Eating carbs not linked to risk of developing PMS

February 21, 2018 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Eating carbs not linked to risk of developing PMS

The amount of foods containing sugars or other carbohydrates that a woman eats has nothing to do with the likelihood she will start experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS), researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst say

 “While there are dietary recommendations to alleviate symptoms, such as increasing complex carbohydrates or reducing sugar intake, there’s been very little research done on risk factors for developing PMS,” said lead author of the study.

Women with clinical PMS have symptoms that interfere with many aspects of daily life including work, school and relationships with friends and family. Up to 20 percent of women experience physical and emotional symptoms leading up to and during the first few days of their periods each month.

To see whether carbohydrate or fibre intake has any influence on the risk of developing PMS in the first place, the researchers looked at data from a large long-term study of women. Participants included female nurses who were between 25 and 42 years old when the study began in 1989 and who answered yearly questionnaires about their diets and health.

When the researchers compared 1,234 women who were eventually diagnosed with PMS to 2,426 women who did not have the condition, they found no difference in risk of developing PMS during 14 years of follow-up based on daily intakes of total sugar, added sugars, natural sugars, sucrose, fructose or glucose.

The findings suggest that the total amount of carbohydrates and fibre, and types of carbohydrates a woman consumes are not linked to the risk of developing PMS. (But eating a healthy diet that’s low in refined carbohydrates and is high in fibre-rich whole grains is tied to protection from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.)  

Only one sugar, maltose, was linked to a 45 percent increased risk for PMS among women who consumed a lot of it compared with those who ate the least. (Researchers say that result needs further study to explain.) Maltose tends to be consumed in small quantities from foods like cooked sweet potatoes, beer and other malted beverages, and processed foods.

The strengths of this study include that it included a large group of premenopausal women over a significant period of time and there was a high response rate throughout.

The drawbacks include that the evaluation and diagnoses were done by a questionnaire, which can lead to error due to underreporting.

It’s unclear whether diet modification and supplements improve symptoms when compared to placebo. And according to the researchers, there is poor data supporting the efficacy of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 supplementation.

Proven therapies include the use of drugs that prevent ovulation such as oral contraceptives pills and

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online January 29, 2018.

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