Menstruation is considered the first day of your monthly cycle and occurs when your uterus sheds its lining, which happens if you did not become pregnant. There are many unpleasant symptoms that can accompany menstruation, including cramps, headaches and fatigue. Eating certain foods may help by giving you energy and working to alleviate your symptoms. If you experience intense pain or irregular bleeding patterns, you should also make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Many women lose iron during their menstrual cycle, and replenishing your stores may help you feel better. An iron deficiency is linked to fatigue and weakness, Kendra Bartleson and Nicole Cormier report in their book, "The Everything Guide to Nutrition." White meat chicken is a nutritious food that supplies plenty of iron. Add a chicken breast to your dinner or slice chicken onto a salad at lunchtime. Beef is an additional source of iron, but look for fat-trimmed versions to keep your saturated fat intake low. If you do not eat meat, leafy greens, beans and oatmeal are additional sources of this important nutrient.
The calcium in milk may alleviate painful cramping during menstruation. Consuming at least 1,300 mg of calcium per day during your period may help, Jean Carper notes in her book, "Food: Your Miracle Medicine." Getting plenty of calcium may also reduce the backaches, headaches and muscle pain that often accompany your monthly bleeding. Carper reports that drinking an extra glass of skim milk will help you get more calcium in your diet. Yogurt and cheese are additional high-calcium foods that may help to reduce your symptoms.
Many menstruating women are low in manganese, which may increase your flow each month. Carper reports that eating foods rich in manganese may help reduce the amount you bleed each month and may ease a lot of the discomfort associated with your monthly cycle. Nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, will increase your intake of this important nutrient. Eat a handful of nuts or seeds each day during your period. Tea, pineapple and whole grains are additional sources of manganese.
Eating soybeans may help to reduce symptoms of menstruation because they mimic human estrogen in the body. Carper recommends soybeans during menstruation because they may be effective in reducing many menstrual symptoms, including pain. Estrogenic foods, like soybeans, may help to regulate your hormone levels. Rapid changes in hormones are often responsible for the physical changes you experience during menstruation, and soybeans may work to keep those hormones more stable.
- Brown University Health Education: Menstruation
- "The Everything Guide to Nutrition"; Kendra Bartleson and Nicole Cormier; 2011
- "Food: Your Miracle Medicine"; Jean Carper; 1994
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.