You are what you eat. So it’s not breaking news to learn that your period can actually be managed through your diet. While premenstrual syndrome is a natural phenomena, eating certain foods while avoiding others can actually help to alleviate its intensity.
About 90% of women experience PMS, while more than 50% have it worse. Watching your diet is therefore necessary to ensure a smooth period each month.
It is not so much what you eat while on your periods, (hey, you, snack babe) but more about what you eat days before your period even begins. So you can still have your favorite snack during your periods even if it’s in our “foods to avoid” list but keep it at a minimum as your period approaches.
Foods make or break our hormones. And menstruation being a hormone-regulated process, certain foods can interfere with how these hormones get released into the bloodstream and exacerbate PMS symptoms like cramping, mood swings, nausea, and vomiting.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce intensity of pain. They also help combat depression, which is a serious PMS symptom. Taking foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids will see you take less ibuprofen. They include:
Fish and other seafoods
It is estimated that 220 to 250mg of iron per pint of blood is lost during menstruation. That explains why you feel lethargic during your periods especially if you don’t take enough foods rich in iron before menstruation. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and collards are rich in iron and fiber. Not only do they help replenish the lost iron, they reduce bloating and water retention problems thanks to their high magnesium content.
If you experience bloating during menstruation, it has to do with insufficient potassium levels. Potassium helps restore the natural fluid balance in our bodies, and guess where you can get a chock-full of it? In bananas.
Source your proteins from plant proteins as it’s more healthy and less fatty. Lentils and beans have 20% to 25% protein content. You need the protein to lower your sugar craving and avoid sugar rush that often leads to lethargy. You also need it to restore the blood lost during menstruation.
Nuts are awesome sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also better for snacking because they’re filling than chips.
Caffeine exacerbates menstrual pain according to the National Institute of Health. How? By constricting blood vessels and increasing blood pressure which leads to more intense uterine contractions.
That chocolate chip cookie you love enjoying while watching your favorite show during your period is actually making the problem worse. Sugar spikes your blood sugar levels, and then suddenly crashes it causing you to have extreme fatigue, bad mood swings, acne, and fluctuating energy levels.
Prostaglandin is a hormone whose functions include controlling the contraction of the uterus among many others. There are two types of prostaglandins. PGE1 and PGE2. PGE2 is associated with those murderous cramps and inflammation during your periods and its production is stimulated by fatty acids from dairy and other animal-sourced fats.
PGE1 is the one you want. It causes uterine relaxation, and thereby reducing your cramps. It’s stimulated by omega-3-rich fats.
Dairy contains fats that stimulate production of Prostaglandin 2 which causes severe uterine contractions. It is also linked to inflammation. Dairy foods simulate its production throughout your cycle. It’s therefore best to avoid such foods and other processed salty foods especially before your period begins.
Foods to take:
Foods to avoid: