The meals we eat every day play a very important role in the functioning of our body. Our metabolism is associated with the process of transforming food into energy. This transformation produces the fuel needed to do all kinds of activities, from simply thinking to running a marathon. Basal metabolic rate are the calories required in order to keep our body functioning at rest. However, many women resort to calorie-deficient diets to lose weight, not knowing the keys to proper nutrition.
And when it comes to choosing one’s meals, knowing the right choices becomes especially imperative to us women when we enter our menstrual period. During the time of menstruation, women are very stressed due to repeated discomfort and changes in hormones. Some women experience frustration, pain, anger, and feelings of sadness.
To help reduce these stress levels, eating the right foods, and avoiding the wrong ones can help obtain better moods throughout the cycle. The intense discomforts that most women suffer from during menstruation can also be avoided by choosing the appropriate foods.
Foods to eat during menstruation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women are particularly vulnerable to anemia, an alteration due to insufficient iron in the diet. Fish, apart from being healthy, is rich in iron, compensates for blood loss and reduces the occurrence of painful cramps (dysmenorrhea). That is why its consumption is recommended to women during the menstrual period. Also omega fatty 3 acids found in fish help lower the risk of depression.
If there is a food that can provide you with energy quickly, it is milk (even better if it is low in fat). The levels of protein it has will help you not get hungry quickly.
On the other hand, during menstruation many mood swings occur; this is due to the high level of estrogens associated with period. The levels of calcium and vitamin D tend to decrease in the body, therefore, to compensate for this deficit, it is advisable to consume dairy products.
Due to their abundance in carbohydrates and sugars, bananas will give you the necessary energy boost that women in their period usually need. Contrary to what happens with processed foods, their carbohydrates will not raise your glucose levels immediately.
They also contain a lot of fiber, which will help you keep your energy level stable, without that nasty “crash” that other processed sugars give you. In addition, the banana is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid present in the production of serotonin. This hormone tends to rise and fall during menstruation, which causes that characteristic irritability and anxiety.
Oatmeal is rich in zinc, your best ally when it comes to avoiding a cold. It also contains magnesium and B vitamins, which are necessary to produce energy for the body. Vitamin B is essential in the production of serotonin, known as the “hormone of happiness.” A hearty bowl of oatmeal provides you with a slow-release source of energy, allowing you to stay active longer. In addition, its rich fiber content will also help you combat fluid retention.
The egg is a nutritious food product despite the controversy surrounding it. It can be consumed in many ways. Eggs are full of amino acids that help repair muscles and are a great source of protein. In addition, they contain omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, making it an ideal food for energy recovery. They also provide vitamin B6, which balances female hormones and has an antidepressant effect.
A handful of walnuts and almonds in the morning will help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day. Nuts are also strong snack candidates. The magnesium contained in nuts helps fight anxiety attacks and abdominal cramps. Walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds are the most recommended nuts for their relaxing qualities.
Legumes and whole grains
Providing plenty of slow carbohydrates and dietary fiber, legumes and grain products help prevent hypoglycemia. They also promote the production of serotonin in the brain, which can have a positive effect on depressive states, tension, restlessness and fatigue. In fact, a diet high in whole grains, legumes and low in fat, such as a vegetarian diet, appears to be effective in reducing the duration of PMS and the intensity of menstrual cramps. In this category you will find foods like wholegrain bread (containing 2 g to 3 g of fiber per slice), high-fiber breakfast cereals (containing 3g of fiber per serving and less than 5g of sugar), bulgur, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, millet, whole wheat pasta, rye bread, lentils, peas, beans, etc.
This grain can be eaten as a cereal, as it has all eight essential amino acids. This is the reason why we find most of its calories in the form of complex carbohydrates. With large amounts of folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, it ensures sustained energy levels throughout the day. Due to its composition rich in nutrients, quinoa is, without a doubt, one of the healthiest foods that exist. In 1996 it was listed by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as one of the crops with the greatest future for humanity. Its benefits, various uses and, above all, because it is considered a great food source, give it that reputation.
Rice, bread or white pasta can be substituted for dishes with quinoa, which not only helps control triglyceride levels, but also improves blood pressure, intestinal health and, of course, energy levels.
Ginger is a versatile plant with a multitude of beneficial health effects. Ginger root has an analgesic effect, fights nausea and provides great skin. In the form of tea, processed in a smoothie or in a salad, ginger tastes particularly good and, incidentally, relieves regular complaints associated with periods.
Food to avoid during menstruation
Fatty and sugary foods
Unsurprisingly, foods that are too high in sugars and fats — especially saturated fat — don’t relieve a painful period. On the contrary, they are believed to be the source of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. These allow the endometrium to drain by contracting the uterus and causing pain. It is therefore preferable to avoid overly sweet or fatty snacks, cold meats, red meat, or trans fatty acids (hydrogenated fats) that can be found in certain margarines and vegetable oils.
Foods containing caffeine
Caffeine is a nervous stimulant. While it can give the drinker a boost of “energy”, it can however cause stress to the body, which itself intensifies the pain of the menstruation. It is therefore better to moderate your consumption of coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, and energy drinks.
Several studies have found that alcohol is a risk factor for dysmenorrhea (period pain). The risk of suffering from period pain is estimated to increase by 80% for people who drink alcohol frequently, compared to people who do not. Alcohol would indeed tend to prolong the duration of pain and to intensify it.
Extremely salty foods
Salt promotes water accumulation, which leads to bloating. The foods to be avoided include fast food of any kind or other things with a sodium content of more than 50 mg (e.g. chips).
An fitness addict passionate of all things nature and animals, Angie often volunteers her time to NGOs and governmental organizations alike working with animals in general and endangered species in particular. She covers stories on wildlife and the environment for the Scientific Origin.