Food during menstruation

Mix de légumes et fruits, aliments à privilégier pendant les règles

Paying attention to your diet during your period is a good way to preserve your menstrual health and fight against gynecological problems . Indeed, consuming certain foods can help reduce inflammation and therefore reduce menstrual pain . Conversely, ingesting a certain type of food can promote painful periods or heavy periods . But then, what to eat during your period ? What foods should you eat during your period ? And are there any foods to avoid during the menstrual period ? Here are our tips for knowing what to eat during your period .

What to eat during your period? Why ask the question

Because diet can help relieve period pain

For many women of childbearing age, having a period is synonymous with suffering. Indeed, blood loss is often accompanied by abdominopelvic pain, that is to say felt in the lower abdomen and the pelvis, which is called dysmenorrhea . When this pain is linked only to periods and not to an illness, we speak of primary dysmenorrhea. In general, people suffering from primary dysmenorrhea complain of other ailments: shooting pains in the back and kidneys, migraines, diarrhea, nausea. The solutions to combat this menstrual pain can be medicinal or natural, such as diet.

Because the effect of certain foods on menstrual pain has been demonstrated

Numerous studies have highlighted the influence of certain diets or certain types of foods on period pain.

  • A 2011 study concludes that fish oil is more effective than ibuprofen in treating primary dysmenorrhea.

  • In 2012, thistrial demonstrated that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids reduced the intensity of menstrual pain.

  • In this 2018 study , cola drinks and meat are identified as aggravating factors for dysmenorrhea; conversely, olive oil would have beneficial effects against it.

  • A low-fat vegetarian diet is associated with a reduction in the duration and intensity of dysmenorrhea, as noted in this 2000study .

  • Anotherstudy published the same year established that the probability of having painful periods is lower when the consumption of fish, eggs and fruits is high.

  • Women who consume more than two servings of fruit per day are less likely to suffer from painful periods according to this research conducted in 2020.

Because diet can reduce inflammation linked to dysmenorrhea

Primary dysmenorrhea is caused by excessive amounts of prostaglandins. These hormones are naturally secreted by the endometrium during menstruation to cause the uterus to contract and thus facilitate the evacuation of menstrual discharge through the vagina. These are so-called “pro-inflammatory” molecules, because they are involved in inflammatory responses such as the breakdown of the endometrium during menstruation. Present in excess in the case of primary dysmenorrhea, prostaglandins cause very close contractions of the uterine muscle, which then lacks oxygen, giving rise to period pain. Transported by the blood throughout the body, they can also end up in the digestive tract and cause the transit problems that often accompany periods. Eating foods known to be inflammatory can contribute to increasing this level of inflammation and therefore worsening menstrual pain. Conversely, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can limit the effects of primary dysmenorrhea.

Woman cutting vegetables and fruits, foods to eat during menstruation

What to eat when you have your period? The recommendations

Foods to choose during your period

  • Water and aqueous foods (watermelon, melon, cucumber, etc.): staying well hydrated minimizes water retention and the feelings of swelling that go with it, as well as migraines.

  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish – sardines, salmon, tuna –, oils – flax, rapeseed –, cauliflower, spinach): these are very good anti-inflammatories which help limit prostaglandin levels .

  • Food sources of magnesium (seafood, whole grains, oilseeds): magnesium reduces muscle spasms and acts against headaches and mood swings.

  • Foods with calcium (tofu, sardines) or zinc (oysters, wheat germ, lentils), two other interesting trace elements to consume during your period.

  • Foods rich in iron (soy, green vegetables, legumes, dark chocolate): abundant blood loss during menstruation can cause iron deficiency and therefore intense fatigue or dizziness, which is good to compensate with food.

  • Certain plants, recommended for their antispasmodic and soothing properties, to be consumed in herbal teas (yarrow, raspberry leaf, fennel, chamomile, lemon balm).

Foods to avoid during your period

  • Alcohol, the consumption of which increases the risk of suffering from menstrual pain and having longer and heavier periods.

  • Stimulants (coffee, tea, energy drinks): they contain caffeine which, through its stimulating action on the nervous system, amplifies certain period symptoms such as irritability and anxiety.

  • Dairy products (butter, milk, cheese): due to their arachidonic acid content, they contribute to the production of prostaglandins, inflammation factors to be minimized during the menstrual period.

  • Foods rich in saturated fats, sugar and salt (cold meats, prepared meals, industrial cakes): they also activate the secretion of prostaglandins and promote water retention, which can amplify the sensations of heavy legs and abdominal swelling commonly felt during rules.

Period swimsuit

Favoring and avoiding certain foods during your period helps fight against menstrual pain and other inconveniences associated with this period. However, menstruation is often synonymous with cravings and mood swings, which can be calmed by eating comfort foods. It is therefore a question of finding the right balance between healthy eating and pleasurable eating!

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Written by cd