It’s not exactly news that giving your body extra tender, loving care while you’re on your period might help your symptoms feel a little more bearable. What you consume during your entire cycle, long before you begin bleeding, can have a bigger effect than you may be aware of. This is so because what we eat directly affects the hormonal balance in our bodies, and some foods can worsen symptoms like cramps, mood swings, nausea, and bloating.
Nutrients are beneficial to your body, which desires them. This is because your hormones and what you consume are closely intertwined. To influence hormone production and secretion, nutrients from food directly affect the gut and nervous system. Your diet, how much you eat, and how frequently you eat all impact your hormones’ health. Focusing on specific foods during your menstrual phase is beneficial to support your hormones and manage any potential discomfort and cramps, even though nourishing your body for hormone health is always important.
What Foods to Eat During your Period?
Your general health may depend on the nutrition you consume during your menstrual cycle and even the days before. Periods can be uncomfortable and painful, but eating healthfully can help you feel comfortable and provide your body with the nutrition it needs.
Water consumption is crucial at all times, but it’s crucial during your period. You can avoid water retention and bloat by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration headaches, a typical menstrual symptom, can be prevented by maintaining hydration. Here are some healthy foods to eat during the period:
- Fruit: Fruits high in water content, such as watermelon and cucumber, are excellent for maintaining hydration. Without consuming a lot of refined sugar, which can cause your blood sugar levels to soar and then collapse, sweet fruits can help you control your sugar cravings.
- Leafy Green Vegetables: When you’re on your period, especially if your menstrual flow is thick, it’s typical to see a drop in your iron levels. Dizziness, weariness, and physical pain may result from this. Eating leafy greens like kale and spinach can increase your iron levels. Magnesium is also abundant in spinach.
- Ginger: A warm cup of ginger tea can help with some menstrual problems. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger helps relieve sore muscles. However, avoid taking too much ginger: More than 4 grams in a single day may result in heartburn and stomachaches.
- Chicken: You can also include chicken in your diet because it is a protein- and iron-rich item. Protein is crucial for general health and can keep you satisfied and full throughout your period, reducing cravings.
- Fish: Fish is a wholesome addition to your diet because it is high in iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. A 2012 study found that omega-3s help lessens the intensity of period pain. The drop in iron levels you can encounter while menstruating will be prevented by consuming iron.
- Turmeric: Curcumin, the primary ingredient of turmeric, is a spice noted for its anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2015 study, researchers examined how curcumin affected PMS symptoms and discovered that those who used curcumin experienced fewer severe symptoms.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy snack because it’s high in iron and magnesium. Sixty-seven percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for iron and 58 percent of the RDI for magnesium are each present in a 100-gram bar of 70 to 85% dark chocolate.
- Nuts: Most nuts are a wonderful source of protein and are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They also include vitamins and magnesium. Try nut butter or milk made from nuts if you don’t want to eat nuts yourself, or include these foods in smoothies.
- Quinoa: Iron, protein, and magnesium are among the nutrients that are abundant in quinoa. Additionally, it is gluten-free, making it a wonderful food for anyone with celiac disease. Additionally, it has a low glycemic index, so you’ll probably feel satisfied and energetic for a while after eating it.
- Yogurt: Yeast infections are common during or after periods. Yogurt is a probiotic-rich food that can feed the “good” bacteria in your vagina and may aid in the prevention of yeast infections if you are prone to getting them. Magnesium and other necessary elements, like calcium, are also abundant in yogurt.
- Tofu: Tofu is a product derived from soybeans and is a well-liked source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. It contains a lot of calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Foods to Avoid
- Salt: Salt intake causes water retention, which can cause bloating. Avoid highly processed meals that are heavy in sodium and avoid adding salt to your food to decrease bloating. Here are the foods which you should avoid during periods:
- Sugar: While eating sugar in moderation is acceptable, eating too much of it might result in an energy spike followed by a fall. This can make you feel worse. Watching your sugar intake can help you manage your mood if you frequently experience moodiness, depression, or anxiety during your period.
- Coffee: Bloating and water retention are side effects of caffeine. It may also make headaches worse. But if you’re used to having a few cups of coffee daily, don’t stop drinking it entirely because caffeine withdrawal can also lead to headaches.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can have several harmful consequences on your health, which might make your period symptoms worse. Alcohol, for instance, can dehydrate you, which can make headaches worse and lead to bloating. Additionally, it may result in digestive problems like diarrhea and sickness.
- Spicy Foods: Many people find those spicy foods upset their stomachs, giving them diarrhea, stomach pain, and even nausea. If your stomach struggles to tolerate spicy foods or you’re not used to eating them, it might be best to avoid them during your period.
- Red Meat: Your body creates prostaglandins throughout your menstruation. These substances aid in uterine contraction and uterine lining elimination, causing menstrual flow. However, cramps are a result of excessive prostaglandin levels. Although red meat has a lot of iron, it also contains a lot of prostaglandins; hence it should be avoided when menstruating.
Which Nutrients do you Need During Periods?
The first week of the full month-long cycle is when menstruation happens, typically lasting between three days and a week. The uterine lining is shed at this time, causing a bleed, and estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. It is important to prioritize iron and vitamin B12.
A mineral called iron can be found in food naturally, as an additive to specific meals, or as a supplement. It is a crucial part of hemoglobin, a red blood cell protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. Iron is necessary for hormone synthesis, cellular health, brain development, and growth. Menstruating people are at risk for iron insufficiency because blood loss during menstruation depletes iron levels. Due to their rapid growth, limited dietary iron consumption, and menstruation, adolescents are especially vulnerable to iron deficiency.
Red blood cell production, metabolism, and neuron function depend on vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 aids in the production of stimulating and important red blood cells. The more red blood cells your body has, the more oxygenated and revitalized it becomes.
Example of a Meal Plan for Women During Periods
Your menstrual cycle is a 21-40-day fluctuation of hormones. Understanding which foods contain a particular nutrient is one thing, but using that information can occasionally be more challenging. A sample menu that includes meals rich in the nutrients a woman’s body needs during menstruation is provided below:
You now know which foods and lifestyle changes can improve your period-related discomfort. Maintain a supply of the proper ingredients and wholesome snacks. And keep in mind these important lessons:
- A well-balanced diet and lifestyle won’t erase period pain, but they can help regulate your hormones and lessen your discomfort.
- Focus on iron-rich foods during your period.
- Eat calcium-rich and estrogen-balancing foods after your period.
- It’s okay to overeat in the ten days leading up to your period as long as you make (mostly) healthy choices.
- Include other pain-solving remedies like heating pads, exercise, relaxation techniques, and meditation.
- Use a menstrual cup to reduce the length of your period and help you feel more comfortable.
Eating the right foods to satisfy your body’s needs and those of your changing hormone levels makes it easier to control your cravings, indulge in self-care, and recover from exhaustion with renewed vigor. Therefore, begin eating your way through a more pleasant time.
How to Handle Cravings?
Eating and avoiding certain foods isn’t the only action you can take to ease the symptoms of your period. Try these, too:
- Exercise- Some evidence suggests that exercise, such as light cardio and yoga can reduce menstrual cramps.
- Hot compresses- Hot water bottles or microwaveable hot compresses can soothe pain in your abdomen and back.
- Over-the-counter medication- Ibuprofen and other OTC meds can reduce your cramps.
- Massages- Massaging your stomach or your back can reduce menstrual pain. In a small 2010 study, messages soothed the pain in 23 subjects with endometriosis.
Food plays a critical role in growth, development, metabolism, reproduction, and mood, all of which depend on appropriate hormone production and function. Your symptoms and food sensitivities will greatly impact the foods you decide to eat or stay away from. While some meals can help you feel better during your period, others can make your symptoms worse.
Estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest concentrations during the menstrual phase, which is a turbulent time. Concentrate on foods high in iron and vitamin B12 to support the body and keep you feeling your best. Due to drops in serotonin, your brain’s feel-good hormone, cravings are frequently experienced during your period. These cause desires for sweets and foods high in carbohydrates. To fight these cravings, prepare nutrient-dense foods like fruit, dark chocolate, high-fiber bread, and whole grains.
In conclusion, our diet significantly affects every aspect of our health, including our menstrual cycle and symptoms. You can also try some workouts to see if they can ease your period cramps. Along with these items, we also advise you to steer clear of several others that may make your cramps worse.
Consult a doctor if your period pain is so severe that it interferes with your ability to function. This can be a sign of a more serious health problem.