Menstrual cramps. That dull, sometimes debilitating ache that strikes every month signaling the start of your period. Nearly 80% of menstruating women experience some degree of cramping during their cycle.
In this blog, we’ll explore the top food choices to help beat menstrual cramps the natural way. These foods work with your body to alleviate discomfort, allowing you to carry on with your day and helping you stay comfortable just like the best pads for periods in Pakistan.
So next time when periods come to town, be sure to stock up on these cramp-fighting foods. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much they help provide relief!
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus during menstruation that temporarily cut off the oxygen supply to the uterus. When the uterine lining breaks down and sheds each month, chemicals called prostaglandins are released that make the uterus contract to expel the lining. Higher levels of prostaglandins cause more intense cramping.
Cramps may also occur from uterine tissue tightly pressing against blood vessels and cutting off blood supply. The pain is felt in the lower abdomen but can radiate to the lower back and thighs.
The cramping is the uterus’s normal cyclic process, but the discomfort varies between individuals. Understanding what’s behind the cramping can help you find the relief you need when that menstruation misery strikes.
Foods That Help
When it comes to soothing menstrual cramps, what you eat can make a difference. Certain foods contain compounds that may help relax the muscles of the uterus to provide cramp relief. Foods rich in certain vitamins and minerals may also help ease PMS symptoms. Here are some of the top foods to focus on during your time of the month:
- Ginger – Contains compounds like gingerol that may help relax uterine muscles. Can be consumed as tea, added to foods, and smoothies.
- Turmeric – Has an active compound called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory effects to relieve cramps. Add it to meals, and drinks, or take it as a supplement.
- Salmon – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce prostaglandin production and inflammation.
- Leafy Greens – Magnesium-rich greens like spinach help relax muscles. Vitamin B6 helps with mood and energy levels.
- Nuts and Seeds – Good sources of magnesium and vitamin E to fight cramps and balance hormones.
- Warm Beverages – Sipping on warm tea, broths, and cocoa can soothe cramps. Avoid coffee which may make cramps worse.
Focusing on a diet with plenty of these cramp-fighting foods can help provide much-needed relief during your menstrual cycle. Be sure to avoid inflammatory foods as well. With the right nutrition plan, you can help tame those monthly cramps.
Ginger is an effective food for soothing menstrual cramps due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The active components in ginger, gingerols, and shogaols, inhibit prostaglandins and leukotrienes which are inflammatory compounds that cause menstrual cramps. By reducing the levels of prostaglandins, ginger helps relax the muscles in the uterus which eases cramping and discomfort.
Ginger also helps improve blood circulation in the abdomen and uterus which provides relief from the pain. The warming effect of ginger helps alleviate cramps as well. Ginger can be consumed as a tea by steeping sliced ginger root in hot water or by adding it to foods and beverages. Try sipping on ginger tea or adding ginger to smoothies when menstrual cramps strike.
Turmeric contains curcumin, an active compound with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve menstrual cramps. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of turmeric can provide relief from cramping in the uterus and abdomen. Consuming turmeric regularly can help reduce the severity and duration of cramps over time.
Try adding fresh or powdered turmeric to dishes like soups, curries, smoothies, and golden milk. The vibrant yellow spice provides a soothing warmth that calms cramping. Just 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric per day may be enough to see benefits.
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s can provide relief from menstrual cramps by blocking the production of inflammatory molecules called prostaglandins that cause painful uterine contractions.
Consuming salmon, either grilled or baked, a few times a week may help alleviate cramping during your period. Salmon is rich in healthy fats that get converted into hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins that regulate inflammation in the body. The omega-3 fatty acids help reduce bad prostaglandins that promote inflammation while increasing good prostaglandins that control inflammation.
Salmon is one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Include salmon in your diet and see if it provides relief from those painful monthly cramps.
- Leafy Greens Soothe Menstrual Cramps
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard contain magnesium, which helps relax uterus muscles and ease cramps. The magnesium in greens may also help regulate prostaglandin production and inhibit Cox-2 enzymes to reduce cramping.
No doubt, magnesium supplements relieve menstrual cramps, so getting magnesium naturally from greens can likely provide similar anti-cramping effects. Greens also contain vitamin B6 and vitamin E, which have anti-inflammatory properties to alleviate cramp discomfort.
Additionally, the antioxidants in leafy greens may help relax uterine muscles. So be sure to eat your spinach salad or kale smoothie when that time of the month hits. The nutrients in greens can help provide natural cramp relief.
- Nuts and Seeds Provide Essential Nutrients
Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients and minerals that can help relieve menstrual cramps. Walnuts contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and magnesium, while sesame seeds provide calcium and vitamin B6.
Pumpkin seeds are also a great choice during your period. They contain zinc, magnesium, and fatty acids to fight prostaglandins and calm the uterus. The iron in pumpkin seeds can replace what is lost through bleeding. Just a small handful of nuts and seeds can make a difference in fighting menstrual pain and discomfort.
- Warm Beverages
A cup of something warm can be very soothing when you’re experiencing menstrual cramps. The heat helps relax cramped muscles and ease pain.
Some great options include:
- Herbal tea – Chamomile and peppermint teas are anti-inflammatory and can reduce cramping. Ginger tea may also help.
- Green tea – Contains antioxidants that may fight inflammation.
- Decaf coffee – The warmth can be comforting without the caffeine which can make cramps worse.
- Warm water with lemon – Helps you stay hydrated, and lemon contains antioxidants.
- Warm milk – High in calcium, which helps muscles relax. Add a little cinnamon or turmeric for extra benefits.
Sipping something warm and soothing can be a nice way to find relief when menstrual cramps strike. Keep some tea bags on hand or make yourself a warm mug of something comforting.
Menstrual cramps can put a real damper on your monthly cycle, but the good news is there are plenty of natural foods that can provide relief. In this post, we’ve covered some of the top options to try adding to your diet when it’s that time of the month.
By incorporating more of these nutritious foods that target the root causes of cramps, you can say goodbye to popping painkillers every month and experience a more comfortable cycle naturally. Give these cramp-fighting superfoods a try for fast relief!