Cramps, bloating, heavy flow, nausea, migraines, diarrhoea; period symptoms are endless and vary. While it’s hard to predict exactly how you’ll feel during your period, taking precautions and trying remedies do help. One way to ensure that your period causes less mayhem than usual is to consume a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet.
TC46 connected with Nutritionist & Dietician Dr Roopshree Jaiswal of Motherhood Hospital, Indore to know more about the effect of food choices on your period experience. Here she talks about managing period symptoms effectively along with supplement and diet tips.
1. Common symptoms during periods and how can one manage them effectively
Menstruation occurs on a monthly basis when the lining of the uterus breaks down and leaves the body through the vagina. The symptoms during periods can be different from woman to woman here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Leg, back, or stomach cramping
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Acne breakouts
Some effective ways to manage the pain are:
- Lie down and put a pillow under your knees or lie on the side and bring the knees up to the chest as it can help relieve back pressure
- Try doing some moderate-intensity exercise as it helps blood flow and may reduce cramping
- Put a heating pad on your belly or try taking a warm bath as heat improves blood flow and may ease the pain
- Women can try anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain after consulting with their gynaecologist
2. Menstrual cramps happen when the uterus contracts to help expel its lining
Menstrual cramps happen when the uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Prostaglandins are the hormone involved in pain and inflammation of the uterine muscle. Increased levels of prostaglandins can lead to severe menstrual cramps.
3. 11 food items to be eaten during your period
Food times one can consume that may help during their periods are:
- Berries: They include minerals that can help balance out the hormonal changes.
- Lentils & Beans: Lentils and beans are rich in protein iron, which helps with blood flow.
- Chamomile Tea: According to studies, Chamomile tea relaxes muscles, eases nerves, reduces hormone-related anxiety which is helpful during periods.
- Flax Seeds: It helps flush out excess estrogen that can lead to heavy bleeding and
- Chickpeas: It is full of B6 which helps with progesterone levels during menstruation.
- Bananas: It is full of potassium that helps restore the natural fluid balance in our bodies, and bananas are chock-full of it.
- Yoghurt: Yoghurt is rich in magnesium and other essential nutrients, like calcium helps during periods.
- Ginger Tea: Ginger teas have anti-inflammatory effects, which can soothe achy muscles.
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Leafy green vegetables help to fight fatigue, bodily pain, and dizziness during periods.
- Fruits: Watery fruits like watermelon and cucumber, are great for staying hydrated which is essential during periods.
- Beans: Beans are filled with magnesium that helps boost serotonin levels and diminish water retention.
4. Herbs, spices and seeds to add to your diet to help with the symptoms
- Fennel Seeds: Fennel reduces nausea and fatigue and improves general feelings of well-being in regular users.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon helps decrease nausea and vomiting associated with menstruation.
- Turmeric: It contains anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce chronic pain and spasms.
5. Foods to be avoided and ways to control your period cravings
There are plenty of food items one can eat while they are on their period to get you through the pain and discomfort. Avoiding sugary, salty, and fatty foods and taking high-fibre meals with tons of fruits and vegetables definitely helps.
Food that needs to be avoided:
- Processed Foods: Processed meat, canned foods, and chemicals and preservatives induced food can make bloating and water retention worse hence avoid them during periods.
- Candy & Snacks: Eat juicy fruit or dry fruits and avoid sweet snacks as they might contribute to bloating and gas while delivering a short-term spike in blood sugar.
- Alcohol: Consumption of alcoholic beverages should be avoided as it aggravates fatigue and boosts menstrual flow.
- Spicy Foods: Spicy food often contains anti-inflammatory substances hence it’s best to avoid it during periods to prevent an upset stomach.
6. Ways to treat and prevent period bloating
Bloating during periods can be very discomforting. Here are some ways to prevent it:
Cut Down On Carbohydrates
White flour and processed sugars cause spikes in blood sugar levels. This increases the level of insulin in the blood, which causes the kidneys to retain more sodium.
Doing light exercise regularly might help improve PMS symptoms as it is a PMS symptom.
Avoid salty foods
Cutting salty foods consumption may help decrease water retention and improve period bloating.
Eat Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium-rich food decreases sodium levels and increases urine production which helps reduce water retention and improve period bloating.
7. Exercise and proper diet can help in the long term
Reach suggests that women who exercise regularly suffer less period pain and cramps. Cutting on a salty diet can help reduce fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast swelling, and pain.
8. Some exercises and yoga poses you can try
High-intensity exercises are recommended to be avoided during your periods. Doctors recommend yoga is a good way to help reduce the pain caused by cramping.
Some of the common yoga poses women can try are:
Lay down on the stomach with legs straight and feet together and place hands under the shoulders. Using hands to push the body, lift head and shoulders, breath deeply, and try to hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds. After that return to the original lying Breathing should be deep.
Get on hands and knees. Make sure the hands are directly under the shoulders, and the knees are directly under the hips. Take a long deep breath in, and the lower belly toward the ground, while slowly stretching head and bottom upwards.
Place a pillow on the floor then put the back and head on the pillow and place the legs straight on the floor. Place arms comfortably at sides, with the palms facing up. Stay in this pose, breathing gently. If having the legs straight causes low back discomfort, please bend the knees with feet flat on the floor.
9. Signs you should visit your doctor
There are certain medical conditions that affect the menstrual cycle, like uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian disease, and endometriosis.
Women must speak to their gynaecologist if the following symptoms are occurring.
- If periods are happening more often than every 21 days
- Heavy vaginal bleeding that requires a tampon or pad change every 1 to 2 hours
- If menstrual bleeding that lasts for more than 7 days
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Severe menstrual pain
- Any postmenopausal bleeding
- Not having experienced a period by 15 years of age or within 3 years of breast development
- No menstrual flow for more than 90 days
- If irregular bleeding is happening between periods
10. You can supplements add after checking with your diet
Women’s nutritional needs change during menstruation. It is always recommended to check with your doctor to make sure there are no risks with taking these supplements as some supplements may interact with other medications. Here are some nutritional needs during their periods that help them.
Iron is a mineral that works with other substances to create haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in the blood. While there is always an option for taking iron supplement pills, women can also look at natural options like legumes and leafy green vegetables as these are some dietary iron sources.
vitamin B6 helps with bloating, anxiety, or irritability and if you struggle with energy, it may be due to a vitamin B deficiency as it helps to break food down, which is how your body creates energy. Do not exceed 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily or 100 mg vitamin B1.
Vitamin D can reduce inflammation that can help with pain relief. Dose: 1000 IU daily or more; check with your doctor, who will advise a suitable dosage for your needs.
Magnesium shows promise for its capacity to reduce menstrual pain. But magnesium has a downside as too much can cause diarrhoea and lower your blood pressure.
May help relieve menstrual pain, cramping, depression and can also aid the immune system.