Periods suck. Whether you have light, easy periods or heavy, painful periods, the consensus is still the same. Even though it can be tempting to lie in bed all day and gorge yourself on carbs and chocolate once your period starts, it's best not to do that if you want to feel your best during your cycle.
There are some vitamins and foods that are scientifically proven to make your periods less painful, last a shorter time, and help ease some of those painful symptoms and mood swings that come with premenstrual syndrome. So, we've compiled a handy-dandy list of the best foods to eat when it's that time of the month. You're welcome!
Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., M.B.A., who practices Integrative Medicine combining traditional Western medicine with evidence-based complementary modalities at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut states that that flax seeds and pumpkin seeds should be taken daily during the follicular phase, which starts on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation. Dr. Takayasu says sunflower seeds and sesame seeds should be taken daily during the luteal phase (about two weeks after ovulation).
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, which has been shown to boost the body's natural production of estrogen. Zinc also has the added benefit of reducing ovarian function defects, which supports your overall health. Time for pumpkin everything!
Chia seeds are not associated with the seed cycling regimen, but they do have high amounts of fiber and omega-3 healthy fats. Omega-3 healthy fats and fiber are known to help hormonal problems associated with symptoms such as PMS, cramps, mood swings, acne, and other hormonal imbalances. Also, fiber has the added benefit of reducing inflammation, which has been debated as being linked to PMS in the past.
Quinoa is a carb, yes, but it packs in a lot of magnesium and vitamin B6, both of which are typically used to help aid PMS-related symptoms such as moodiness. Finally, quinoa has [more protein](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7074363/#:~:text=The%20protein%20content%20of%20quinoa%20seeds%20ranges%20between%2011,19%25%20(Table%201) in it than its other carb counterparts such as cereal. More protein means that you will stay full for longer, which means that you will be much less tempted to reach for bad processed foods, such as a can of soda or a candy bar when the cravings hit.
Peppermint tea, which contains peppermint oil, is a way to soothe the stomach and reduce GI effects during your periods. Some women find that they can tolerate peppermint tea more than they can handle chewing on ginger. But it's good to have options, which is why we recommend having a box of peppermint tea on hand for that time of the month. Plus, peppermint tea has the added benefit of being served warm and helping you stay hydrated. This means that you can get cozy, nestle up in bed, and sip on your peppermint tea with a hot pad on your stomach.
Refined carbs are a known source of repeated inflammation, which has been contributed to higher levels of PMS symptoms such as painful menstrual cramps, depression, fatigue, irritability, weight gain, water retention, mood swings, headaches, and breast tenderness. Refined carbs can disrupt the body's sensitive blood-sugar balance, which has a negative impact on estrogen. If you crave carbs during your period, try to turn to whole grain bread as opposed to plain white bread.
Whole grains will deliver you a steady supply of nutrients, such as zinc, fiber, and magnesium. In addition, whole grains process more slowly, meaning that your blood sugar can remain stable when you're eating. Stable blood sugar leads to stable levels of estrogen, which leads to less pain and inflammation overall. Yay for this!
Saffron is an expensive spice, and for a good reason! Saffron possesses both analgesic and antispasmodic properties, meaning that it has the unique ability to reduce and soothe any cramping associated with menstruation.
We recommend boiling your saffron with milk or water, and drinking it before bed. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting a new regimen like this, however, to ensure that your hormone levels are in the right place to do so.
There's a reason why women crave chocolate during their periods, and it's a scientific one! Dark chocolate contains high amounts of potassium, which is a known muscle relaxant used to reduce menstrual cramping. Dark chocolate also reduces cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Lower levels of cortisol mean that you have the ability to process and handle your PMS symptoms in a more relaxed manner. Increased relaxation can lead to lower levels of pain, fatigue, and inflammation. So, dark chocolate during your period is a win-win for everyone! Plus, any excuse to eat dark chocolate is a good excuse in our book!
If you are one of the unlucky women who experiences nausea or vomiting during her period, there is hope! Ginger is an ingredient that actually helps nausea, and it works by settling the stomach and reducing the feelings of nausea in your throat. We prefer taking ginger in tea form, because it's easier for us to drink and consume when we are feeling a little under the weather.
Turmeric reduces inflammation, which is something that a lot of women experience during their periods. It has been proven that when a woman experiences less inflammation, her physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS are greatly reduced. To experience the healing benefits of turmeric, it is necessary to take it throughout the menstrual cycle, and not only on the period days.
Turmeric pills can either be swallowed like regular pills, or they can be broken open and sprinkled over a milk of your choice to make a healthy "turmeric steamer." Whichever method you choose, just know that turmeric is a great choice in aiding your overall hormonal health and promoting restoration and balance.
Struggle with menstrual migraines? You are not alone. Luckily, there is a natural solution in your pantry right now...nuts! Nuts are high in vitamin E, which is an ingredient proven to prevent and reduce the severity of menstrual migraines.
Nuts are also high in protein, which is a great way to stabilize and balance your blood sugar. Fluctuating blood sugar levels have been found to increase the severity of PMS symptoms, so it's important to be cognizant of what you eat during your cycle. Your body will thank you!
So, there you have it! These are the best foods to eat on your period to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and to lessen the severity of your premenstrual syndrome. We recommend stocking up on all of these items well in advance of your period so you have them ready when that first day of the month comes. The great news is that these products are available on Amazon, which means that you won’t even need to get out of bed or lift a finger to order all of these!