What can I eat to improve my mood during that time of the month?
When PMS strikes and those mood swings have you either raging at everyone that comes your way, or trying not to bawl at those cheesy videos in your Facebook feed, finding comfort in your favourite junk food seems like the natural solution – especially since salt, sugar and carbs seems to be all that your body wants. But could feeding those cravings be making things worse?
Junk food high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, especially gluten, should be avoided when you have PMS. “This may be hard, because it is exactly at these times when you crave them the most, but they will make you feel worse,” explains Dr Kruger. During your period, your stress hormone cortisol shoots up while serotonin, the feel-good hormone, hits a low. Foods high in sugar and fat increase serotonin while keeping cortisol levels down, but unfortunately these mood boosts are short lived as you quickly crash and start craving more. Not ideal, since junk food also encourages other PMS symptoms such as bloating, cramps and breakouts.
So what’s a girl to do?
Make sure that you eat often enough to ensure stable blood sugar levels and a stable mood. Dr Kruger suggests eating foods high in omega-3 fats like salmon, and supplementing with omega-3 to help to stabilise your mood. It’s also a good idea to get your fair share of the amino acid L-Tryptophan, the precursor to “feel good” serotonin, these foods can give your mood quite a boost and include dark chocolate, fish, poultry, red meat, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, tofu, pineapple, nuts and seeds.
Get a little extra help
In the old days, dealing with PMS meant running to the GP only to hear “it’s part of life”, and whilst this may be true, there are ways in which supplementation can improve the way PMS affects your life. We now have nutraceuticals, which are supplements derived from food sources that have additional benefits to boost your health, and taking these – with your doctor’s approval – can help calm your PMS symptoms.
Dr Kruger recommends nutraceuticals supplements such as calcium and vitamin D3, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. Ginkgo biloba, vitamin B6, theanine and St John’s Wort are especially helpful if you have moods swings or experience anxiety and stress.
There are many natural alternatives that can assist in managing PMS, speak to your doctor to get the best recommendations to assist with your body’s symptoms.
Got a health question for Dr Maurits Kruger? You can ask him here.