If you’re bothered by irritability, aches, sleeplessness or other premenstrual problems, try switching from refined carbohydrates in your diet to whole grains. For example, swap out white bread for whole wheat, white rice for brown rice and potato chips for popcorn (yes, popcorn is a whole grain!).
In a 2019 study of 100 nurses diagnosed with premenstrual syndrome, those who cut back on refined carbs and ate four servings of whole grains daily experienced a reduction in emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms during their premenstrual phase.(1)
Why do whole grains improve PMS?
Refined carbs are known to trigger inflammation, they’re poor in nutrition and they disrupt blood sugar balance, which can impact sensitivity to plunging estrogen.
By contrast, whole grains help control inflammation, deliver beneficial nutrients (such as calming magnesium and mood-regulating zinc) and keep blood sugar stable since they digest slowly.
More research is needed to confirm these findings, but it’s certainly worth trying to see if this simple swap works for you.
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(1) Mozhgan Esmaeilpour, Sedigheh Ghasemian, Mohammad Alizadeh, “Diets enriched with whole grains reduce premenstrual syndrome scores in nurses: an open-label parallel randomised controlled trial,” British Journal of Nutrition, 121 (2019): 992-1001