Foods that Help Relieve Menstrual Cramps

The amount of estrogen in a woman’s blood is constantly being readjusted. A low-fat, high-fiber diet can significantly reduce estrogen levels.5 Cancer researchers have taken a great interest in this phenomenon, because lowering the level of estrogen in the blood helps reduce the risk of breast cancer. Less estrogen means less stimulation for cancer cell growth.

If a woman eating a Western diet cuts her fat intake in half, her estrogen level will be about 20 percent lower.7 If the amount of fat is cut even more, the estrogen level will drop further, which is a good change because a lower hormone level will have less effect on the uterine cells. In addition to lowering estrogen, a low-fat diet may also be beneficial because high-fiber vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains help the body eliminate estrogens.

Fresh pineapple juice contains bromelaine – an enzyme that relaxes muscles.
Ginger (in tea or ginger snap cookies) can block the effect of prostaglandin and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
A diet high in zinc, calcium, and B vitamins can also reduce cramps. Keeping food on the stomach can also help to ease cramps. The body will devote more energy to digestion rather than cramping.

Have plenty of:

• whole grains: brown rice, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, etc.
• vegetables: broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, etc.
• legumes: beans, peas, lentils
• fruits

Fish oil can help relieve menstrual cramps in two ways. Like flax seed, it suppresses the production of prostaglandins in the body. It also inhibits the conversion of linoleic acid to arachidonic acid, an enzyme needed for the production of prostaglandins. A study conducted at the University of Cincinnati Medical Cente, headed by Z. Harel in 1996, showed a significant decrease in menstrual pain among women who were given fish oil. Fish oil is found in fish, and can also be added to the diet via a nutritional supplement capsule.

Avoid completely:

• animal products: fish, poultry, meats, eggs, and dairy products
• added vegetable oils: salad dressings, margarine, and all cooking oils
• fatty foods: doughnuts, French fries, potato chips, peanut butter, etc.

This sounds like a significant change, and it is. However, while everyone feels a bit at sea for the first several days, virtually everyone makes the change in about two weeks. Those who have the best time with it are those who experiment with new foods and new food products and who enlist the support of their friends or partners at home.

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