This is part three of our three-part series about food’s effect on your period. So far, we have covered food and beverages that make your period heavier, and food that regulates your period (part one); chocolate’s effect on periods, food you should eat to reduce period pain, and food that worsen your period cramps (part two); and now we continue with part three. Here we cover healthy food to eat during your period, food that helps reduce bloating, and food that helps keep your skin clear from pimples during your period. Let’s begin!
Heathy Food to Eat During Your Period
We may be craving chocolate croissants, muffins and jam doughnuts during our periods, but what our bodies really need is a dose of healthy vitamins and minerals in the form of food. The following are great foods to eat when you’re riding the crimson tide:
1. Chickpeas and Hummus
Chickpeas contain a lot of Vitamin B6, which helps with progesterone levels, and this regulates your period. Hummus is a great dip you can eat as a main dish with salad on the side or you can make fresh chickpea stew with tomatoes, herbs and spices. I know from experience I also get into a better mood the minute I swallow a plateful of chickpeas or hummus – so it helps with period mood swings too!
1. Avocados and Other Healthy Fats
Avocado is a super delicious and nutritious food that is also highly addictive (especially when mashed with a little bit of salt and fresh lemon). Avocados contain omega-3 fats which affect prostaglandin E2 (or PGE2). These prostaglandins control the contraction of the uterus, and eating the wrong fats can make the contractions worse. Therefore, eating the right fats like avocados, as well as fatty fish like salmon, actually help with the cramps.
Bananas contain potassium which is great for our bodies during our periods, as it helps to restore the natural balance of fluids within our bodies, actually helping with bloating. Oranges, apricots and cantaloupes are great as they are filled with potassium too!
4. Green Tea
Green tea is an amazing drink to consume during your period as it helps with painful cramps and promotes blood flow. It also gives your body natural caffeine, so you don’t have to reach for a cup of “java.” Coffee constricts blood vessels, which only worsen period cramps. Green tea also contains a wonderful mix of antioxidants which is great during your period, and the green tea also helps keep you hydrated and healthy.
During your period, you’re losing a lot of fluids and constantly need to stay hydrated or you could feel feint. The best liquid to put into your body is water – up to three liters a day. It helps alleviate symptoms of PMS, improves digestion, and reduces bloating. You will be running to the toilet a lot during the day to pee, but the health benefits are well worth it. If you’re worried about this at work, make sure to drink a lot of water when you get home, and also when you wake up first thing in the morning.
Food That Helps Reduce Bloating During Your Period
One of the first tell-tale signs of getting your period is the fact that you experience bloating. So, what exactly is “period” bloating? Well, bloating before and during your menstrual flow may occur due to changes in levels of the two sex hormones progesterone and estrogen. Just before women start their period, progesterone levels fall, which causes the uterus to shed its lining (which causes menstrual bleeding).
The changes in the estrogen and progesterone levels makes the body retain more water and salt, and the body’s cells become swollen with water, causing bloating. It’s one of the embarrassing consequences of getting periods as it can really make a woman look much bigger than she really is. Luckily, there are food and beverages out there that help reduce bloating. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Protein and Potassium-Rich Food
You’ll want to put healthy proteins in your body sourced from lean chicken and fatty fish, as this will help with bloating. You must avoid processed sugars in the form of white bread and unhealthy pastas.
Food with potassium will definitely balance your fluids, so reach for tomatoes, bananas, cantaloupes and asparagus.
Put this all together and make a meal of chicken breast with cooked asparagus and a healthy dessert of a fruit salad consisting of bananas and cantaloupe.
2. Food That Acts as Natural Diuretics
In order to feel lighter, and for your bloating to go down, reach for natural diuretics such as cucumbers, lemon juice, celery, watermelon, garlic and ginger. You can even combine some of these ingredients and make a smoothie out of it.
3. Gassy Foods
The following may be really healthy food, but they cause gas in the body. Broccoli and brussels sprouts contain a complex sugar called raffinose. We don’t have the enzyme to help it break down properly within the body. This all leads to gas and bloat. It’s pretty hard to believe, but if you don’t want gas and bloat during your period, you need to stay away from cauliflower, beans, cabbage and lettuce while you’re bleeding and return to them once you’ve stopped, as they are incredibly healthy for the body.
4. Don’t Overdo Fiber
If you’re not someone that naturally eats a ton of fruit and vegetables, eating these just before and during your period will cause bloat. Eat these of course, as they are very healthy, just don’t overdo it if you don’t want to experience too much bloat.
5. Drink Water
It really helps to drink water if your body bloats a lot. Drinking a lot of natural, still water helps to naturally flush out all the excess water and sodium out of our bodies.
Food That Helps Keep Your Skin Clear from Pimples During Your Period
Now it’s important to note that certain skin can’t help but break out in pimples close to your period – especially when you’re young, and even more so when you’re a teenager. The older you get, the less pimples you experience. Because your estrogen and progesterone levels drop just before your period, sebaceous glands can secrete more sebum – an oily substance that lubricates the skin. Too much of this causes clogged pores and breakouts. An imbalance of hormones can also cause skin inflammation and bacteria which produces acne. So, let’s look at food that helps with this as much as possible!
1. Complex Carbohydrates
These are carbohydrates that have a low-glycemic index – they don’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike. They are found in whole grains like buckwheat, popcorn, barley and bulgur; legumes like lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans; and unprocessed fruits and vegetables (fruits and vegetables in their natural form).
2. Food with Zinc, Vitamins A and E, and Antioxidants
Zinc, Vitamins A and E, and antioxidants all help with inflammation. You can find zinc in food such as poultry and meat, beans, and nuts. There are high concentrates of Vitamin A in carrots and butternut, and you’ll find Vitamin E in food like almonds, avocados, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and red bell peppers. Antioxidants can be found in Vitamin A and E-rich foods, beverages such as green tea, and delicious fruit such as blueberries. You can take Vitamin A supplements, but just be aware that too much of these supplements can cause permanent damage to major organs. so speak to your doctor with regards to this.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids have been mentioned time and time again in all three articles of this series. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, eggs, avocados and flax seeds reduce inflammation within the body.
There we go! Now, when your period finds its monthly way to you, you should know exactly what food to stock your fridge with, and what food to stay clear from. As a general rule, if you stick to the food mentioned in this article and its two predecessors, your body will be in a much healthier state overall. One thing that wasn’t covered in these articles was exercise. Just keep in mind that the more you exercise, even if it’s just 30 minutes of walking outside in the fresh air every day, the healthier your body will be! Keep eating healthy, and watch as period cramps lessen, periods become more regular, bloating comes down and pimples lessen. Love yourself enough to discipline your body into eating right, and your monthly cycle with thank you for it!