Your body needs extra care while you are on your period, to efficiently manage the symptoms you might experience. What you eat during this time makes a huge impact on how you feel. There are foods that can worsen your condition and while it may be tempting to binge on all that junk food, you need to steer clear of it to keep your health at its best.
But thankfully, there are also foods that help with the pain and bloating that is experienced by most women during their period.
Explore some food items you can eat to ease your discomfort; and those that you should avoid during your period.
What causes Menstrual Pain?
It’s very common that women experience a throbbing or cramping pain in their lower abdomen while menstruating. According to health experts, it is said that the uterus undergoes muscle contractions to aid the fall of the blood lining each month. This contraction is facilitated by hormone-like lipids known as “prostaglandins,” which are directly involved in pain and inflammation of the uterine muscles. Higher the levels of prostaglandins, more severe the menstrual cramps tend to be.
Foods to Eat
Green Leafy Vegetables
Your iron levels can take a hit on a heavy flow day. The addition of green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, lettuce, etc., to your diet, will help restore the iron content in your body. This in turn, can prevent issues such as fatigue, dizziness, and pain.
Fresh fruits are an excellent source of nutrients, essential minerals, and fibre. Water-rich fruits, such as watermelon, oranges, or strawberries, can help you stay hydrated during this time. They also suppress sugar cravings to keep your glucose levels in check.
According to a study, magnesium deficiency can worsen not only the symptoms of your menstrual period, but also pain in general throughout the body. Magnesium is the mineral that helps muscles to relax and loosen up. It is well established through various published scientific studies that a deficiency of magnesium in the body could lead to an accumulation of lactic acid in the body, which is the primary cause of pain.
Therefore, having foods like spinach, pumpkin, almonds, peanuts, foxnuts, and even dark chocolate (in moderation), which are known to elevate magnesium levels, could be the best natural remedy for period pain.
Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They also contain magnesium, which is an essential mineral for the body. Having a handful of nuts everyday shall prove to be an excellent health choice for you, especially on your period.
Alternatively, soak the nuts overnight in water which is known to increase the enzyme activity and absorption of the nutrients by the body. Flaxseeds and its oil are also recommended during this time.
Quinoa is a rich source of protein, iron, and magnesium. It is a healthy breakfast option with a low glycaemic index. This means it will keep your stomach full for a long time and curb untimely cravings that you regret later.
According to research the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that help relieve pain, fight diseases, cure depression, among other myriad of benefits of the bioactive compound ‘Curcumin,’ found naturally in turmeric. Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. There are also studies that showcase increased effects of turmeric by combining it with black pepper.
Chamomile is known for its antispasmodic quality i.e., relieving the spasmodic contractions of the uterine muscles. It helps with the pain great time. Having a cup of chamomile tea every day before going to bed would provide noticeable relief and help you fall asleep faster!
Foods to Avoid
Knowing what to AVOID eating is as important as knowing what foods to EAT. Here are a few foods to say no to, during your period.
Saturated fats in high-fat foods affect many hormones in the body. They have the potential to cause period pain and inflammation by raising prostaglandin levels in the body. It is therefore best to avoid a high fat diet during your period. Also, it is recommended to avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils or foods cooked in it to keep your period as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
Salty Processed Foods
Avoid salty processed foods like canned foods, fast foods, frozen foods, etc., as they contain high amounts of sodium. These foods cause water retention in the body which causes you to feel heavy and bloated up.
An increase in sugar levels might give you a burst of energy temporarily but would drop down almost immediately, making you feel low subsequently. It may be difficult to resist your cravings, but consuming sugar in moderate amounts would be better, at least during your period. This would even help you control your mood swings. Also, avoiding refined grains, such as bread, pizza, tortillas, etc., would prove to be a good decision for your period health.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and cream contain arachidonic acids, which can induce cramping during your periods. They could also result in bloating or flatulence. The presence of artificial hormones in dairy products may lead to adult acne. So, beware!
Drinking too much coffee leads to water retention and bloating. It also contributes to digestive problems and headaches. Coffee is a known dehydrant and therefore must be avoided. Keeping away from all dehydrating substances is highly recommended!
Red meat contains prostaglandins that cause menstrual cramps. Your body anyway produces prostaglandins during this time and serving more of it from the outside on top of it wouldn’t be such a good idea. This is why it is best to avoid red meat while menstruating.
Aerated drinks like soda etc. can contribute to bloating. Furthermore, the sugar content of such drinks is extremely high. Avoid them at all costs and increase your water intake instead.
Alcohol definitely worsens the symptoms you’ve been experiencing during your period as it majorly dehydrates the body. It causes headaches, bloating, nausea, and other symptoms. Not to mention that a hangover is not ideal at this time.
A well-balanced diet with the right foods can help you get through your period smoothly. It may be difficult to get used to these changes at first, but it will reduce the cramps significantly. Try to indulge in light stretching exercises or yoga to alleviate the pain. Period cramps are common and we hope this article would help you ease the discomfort to some extent at the very least. If you experience severe pain, we recommend that you consult a doctor just to be sure that there aren’t any other underlying issues. Have a happy and safe period!
The priority, in this blog, is to supply the reader with clear and unambiguous information. However, neither The New Me nor Gagan Dhawan makes promises, or guarantees regarding the completeness of the information found here. The content is not a replacement for advice of a licensed professional. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer’s.