Premenstrual syndrome is a set of symptoms that occur periodically before menstruation. Up to 10% of women suffer from a severe form of this syndrome that makes their lives miserable.
What is PMS?
All women experience physiological changes in their body caused by the rise and fall of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones have an effect on neurotransmitters in the brain which in turn control our emotions and mood. In this case, serotonin, dopamine and endorphins are affected by the changes. Serotonin causes relaxation, drowsiness, stabilizes mood, regulates appetite and sensitivity to pain. Endorphins stabilize mood, cause euphoria, reduce stress and sensitivity to pain. Dopamine regulates energy utilization, affects concentration, physical activity and blood pressure.
During the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle in the follicular phase of the cycle, estrogen levels are high and progesterone levels are low. When estrogen is in higher concentrations, the concentration of serotonin in the brain is also increased. Then the mood is good, we feel relaxed. About the fourteenth day of the cycle ovulation occurs and at that point the endorphin concentration has reached its highest point. Then women feel the peak of good mood or euphoria, their life is wonderful.
The next two weeks are followed by the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle in which estrogen falls and progesterone levels rise. When the hormone progesterone grows, the level of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins in the brain decreases. When these neurotransmitters fall to a low level, there is a change in mood and appetite.
Also, during the luteal phase, insulin sensitivity increases, which has an impact on eating habits. So, a few days before menstruation, thanks to the biochemical changes described above, women feel the need for sweet foods, especially ice cream and chocolate. They become emotionally tense, irritable, often change their mood for no external rational reason (but have a biochemically justified reason in the brain), some suffer from depression, headaches. They often cry for an insignificant reason, they are quarrelsome and dissatisfied.
How to help yourself?
First aid can be a piece of chocolate, and to control your mood during those days you need to learn what increases the concentration of serotonin in the brain. Physical activity of 45 minutes three times a week has been shown to have a positive effect on the growth of endorphins in the brain which improves mood.
Physical activity also increases insulin sensitivity, so our need for unlimited amounts of sugary foods will be less. If we give in to the urge and eat a huge amount of chocolate, it won’t be bad at all before exercising to avoid feeling guilty. After exercise, the liquid should be replenished, preferably with spring water or the juice of drained citrus fruits. You should eat foods without concentrated sugars and low glycemic index. It is best to distribute food in 5-6 smaller meals a day to have equal blood glucose levels during those days. This will also prevent the feeling of tiredness and lethargy after an overeating meal.
B vitamins and vitamin E help stabilize mood as do the minerals zinc, magnesium and calcium. Omega 3 fat acids have a beneficial effect. Women who have heavy periods should replenish iron in the body. Some of the low glycemic index foods are: apples, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, plums, spruce, tomatoes, rice, skim milk, eggs, fish, veal, turkey, chicken, nuts fruits, olive oil. Medium glycemic index foods include grapes, oranges, strawberries, peaches, pineapple, integral or whole grain pasta, peas, whole grain or integral bread, cereals.