Menstrual period is a serious time in the life of females. It influences different daily life aspects, including physical status, sleep pattern, mood, diet, exercise and mental performance. Periods are constituted by mood swings, low energy and cramps which can somewhat make those couple of blood staining days frustrating with pain.
Whenever I’m menstruating and my mom is around, one thing she ensures is that I eat, most especially breakfast. She goes like “Have you eaten? Get something into that stomach”. And, I have observed that when I eat well during my period, I feel less pain. If by chance I eat rightly like the foods I’ll be discussing in this article, I tend to be rest assured that I will not only feel less( or no) pain, I’ll also be healthy in the long run.
In the 1960s, it became evident that chemicals called prostaglandins are a central part of menstrual pain. Each month in a female’s life, a hormone known as Estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to thicken in anticipation of pregnancy. When pregnancy does not happen, the uterus sheds its lining in a menstrual flow and the chemicals; prostaglandins that have been produced in the cells of the uterus are released.
These chemicals that have been made from the traces of fat stored in cell membranes and promote inflammation. They are involved in muscle contractions, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, and pain . Though oral contraceptives lower the production of prostaglandins which is involved in menstrual pain, diet changes may be able to do much the same thing.
What Diet Changes Should You Make?
A low-fat, high-fiber diet can significantly reduce the levels of estrogen which is responsible for cell growth and thus, reduce the production of prostaglandins. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains are good sources of fibre and they are highly recommended for inclusion in diet.
Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are rich in fibre and iron, which gets lost during menstruation. Vegetables like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, collard greens and swiss chard should be incorporated into meals to help the body during this period. Vegetable soup with little oil content and a smoothie mix with vegetables would do the body really good.
Fruits: Increasing fruits intake before and during menstruation is highly important for reducing pain. Fruits like apple contains good amount of fibre as well as vitamin C. An apple a day keeps menstrual cramps away. Avocados are known for their high fat content; however, most is monounsaturated fat. They are low in saturated fat and are sodium- and cholesterol-free. Avocados are a good source of dietary fiber. They also contain lutein, one of the carotenes that is a phytochemical with antioxidant properties. Orange, strawberries, mango and guava are also rich in fibre.
Legumes: Such as beans, peas and lentils are high in protein, folic acid, potassium, iron, and magnesium. And unlike meat, they are low in fat, high in fiber, and inexpensive. Consumption of legumes before and during menstruation will supply the body with needed nutrients.
Whole grains: Cereals are good sources of fibre especially when they are whole. Brown rice, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, etc. Supplies the body body with energy and reduces estrogen level.
Warm water: Either as a bath or boiled for drinking, taking warm water during menstruation is highly effective in aiding the blood flow. When you drink hot/warm water, you should prepare for an increased flow velocity as well. Your sanitary pad is going to get filled up quite fast. So, ensure to have a spare one by you.
It is important to avoid animal products and oily foods completely. Even seemingly modest amounts of them during the course of the month can cause more symptoms at the end of the month . When health changes begin to happen as a result of diet change, it is usually so rewarding that most women wish they had started earlier. Healthy eating is one deal worth investing in. It might be hard and the finances might not be there. But in your little way, try to eat healthy often. Your body will thank you later.
REFERENCES Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Using Foods Against Menstrual Pain, 5100 Wisconsin Ave., n. w., Suite 400 • Washington, D C firstname.lastname@example.org • www.pcrm.org  Mayo Clinic Encyclopedia of foods; A guide to healthy nutrition  Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Hurlock D, Bertron P. Diet and sex-hormone binding globulin, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2000;95(2):245-50.