Magazine article USA TODAY

Low-Fat Diet Reduces Cramps and PMS

Magazine article USA TODAY

Low-Fat Diet Reduces Cramps and PMS

Article excerpt

Women following a low-fat, vegetarian diet can expect significant reductions in menstrual pain and PMS symptoms, according to a study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in conjunction with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Medical Center, both located in Washington, D.C. "Approximately 10% of all women suffer such severe pain during their menstrual cycles that they are forced to miss work and other activities," Neal D. Barnard, PCRM president and a nutrition researcher, points out.

Among the main causes of their pain are chemicals called prostaglandins, made from traces of fat stored in cell membranes. Barnard and his colleagues hypothesized that, if women reduced their fat consumption, they would decrease their estrogen levels as well, which would, in turn, reduce cell growth and prostaglandin production. "Our goal was to smooth out the hormonal roller coaster many of them experience each month," says Barnard, who had noticed that former patients overcome terrible menstrual pain after changing to a low-fat diet.

"We also hypothesized that high-fiber diets, especially vegetarian diets, would increase a protein in the blood called sex-hormone binding globulin, which binds and inactivates estrogen in the bloodstream until it is needed. …

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