BEIRUT: Ladies, we all have experienced it and have been possessed by its harshness. Sometimes, it brings tears to your eyes and leaves you with bad headaches. The worst thing about it? It surprises you with a huge red pimple on your forehead. When? On the day of your long-awaited job interview. Have you guessed it yet? Yes, you’re right, it’s the PMS monster that visits us every month.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by a group of recurrent and moderate-to-severe physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that develop one to two weeks before a woman’s monthly menstrual period and disappear once menstruation begins.
Almost 80 percent of women display one or more symptoms that do not significantly affect daily functioning, according to the journal “American Family Physician.” Whereas, 20 to 32 percent of women report moderate to severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.
Symptoms include mood swings, irritability or anger, depression, breast tenderness, acne flare-ups, weight gain related to fluid retention, constipation or diarrhea, headaches, joint or muscle pain, fatigue, abdominal bloating, and food cravings.
There are various strategies to treat PMS symptoms. In many cases, several of these can be reduced or managed naturally through some dietary modifications and exercise. It is important to note that a perfect PMS diet does not exist but, there are certain lifestyle changes and habits that can be incorporated into a woman’s diet to ease the harsh symptoms.
Below are some important dietary and lifestyle measures for controlling PMS symptoms:
Decrease salt: Similarly to sugar, salt is hidden in countless food products. Eating too much salt can cause bloating, fluid retention, and breast swelling or tenderness. According to a report published by Health Essentials, Cleveland Clinic, it is recommended that women eat homemade food and avoid eating fast food or processed food. Besides, women should stay away from salty foods and snacks such as hot dogs, frozen microwave dinners, and potato chips.
Reduce Caffeine: Women are advised to limit caffeine in their diet and surely to steer clear of soda and energy drinks. This is because caffeine can aggravate PMS symptoms leading to an increase in irritability or moodiness, anxiety, and insomnia.
Eat complex carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates are important nutrients that are rich in fiber and are made up of natural sugars. These nutrients enter the bloodstream slowly and cause a slight increase in insulin levels, which can regulate a woman’s mood and keep her food cravings closely controlled. Some examples include whole grains, sweet potatoes, unprocessed oats, lentils, beans, cereals, and potatoes.
Eat more calcium and low-fat dairy products: According to a study published by UCLA Nutrition Bytes journal, “GOT MILK? A New Theory on the Relationship between Calcium and PMS,” it is suggested that a higher dietary intake of calcium is associated with reduced risk of a variety of PMS symptoms. Women should aim to eat more food like dark green leafy vegetables, yogurt, milk, low-fat cheese, nuts, canned sardines, and salmon.
Exercise: One of the common ways to reduce PMS is through exercising regularly. According to the research study “The Association between Premenstrual Syndrome and Physical Activity and Aerobic Power in Female High School Students,” published by Crescent Journal of Medical and Biological Sciences, PMS symptoms can be reduced effectively through increasing physical activity, especially aerobic activities. Engaging in at least 30 minutes of swimming, cycling, walking, running, or any other aerobic activity on most days of the week may help improve a woman’s overall health and relieve some symptoms, such as exhaustion and depression.
Nathalie Farhat is a Licensed Dietitian. She will be contributing to Naya’s health topics.
Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations — Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
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