The universal female problem: Menstrual cramps. Ugh.
I’ve always had painful periods (even before my hormone imbalance drama). When I was a teenager the pain ranged from debilitating to severe and as an adult it has thankfully downgraded to mild and tolerable.
We’re all familiar with cramps but do you know why we get them? Menstrual cramps are caused by our uterine muscles contracting frequently because of an increased amount of inflammation and decreased blood circulation. The body has a natural hormone like chemical called Prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are produced in response to an injury or infection to the body and cause inflammation. They are an important part of the body’s normal healing process. Prostaglandins help the womb to contract and remove the lining of the womb during a period; they are also present during ovulation and the induction of labour. Over production of prostaglandins however can cause the uterus to contract more and women who experience very painful periods are thought to have high levels of prostaglandins in their body during menstruation.
As you might be aware by now, I’m a big advocate on eating to feel better. I can only speak for myself but I can genuinely say that eating better has not only given me much period cramp relief but it has helped to ease a lot of my PMS symptoms as well as reduce my flow.
A reduction in the consumption of salt, sugar, caffeine and foods high in fat a week before your period can make a huge difference in how bad your cramps come. Try it and track how you feel during your period.
Here is a list of foods and drinks that aid in lowering prostaglandins and that you can include in your diet for menstrual cramp relief:
Dark Chocolate: This should be great news for all the chocolate lovers (everything in moderation of course). Chocolate is high in magnesium which acts like a muscle relaxer for cramps as well as lower back pains.
Avocado: This is filled with lots of omega 3 fatty acid which is a great anti-inflammatory source.
Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that is thought to help relax muscles and thus help with menstrual cramps. Bromelain also affects your uterus lining by softening it and helping it shed, so if your period is late due to stress etc. then feel free to have some; but if you’re in the early stages of a pregnancy it would be wiser to skip eating big amounts of it.
Bananas: I have one banana nearly every day. I eat it especially since I exercise a lot and the potassium content helps to avoid muscle cramping. Naturally, it also helps with menstrual cramping and it stops you from retaining water and feeling bloated.
Ginger tea: On the first day of my period I usually have a big cup of ginger tea as it helps with the nausea or upset stomach that can come sometimes with your period. Ginger is also effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Next time, have a cup and see how you feel. I recommend it highly.
Green Tea: I usually have a cup of coffee every morning but I replace it with green tea instead during my period. It serves to satisfy my caffeine craving and actually soothes my cramps whereas caffeine aggravates my stomach during that time and causes me to retain more water.
Water: I am a big tea drinker but I’m aware that a lot of people are not. If you’re not a fan of the ginger or green tea options then resort to good ole’ fashioned water for period cramp relief. I know it’s odd that drinking water keeps your body from retaining water but it does. This helps to avoid the painful bloating during your period and a glass of warm water increases blood flow and may relax cramped muscles.
“Doing the best at this moment, puts you in a better place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey.