Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is such a regular occurrence for many women that they consider it a normal part of getting their period.
The Mayo Clinic estimates about 75 percent of women get at least some form of PMS.
What a woman eats and drinks can also have an effect.
Dr. Christopher Calapai, a Manhattan board certified Osteopathic Physician in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine shares do’s and don’ts for getting through PMS as pain free as possible.
1) Do get more calcium
Some studies have shown that calcium levels are lower in women with PMS, and that those with the highest intake of calcium reported the mildest PMS symptoms. Dr. Calapai suggests sourcing your calcium from foods such as low-fat milk and dairy, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, and leafy greens.
2) Don't consume excessive salt
Salt increases water retention, so if you suffer from premenstrual bloating, do limit the amount of sodium you consume in the run up to your period. Eliminate the salt shaker, and cut back on the canned foods, processed foods and condiments, all of which are overflowing with sodium.
3) Do drink more water
“Although this sounds counter-intuitive,” says Dr. Calapai, “Water can actually alleviate PMS-related fluid retention. Drink plenty of H2O -- aim for 8 to 10 glasses a day; more when you exercise -- to flush toxins out of your system and reduce premenstrual bloating.”
4) Do Eat Dark Chocolate
Craving the sugary confections like chocolate and cupcakes is totally normal. Try and reach for dark chocolate when you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. A bonus is, it will boost your mood.
5) Don’t Consume Coffee
While you may need that daily cup (or two) to be functional, studies show that caffeine increases levels of anxiety. Dr. Calapai explains that, “Your blood vessels contract when caffeine is present in your body, which worsens menstrual cramps. Also, for those with loose stool while on their periods, adding caffeine to your diet will make it difficult for your body to retain water and worsen diarrhea.”
6) Do Eat Greens
Losing a lot of blood can cause iron deficiency, which can cause lightheadedness or nausea. To counteract this problem, Dr. Calapai recommends stocking up on darker greens, like spinach, kale and broccoli to get your iron levels back up, but avoid eating them raw. For spinach, sautée with minced garlic and olive oil for a warm, flavorful bundle of nutrients!
7) Don’t Drink Alcohol
It will only worsen feelings of depression and moodiness. One study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology also found that regular alcohol consumption increased length of and severity of cramps in women who experience cramps during PMS.
8) Do Eat Bananas
Sleep disturbances right before your period are the norm for many women. Plus, experts at John Hopkins University in Baltimore found that too little sleep made women more susceptible to pain (meaning those cramps will feel even worse). So make sure to get your z's by eating bananas, which contain melatonin—a sleep-aid hormone that's secreted at night and helps regulate our body's natural rhythms.
Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is a board certified Osteopathic Physician in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed as the "The Stem Cell Guru" by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S.
Dr. Calapai started his practice in New York City in 1986 and for over 25 years he has hosted nationally syndicated radio shows, including his two weekly call-in shows on WABC 770-AM, where he offers health and medical advice.
His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer's, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson's.