Why you can trust Nutri Advanced  Every article on our site is researched thoroughly by our team of highly qualified nutritionists. Find out more about our editorial process.

A staggering 80% of women suffer every month with premenstrual symptoms, ranging from breast tenderness, weight gain and mood swings, to cravings, irritability and lack of energy. For 30 – 40% of these women, PMS symptoms can be so debilitating that they interfere with normal daily function.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is the general umbrella term, describing a group of over 150 physical and psychological symptoms, which can occur between ovulation and the start of a woman’s menstrual period; often only subsiding a few days into the period.

PMS differs from one woman to another, and ranges from mild, to a severe form known as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Symptoms vary in type, amount and duration too, lasting anything from a few days, to over a couple of weeks in extreme cases.

Whilst it is a complex health problem with a range of possible underlying causes, PMS isn’t something that you just need to live with; it is completely possible to feel calm, balanced and symptom-free throughout your monthly cycle.

If PMS is affecting your life, read on. Here is a simple 5-step plan that’s a great start towards being PMS-free.

PMS – 5 Step Plan

1) Deal with stress 

There can be many different underlying causes of PMS, however, stress is almost always involved to some degree. If you are struggling with monthly PMS symptoms, it’s crucial to take steps to reduce stress in your life. So important it’s worth repeating. If you are struggling with monthly PMS symptoms, it’s crucial to take steps to reduce sources of stress where possible and support your body’s ability to deal with stress. The first step is to identify the main sources and work out if there are any practical ways you can lessen the load. The second step is to regularly practice stress-reduction strategies to help you to deal with stress more effectively when it does come along. Gentle exercise such as yoga and walking are known to provide stress relief, as too is starting (and keeping up) a daily mindfulness meditation practice. www.headspace.com is a great place to begin. From a psychological perspective, when faced with stress, the most important thing you can do is to do somethingAny positive action, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, will help you to regain a sense of control. This then sends the message to your unconscious mind that you can cope, which helps to build psychological resilience. Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha may also help to support stress resilience during times of increased pressure.

2) Increase dietary fibre

For some women, excess oestrogen in relation to progesterone may be at the root cause of PMS symptoms. Insoluble dietary fibre such as lignin (found in flaxseeds and the bran layer of grains, beans and seeds) is important for helping to eliminate excess oestrogen out of the system and to bring hormones back into balance. Increase flaxseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, wholegrains such as oats and rye, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Fibre also helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, so can help to reduce sugary cravings. It may help to regulate bowel movements too.

3) Reduce sugar, caffeine & alcohol

Whilst it may seem a step too far to completely eliminate these from your diet, aim to at least reduce your intake by half if you want to get on top of PMS symptoms. Research has shown that the higher the level of sugar in a woman’s diet, the more severe her pre-menstrual symptoms will be. Caffeine is a stimulant that may exacerbate PMS symptoms by contributing to the roller coaster of mood swings and sugar cravings. Alcohol takes its toll on the liver; affecting its’ ability to effectively detoxify hormones that are no longer needed (such as oestrogen) and can also cause blood sugar fluctuations, which are bad news for PMS. Drink plenty of water, choose fruity and herbal teas and try out these delicious sugar-free dessert recipes.

4) Eat regularly

Regular meals may help to keep blood sugar levels nicely balanced, which is crucial if you want to reduce PMS symptoms. That’s because even blood sugar levels help to regulate stress hormones, which in turn support the balance of hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. Aim for 3 distinct meals daily. Choose fresh wholefoods (plenty of fresh vegetables, good quality protein such as chicken and fish, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, oily fish, beans, pulses and lentils) cooked from scratch. Find out more on supporting blood sugar balance here.

5) Increase magnesium, calcium, B vitamins & myo-inositol

Magnesium is often referred to as nature’s tranquiliser, due to its calming, soothing effects and impact on restful sleep, and is arguably the most crucial nutrient when it comes to PMS. Women with PMS have been shown to have low red blood cell magnesium compared to women without symptoms. A number of studies have also shown that magnesium supplements help with premenstrual symptoms, especially anxiety, tension and headaches. Low calcium is associated with irritability, anxiety, low mood, fatigue and muscle cramps. B vitamins are crucial for hormone balance, especially vitamin B6, which works closely with magnesium and plays an important role in making brain chemicals, which influence mood and behaviour. Myo-inositol is a naturally occurring, nutrient-like substance that has been studied in a variety of mood and behavioural disorders. A recent study in women with pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) found that supplementation with 2g myo-inositol daily was able to significantly reduce symptoms.  Using PMS supplements is a great way to manage symptoms.

Take the first step to being PMS-free…

PMS is a complex health problem affecting many women every month. The good news is that dietary and lifestyle changes can be incredibly effective at bringing back a sense of balance and wellbeing. Taking steps to reduce stress, improve your diet and optimise nutrient intake can have almost immediate effects on symptoms, which in turn becomes a motivating force to propel you towards even more positive changes.

PMS 5 Step plan – In A Nutshell

1. Deal With Stress - Identify any significant stressors in your life. Integrate stress reduction strategies into your weekly routine.

2. Increase Dietary Fibre - Increase flaxseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, wholegrains such as oats and rye, beans, lentils and chickpeas.

3. Reduce Sugar, Caffeine & Alcohol - Drink plenty of water, choose fruit and herbal teas and try out these delicious sugar-free dessert recipes.

4. Eat regularly - Eat 3 distinct meals daily. Choose wholefoods cooked from scratch. Support blood sugar balance.  Find out how to support your blood sugar balance in our simple guide.

5. Supplement Magnesium, Calcium, B Vitamins & Myo-Inositol - These key nutrients have a range of functions that may be beneficial in supporting PMS.

1.Woods NF et al. Major life events, daily stressors and perimenopausal symptoms. Nursing Research, vol. 34, pp. 263-7 (1985).
2. Facchinetti, F et al. Oestradiol / progesterone imbalance and the pre-menstrual syndrome.  Lancet, vol. 2, p. 1302 (1983).
3. Rossignol AM & Bonnlander H. Prevalence and severity of the pre-menstrual syndrome: Effects of foods and beverages that are sweet or high in sugar content.  Journal of Reproductive Medicine, vol 36, no 2, pp. 131-6 (1991).
4. Rosenstein DL, Elin RJ, Hosseini JM, Grover G, Rubinow DR. Magnesium measures across the menstrual cycle in premenstrual syndrome. Biol Psychiatry. 1994 Apr 15; 35(8):557-61.
5. Facchinetti F, Borella P, Sances G, Fioroni L, Nappi RE, Genazzani AR. Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Aug; 78 (2): 177-81.
6. Walker AF, De Souza MC, Vickers MF, Abeyasekera S, Collins ML, Trinca LA. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. J Womens Health. 1998 Nov; 7(9): 1157-65.
7. Quaranta S, Buscaglia MA, Meroni MG, Colombo E, Cella S. Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome.  Clin Drug Investig. 2007; 27(1): 51-8.
8. De Souza MC, Walker AF, Robinson PA, Bolland K. A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2000 Mar; 9(2): 131-9.
9. Fathizadeh N, Ebrahimi E, Valiani M, Tavakoli N, Yar MH. Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010 Dec; 15(Suppl 1): 401-5.
10. Facchinetti F, Sances G, Borella P, Genazzani AR, Nappi G. Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium. Headache. 1991 May; 31(5): 298-301.
11. Gianfranco C, Vittorio U, Silvia B, Francesco D. Myo-inositol in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2011 Oct;26(7):526-30. doi: 10.1002/hup.1241.
12. Ward MW, Holimon TD. Calcium treatment for premenstrual syndrome. Ann Pharmacother. 1999 Dec; 33(12): 1356-8.
13. Wyatt KM, Dimmock PW, Jones PW, Shaughn O'Brien PM. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ. 1999 May 22; 318(7195): 1375-81.

This website and its content is copyright of Nutri Advanced ©. All rights reserved. See our terms & conditions for more detail.

Nutri Advanced has a thorough research process and for any references included, each source is scrutinised beforehand. We aim to use the highest value source where possible, referencing peer-reviewed journals and official guidelines in the first instance before alternatives. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate at time of publication on our editorial policy.