It’s the bane of our existence but we’ve been coping with it as far back as we can remember. What are your three dreaded letters? Ours are PMS.

Your PMS Diet: 8 Do's and Don'ts to Live ByBoys don’t get it. We’ve been living with this raging problem so long that by now, we consider it a normal fact of life. Although the causes of PMS aren’t well understood, fluctuating levels of hormones and brain chemicals are thought to play a role. Not exactly news, right?

Well, here’s a newsflash for you. It turns out that we a woman eats and drinks may also have an effect on the level of PMS she experiences. So it’s about time we looked at some Do’s and Don’ts for getting through PMS with as little pain as humanly possible.

Your PMS Diet: 8 Do’s and Don’ts to Live By

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. That means you should be 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, you shouldn’t be OD’ing on the stuff. Instead, be careful to limit the amount of sodium you consume in the days leading 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 your body doesn’t need.

3. Do drink more water

Although this sounds counter-intuitive,water can actually alleviate PMS-related fluid retention. Drink plenty of H2O and aim for 8 to 10 glasses a day and even more when you exercise. The water will 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 right before your period. The good news is you don’t have to cut out all sweets. When the urge hits, reach for dark chocolate. It will do its job to satisfy your sweet tooth and as a bonus, it will boost your mood.

5. Don’t Consume Coffee

While you may need that daily cup (or three!) to be functional, studies show that caffeine increases levels of anxiety. 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, stock 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, flavourful bundle of nutrients.

7. Don’t Drink Alcohol

At PMS time, that calming glass of wine 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 zzz’s by eating bananas, which contain melatonin—a sleep-aid hormone that’s secreted at night and helps regulate your body’s natural rhythms.

Dr. Christopher Calapai is an Osteopathic Physician board certified 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.

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