La dieta, uno de los factores más importantes durante la menstruación

Diet, one of the most important factors during menstruation

Menstruation is a natural process of the female body, but many women experience uncomfortable and painful symptoms during this time, such as headaches, cramps, bloating, fatigue, and mood swings. Although pain relievers and other medications can help relieve these symptoms, many wonder if a proper diet could help reduce the pain and discomfort associated with menstruation.

A diet poor in nutrients can negatively affect menstruation. Women may experience a decrease in hemoglobin levels due to blood loss  during the menstrual cycle. If this blood loss is excessive, as in the case of heavy menstrual bleeding, it can lead to a significant decrease in hemoglobin levels and ultimately to anemia.

Hemoglobin is a protein present in red blood cells whose main function is to transport oxygen throughout the body. Hemoglobin is made up of two parts: a protein called globin and a heme group that contains iron. When hemoglobin levels in the body are low, a condition known as anemia occurs. Anemia can be caused by a variety of factors, including a diet poor in iron, blood loss, chronic diseases, and nutrient absorption problems.

To avoid anemia related to menstruation, it is important to follow a diet rich in iron, consuming foods such as meat, fish, legumes, green leafy vegetables and iron-fortified cereals. In addition, it is recommended to include foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, since this vitamin helps in the absorption of iron.

The theory that a proper diet can help relieve menstrual symptoms is supported by various scientific evidence. A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that diet can affect hormone levels and inflammation, which in turn can affect the appearance of premenstrual symptoms. Researchers suggest that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins may help reduce inflammation in the body and therefore reduce premenstrual symptoms.

Discomfort and irregularities in the menstrual cycle can be caused by several factors. Some of the most common causes are the following:

  • Hormonal imbalances: Changes in hormone levels in the body can affect the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities. For example, stress, puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause can affect hormone levels and cause changes in the menstrual cycle.
  • Thyroid problems: Hypothyroidism (low level of thyroid hormones) and hyperthyroidism (high level of thyroid hormones) can affect the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal disorder common in women of reproductive age that can cause irregular or absent menstrual periods.
  • Contraceptive use: The use of certain contraceptives, such as the birth control pill and the IUD, can cause changes in the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities.
  • Weight problems: Significant weight gain or loss can affect the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities.
  • Chronic diseases: Some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and kidney failure, can affect the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities.
  • Excessive exercise: Intense and excessive exercise can affect the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities.

It is important to note that irregularities in the menstrual cycle are common and are not always a cause for concern. So there are several things that can be done to prevent irregularities. Reduce stress and  maintaining a healthy weight can affect hormonal levels; on the other hand, moderate exercise and sleep are essential activities to regulate hormonal levels and maintain a healthy menstrual cycle. 

Here are some specific dietary tips that may help with menstrual symptoms:

  • Increase calcium intake : Studies have shown that women who consume more calcium experience fewer menstrual symptoms. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, sardines and canned salmon, tofu, and almonds. Calcium is an essential mineral that helps keep bones and teeth strong. During menstruation, estrogen levels decrease, which can lead to a decrease in bone density. Therefore, it is important to consume enough calcium to prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems in the future.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium . 

They are an excellent source of fiber that helps maintain healthy and regular digestion. Additionally, they contain a high amount of antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids, which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can reduce menstruation symptoms. Many fruits and vegetables contain a large amount of water, which helps maintain good hydration during menstruation. Proper hydration is important to prevent fluid retention and reduce swelling.

  • Lean proteins: Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish and beans can provide the body with essential nutrients such as iron and zinc. These nutrients are important for red blood cell production and can help reduce fatigue during menstruation. Proteins are necessary to repair and build tissues in the body, including muscles and reproductive organs. Women who experience menstrual cramps may benefit from a protein-rich diet to help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D: Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fatty fish, can help reduce premenstrual symptoms and provide essential nutrients for bone health. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in the body. A vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of osteoporosis and other bone problems. Additionally, vitamin D has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce menstrual pain.
  • Eat more iron-rich foods: Many women experience anemia due to blood loss during menstruation. It is an essential mineral that plays a fundamental role in the transport of oxygen in the body. During menstruation, women can lose iron through menstrual bleeding. Therefore, it is important to consume enough iron in the diet to replace what is lost and prevent iron deficiency or anemia. To combat this, it is important to consume foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat, spinach, beans and lentils.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation associated with menstrual symptoms. Omega 3 can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the duration and amount of menstrual bleeding. Additionally, it may reduce premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, and tenderness. Foods rich in omega-3 include fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna, as well as nuts and seeds. On the other hand, Omega 3 can also improve mental health during menstruation, reducing depression, anxiety and stress associated with the menstrual cycle.
  • Limit sodium intake: Sodium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in fluid balance in our body and in the transmission of nerve impulses. During menstruation, it is especially important to maintain a proper balance of sodium in the diet to help combat the symptoms of fluid retention and bloating that are common in this phase of the menstrual cycle.

When estrogen and progesterone levels change during menstruation, the body may retain more fluid, which can cause swelling, breast pain, and weight gain. Sodium can help balance the fluid level in the body and reduce these symptoms. However, it is important to keep in mind that too much sodium in the diet can have negative effects, such as increased blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. Reducing sodium intake can help reduce fluid retention. Processed and canned foods are often high in sodium, so it is important to read food labels and avoid these foods as much as possible.

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