Foods to eat and avoid during periods

Women often go through painful periods; here are a few tips to guide you through a healthy diet to help ease the cramps

As important as it is for women to have a healthy menstruation cycle, as difficult as it is to maintain so. Due to a non-healthy lifestyle and stress, women often go through painful periods every month. These uncomfortable symptoms can be reduced by consuming certain foods including fruits and leafy greens. On the other hand, spicy foods and red meat may make them more severe.

Read further to know what food you need to eat or avoid in order to go through those times of the month with much ease.

First, know what are the common symptoms of an abnormal menstruation cycle:

  • abdominal cramps
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • bloating
  • mood swings
  • diarrhea

If you experience any of these symptoms, adding certain foods to your diet and removing others can help you feel better.

Foods to eat:

  1. Water- Staying hydrated can reduce the chances of getting dehydration headaches, which is a common problem most women face during menstruation.
  2. Fruits- opt for water-rich fruits, such as cucumber and watermelon, as they will help you stay hydrated. The sweetness of the fruits can also help you curb your sugar cravings without having to consume refined sugars, which can increase glucose levels and result in high blood sugar.
  3. Leafy green vegetables- Iron levels usually degrade during the period, particularly if the menstrual flow is heavy. This can lead to fatigue, bodily pain, and dizziness. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach can help elevate iron levels and neutralize bodily functions. Spinach is also rich in magnesium.
  4. Ginger- Ginger is effectively known to ease period cramps. A warm cup of ginger tea can most certainly improve certain symptoms of menstruation. Its inflammatory effects can soothe achy muscles. Other than that, ginger reduces nausea and vomiting, confirmed by studies on pregnant women. Most importantly, since it is cheap and can be found very easily, it is worth trying. However, do not consume too much ginger as more than 4 grams in one day could cause heartburn and stomachaches.
  5. Chicken- For all the chicken lovers, it is time to treat yourself. Rich in iron and protein chicken is a superfood worth adding to your diet. It is essential for your overall health and can help you stay full during the period making the brain avoid other cravings.
  6. Fish- Rich in iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a nutritious addition to your diet. While iron in fish can boost your iron levels, omega 3s can reduce the intensity of period pain. Omega 3 supplements have not only been found to decrease menstrual pain but also help those with depression. It can balance mood swings and depression around menstruation.
  7. Turmeric- Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric’s main ingredient is curcumin, which is an active ingredient that has great effects on PMS symptoms.
  8. Dark Chocolate- Doctors often advise consuming some dark chocolate during periods, as it lifts the mood and makes one feel pampered. However, this tasty snack has more to provide than just a warm hug. It is rich in iron and magnesium. Notably, magnesium has been proven to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.
  9. Nuts- Most nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are a great source of protein. They also contain magnesium and various vitamins.
  10. Flaxseed oil- Flaxseed oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. As per the studies, a person requires only about 1,100- 1,600 milligrams of omega-3s per day.
  11. Quinoa- This gluten-free superfood is packed with nutrients such as iron, protein, and magnesium. It also has a low glycemic index, which means you are likely to feel full and have energy for a long time after eating it.
  12. Lentils and beans- There is no mystery that lentils and beans are filled with protein, which makes them a good replacement for meat. They are also rich in iron and which is one of the most important nutrients that women require the most during their periods.
  13. Yogurt- Yeast infection is one of the common symptoms observed by many females during their period. For those who suffer from such symptoms, probiotic-rich foods like yogurt can nourish the “good bacteria in the vagina and help fight the infections.”
  14. Peppermint tea- According to studies, peppermint tea has been proven worth taking during periods as it soothes the symptoms of PMS and relieves menstrual cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

Foods to avoid:

  1. Salt- Too much salt consumption can lead to water retention, hence resulting in bloating. To prevent going through such a phase, minimize or discard the usage of salt in your food and avoid highly processed foods that contain a lot of sodium.
  2. Sugar- It is important for everyone to consume sugar in moderation every day. Eating too much can spike in energy followed by a crash, on the other hand not having any can drain you of energy. Anyway, you will be left in a bad mood, depressed, and feeling anxious during your period. Therefore, tracking your sugar intake can help regulate your mood.
  3. Coffee- Caffeine easily causes bloating and can also exacerbate headaches. However, those who are habituated to having coffee every day, may not cut it down completely, as sudden withdrawal can cause headaches too. But you can lower the intake.
  4. Alcohol- Alcohol consumption is bad for the body in every way but during menstruation, it can exacerbate the symptoms making things worse for you. It causes bloating, digestive issues, diarrhea, and nausea.
  5. Spicy food- Many people have addressed that spicy foods upset their stomachs, and give them diarrhea, stomach pain, and even nausea. So, if you are one of those who struggle to tolerate spicy foods, avoid them during periods for your best.
  6. Red meat- During your period, your body produces prostaglandins. These compounds help your uterus contract and get rid of the uterine lining, resulting in your menstrual flow. However, high levels of prostaglandins cause cramps. Red meat may be high in iron, but it is also high in prostaglandins and should be avoided during menstruation
  7. Foods that your body doesn’t tolerate well- It is advisable to stay away from food your body doesn’t tolerate, especially during periods. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, do not play with your body at this time of the year, it will only worsen your situation and make it hard for you to survive the days.

Apart from food intake, if the cramps stay, here are a few things you must try to ease your condition:

  • Exercise- Evidence suggests that exercises like light cardio and yoga help reduce menstrual cramps.
  • Hot compress- Hot water compress has proven to soothe period pain in the abdomen and back.
  • Medication- If the pain is intolerable, consider taking medicines specifically sold for period cramps.
  • Messages- Massaging your stomach or your back can reduce menstrual pain.
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