Food Habits for A Regular Period Cycle
You all must have heard the famous saying, 'let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food'.
Food, dear friends, is the combination of good and bad medicine.
When you eat what your body needs, it's no less than good medicine; but when you eat way beyond, it causes more harm than good.
How to know what your body needs?
The first step is tracking your menstrual cycle. A normal period cycle lasts between 21- 35 days (varies from woman to woman) that is calculated from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period.
This gap marks a regular period cycle where in PMS hits between 5-10 days before the next cycle starts. However, if your cycle is delayed by a week or month, it is a sign of irregular periods.
Such irregularities are also followed by terrible PMS, headaches, abdominal pain and discomfort.
However it is important to note that regularity of periods is subjective to the person. It varies according to the person’s lifestyle, emotional stability during the previous month. Your periods will also vary based on flows and duration which might lead to some concern but it is all right, as long as you are able to understand the cause. So, when we say regular or ‘normal’ periods, we mean what is normal for you.
While menstrual cycles are different for everyone, it is important to consider the role food plays.
The dietary lifestyle you choose affects your period cycle and is key in regulating periods and its symptoms. Nutrition and the menstrual cycle go hand in hand.
Time to take out your spoons and dig in to know how your food habits can help you develop a healthy and relatively comfortable menstrual health.
Vitamins E, D, B1 & B6
Vitamins are vital. The question is, which ones?
Vitamin E is an essential during periods. As an antioxidant, it improves circulation and helps combat the dryness of skin. It is an excellent nutrient that helps relieve period pain and regulate menstrual blood flow. Include egg yolk, pumpkin and chia seeds, and avocado more in your diet plan for a healthier cycle.
Vitamins also drive absorption of other nutrients. For instance, proteins are a healthy intake but hard to digest. Vitamin B1 and B6 helps with the metabolism of protein and reduces PMS symptoms like pain, cramping and mood swings. Potatoes, oats, bananas, fish, meat, peanuts qualify for a vitamin-rich platter, perfect for regular periods.
If you experience elevated mood disturbances or undergo muscle pain worse than normal, watch out for the intake of vitamin D3 in your diet. A natural mood and muscle regulator, it helps in balancing pain and periods. Vitamin D3 rich food items include egg yolks, cheese, spinach and fish meat.
A proper calcium intake is recommended for people of all age groups and gender. However for women, regular intake of calcium is necessary for hormonal balancing.
Calcium deficiency along with fluctuating oestrogen levels causes irregular periods and can also aggravate pain and premenstrual symptoms.
Consider increasing your intake of calcium rich food like green leafy veggies, sesame seeds and beans. An additional calcium supplement also helps in managing vital levels, however, it is recommended to seek medical advice before starting any.
Iron & Protein
Menstrual flow and symptoms takes a toil on women's health. While an iron deficiency can make you look pale, a decreased level of energy in your body is an immediate indication of protein deficiency.
Both iron and protein are vital for a healthy period cycle. It is important to include natural sources of iron and protein in your diet. Refill your pantry with chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, chicken, veggies, fruits, wheat and beef for a power packed diet plan.
The fluctuating hormonal level also affects the ovaries and its tiny blood vessels, causing poor circulation and damage. It is advised to include flax seeds and chia seeds in your diet as these are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and provide better circulation and hormonal balance.
Periods and sugar cravings sound synonymous. Not all but many women find themselves craving sugar like chocolates during periods. Well, that's no normal.
Magnesium affects your blood sugar levels and when it is less in quantity than required, your body starts to crave for sugars. Tofu and beans are a good source of magnesium while peanut is a healthy replacement for other sugary items in case of cravings.
While sugary items taste good on buds and are an instant source of energy, an increased intake can make you feel lethargic when the level drops back to normal.
Additionally, watch out for magnesium intake level as well because too much magnesium can cause laxative effects.
Food Items Best in Long Run
While the above listed nutrients help in making the right choice, let's take a look at some edibles that upon daily consumption can benefit you in the long run and get you going without pills.
- Ginger: rich in vitamin C and magnesium; improves digestion and irregular period cycle as well as relieves cramps.
- Turmeric: packed with medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties; helps alleviate pain and regulate the period cycle.
- Cinnamon: taste enhancer; increase blood flow and regulates insulin levels; recommended for women with PCOS
- Raw papaya: aids in uterus muscle contraction that helps in blood and tissue release from vagina
- Fennel seeds: effective in treating period irregularities; promotes ovulation and hormonal balancing; also aids in relieving muscle pain
- Pineapple: contributes to increased production of RBCs and WBCs hence better blood flow; helps in shedding uterus lining to start periods
- Aloe Vera: helps in managing hormonal levels and period regulation: one teaspoon of honey and aloe vera gel everyday is all it takes
- Cumin: packed with nutrients,; helps with uterine muscles contraction and period regulation
Foods to avoid for a better menstrual health
Just like we stated, good food leads to better health and bad food choices worsens the condition. It is you who should decide what to eat and what to not by tracking your cycle. However, here's a list of some common food items to avoid for better menstrual health.
- Caffeine: an energy cup you might say, but it can cause sleep deprivation and erractice mood changes. While for some a cup of coffee helps curb cramping, an overdrive can aggravate PMS symptoms
- Sugar: if you increase your sugar intake during periods, you might want to reconsider it. An elevated sugar level can make you feel energetic for a while, but when it wears off, sudden weakness and lethargy breaks in. Natural and normal sugar intake is advised for healthier functioning.
- Processed food: treat for the tongue but a test for stomach. High amounts of salts present in processed food results in bloating. Ditch can and grab a fruit bowl instead.
- Alcohol & Smoking: while it's a personal choice, high alcohol consumption and smoking may cause irregular periods and heighten PMS.
With periods changing gears every month, it is important to watch over your diet plan and lifestyle. Track your periods and decide what to eat and when to eat.
Make right food choices especially during premenstrual times, because a troubling PMS is the last thing you ever would like to want.