We know that period cramps (dysmenorrhea, the scientific name for menstrual cramps) can make you feel like trading in your healthy food options for foods that are yummy and easy. But as much as we want to suppress the knowledge of this fact, I’m sure most of us know how these unhealthy foods can actually aggravate your PMS symptoms.
One of the number one contributing factors to your PMS symptoms are prostagladins, which are hormone-like substances that are involved in pain and inflammation that trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps. This is because they’re believed to temporarily disrupt blood and oxygen flow to the uterus, resulting in pain, cramping, swelling, and stiffness. In addition to this, fluctuating estrogen levels are also said to contribute to menstrual cramps, so reducing prostagladins and estrogen will definitely help reduce the symptomes of PMS. So today we will be talking about foods that are going to help with your pain, and why they are so good for you!
1. Foods with Low Fat and High Fibre
Research has shown that eating foods with low fat and high fibre can lower estrogen levels. The less fatty foods a woman takes, the lower the levels of estrogen in her body. And this is good as a lower hormone level will have less effect on the uterine cells. In addition to eating less fat, you can also double it up by eating foods high in fibre, which will reduce estrogen by it to bind to the fibre and be passed out of your system. So foods that are beneficial for you include whole grains (brown rice, whole-grain bread), veggies (broccoli, spinach, carrots), legumes (beans, peas, lentils), ad fruits. You should avoid animal products (fish, poultry, dairy products) which do not provide you with fibre, and can cause a type of “hormone recycling” which can aggravate symptoms of menstrual pain even more.
2. Foods High in Vitamin E
Eating foods high in Vitamin E has shown to lower the intensity of pain. A lot of scientific research has found that taking Vitamin E a few days before your period can significantly reduce menstrual pain, and limit the amount of blood you lose during menstruation. This is because it is believed that Vitamin E inhibits Prostagladin synthesis. Foods rich in Vitamin E include dark leafy greens, Almonds, and Roasted Sunflower Seeds.
3. Foods with Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 plays a substantial role in regulating periods and dealing with irregular blood flows. B6 assists with many other PMS symptoms such as fluid retention, irritableness, cravings especially for sugar and fatigue. It also helps with breast pain. There is a danger in taking too much B6 so be sure to follow the guidelines and recommendations of professionals. Vitamin B6 also helps to restore the hormonal balances, which is always good! Foods with Vitamin B6 include sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, papayas and oranges.
4. Foods High in Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 provides for enhanced oxygenation that leads to less fatigue, less cramping and less mood swings! A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to a particularly difficult cycle, with you feeling especially irritable, and stressed. And this is not what we want is it? Foods high in Vitamin B3 are asparagus, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mustard greens, and squash.
5. Calcium and Magnesium
Many scientific studies suggest that an increased intake of calcium can alleviate menstrual cramps. However, the exact mechanisms by which calcium decreases cramps are not fully understood. It has been proposed that calcium’s beneficial effects on menstrual problems could be related to the role of this important mineral in maintaining normal muscle tone. Calcium-deficient muscles are more likely to be tense, which may trigger menstrual cramps. Skimmed milk and low-fat dairy provide a good source of calcium, without containing much saturated fats that are known to worsen pain during menses (see point 1), but if you are sensitive to dairy products, choose other sources of calcium such as green leafy vegetables. Also, the effects of calcium are more effective if magnesium and zinc is taken in conjunction with calcium. Foods that are good for you include firm tofu, oranges, bananas, and dark chocolate (that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?).
So here are some of the ingredients you can incorporate into your PMS diet regime. We hope that this little list has helped you make sense of all the types of food our there, and see which types are best for you when you’re expecting Aunt Flo. If you have any more food suggestions, do leave them in the comments below! 🙂
Chen Wei Chua
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