Yes! It is also food that will help reduce your menstrual cramps and your crampy mood during periods.
There are many ways to deal with primary menstrual cramps (Primary Dysmenorrhea). But one way to reduce and prevents severity of pain goes through food we eat.
What happens in Normal Menstruation and Dysmenorrhea?
Women’s menstrual cycle is regulated by female sex hormones Estrogen and Progesterone along with other hormones.
In every month amount of estrogens in a woman’s body rises and falls. It controls the growth of the uterine lining and production of prostaglandins (PG) during the first part of the cycle. If the woman’s egg is not fertilized, estrogen levels decreases sharply and menstruation begins along with painful cramps
Mainly Prostaglandins are responsible for painful cramps. Some of the prostaglandins also enter the bloodstream, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms.
Prostaglandins are important
Prostaglandins causes uterus to contract and promote inflammations. As these prostaglandins are produced under influence of Estrogen (Produced from cholesterol-fat) more the production of estrogen it is likely more is the productions of prostaglandins.
These are pro inflammatory prostaglandins (Produced from Omega 6 fatty acids) but our body also produces anti-inflammatory (Produced from Omega 3 fatty acids) prostaglandins.
It is seen women with severe dysmenorrhea contain greater amounts of pro inflammatory prostaglandins than who have mild pain.
Our body’s ability to inflame is as important as its ability to un-inflame. Hence when we look at the food for menstrual cramps it is important to note that balance nutrition is the key to keep body in harmony.
Let’s understand how food and food habits affects menstrual cramps
- Influence of Low Calorie Intake (Dietary restriction)
Nutritional deficiency is considered one of the important factors causing hormonal imbalance. Low weight and fat mass, low calorie intake and eating disorders are usually related to decreased intake of Essential fatty acids and magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, niacin, and vitamin C. and vitamin E which are needed for production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins results in more painful menstruation.
A deficiency of Essential fatty acids either due to inadequate intake and a high consumption of saturated animal fats can result in overproduction of pro inflammatory Prostaglandins.
- Influence of High calorie intake (excessive diet)
Excessively high calorie food is associated with overweight and obesity which is related to increased fat cells in the body and hence productions of excess estrogen and prostaglandins which may be responsible for more pain in overweight women.
Excessive Sugar intake through too many refined foods (known as high-glycemic-index foods which raise blood sugar levels too quickly) your body will react by producing a wide variety of inflammatory chemicals including prostaglandins resulting in dysmenorrhea.
**There may be psychological stress related to being underweight or obese which may cause differences in pain perception and sensitivity between these women and normal weight women, resulting in different subjective experience of pain.
- Food Skipping
Breakfast as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle can positively impact. On the other hand, breakfast skipping increased during the transition to adulthood, and is associated with increased weight gain from adolescence to adulthood. Young women who skip breakfast have a significantly higher degree of dysmenorrhea symptoms than young women who eat breakfast; breakfast skipping induced constipation that can cause various organic disorders in the pelvic cavity.
- Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian diet
The amount of estrogen in a woman’s blood is constantly being readjusted. A low-fat, high-fiber diet can significantly reduce estrogen levels. Lower the hormone level less is the effect on uterine lining. Having too high estrogen levels can also result in irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods.
Estrogen is pulled up from blood stream by liver and sent to intestinal tract via a small tube called bile duct. Which is reabsorbed in the blood. There, fiber soaks it up like a sponge and carries it out with other waste. The more fiber there is in the diet, the better the natural estrogen disposal.
Animal products do not contain fiber. When an individual’s diet consists predominantly of animal products such as chicken, fish, or yogurt, daily fiber needs may not be met
The waste estrogens, which should bind to fiber and leave the body, pass back into the bloodstream. This hormone “recycling” increases the amount of estrogen in the blood. So, by avoiding animal products and added oils, estrogen production is reduced and by replacing chicken, skim milk, and other non-fiber foods with grains, beans, and vegetables, estrogen elimination is increased
- Diet rich in Essential fatty acids,calcium and magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, niacin, and vitamin C,vitamin E is essential for production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
- Alcohol-Alcohol does not cause pain directly but interferes with hormone metabolism of liver and increases pain
- Smoking-Similar to alcohol, there is no evidence of smoking is directly related to dysmenorrhea but it is speculated that it causes constriction of uterine blood vessels resulting in menstrual cramps.
- Caffeine-Caffeine can worsen menstrual cramps as it constricts blood vessels.
- Excessive salt – Many women feel incredibly bloated and puffy around the time of menstruation. Consuming too much salt at that time will only make it worse.
How to keep food to work?
While diet alone cannot prevent dysmenorrhea or cure it, it’s certainly one of the first lines of treatment.
The key to success is to follow the diet strictly, so that the beneficial effects it has are evident after a cycle or two.
Improve your diet by following regimen.
- Increase intake of Essential fatty acids which are found in cold water fish, nuts and seeds for e.g.flaxseeds)
- Reduce Intake of processed meat
- Reduce vegetable oils: salad dressings, margarine, and all cooking oils ,fatty foods
- Eliminate refined foods –Refined flour , Bakery
- Eliminate caffeine
- Balance intake whole grains brown rice, whole-grain bread, chapatti, oatmeal, etc.
- Increase intake of Vegetables
- Increase intake of beans, peas, lentils
- Increase intake of fruits.
Be sure to choose foods in as natural state as possible.Dietary changes are certainly useful The power of foods will be demonstrated in a very different way.