You’ve probably heard the adage, “you’re what you eat. When it comes to a woman’s period, nothing can be truer.
Many things affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, one of which is diet. A sudden change in a woman’s diet can offset the timing of her period or the intensity of the flow, and the food she consumes has its role to play.
However, food can affect your period both positively and negatively. Let’s see how.
How diet affects your period symptoms
The menstrual cycle involves four stages. Each stage requires certain hormonal levels to progress as expected. Now, a slight change in your body’s chemistry, which may result from a change in diet, could cause a hormonal imbalance, destabilizing the menstrual progression. This may quicken or delay your menstruation as well as intensify your period symptoms.
Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes are some consumables that particularly affect your menstrual cycle. Let’s see how they work.
Research shows that people who consumed at least 1.5 sugar-sweetened beverages a day were more likely to reach menarche (the age you first start menstruating) than those who drank less.
Furthermore, the hormonal system (endocrine) considers high blood sugar as a stressor. So when you consume too much sugary food in the days leading up to your period, your adrenal glands respond to the stress by sending out insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol and increased insulin levels can make your PMS more extreme.
Coffee is everyone’s favorite, but its caffeine content can promote anxiety and worsen sleep quality, which intensifies PMS. Some people do find a little sip of caffeine helpful in managing cramps. So you only have to ensure you stay way below the top.
Smoking is harmful to health in every way, and your period isn’t exempted as it can lead to irregular menstrual cycles.
Alcohol can act as a depressant, but much of it can overwork your digestive organs and lead to a hormonal imbalance.
What you can do for a more pleasant menstrual experience
As we have said, diet can negatively as well as positively influence your period. If you’re looking for how to relieve period cramps, there are tonics you can take designed specifically for that. Such products may target your hormones, helping to regulate and prevent any imbalance that may disrupt your cycle. It would help if you also considered increasing certain nutritional requirements in your diet for a less-worrisome menstrual experience.
Vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and other foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids tend to reduce the risk of troublesome PMS.
High calcium consumption leads to a decrease in the severity of PMS symptoms, such as depression and fatigue. Calcium is also linked to Vitamin D absorption, and a high level of vitamin D is associated with lower PMS. So foods high in calcium and vitamin D are worth consuming more as your period approaches.
Iron deficiency may result as you lose blood each month. Iron deficiency may cause concentration problems and fatigue when menstruating. And notably, vegetarians are at a higher risk of iron deficiency because animal iron (heme-iron) is more bioavailable than plant iron.
If you struggle with tiredness and concentration while menstruating, consider increasing your heme iron intake or speak with your doctor.
Indeed, what you eat affects your menstrual cycle for better and for worse. If you’ve been having a troublesome cycle, making conscious choices regarding your diet may help tremendously.
Tiffany is a Medical Student and also works as a fitness coach in part-time. She is also a writer and writes on health and fitness articles. Tiffany loves to engage with users and help them provide various useful information on General Health. She provides researched-based information and also featured on various blogs and magazines.