Regular exercise is an excellent way to manage your PMS symptoms. Start with a program of regular aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, at least three to four times each week. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, biking or swimming offer many other health benefits, in addition to reducing your PMS discomfort.
There’s no question that PMS is closely related to stress. Reducing the stress in your life and promoting more time for relaxation will go a long way towards improving your quality of life and minimizing the effects of PMS. Deep breathing exercises, biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation techniques can be very effective in helping you control your response to PMS symptoms.
LIFESTYLE FACTORS Exercise for Premenstrual Syndrome Photo Gallery
The Bottom Line…
Leslie’s recommendations for managing PMS
1. Eat a high-carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrate-rich foods like whole grains, pasta, cereal, rice and fruit trigger the production of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter associated with relaxed, happier moods.
2. Eat once every four to five hours to keep your blood-sugar levels stable. Plan for between-meal snacks.
3. Choose low glycemic carbohydrate foods that get digested and converted to blood sugar more slowly than other carbohydrate-containing foods to stabilize your energy levels and keep hunger at bay.
4. Eat a low-fat diet as this may help to reduce the level of circulating estrogen.
5. If you suffer from breast tenderness and breast pain each month, consider trying evening primrose oil. Take three 500-milligram capsules twice daily. Buy a product that is standardized to 9 percent GLA.
6. If fluid retention, swelling, bloating and weight gain plague you, drastically cut back on sodium two weeks before your period (ideally all month long!). Aim for no more than 2400 milligrams of sodium each day.
7. Avoid alcohol for 7 to 14 days before your period since it causes fatigue and may affect your mood.
8. To help reduce irritability, anxiety and general fatigue, aim for no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day (preferably none).
9. If your PMS symptoms include depression, boost your intake of vitamin B6. Take 50 to 100 milligrams of B6 from day 16 of one menstrual cycle to day 3 of your next menstrual cycle.
10. Add a daily vitamin E supplement to your nutrition regime. It may help improve mood swings, anxiety, headache, food cravings and insomnia. And it may also protect from heart disease!
11. To help with mood swings, low back pain, food cravings and fluid retention, get 1000 to 1200 milligrams of calcium every day. If you rely on supplements, choose a calcium citrate pill with added vitamin D and magnesium.
12. Add magnesium-rich foods to your diet. Getting more magnesium may help improve mood swings, anxiety, fluid retention and headache. If you take a supplement (whether it’s combined with calcium or taken on its own), don’t take more than 350 milligrams. Choose a supplement made from magnesium citrate, aspartate, succinate or fumarate.
13. Once your diet and nutritional intake is up to speed, try a standardized extract of chasteberry (Vitex castus-angus) for overall PMS relief. Take 175 to 225 milligrams once daily. Buy a product that is standardized to 0.5 percent agnuside.
14. If fluid retention is your only PMS symptom, try 40 to 80 milligrams of ginkgo biloba three times daily. Start this on day 16 of your menstrual cycle and continue until the end of your next period. Buy an extract standardized to contain 24 percent ginkgo flavone glycosides.
15. To help prevent PMS migraine headaches, try 80 to 100 milligrams of powdered feverfew leaf once daily.
16. If vitamin B6 has not helped your monthly depression, try St. John’s wort. Take 300 milligrams three times daily. Buy a product standardized to contain 0.3 percent hypericin and a high amount of hyperforin. This herb may interact with a number of prescription medications.
17. Finally, if anxiety is your only PMS complaint, an herbal remedy called kava kava might help. Since kava may cause liver-related side effects, consult your doctor first.