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Diet for the health of your menstrual cycle: everything you need to know

25 mayo, 2021

All women are interested in feeling good and keeping our menstrual cycle. You should know that diet is also key to avoiding the various discomforts we feel during menstruation, such as colic, inflammation and even mood swings.

The nutritionist Yocelin Esparza Garín, director of the Nutrest center, answers various questions about diet in relation to the menstrual cycle.

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How much does diet influence the menstrual cycle?

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Diet can influence you in a number of ways, both positively and negatively.

From a positive point of view, a correct diet will result in healthy digestion and, at the time premenstrual symptoms appear or during menstruation, problems such as inflammation, constipation or increased heartburn can be avoided or mitigated.

A poor diet causes an excess of body fat, which contributes to not having a correct ovulation and a hormonal imbalance. This can lead to diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome and other hormonal disorders.

In addition, diet can influence the regularity of periods and also the symptoms that may be typical of premenstrual syndrome or during menstruation.

The opposite pole would be to stop eating: the lack of nutrients or eating disorders can impact ovulation, causing amenorrhea, which is the lack of menstruation.

Other consequences can be late periods or very heavy bleeding, in which there is loss of iron that, if not recovered, could cause anemia.

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What foods are bad for the cycle?

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Foods high in sugars, flours, refined or ultra-processed ones do not help because they will have an impact on the increase in visceral fat and this affects hormonally, because the production of estrogens is altered.

Coffee and chocolate are not recommended, as they inhibit the absorption of iron, which is lost during menstruation.

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What are the best foods for “our days”?

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This depends. Much research has been done on eating throughout the cycle. Remember that the menstrual cycle has 4 phases: follicular, ovular, premenstrual and menstruation.

In the follicular phase the follicle develops. Our energy consumption decreases due to changes in serotosynergic activity: serotonin (the hormone of happiness) will be produced in greater or lesser amounts, and there are foods that have tryptophan and can help. Among them are seeds and dairy.

Of course, in moderation, as they can be high in fat.

Changes in eating habits during the menstrual cycle

In the premenstrual phase, women have a greater predilection for carbohydrates, and this is related to a hormonal perception.

There is a greater inclination towards the sweet. This makes the body look for these types of foods.

This occurs due to the increase in estradiol, a hormone that causes a greater sensitivity to sweet things. Because of this, women could be consuming 80 to 500 calories more than they normally consume.

It is very important to monitor our consumption of these foods and visit a nutritionist to guide us on what to eat these days and their amounts.

During menstruation, on a hormonal level, there is a greater need for energy consumption but there is also a learned cultural issue in which a reward is sought to “feel better” or to pamper yourself.

It is for this reason that women are inclined to eat more during these days, for example, chocolate.

In various studies, it has been seen that women who have made the most changes in their eating habits during menstruation are those with the most symptoms: more pronounced colic, for example.

Also, during menstruation, progesterone production increases, which gives us an increase in sensitivity to bitter tastes and we have a tendency to eat sour, bitter or bittersweet things.

This consumption is also coupled with the symptoms that we can present during menstruation: greater heartburn, heartburn, inflammation or colitis.

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Are there foods that help control and / or calm colic?

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Foods as such, there are not, but there are natural antispasmodic remedies. For example, chamomile tea or anise tea.

What you have to try is to eat well and avoid the consumption of carbohydrates to avoid accentuating the symptoms of menstruation.

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What foods is recommended to consume during menstruation?

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Rather, it is about eating certain foods during the premenstrual phase. At this time it is important to eat red fruits, citrus but not in juices.

Also eating vegetables is important during the premenstrual phase. They can be sweetened with the juice of an orange or with sweeteners like stevia. Vegetables can prevent inflammation and constipation problems.

In addition, there must be a very good hydration. During the period, when there is blood loss there is also fluid loss. This is where you should increase your consumption of natural water.

Probiotics can be a good option to avoid constipation and have a good digestion.

Greek yogurt and whole grain cereals are also an excellent food to avoid accentuating the symptoms of menstruation.

And not only that: it is important to recover the iron lost during menstruation, so the consumption of meat, beans, lima beans and lentils are excellent.

Deep green leafy vegetables are also a good option to regain lost iron.

Consumption of vitamin C is also important, as it helps better absorption of iron.

With information from: Nutritionist Yocelin Esparza Garín

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