps control the balance of water and salts in the kidney by keeping sodium in and releasing potassium from the body. Good news, by adding in more potassium we can help balance things out and relieve the bloat.


Potassium Rich Foods

  • Bok choy, 1 cup cooked (630 mg)
  • Potato, medium – skins on! (610 mg)
  • White beans, 1/2 cup (600 mg)
  • Beets, 1 cup (520 mg)
  • Brussels sprouts, 1 cup cooked (500 mg)
  • Broccoli, 1 cup cooked (460 mg)
  • Cantaloupe, 1 cup (430 mg)
  • Banana, 1 medium (420 mg)


Soy protein and Flax 

We’re talking isoflavones and lignans. These mild phytoestrogens act as modulators at the estrogen receptors and can help alleviate symptoms of both excess and deficient estrogen. If your estrogen is too low they will bind to the receptors and activate a gentle estrogen effect. If your estrogen is too high they will compete at the receptor site, when they bind to the receptor the effect will be milder than your more aggressive endogenous estrogen. 


Food Sources

When choosing soy always choose whole food, organic, non GMO Edamame,Tempeh,Tofu,and Soynuts 


Flaxseeds are great to add to salads, yogurt, and smoothies. 

Consider fresh ground flaxseed: 1-3 tbsp per day. Buy whole seeds and grind yourself – store in fridge or freezer to prevent oxidation. Never cook with ground flaxseed as it will lead to rancid oils!



This is my favorite. What good news I have for you! Studies have shown reduced PMS symptoms by adding carbohydrates to your diet in the luteal phase of your cycle. Now before you get too excited it wasn’t by adding in donuts and Twinkie’s, improvements were found by adding in 30 grams of complex carbohydrates, meaning vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Just a nice reminder that when you come back to good old fashioned nutrition you’ll feel better!

Aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day


Tea, tincture, capsules, and glycerites – No matter what form, they ALL have been shown to help reduce symptoms of PMS. What a lovely way to wind down after a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day than to pour yourself a couple of chamomile tea.

My personal tips: Use 2 tea bags in a mug with honey and milk of choice. 


Vitamin D

Women with low Vitamin D are found to have more severe PMS. Really, is there anything Vitamin D isn’t linked too? If your Vitamin D is low and you have PMS then it doesn’t hurt to get more sun exposure and add more Vitamin D rich foods to your diet. You’ll be glad you did as further studies show that supplementing Vitamin D also improved PMS scores. 


Vitamin D Food Sources: Sardines, cod liver oil, mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, mushrooms, egg yolk


Bonus! 3 Foods to avoid if you have PMS


High glycemic foods – simple sugars

Excess sodium 


The week before your cycle is a time to make peace with your diet. Your body wants nourishment and enough calories to support a pregnancy. Remember, whether you are trying to conceive or not, that’s what your body is preparing for. Respect it and feed it well!


Dr. Erin Winter
Naturopathic Doctor
Winter Wellness
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