It is made up of more than 150 symptoms, but a proper diet could alleviate PMS and make this period more bearable.
The premenstrual syndrome is being gradually less taboo topic among the population. Despite the fact that many women suffer from its multiple symptoms, it is still quite unknown. In fact, its origin and real cause remain a mystery, and it is not entirely clear what is the best treatment in this regard.
As far as food is concerned, there are multiple tips around premenstrual syndrome. However, there are not few non-food therapies in this regard, taking into account both skin care and the need for physical exercise. Today, thanks to the explanations of María Casas, pharmacist and professor at the Institute of Nutrition and Health Sciences (ICNS), we will talk about what premenstrual syndrome is and how its symptoms can be improved, especially in terms of food it means.
What is premenstrual syndrome
If we are based on the official definition of premenstrual syndrome, we would speak of a set of symptoms of diverse nature, both physical and psychological, that affect 20-40% of women of childbearing age (that is, who still have menstruation) during the ovulation process (at least five days before the start of menstruation). In fact, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), up to 85% of women would suffer at least one of the symptoms of this syndrome in each menstrual cycle.
Although the exact origin of premenstrual syndrome is not known, it is speculated that it could be due to changes in hormonal levels, together with a decrease in certain brain neurotransmitters; although there are other theories more focused on the nutritional field, which would advocate relating this set of symptoms to a lack of vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium and / or magnesium.
Up to 150 possible symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are known, highly variable between each woman, being more intense in 5-10% of women and moderate in about 30% of them. The ACOG divides these symptoms into "emotional" and physical or "physiological", among which are the sensation of swelling and fluid retention, bloating and abdominal and / or breast pain, headache, increased appetite, skin disorders, dysmenorrhea or pain with menstruation and mood swings.
What to eat to relieve PMS
Although the effectiveness of feeding during premenstrual syndrome depends greatly on the symptoms suffered, that is, on each type of woman, Casas explains that there are certain dietary guidelines that seem to have shown some improvement in symptoms. It should be noted that a good diet during this period is not something magical, and it can only improve the situation to a greater extent, nothing more.
According to some studies, up to 63% of premenstrual syndrome cases improve significantly through proper nutrition. Diet has not been shown to reduce symptoms, but an improvement in body composition and mood is noted. Actually, being objective, the dietary guidelines advised in this syndrome do not vary excessively from what would be considered a “balanced diet”, although with some nuances.
Fruits and vegetables, the best friends for those days
For example, Casas advises an abundant consumption of fruits and especially vegetables, given their important nutritional contribution, the delay of gastric emptying and their satiating potential, without forgetting the contribution of tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters that has been related to mood disorders in the syndrome).
Don't run away from fats if they are good
However, and although it may sound illogical, Casas points out that during this phase of the cycle it is advisable to increase the consumption of fats progressively (to the detriment of carbohydrates), especially in the form of essential fats, since they have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, although in men carbohydrates are usually the main source of energy during exercise, in the case of women intramuscular triglycerides or TGIM are the main source of energy, so a diet rich in fat is more advisable than in carbohydrates, even when doing strength training.
Be careful with sugars
For its part, it is advisable to avoid the consumption of fast-absorbing carbohydrates (free sugars or foods with a high glycemic index), since these contribute to water retention and collaborate in altering the correct control of blood sugar. At this point in the menstrual cycle, glycemic control becomes even more important, since in the days before menstruation or luteal phase, estrogens are at their lowest point, something that in turn decreases insulin sensitivity. In other words, there is a better tolerance to carbohydrates in general, and simple sugars in particular, thus increasing the ability to store fat.
Likewise, given the peak that occurs in fluid retention due to the decrease in estrogens and an increase in progesterone, it is also advisable to avoid salt and sugars in order to avoid this retention as much as possible. Finally, the consumption of coffee, tobacco and alcohol is also highly discouraged.
Other tips to alleviate Premenstrual Syndrome
Regarding non-food therapies during the premenstrual period, Casas also advises a more specific care of the skin, since given the hormonal changes there is a greater risk of acne. Although foods such as chocolate or sausages have not shown to collaborate in the production of this dermatological disorder, other foods such as dairy (curiously, skimmed), have shown a certain relationship. Likewise, it is advisable to increase the consumption of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, along with the aforementioned increase in fruits, vegetables and vegetables, in order to improve hydration.
As far as physical exercise is concerned, it is known that exercising during the premenstrual stage improves mood, the general hormonal environment and the colic pains typically associated with this stage. Of course, it is advisable, in strength training, to progressively decrease the intensity of the same as the time of menstruation approaches, as the volume and frequency of the same would increase (less load and more repetitions, avoiding reaching maximum force peaks). In addition, it is also advisable to associate light or moderate resistance or cardiovascular training, such as yoga, Pilates, running, cycling or swimming, in a measure of 3-4 hours per week.
Finally, when it comes to medical treatments, there are some drugs that have been shown to provide some benefits, such as anti-inflammatories, diuretics or even certain types of antidepressants. However, in this case, a family doctor or gynecologist should be consulted in advance.
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