When PMS sets in, it’s tempting to reach for the chocolate—but smart food choices could mean the difference between miserable cramps or a pain-free period.
What Happens During Your Period
This is not a news flash—your body undergoes a variety of hormonal changes during your period. Those hormonal changes do more than make you feel grumpy—they actually slow your digestion and cause your body to retain water. The result—cramping and bloating.
What Does Nutrition Have to Do With It?
Nutrition matters—always, but especially during your period. As your body navigates a variety of changes, it needs a little extra TLC—and nutrients. Magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E help fight menstrual cramps, so it never hurts to ramp up your consumption of those nutrients before and during your period. What’s more—water is critical. Drinking more water will help speed your digestion and keep those cramps at bay. Here are some basic nutritional tips for that time of the month:
- Reduce salt intake
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Drink more water—at least two liters per day
- Increase calcium intake
- Increase vitamin B6 to prevent bloating
- Increase vitamin C and zinc
Reach for These Foods
So, what exactly should you eat if you want to put an end to the cramps? These foods can help you thrive through the hormonal changes.
- Spinach: Spinach is loaded with magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E—all of which have been shown to fight menstrual cramps. If you suffer from bloating and cramps during your period, put spinach on the menu. Add it to salads and smoothies for a nutritional boost.
- Kale: Kale is another nutritional superpower. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals and is an especially good source of calcium. Kale is delicious in salads or sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic.
- Ginger: Ginger is a common tummy tamer—and in traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is often used as a remedy for menstrual cramps. Add fresh ginger to tea or stir-fry for delicious flavor—and menstrual relief.
- Wheat germ: Wheat germ is loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, zinc, and B vitamins. Sprinkle it on your cereal or add it to your smoothies for a nutritional boost that provides relief from painful cramps.
- Pineapple: Pineapple is more than delicious—it may provide quick relief from cramps, too. The fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain, which helps relax muscles and relieve menstrual discomfort. As if you needed an excuse for this sweet treat!
- Parsley: Parsley is more than a garnish. This understated herb actually packs a nutritional punch. What’s more—parsley contains a compound called apiol, which has been proven to stimulate the menstrual process and relieve cramps.
- Oatmeal: Oats are loaded with magnesium. Start the day off with a delicious, and warming, bowl of oatmeal and you might just manage to avoid painful cramps.