More than half of menstruating women experience painful periods. For some, the discomfort is severe enough to disrupt daily activities like school and work. Menstrual cramps often disappear as a woman gives birth. However, for some women, the monthly pain lingers. Painful periods, also called dysmenorrhea, are caused by muscle contractions in the uterus. These muscle contractions are a side effect of prostaglandins, a hormone made by cells in the uterine wall.
Prostaglandin in the blood is also responsible for other dysmenorrhea symptoms, such as vomiting, headache, and diarrhea. Pain relievers consumed for cramp relief are widely available. However, some people refuse to take medicines and wish to resort to natural remedies instead. One of the ways you can naturally minimize symptoms is through diet. Doctors suggest reducing the intake of sodium, sugar, baked goods, and processed foods to prevent inflammation and bloating.
This article explores certain foods that you can eat for period pain relief.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
Studies show that consuming fruits and vegetables or engaging in a vegetarian diet lead to fewer cramps and period pain. The fiber from fruits and vegetables can offer cramp relief. Fiber helps with regular bowel movement, which can alleviate bloating. Fruits like raspberry, apple, guava, and vegetables like beets, green peas, and carrots are loaded with fiber.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids good fats that induce period pain relief by reducing bodily inflammations. A study shows that omega-3 fatty acids lessened pain intensity in menstruating adults. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, and soybean. More effective than omega-3 fats alone is combining it with vitamin B12. This combination can be found in foods like eggs.
3. Milk and Cheese
Dairy products such as yogurt and cheese can lessen menstrual pain and bloat because of its calcium content. Besides dairy products, calcium is abundant in calcium-fortified tofu, soymilk, bean curd, and fish with edible bones like mackerel and sprat.
Bloating during your period worsens the more painful symptoms like camps. Drinking water can help with symptoms such as bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. While drinking eight or more glasses a day can minimize your symptoms, you might crave a better-tasting drink. In that case, you may add mint, lemon, or other fruit juice to your water. You can also cook a low-sodium broth. What’s important is to increase your fluid intake and avoid dehydration that may come with diarrhea and vomiting.
Once a woman loses blood during menstruation, her iron levels in the body also lower. Women with heavy periods or menorrhagia lose more iron than women with normal bleeding. Menorrhagia may result in anemia. A study suggests that eating iron from plant foods, also called non-heme iron, showed a lower risk of dysmenorrhea symptoms. Foods rich in iron include dark chocolate, oyster, sardines, beef and beef liver, lentils, and fortified cereal.
6. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is made from the flowers of family Asteraceae’s daisy-like plants. Chamomile tea is known for its various health benefits. The anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile tea can alleviate cramps during menstruation. Chamomile tea restrains prostaglandins. It has a similar effect on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin that reduce prostaglandin production. Sipping a warm chamomile tea gives cramp relief by suppressing pain-inducing prostaglandins and encouraging menstrual flow.
Researchers claim that fennel prevents uterine muscles from contracting. In a study, 80% of participants consumed 30 milligrams of fennel extract capsules three days before their period. They took the tablets four times each day and experienced less menstrual pain than those who took a placebo. However, further studies with clinical trials are needed to collect more data about its effectiveness in relieving menstrual pain.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, playing different roles for the body to function correctly. Magnesium regulates your blood pressure and maintains your nerve and muscle functions. Magnesium can also relieve cramps and headaches during the menstrual period. Foods high in magnesium include whole grain, avocados, dark chocolate, almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables such as rapini, arugula, and kale. All of these foods are easily added to the diet.