Dr. Dunnewold explains the nutritional changes that can help a woman with severe PMS or PMDD.
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Eliminating caffeine is really important. Eliminating alcohol is often important for people as well that they find they react much more powerfully to those changes if they’ve had some drinks that week. So if you can just eliminate those two things in the week or 10 days before you get your menstrual cycle. There are lots of vitamins that are helpful too, calcium and magnesium, essential fatty acids like fish oil or flax oil, the B vitamins, those are all really, really helpful in controlling the symptoms. A diet that is high in complex carbs and vegetable protein is also very helpful, not sweets, not simple carbs like cookies and pudding and those sorts of things that women often crave, but things like whole wheat bread and red beans and rice and a handful of almonds. Those kinds of carbs seem to raise serotonin levels in the brain for people who are prone to mood disturbances. And so to supplement their diet that way and eat every two to three hours seems to keep those brain hormones more steady, and blood sugar stays more steady too, which certainly contributes to mood swings.
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