Managing PMS With Nutrition and Exercise

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is a medical condition that affects countless numbers of women a week or so prior to the onset of menstruation.

PMS has a variety of symptoms including anxiety, depression, loss of concentration, insomnia, fluid retention, headaches, pelvic discomfort, and fatigue among others.

While the exact cause of PMS is not known, its symptoms can often be alleviated by proper diet, nutritional supplements (if necessary), and regular exercise.

What Causes PMS?

To put it simply, no one really knows what causes PMS although there are a variety of theories. Some researchers believe hormones are the culprits, while others feel that vitamin deficiencies (Vitamins A and B6 primarily) may be the cause.

Still others attribute PMS to a lack of the essential fatty acid GLA which causes a shortage of Prostaglandin E1 (a substance that regulates blood pressure, mood swings, and blood sugar levels).

PMS and Diet

Diet cannot “cure” PMS, but research shows that some foods aggravate PMS while others help to relieve PMS symptoms. The following list offers dietary recommendations for PMS sufferers.


  • Sugar
  • Refined (white) flour
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Soft drinks
  • Salty foods
  • Fatty or fried food
  • Whole milk products


  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Whole grain flour
  • Water
  • Fruit juice
  • Lean poultry/fish
  • Poached/baked/broiled food
  • Low-fat dairy products


PMS and Supplements

Many women have reported successful reduction of PMS symptoms through the use of nutritional supplements such as Vitamins A and B6. Evening Primrose Oil (available in capsule form at most health food stores) is a substantial source of GLA, and has also enjoyed some degree of success. If you are interested in trying nutritional supplements, however, check with your health care professional for recommended dosages and frequency.

PMS and Exercise

Along with nutritional adjustments, regular exercise can help to relieve one of the primary symptoms of PMS -stress. Regular aerobic exercise increases the body’s level of endorphins (natural sedatives), improves circulation, and promotes cardiovascular health. Exercise also helps release pent-up anxiety and tension.

What Next?

While we all look forward to the next step — finding the cause and cure of PMS — it’s encouraging to know that there’s a great deal that you yourself can do to relieve the symptoms of PMS.

The symptoms of PMS can often be alleviated by a combination of diet, nutrition, and exercise.

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