It is 5 am, and you have just been woken up by a visit from mother nature and you feel as though there are 1000 kittens clawing at your insides. We have all been there one too many times, but did you know you could make this feel better or worse through diet?
From my research online, I am here to give you the coles notes version of which foods will make your time of the month, a walk in the park or like a snowball’s chance in hell.
Foods that will make matters worse:
Sugar: Yes, we all have the sugar crave around this time of the month. Fun fact, this is because our stress hormone, cortisol spikes just before our periods come and serotonin, our mood balancing hormone, tends to dip. This deadly combination results in cravings for sweets, carbs and fatty foods. However, eating this type of food will actually disrupt our natural blood sugar levels. With a spike in blood sugar levels, you will get higher mood swings and more tension within the body.
Refined Food and Processed Foods: First of all, refined foods have been highly processed so that the natural grain is no longer intact and stripped of all nutritional value. They include but are not limited to: white bread, white pasta, white rice, white sugar, breakfast cereals, and bagels. They are all simple carbohydrates and are hidden with a load of sugar, this is why our bodies crave it over and over again. It gives the body a quick huge spike in sugar and this is followed by an even larger crash. Same thing goes for processed foods such as cakes, cookies, crackers and chips. Due to how they are made and what they are made with, it will cause havoc within your body and therefore increase inflammation.
Fried foods: According to a study by the Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, fried foods such as pizza, fries, and donuts will all cause inflammation in the body, and this can be linked to an increase in period pain. I get it, we all need carbs at this time of the month, so maybe go for a piece of whole grain toast or 23g of carbs from a banana instead.
Saturated Fats: These consist of fatty cuts of meat, dark meat, high fat dairy foods, tropical oils such as: coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter. Not only is high amounts of this food bad for your health, but they will cause inflammation within the body. As we already discussed above, an increase in inflammation will increase menstrual pain.
Dairy: I’m not bashing dairy, this is a great source of calcium, however, if you go over board on that block of cheese and all of a sudden there is only one slice left…you may be in trouble. According to Healthline, dairy can cause your menstrual pain to worsen due to the bloating, gas and diarrhea that it can cause within the body.
Fizzy drinks: This is due to the bloating and gas they can cause within the body, therefore, inflammation. This includes: pop, carbonated water, beer, and alcoholic drinks. This actually leads me to my next item on the list.
Alcohol: According to the New York Times, alcohol can make PMS symptoms worse and prolong the menstrual cramping. So it may be a good idea to put down that glass of red wine this week.
Tea and coffee: Due to the caffeine found in both of these lovely energy packed drinks, this can increase estrogen levels and therefore PMS symptoms.
Red Meat: Yes, we as women are often told to eat more of this to decrease anemia or iron deficiency. However, this is often loaded with saturated fat, and this can cause inflammation within the body, which in turn, can lead to cramps. Maybe opt the red meat out for a omega rich food such as salmon, as this has healthy nutrients your body needs. If you do not eat meat, dark leafy greens it is!
Salt: Too much of something, is never a good thing, especially when this comes to salt. Too much salt will cause bloating and this will increase menstrual pain.
Legumes: Did you know beans can cause you to bloat, yup, this is the cause of the adverse reaction that will clear a room. So while on your period avoid beans such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and peas.
What do all of these foods have in common? Inflammation – they are all infamous for causing inflammation in the body. You are probably thinking…so what do you eat instead to decrease this lovely natural movement in the body?
Foods to eat to improve PMS and menstrual cramps:
Bananas: This magical fruit is amazing during that time of the month. Being rich in fibre will help to cause a bowel movement, which in turn will help decrease bloating and less pain. As an added bonus, they contain magnesium, this will help to relax the muscles from cramping. Just keep in mind that they do contain a lot of sugar so try to not go over board.
Lemons: They contain vitamin C and at this time of the month you want to get a lot of this in your diet. This being because vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better, and if you are absorbing iron better, you will have more energy. They also contain fibre and this will help with muscle spasms.
Oranges: This is the top food for anyone with period pain. Not only does it contain more vitamin C then lemons, it also contains magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D. All nutrients that will help your body through anything it may be battling.
Watermelon: This is a great fruit to consume during your time of the month because of how hydrating it is. Hydration is important to decrease muscle spasms along with the magnesium you can get from the other foods mentioned above.
Broccoli: This is another great contender to battling menstrual cramps due to the iron and fibre it contains.
Kale: Another great food for the reasons similar to broccoli and other greens, this great leaf is amazing for boosting your immune system.
Drinks: Water, Chamomile, ginger tea, peppermint tea, raspberry leaf tea – all great for hydrating, decreasing bloating, soothing your bowels, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
So sticking to whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and digestible grains can help to decrease the inflammation caused in the body. Whole foods contain nutrients that will help your nerves, hormones and muscles relax at this time of the month. This in turn, will help with all around health within your beautiful body.
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