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Combat period bloating and digestive complications with these food items

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Jun 09, 2023 08:01 AM IST

Making wise food choices can truly make a significant difference in managing period bloating and digestive issues concerns. Here are food items that can help

For many individuals who menstruate, experiencing bloating and digestive complications during their menstrual cycle is a common occurrence where period bloating refers to the swelling and discomfort that can arise in the abdominal region due to hormonal changes and digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea and abdominal cramping may accompany period bloating, making the overall experience uncomfortable. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly an increase in progesterone, can contribute to water retention and gas buildup in the abdominal area, leading to feelings of bloating and discomfort.

Combat period bloating and digestive complications with these food items (Photo by Elevate on Unsplash)

Additionally, the release of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances, during menstruation can cause the muscles in the intestines to contract more forcefully, resulting in cramping and potential digestive issues. While period bloating and digestive complications can be bothersome, it is important to remember that they are a normal part of the menstrual cycle for many individuals but with proper self-care and management strategies, it is possible to minimise the discomfort associated with them, allowing for a more comfortable menstrual experience.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vinay Dhir, Chairman-Institute of Digestive and Liver Care at SL Raheja Hospital in Mahim, shared, “Period bloating can be a troublesome problem before or during periods. The hormonal changes during menstruation cause water retention which may be responsible for bloating. Changing the diet and following a healthy and nutritious diet may help reduce bloating. One should avoid the consumption of caffeine, fizzy drinks, refined carbohydrates, oily and spicy foods, beans and legumes and avoid salty food before and during the menstruation cycle.”

He advised, “Include more fruits like bananas, blueberries and avocados in your diet. Yogurt is a good choice as it will even balance the calcium levels. Wheat may create bloating in some people, and milk too can cause similar issues in others, so avoid these products. Also, keep in mind and keep a tab on a food item’s impact on the body; one should choose items that aren’t causing bloating. Most importantly, drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated.”

Dr Monica Gulati, Executive Dean and Registrar at School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Lovely Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences at Lovely Professional University, said, “Period bloating and digestive issues can present formidable challenges, impacting women's daily lives. However, by making wise food choices, we can truly make a significant difference in managing these concerns. As industry leaders, we recognize the vital role nutrition plays in our overall well-being, and it is no different during menstruation. Understanding the intricate interplay between hormones, inflammation, and digestion allows us to navigate this terrain more effectively.”

She suggested, “By incorporating nourishing foods that promote hormonal balance, reduce inflammation, and support optimal digestion, we empower ourselves to reclaim control over our bodies and experience greater comfort during our periods. These choices can range from incorporating anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish and flaxseeds, to including fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that aid in digestion and regulate bowel movements. Together, let us listen to the wisdom shared by these industry leaders and make informed decisions to alleviate period bloating and digestive issues, ensuring a healthier, more empowered experience for all women.”

Sujata Pawar, Co- Founder and CEO of Avni, echoed that managing period bloating and digestive issues can be quite a challenge due to the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation however, making wise food choices can significantly alleviate these discomforts and promote overall well-being during this time. She said, “Choosing easily digestible foods that are rich in protein and fibre is crucial. These nutrients aid in regulating digestion and provide a steady release of energy, combating the fatigue and digestive disturbances that commonly accompany menstruation. Lean proteins like poultry, fish and legumes, along with fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are excellent choices.”

She recommended, “Reducing salt intake, particularly in the five days leading up to and during menstruation, can help minimise bloating. Excessive sodium can lead to fluid retention and swelling, exacerbating bloating. Instead, add flavour to meals with herbs and natural seasonings. To further support digestive comfort, it is highly recommended to avoid difficult-to-digest foods such as raw foods, meat and processed meals. Opt for cooked, easily digestible options and prioritise whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. By making these smart food choices, one can better manage period bloating and digestive issues, promoting a more comfortable and enjoyable menstruation experience.”

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