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Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on 28 May every year. The day aims to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management. It was initiated by the German-based NGO WASH United in 2014 and the date 28 was chosen to acknowledge that 28 days is the average length of the menstrual cycle.
World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020 theme is 'Periods in Pandemic'. The theme highlights the challenges faced by women during menstruation amidst the ongoing pandemic and to shine a light on how the challenges have worsened during the pandemic.
On this menstrual hygiene day, let us explore some of the best foods that can help relieve the torturous monthly pain.
Getting your period is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you don't have to worry about accidental blood stains any more. But on the other hand, you have to go through 5 to 7 days of mini-hell before you can live carefree once more.
And while there are those lucky ones among us who do not feel much pain or discomfort during their period, the rest of us have to count our painkillers and hot water baths to help us make it through the days.
So if you fall into the latter category, then this article is for you. The following are foods that can help you ease your period pain and menstrual cramps. Take a look.
Of course, ginger has to be the first one. Gingerol, a substance, is the main bioactive compound in ginger, which can help ease the bloating and nausea, which are two of the commonest symptoms of menstruation. Sipping on fresh ginger tea can help ease painful abdominal cramps and reduce pain effectively .
How to: Grate in some ginger while preparing your cup of tea.
2. Dark Chocolate
We are not talking about the rich milk chocolate but the 80 per cent dark, rich in cocoa, dark chocolate that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you eat it (but somehow has a sweet after taste). Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and other compounds that boost your body's serotonin levels (also called the happiness hormone), and thus, improves your mood and general energy .
How to: Eat a few squares of dark chocolate.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
Women lose a lot of blood during their periods and along with it, a lot of nutrients that are stored in the blood, like iron, magnesium, and potassium causing fatigue, dizziness, and blurred vision during your period . To ease these and the associated pain, consume leafy greens such as spinach, fenugreek (methi), amaranth (chaulai) and mustard greens (sarson) .
How to: You can boil the leaves and consume it or add it to a bowl of salad.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are grains that still have their natural casings on. Like brown rice, oats, and cracked wheat (dalia). Whole grains contain nutrients like magnesium, which reduce muscle tension and period cramps, and vitamins B and E that decrease fatigue and mood swings .
How to: Mix in a bowl of sautéed green vegetables to one helping of brown rice or eat a bowl of oatmeal.
Having a bowl of dal (lentil soup) during your periods can help replenish all the blood that you have lost from your system and ease the irritation and pain .
How to: Munch on a handful of peanuts to get some relief.
Having a probiotic period while the period cramps are killing you can help ease the pain and provides the required amount of calcium, which is lost through menstrual bleeding .
How to: You can make yoghurt smoothies or have a small bowl of plain probiotic yoghurt.
These fruits are rich in potassium and vitamins that quickly boost your mood and help regulate your bowel movements to improve period-induced diarrhoea . You will feel less bloated, and the potassium content in the fruit can help reduce the muscle cramps .
How to: Eat a whole banana or you can add it to a bowl of fruit salad. You can also make smoothies.
Excellent sources of protein, vitamin, fat, minerals and fibre nut varieties like walnut, almonds and peanuts can help in relieving abdominal and back pain that is common during menstruation .
How to: Have a handful of nuts like walnut, almonds, peanuts as your morning and afternoon snacks.
9. Meat & Eggs
Meat products are chock-full of proteins, which helps replenish blood and nutrients to your body and prevent anaemia from kicking in . So if you are non-vegetarian, make sure you eat a good amount of red meat, fish, and eggs during your period to help reduce your period pain and menstrual cramps .
How to: Boil 4 eggs. Chop them up into little bits. Mix in some corn, leafy greens, and lemon juice, and you now have a large bowl of egg salad that you can munch on whenever you crave food during your period.
We all know that fishes have a lot of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids in their meat, which are exceptionally good for your health . But it is even more healthy during your period because omega-3 fatty acids are excellent muscle relaxants and nerve stabilizers, which helps ease your period pain and cramps . Salmon and other cold-water fishes are exceptionally beneficial for easing period pain.
How to: You can have the Salmon boiled with a side of green leafy vegetables.
11. Green Tea
Drinking green tea during your periods can help reduce your oestrogen level and balance out your hormones, thereby easing the pain caused by the menstrual cramps . Chamomile tea is also equally beneficial for easing pain .
How to: Replace your morning coffee with green tea during your period to start your day fresh and pain-free.
12. Fenugreek Seeds
Also called methi seeds, fenugreek seeds are great painkillers, which can help you immensely with your period pain. In addition to reducing inflammation and pain, fenugreek has also had antioxidant and antispasmodic properties .
How to: Fry some fenugreek seeds and add them to your bowl of dal to ease the pain or you can have 1800-2700 mg of fenugreek seed powder three times daily for the first 3 days of your periods.
13. Basil Leaves
Also called tulsi leaves, basil is not a commonly used herb in Indian cuisine. The caffeic acid in these tulsi leaves can help in immediately reducing your period pain .
How to: Chew on 4-5 leaves of tulsi to get some relief from the pain or buy a bottle of dried basil and sprinkle it on your food.
14. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds, or til are rich in zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and healthy fatty acids, which can help reduce your period pain drastically .
How to: Sprinkle some sesame seeds on whatever you are eating to enjoy the benefit.
15. Sunflower Seeds
These seeds not only contain a large number of nutrients (including zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 and E), they also induce dopamine secretion in your body, which naturally relieves your period pain .
How to: Add some sunflower seeds to your regular bowl of salad and add a spoonful of honey to make it a delicious meal.
On A Final Note…
Menstruation is a part of our life, and there is no way you can evade from its effects. However, trying these foods and drinks can help provide some relief and ease your already irritated mood and always follow a healthy diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What foods make cramps worse?
A. Coffee, dairy, refined carbohydrates, salty foods, milk chocolate are some of the most common foods that can make your period cramps worse.
Q. Why do periods make you poop?
A. Just before your period begins, the cells that make up the lining of your uterus begin producing more prostaglandins - which causes you to poop more.
Q. Can I eat ice cream during periods?
A. Dairy is a major part of a well-balanced diet, but eating too much cheese or consuming too many milk-based products on your period can cause your period cramps to worsen. Fight your cravings for a week.
Q. Do you lose weight on your period?
A. The menstrual cycle does not directly impact weight loss or gain, but there may be some secondary connections such as change in appetite and food cravings - which can affect weight.
Q. Can you drink cold water during period?
A. While you are on your period, you should avoid drinking cold water and eating cold foods as they can worsen the menstrual cramps.