Your period may not always be the most welcome monthly visitor, but usually the baggage it arrives with is even more difficult to accommodate adobe pdf pro! Like a tenacious aunt who announces her visit by first sending her luggage, your period may be preceded by everything from mood swings and tiredness to the occasional acne breakout.
Your body needs to be quite a hospitable environment to make your period as comfortable as possible. But this isn’t always possible as pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is a reality for one in three women.
World renowned anti-ageing expert Dr Daniel Sister says that PMS is generally caused by women having lower levels of progesterone a few days before they start menstruating.
According to the National Association for Pre-menstrual Syndrome, PMS can present as 150 common psychological and behavioural symptoms. Some symptoms include fluctuating moods and food cravings, which isn’t always the best thing when you’ve been trying hard to tame your sweet tooth and stay disciplined during the rest of the month!
But recent research suggests that your cravings can say much more about your health than what you may think. What your body wants may just be what your body needs.
Why do we get cravings before a period?
A study published in Annals of Endocrinology found that food cravings before your period are triggered by shifting levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels affect serotonin activity and levels, which play a big role in mood swings and food cravings. When serotonin levels are low, usually before a period, women often crave high-energy food like sugar and carbs.
Something sweet, like chocolate, will lead to a spike in serotonin and dopamine levels. This in turn will boost your mood and make you feel better.
Your cravings can say a lot about your health:
A woman’s body usually uses a lot of magnesium between ovulation and menstruation. The body therefore naturally has a need to replace its magnesium supplies by craving foods that are rich in magnesium. What is high in magnesium you might wonder? Cocoa beans. This can explain why so many women swap their carrots for chocolate during that time of the month. Other foods that are high in magnesium are green vegetables and oats. Magnesium can help to ease common menstrual symptoms like cramping, constipation, insomnia, headaches and tender breasts.
Cutting out carbs is often not a choice for women who feel that they can devour a month’s supply of pasta during the few days before their period! There’s no need to feel guilty about your little pleasure, because carbs are another common craving during PMS. In a study, researchers found that women generally increase their caloric intake by more than 1 100 calories daily when they’re premenstrual. Carbohydrates are high in energy and therefore your body may crave food that will give you as much energy as possible. The craving for carbs is triggered by the brain. Carb cravings are a signal that you need to eat something starchy, because your brain needs to make more serotonin.
During your period, a heavy flow can cause an iron deficiency which may lead to your body craving meat. An iron deficiency can happen when you lose so much blood during menstruation that your body’s iron stores become depleted. Without proper iron levels, you can develop a condition called iron-deficiency anaemia which includes symptoms that may overlap with those of PMS. However, these symptoms are present all-month-long and include fatigue, depression and mood swings.