Whole grains, flaxseeds and more: This is what you should have for healthy periods
Women’s periods last from four to seven days. However, if they are too short, heavy, recurrent or painful then it could be due to a variety of reasons and need to be taken care of. The reasons for this could be tension, medical conditions and other factors.
There are certain foods, which if included in your diet can help you have regular and healthy periods. We spoke to a few experts, and they listed out four food categories which women should inculcate in their diet for healthy periods:
Whole grains provide the body with fiber and protein which are essential for improving the hormonal balance. Vitamin B and proteins that whole grains provide to the body also help improve hormonal balance and prevent heavy menstruation.
“For most women, periods last for about four to seven days and with the increase in sedentary lifestyles, periods often become long or short, regular or irregular and painful owing to several conditions. Eating healthy and right during such times helps women maintain and regulate their cycle. It is advisable to eat whole grains on a consistent basis for healthy periods since during periods, the progesterone levels rise, causing disruption in bowel movement, leading to constipation,” says Dr Kajal, Head, Dietetics, Medanta- The Medicity.
The pain and bloating can be controlled by opting for whole grains, nuts and fruits and avoiding sodium as the body tends to retain water during periods.
Whole grains have a whole range of other benefits too such as lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer and controlling body weight.
Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel and herring, provide the body with adequate amounts of protein and healthy fats, which are important for hormonal balance and normalising menstruation. They help reduce inflammation (inflammation adds to the pain and bloating during periods) and could also help in reducing menstrual cramps. Preferably one should go for baked, grilled or steamed fish.
You can add grounded flaxseed to certain foods to ensure that you have a meal rich in omega-3s, protein and fibre.
“Flaxseed is one of the world’s healthiest foods having amazing benefits and can work wonders for a woman’s hormonal problems. They are very rich in omega 3, fatty acids and fibre and also a great source of a natural compound, lignans which help balance hormones. Eating flaxseeds regularly helps regularise the ovulation process during the menstrual cycle. The high content of lignans help reduce high levels of estrogen and also boost low estrogen levels,” says Dr Sushila Kataria.
“Flaxseeds also help in preventing symptoms of menopause such as night sweating and flushing. They help controlling heavy bleeding during menstruation, reduce the risk of breast cancer and improve uterine function and help prevent mood swings, headache and anxiety. Every woman should consume flaxseeds every day unless advised otherwise by her doctor,” adds Dr Kataria.
You can add flaxseeds to chappatis, porridge, oats, muesli, cooked vegetables and dals or curd. One should consume around 40 grams of flaxseeds daily for best results.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide us antioxidants, vitamin C and beta-carotene. However, it is better to avoid fruit juices and instead go for fresh or frozen, unsweetened fruits and vegetables. Good sources of beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, and mangoes.
Red bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, strawberries and brussels sprouts are excellent sources of Vitamin C.
“Some females become anemic after they begin having periods. Leafy green vegetables can benefit your body in several ways during menstrual cycles. Not only are they rich in iron and B vitamins; their high fiber count also can help with digestive issues often associated with your menstrual cycle. If she is a vegetarian/vegan, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, greens), broccoli and beets have iron in them. These vegetables will help to replenish any iron lost in the menstrual blood.
The need for iron is about 30 % greater in girls who are beginning to menstruate. Deficiencies in iron during menstruation lead to a lowered oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Girls may experience symptoms of anemia including headaches, fatigue, apathy and weakness if they are not consuming enough iron. Iron fortified cereals and almonds or almond butter are also good options,” says Dr Aruna Kalra, director and senior gynecologist surgeon, CK Birla Hospital.
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