I know many women who suffer from severe PMS and a very painful period, involving all sorts of physical pains, aches, and emotional downfalls. Although such a picture may seem a bit exaggerated to some, I have been through it, and I know it is all very real. Plus you feel like it will last forever.
Few of us are, however, aware what causes the pain – what this nightmare is due to!
Studies from the 1960s have made it clear that chemicals,
called prostaglandins are to be blamed for the fact that some women’s period is so severe it even interferes with work and daily activities!
These chemicals are made from the traces of fat stored in cell membranes, and they promote inflammation. They are also involved in muscle contractions, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, and pain.
Shortly before a period begins, the endometrial cells that form the lining of the uterus make large amounts of prostaglandins. When these cells break down during menstruation, the prostaglandins are released. They constrict the blood vessels in the uterus and make its muscle layer contract, causing painful cramps. Some of the prostaglandins also enter the bloodstream, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
In short, menstrual pain is caused by inflammation
This is why anti-inflammatory drugs work for some, though they have adverse side effects and only provide symptomatic relief rather than addressing the problem fundamentally.
If the pain is caused by inflammation, why not follow an anti-inflammatory diet?
A study placed 33 women suffering from painful periods on a plant-based diet for two cycles. They experienced significant reductions in menstrual pain duration from four days down to three days and a significant reduction in pain intensity. Women also experienced improvement of PMS symptoms such as bloating.
This was a crossover study, so after two months eating vegan, the women were supposed to go back to their regular diets to see if the pain would return.
But the women felt so much better that when the researchers asked them to go back to their regular diet to test before and after, several women refused,
even though they were required to by the study.
Doctors too often patronizingly think that patients simply won’t adhere to therapeutic diets, but when the women were surveyed, they reported having fewer cramps and were losing weight. They also reported increased energy, better digestion, and better sleep.
Which of all vegan foods are best to fundamentally address the issue with menstrual pain, though?
Here Are The 12 Best Vegan Foods That Ease Menstrual Pain And Reduce PMS
Women lose about 30-80ml of blood and 15-25ml of iron during each menstruation, so it’s important we replenish the iron we are losing with iron rich foods. But as with most things in life, it’s important not to overdo it, because too much of these foods can cause bloating.
contains apiol, a compound that has been shown to be highly effective at stimulating the menstrual process and relieving menstrual cramps.
contains an ample amount of nutrients like Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium, which have been shown to fight menstrual cramps.
An iron supplement could also help here, but you may have to try a few before finding one that doesn’t cause constipation.
Women need at least 1,200 mg of calcium every day, according to certified holistic health counselor and nutritionist Latham Thomas. In one study, women who took 1,200 mg per day for 3 months experienced a 48% reduction in their PMS symptoms. Compare that to a 30% reduction for those taking a placebo (hello, power of consciousness!), and increasing your calcium intake starts to seem like a worthwhile endeavour. Further studies were conducted to prove the benefits of calcium in combatting PMS, especially during the luteal phase of your cycle.
is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium and has the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating, which measures a food’s ability to scavenge free radicals — unstable molecules that can damage your body at the cellular level.
is 91 percent water by weight, this helps eliminate bloating (fibre helps with this too) while getting rid of puffiness, gas, and fatigue. Broccoli has calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, and E, potassium, and magnesium — nutrients that help alleviate PMS symptoms.
Sugar cravings are especially common during this time so it’s important we go for the right kinds of sugar and avoid the overly-processed sweets we often turn to. “Fruits, vegetables and whole foods are your friends always, but especially during menstruation. The fruit from sugar may help alleviate sugar cravings,” explains health and fitness consultant Tari Rose. The great thing about fruit, particularly at this time, is its high fibre content, which can help improve regularity.
can also help regulate your bowels, which is important for women who experience diarrhea during their period. Bananas are also known to help with cramps, thanks to nutrients like vitamin B6, but potassium is the real star here, as it reduces water retention and thus bloating as well.
also helps to combat cramping because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that is thought to help relax muscles. However, most of the bromelain in pineapple is located in the stem, which is not as tasty as the flesh (but edible nevertheless).
are rich in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Additionally, walnuts are loaded with magnesium and with vitamin B6 — one cup of chopped walnuts provides 31% of the recommended daily intake of B6.
are full of nutrients that have been shown to reduce cramps affiliated with menstruation. They are a great source of vitamin B6, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, and contain certain healthful fatty acids that may help relax muscles.
is a natural muscle relaxer and appetite suppressant.
contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that ease menstrual cramp symptoms.
Wheat germ is a nutrient rich powerhouse which contains a concentrated source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), with a mere cup of crude wheat germ providing a whopping 75% of the recommended daily intake for this important vitamin! Wheat germ is also an excellent source of other B vitamins, as well as zinc, and contains high amounts of vitamin E and magnesium.
Oats contain magnesium, which improves nervous system functioning, and this is particularly important during times of mental or physical stress. Magnesium can also help you sleep, can increase your energy, lower anxiety, assist in regularity, and prevent aches and moodiness.
As a side note, many women report that they are experiencing much less painful, shorter periods and reduced blood flow since using a menstrual cup. It is not only vegan and environmentally-friendly solution, as opposed to tampons – it is the healthier choice too. Get it at a highly discounted price here.
Dea is passionate about pursuing gentle, pure living in all its forms. She’s a veg and fruit foodie, who loves to explore the healing properties of plant-based foods and then fully indulge in their sun-filled taste. She believes that “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”