Natasha Dunn

What is PMS?


Most women suffer from some form of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) at some point in their cycle. But did you know that 8-20% of women seek medical help for these symptoms?

You might hear people ask what PMS is or women discussing many different symptoms associated with PMS during their cycle, but what actually is PMS?

PMS is a cyclic constellation of symptoms appearing during the late luteal phase (1-2 weeks before your period) of the menstrual cycle and disappearing by the end of full flow of your period.

It is thought that cyclic changes in the ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone cause a change in brain neurotransmitters and serotonin. Many vitamins and minerals and fatty acids contribute to this, so how can they help?

what are the signs and symptoms of PMS?

  • Decreased energy
  • Tension
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Altered sex drive
  • Breast pain
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Swelling of fingers and ankles
  • Food cravings
  • Muscle aches

A good starting point to help reduce PMS symptoms is your diet. Before your period you will have rises and falls in blood sugars. Eating foods low in glycemic index can help with cravings and balance the blood sugar rollercoaster.

Foods to avoid

  • Avoid foods high in saturated fat and trans fats, such as cakes and cookies, baked foods, take out, lard, butter, fatty meats and cheese.
  • Eliminate caffeine
  • Keep salt intake low
  • High GI foods such as white breads, sugary drinks, donuts, fries to name a few

Foods to include

    • Include plant foods
    • Foods high in vitamin B, D and calcium such as, oily fish, tofu, sardines, mackerel, legumes, dark leafy vegetables
    • Fruits such as avocado, citrus and bananas
    • Legumes
    • Whole grains
    • Nuts/see

In a Study by Chocano-Bedoya, P, O et al, 2011, high intake of thiamine and riboflavin (B vitamins) from food sources significantly lower incidence of PMS in women. These include, legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, trout and tuna, and green vegetables.

lifestyle changes

  • By exercising this releases endorphins, the increase in endorphin levels positively affects estrogen and progesterone by reducing the hormones and cortisol levels, this happens during the luteal phase of a women’s cycle.
  • Exercise elevates endorphins and lowers cortisol (stress hormone)
  • Biofeedback or short-term individual counselling
  • Cognitive therapy if maintained over time

If you wish to discuss your symptoms of PMS with one of our nutritionists, please make an appointment today.


Bertone-Johnson, E, R., Hankinson, S, E., Bendich, A., Johnson, S, R., Willett, W, C., Manson, J, E., (2005). Calcium and Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Incident Prementrual Syndrome. ‘JAMMA Internal Medicine’. 165 (11): 1246-1252

Chocano-Bedoya, P, O., Manson, J, E., Hankinson, S, E., Willett, W, C., Johnson, S, R., Chasan-Taber, L., Ronnenberg, A, G., Bigelow, C., and Bertone-Johnson, E, R (2011). Dietary B vitamin intake and incident premenstrual syndrome1–3. ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’. 93(5), 1080-1086.

The association of UK Dieticians, Food Fact Sheet. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Sited 19th of May 2019 https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/pms.pdf


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