Nutritional strategies to combat premenstrual syndrome

As the statistics say premenstrual syndrome affects at least 30% of the problation. When we talk about this syndrome we refer to the set of signs and symptoms both physical and psychological that occur in women as a result of different hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. This syndrome may appear at different times of the cycle after ovulation and its duration, as well as the appearance of different symptoms, is very different depending on each woman.


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Is there any way to combat premenstrual syndrome through food?

The answer is yes, through different nutritional strategies that will help reduce the symptoms produced.

First of all it is important to understand the hormonal context in which the woman is during premenstrual syndrome. After ovulation, estrogen levels fall and progesterone levels rise temporarily until after 5-7 days they decrease again if fertilization has not occurred. In this way in the premenstrual stage we will have low hormonal levels that will affect the assimilation and utilization of nutrients.


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Tips to take to know how we should feed during these days

First of all, to reduce water retention, a high daily water consumption, between 3-4 liters (without fear!). This will help further elimination of waste and toxins, while promoting the functioning of the renal drainage system, which contributes to the removal of extracellular water that is responsible for this annoying fluid retention.

To enhance this action, it is advised that the consumption of salt and simple sugars be as low as possible to prevent, by osmotic effect, increasing extracellular water. Keep in mind that the body always tends to regulate, so if the extracellular medium is more concentrated in salts and solutes than the intracellular medium, the water will move to the more concentrated area and in this way, more liquids are retained.


It is recommended to reduce starchy carbohydrates and high glycemic load since, being estrogen low, carbohydrate tolerance decreases because insulin sensitivity decreases. Then they should prioritize fibrous carbohydrates how vegetables, fruits, fruits with the possibility of smaller portions of cereals, legumes and tubers. This is also interesting in order to reduce the retention of liquids that occurs, among other reasons already mentioned by the rise in progesterone.

It is also interesting to introduce carbohydrates of this type because of its high fiber content, which contributes to satiety since during the pre-menstrual stage, as dopamine levels are low, cravings increase. This is because dopamine is involved, among many other functions, in reward-punishment routes in the limbic system. In addition, women may experience changes in intestinal transit during the premenstrual stage, so the fiber intake will also help us with this.


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Carbohydrates will also contribute Tryptophan, which is a biopreocursor of serotonin, a hormone involved in numerous functions, such as the regulation of mood. Let's say that serotonin helps improve mood, however, during the premenstrual period their levels tend to decrease so it will be very common to experience sudden mood swings. Carbohydrates in this aspect can contribute to the improvement of these symptoms, as long as they occur mildly-moderately.


On the other hand, protein intake should be increased for different purposes: hunger control providing satiety and tryptophan contribution to improve mood. These proteins can come from animal and vegetable sources, taking into account that the latter when presenting less bioavailability, will have to be taken in higher amounts with respect to proteins of animal origin such as those that come from eggs, milk, poultry, meats …

The fats

Last but not least, fats! Fats will be the star macronutrient during this stage of the menstrual cycle since it will be the macronutrient that best assimilates and uses. Fats will contribute to mitigate the impact caused by lower hormonal levels. In fact, the contribution of cholesterol contributes to the synthesis of sex hormones, such as estrogens. And it is that polyunsaturated fats, specifically fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids, contribute to the regulation of inflammation caused by the increase in levels of prostaglandins, cell mediators responsible for inflammatory phenomena, fever and pain.

For all these reasons, fat intake should be increased to represent up to 50% of the energy of the day during the last days of the cycle.

And of course alcohol and tobacco, which are never referred to, should be reduced to the maximum or even better, suppressed since they can worsen all the symptoms that occur during the premenstrual stage. In addition they are preventable causative agents of many chronic pathologies.

These would be the main strategies recommended to women who suffer premenstrual syndrome and those who want to adapt their diet to their menstrual cycle. However, each woman is a world and these guidelines will have to individualize each woman as well as her personal context.

María Casas Fitness

María Casas IG: @ Maríasquatfit

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