5 Food Hacks for a Healthy & Pain-free Period
Around 80% of women experience menstrual pain, also called dysmenorrhoea, in their lifetime. While having menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms (acne, mood swings, migraines, cramps, bloating, irritability etc…) is widely common among women, it is certainly not normal. Having a healthy and pain-free period is possible once we make the necessary dietary changes to improve menstrual health. Here are 5 natural hacks that can help you significantly reduce menstrual cramps, PMS symptoms and have a healthy and happy period.
Reduce inflammatory food
Reducing or eliminating inflammatory food from your diet can help alleviate menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms. Foods that cause chronic inflammation of the body impact our blood sugar levels, immunity and hormones. This can lead to hormonal imbalance: your body starts producing more estrogen resulting in menstrual cramps, PMS symptoms and heavier period. Women who reduce or eliminate inflammatory from their diets usually experience less pain and PMS during the following cycle.
Inflammatory foods include:
Red meat and processed meat
Sodas, fizzy drinks and juices
Refined carbohydrates (white rice, pasta, white bread, white potatoes…)
Processed foods: any food with additives, artificial ingredients, artificial sweeteners
Eat fiber-rich foods
Eating foods that are rich in fiber such as fruits (apples, pears, oranges, prunes, mango…), vegetables (dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, artichokes, asparagus…) and legumes (beans, lentils…) helps improve digestive health and transit, reduce bloating, help the body eliminate excess hormones and toxins, and nourish the body with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs during menstruation. These foods are also high in iron and folic acid (dark leafy greens and legumes) which is beneficial to replenish your body, especially if you have heavy menstrual bleeding, and normalize menstrual cycle.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Reducing inflammation is key to alleviate menstrual cramps and PMS. The most efficient way to achieve this is to eat whole and anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna), olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, green leafy vegetables, nuts (almond and walnuts), flax seeds and chia seeds, herbs like turmeric and ginger… Having a anti-inflammatory diet is not only good for your period but for your overall health too as it can help prevent many chronic diseases.
Balance estrogen levels
Estrogen and progesterone are the main female sex hormones. When estrogen levels are higher, this usually leads to PMS (acne, mood swings, cramps, bloating, irritability, and other PMS symptoms) and fertility issues. If you find out you have estrogen dominance after testing your hormones, you will need to balance your estrogen levels to have a healthy menstrual cycle. This can be achieved by reducing high-estrogen foods from your diet such as soy, eating ground flax seeds and adding cruciferous vegetables to your meals everyday to help your body eliminate excess estrogen (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale…). You can also use herbs such as dandelion and milk thistle to help your body detoxify excess estrogen.
Listen to your body
Women go through 4 different phases during their menstrual cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each phase has its own energetics and nutritional needs as our hormones shift from one phase to the next. During the menstrual phase when we bleed, our bodies need to be nourished and taken care of. We may feel less outgoing and energized, and crave more warming and soothing foods and more rest. It’s important to listen to your body and give it what it needs. When we eat something that is bad for us, we usually know it because our body send us a signal. We may feel bloated or have trouble sleeping. Be gentle with yourself and trust your body wisdom.