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

Even better, this finding may lead to more effective ways to treat those pesky PMS symptoms.  And I'm not necessarily thinking of throwing more and stronger anti-inflammatory drugs at the problem. We have learned a lot in recent years about how to reduce chronic, systemic inflammation with dietary changes. Although I'd love to see a controlled study, testing how PMS symptoms might respond to an anti-inflammatory diet, I don't see any reason not to experiment while we wait.

If you're a long-time listener, you may remember a podcast from a few years back in which I talked about foods that fight inflammation. To refresh your memory, here are the five basic principles of an anti-inflammatory diet:

Five Basic Principles of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

1. Eat more monounsaturated fat than saturated fat. If you use olive oil as your primary cooking oil and don't go too crazy with the coconut oil, fatty meats and dairy, you should be fine. 

2. Eat more omega-3 and less omega-6.  This is also something I've explored in detail in previous episodes.  Although omega-6 fats aren't bad for you, you need to keep a balance between omega-6 and omega-3s.  For most of us, this means eating more fish, flax, and walnuts, and fewer fried foods and other things made with corn, soy, and vegetable oils.  

3. Keep your blood sugar steady.  Limit sweets and sweetened beverages, choose whole grains instead of refined grains—and don't overdo the whole grains either.

4. Eat your vegetables.  They're packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients. 

5. Spice it up.  Nature has supplied us with a whole bunch of potently anti-inflammatory spices that also make food taste amazing!  Ginger, onion, garlic, turmeric, and chili peppers are such anti-inflammatory superstars that they are going to be the stars of next summer's Marvel Comics blockbuster. Seriously, eat as much of them as you can. 

If you struggle with PMS symptoms, I think incorporating some of these anti-inflammatory strategies into your diet would be well worth a try—especially because an anti-inflammatory diet also offers long-term benefits in the form of reducing your risk of future disease. And I hope you'll get back to me and tell me whether it makes a difference for you. You can leave a comment below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.

See also: Does Eating Meat Make PMS Worse?


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.