How to get more of the nutrients your body needs during your cycle.
You've probably discovered, through trial and error, some of the foods that don't agree with you during that time of the month. But there are also foods that can help make your period a little bit better. It's important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle throughout the month to make your periods as pain- and stress-free as possible. However, your body needs an increase of some vitamins and minerals to help you deal with the physical stress menstruation causes.
Below is a list of these nutrients as well as the best ways to get them. If you can predict your periods, start eating more of these food a few days before your next period starts to get the maximum benefit.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Both of these go hand in hand to help stabilize your mood. Irritability and mood swings are common symptoms of PMS, and can be alleviated by consuming higher amounts in the days leading up to your period.
Two excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D are soy milk (or dairy milk) and oranges.
This essential mineral serves your body in many ways. Too little magnesium in your diet can contribute to muscle cramps, so to prevent any exacerbating factors in menstrual pain, make sure your magnesium levels are on par with the recommendations for your age and activity level.
Dark, leafy greens, bananas, and fish are ideal ways to get more magnesium in your diet.
While fiber is important throughout the month, it becomes absolutely vital during your period. Staying regular will prevent unnecessary discomfort during a generally uncomfortable time.
The best ways to get good fiber are through eating nuts and whole grains. This includes snacking nuts, nut-based spreads (like almond butter), and whole grain breads.
Another cause of abdominal discomfort for many menstruating women is bloating or digestive problems. Probiotics have been shown to decrease bloating and help keep the digestive tract functioning properly. Probiotics are good bacteria that live naturally in your intestines. Many minor abdominal discomforts can be caused by a lack of these good bacteria, so doubling up on probiotics during that time of the month can help keep everything running smoothly.
Yogurt is one of the simplest and tastiest ways to get probiotics.
Not only does the right amount protein help keep your body's sugar levels in check, consuming lean protein has been shown to help some women and girls who have irregular periods become more predictable. In these cases, irregular periods were caused by low levels of dietary protein. So if unpredictable cycles are plaguing you, double check that you're getting enough protein.
Some good sources of lean protein are chicken and eggs. Ideally, avoid frying both of these foods.
As I mentioned earlier, maintaining a proper diet all month long will help you when your period arrives. Healthy levels of exercise and a good diet can prevent a multitude of maladies, painful periods included. So give the nutrients on this list a try, and see if some of your discomfort isn't alleviated by a simple change in your eating habits.