Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help PMS Sufferers?

If you struggle with PMS symptoms, incorporating anti-inflammatory strategies into your diet is well worth a try.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
3-minute read
Episode #388

Although often the punch-line of jokes, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a serious business, affecting four out of five women of child-bearing age. And we're not just talking about a little irritability and chocolate cravings. Half of all women have symptoms so severe that they seek medical treatment for them and one in ten have it so bad that it significantly interferes with their ability to function.

Treatments for PMS range from pain relievers to anti-depressants, but research just published in the Journal of Women's Health opens up an intriguing new pathway for relief.

What Did the Research Find?

New research suggests an intriguing new possibility for relief.

The researchers found that women reporting PMS symptoms like moodiness, weight gain or bloating, increased appetite, food cravings, cramps, and breast tenderness, were also significantly more likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood. CRP, as you may know, is a sign of chronic inflammation. 

Of the symptoms that they studied, only premenstrual headaches were not associated with elevated inflammation markers. The link was just as strong in women who reported only one or two symptoms as it was in those who had them all. 

This is not the first study to find a link between PMS and inflammation markers, but it is by far the largest and the most diverse population that's been studied and the findings confirmed those of earlier, smaller studies. Translation: this is something we can actually take seriously.

Is PMS a Risk Factor for Future Health Issues?

Your doctor can test your C-reactive protein with a simple blood test, the way you would test for cholesterol. And, in fact, doctors are starting to do this more and more—because CRP says a lot more about your health than your cholesterol levels. 

See Also: Is the Link Between Cholesterol and Heart Disease Bogus?

Elevated CRP levels signal an increased risk of all kinds of health conditions, everything from heart disease, to depression, osteoporosis, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and even dementia and Alzheimer's.  

See also: How Does the MIND Diet Protect Against Alzheimer's?

If women with PMS are more likely to have elevated CRP, the researchers concluded, then symptoms could provide an early warning sign of an increased risk for other diseases.  (And when it comes to warning signs, earlier is almost always better.)

Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help with PMS?


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.