Updated: Aug 8
Our menstrual cycle can often come with stomach cramps, back pain, pain in legs, moodiness, headaches, hormonal breakouts on skin. It can be a frustrating feeling on a monthly basis. But there are a few dietary guidelines you can follow to reduce the severity of symptoms.
1. Remove processed foods from your daily diet
This actually does not only apply to menstruating women, but really anyone. Try to observe what you eat on a daily basis, what you have in your food cupboards, fridge and freezer. How many of those foods are packaged foods, come with a long list of ingredients listed on the product label and where you can't recognise if the ingredient is actually food.
Aim to eat as little as possible processed packaged foods and put majority of your focus on single ingredient whole-foods. Avocado does not come with an ingredient list :).
2. Choose local, organic food when possible
The longer the food needs to travel to you the higher the chance the food is chemically laden and the less nutrient-tense it is. Hormones in food can lead to heavier flow, more stomach cramps, mood swings. The pesticides in food put higher burden on your liver.
3. Eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits contain a lot of fibre, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients helping to reduce the symptoms of PMS
4. Choose your proteins wisely
Try and notice whether you feel better with vegetarian protein (natto, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, eggs) or animal protein (beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork). Women, who struggle with the lack of their periods might feel better incorporating good-quality animal protein in their diet
5. Don't forget to consume adequate amounts of healthy fat
If you lack high-quality fat in your diet, you might experience dry skin, hormonal imbalances, ovarian cysts, amenorrhea (lack of period), mood swings. Incorporating olive oil, avocado, walnuts, hemp seeds, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter can all help to balance your hormones, including your female and your hunger hormones. Omega-3 are especially important and help to reduce cramping.
6. Seed cycling for better hormonal balance
If you did not yet know about seed-cycling, it's also something you can try and implement into your diet to reduce pain, bloating, tender breasts, cramping etc.
During the 1-14 days of your cycle (1st being the first day of your menstruation), your body needs more oestrogen. Ground pumpkin seeds and ground flax seeds are ideal for this- add them to your smoothies, salads, cooked vegetables, cooked eggs.
During 15-28+ days your body needs more progesterone and this is the time to consume ground sesame and ground sunflower seeds.
Grinding the seeds (great to use a coffee grinder for this) helps your body to absorb the nutrients better. Store the seeds in the glass jar in the fridge so the seeds won't go rancid.
Why do these particular seeds?
Flaxseeds contain lignans, which bind to excess oestrogen in your body. They also help with hormone metabolism and hot flashes
Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which boost progesterone production, great for preparing you for the 2nd half of your cycle
Sesame seeds contain lignans, which bind to excess oestrogen as well as zinc to increase progesterone production
Sunflower seeds are rich in selenium to support your liver with detoxifying oestrogen
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