Period memes and ads often show menstruating women gorging on junk food. So, is there really a connection between food and periods? Well! Yes, hormonal changes affect neurotransmitters, usually during ovulation and after. Consequently, your body hankers after sweets, carbs, and fat, making you choose high-calorie treats. It attempts to compensate for the lowered levels of serotonin during this time.

However, every food item you crave and eat may not contribute to getting healthy and optimal periods. For example, eating a hot fudge brownie sundae when cramping and irritable might make you feel better, but it can spike your insulin levels. High insulin affects female-factor hormones that could lead to other complications. Similarly, eating foods high in salt worsens bloating. Given the effect of diet on menstruation, eating sensibly is the way to go. Here are a few best foods to eat when on period.

  • Iron-rich Foods
    Blood loss during periods may lead to or worsen iron deficiency. Iron supports essential body functions such as maintaining energy levels, cognitive function, oxygen transport, immune function, and red blood cell formation. Therefore, a diet with iron-rich foods, for example, boiled eggs, green leafy vegetables, meat, dried apricots, lentils, etc., before and during menstruation helps maintain healthy iron levels.
  • Calcium-rich Foods
    Calcium can help alleviate several physical and emotional symptoms related to menstruation. These include cramps, bloating, fatigue, and crying spells. Calcium also plays a role in serotonin synthesis; therefore, it may help keep your mood stable when coping with PMS and during periods. In addition, there’s a link between estrogen levels and calcium concentration in the blood. An increase in estrogen levels at the time of ovulation and just before your period (luteal phase) affects bone resorption, which is when osteoclast cells cause the breakdown of bone minerals to release calcium into the bloodstream to maintain healthy calcium levels. So, eat calcium-rich period foods to make up for the loss of calcium when estrogen goes up during the monthly cycle. Dairy products, fish like pilchards and sardines, and calcium-fortified flour and cereals are a few good sources of calcium.
  • Foods with Fatty Acids
    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and help relieve period cramps. For example, a study has shown that fish oil supplements, a primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids, could be more effective than Ibuprofen in treating period cramps. Salmon and mackerels are also considered the best foods for period cramps. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that relax the uterus and alleviate cramps. Vegetarian sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and kidney beans.
  • Protein-packed Foods
    The energy rush from carbohydrates and sugar-loaded foods does not last long, making you exhausted and hungry again. In addition, the fluctuating blood sugar levels and the pressure on the uterus lining sap your energy. Therefore, consuming protein-rich foods is essential to feeling full and energetic, and managing periods better. So, next time, choose a chicken salad, tofu burger, soya chunks, or a glass of milk instead of eating a beef patty burger or a family pack of chips to overcome period cravings.

Eating right is one way to feel active and healthy during your periods. Try the period foods mentioned above to make that time of the month easier.

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