It may surprise you to know that there are nutritional approaches to treating menstrual cramps. What you eat during your period and throughout your entire cycle can make a difference in how painful your period is. Here are some nutritional tips for easing period pain.
Reduce Animal Fats
Not only is this likely to help menstrual cramps; reducing the intake of saturated animal fat may provide other health benefits, too, such as a lower risk of heart disease. Animal fats contain a substance called arachidonic acid, which reduces the production of progesterone by inhibiting a key prostaglandin. Inadequate progesterone may exacerbate menstrual cramping and pain.
Remember, red meat is not the only source of saturated animal fat. Dairy products like butter and cheese also contain animal fat.
Eat Little Sugar
Most of us know this, but few of us really want to hear it! The truth is, though, that refined, white sugar and corn syrup can cause water retention which can contribute to period pain. Another thing about sugar is that it uses up precious B-vitamins during its processing in the body. These B-vitamins, especially B-6, are said to increase progesterone levels in the body and help reduce water retention.
Some foods rich in B-6 include salmon, bell peppers, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and most whole grains.
Increase Good Fats
Plant-based oils have quite a reputation for improving women’s health, and for good reason. Nutritionally, these good fats help keep progesterone and estrogen levels balanced. You can take supplements of evening primrose or flax oils, or use these oils cold in your diet. If you use flax seeds themselves to obtain the healthy oils, nutrition experts point out that flax seeds must first be ground up for the body to use them (you can purchase ground flax seed for this purpose).
Fish oils are also important in maintaining healthy cycles with less pain. Taking supplements or eating salmon, mackerel, sardines, and other cold-water fish is a healthy dietary move.
This important mineral gets its own section, because it’s so helpful in relieving menstrual cramps. One study showed magnesium to reduce period pain that was so severe even codeine had failed! Magnesium supplements are worth keeping on hand during menstruation, and you can include magnesium-rich foods in your diet throughout your cycle. Black beans, almonds, broccoli, spinach, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds are a few such foods.
Another perk regarding magnesium – it is reported to reduce water retention.
Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods
Nutrition experts have observed that there’s no such thing as a complete and perfect food. A good rule of thumb is, the more varied your intake of nutritious food, the better your overall health will be.
Some herbs can be very helpful in preventing and easing menstrual pain.
* Oat straw, which is high in magnesium, is a relaxing herbal tea to try.
* Cramp bark capsules can help ease muscle pain and cramping. Look for Viburnum prunifolium – other herbs known as cramp bark do not have the same uterine-specific action as Viburnum prunifolium.
* Red raspberry leaf has a reputation for toning and relaxing the uterus, and it makes a pleasant tea.