“I don’t think I’m sick or experiencing serious symptoms on menses,” you might say, “but how can I just feel better and maintain a steadier state throughout the month?” A study that examined the metabolic change of nutrients across the menstrual cycle among healthy women might give us some clue. Blood levels of key nutrients like amino acids, lipids, vitamin D, and vitamin B6 drop significantly during different phases of the menstrual cycle, while oxidative stress shows a trend of increase. Thus, to replenish your body and ease up the hormonal fluctuations and physical symptoms, here at Mi Remedy we recommend:
Protein: Protein is an important source of both energy and functional units that are involved in cell growth and functioning during the luteal phase. 2-3 servings of 75-100g lean meat (around the size of your palm/a deck of poker) would supply your daily requirement for protein*. Besides, slightly increasing the proportion of red meat or including some organ meat in your total protein intake can be beneficial as they’re also brilliant sources of iron. Needless to stress the importance of iron to women, animal-sourced iron (heme iron) is the most efficiently absorbed form in the human body. Studies have also proven that women who eat red meat regularly are less prone to hypoferric anemia. However, women that are vegetarians are at greater risk of not getting enough iron from their diet and are recommended to take daily iron supplements.
Dairy products: Milk and cheese are great sources of calcium, which are responsible for, beside bone health, proper nervous activities and muscle contraction. Vitamin D, a.k.a. the sunshine vitamin, are also involved in neuron transmission but through both influencing calcium absorption and playing its own role in neurotransmitter synthesis. It also has important functions in hormone synthesis and response. Lowered serum vitamin D and calcium levels during luteal and follicular phases (which is normal) can trigger and/or intensify PMS symptoms. So make sure to drink a cup of milk a day, go for a walk on a sunny day, and snack on a few cheese cubes to restore your calcium and vitamin D ;). For ladies who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, try incorporating more fish, tofu, and dark green vegetables into your diet.
Healthy fats: Fats and oils are important energy sources as they provide the highest unit calorie (9kcal/g vs. 4/kcal from carbs and protein). Yet functionally they serve as essential components in cell structure, immune system, and hormonal interaction. Sufficient intake and storage of healthy fat is essential for women's fertility. Unsaturated fatty acids mainly exist in nuts, oilseeds, and avocado, and are considered the healthier ones as a moderate intake** can reduce the bad cholesterols (LDLs) and prevent you from cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin E is another valuable nutrient you can obtain from vegetable oils. As an antioxidant, it protects your body from oxidative stress, especially during menstruation when inflammation rages and your immune system can use some extra help. In a word, limit animal fats and rely your daily fat intake on vegetable sources and stick with the moderation rule to enjoy the benefit of fats to the greatest extent.
Fish: Talking about the star of fats, you’ve probably heard about it for a million times now: fish oil is good for your blood/heart/brain/eye health! But do you know that omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids are also a star of menstrual painkillers? The truth is that omega 3 has the ability to interfere with excessive production of prostaglandin ---- a hormone that of which an excess amount can cause over-contraction of uterine muscles, which gives you the cramps. So get your weekly 2 servings (75g) of fatty fish in to reach your omega 3 goal or go for soft gels or chewable supplements if you’re not a fan of seafood. Vegan omega 3 from flaxseed is also a good option.
Fruits and vegetables: Dark green vegetables and fruits are great sources of water soluble vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Vitamin B’s, for example, are responsible for metabolism of numerous nutrients. They help to maintain proper cell functions and regeneration through regulating the uptake of energy and nutrients as well as waste metabolism. Specifically, decreased serum vitamin B6 level is related to elevated stress level, anxiety, and depression. It participates in synthesis of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood, and GABA, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter that stops unwanted transmissions to avoid overworking your nervous system. On the other hand, vitamin A, C, and E (from vegetable oils) are known for their antioxidative properties and widely used both orally and externally for anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting purposes. A variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet would complete the vitamin spectrum and improve your body’s resistance to harmful substances. 6-7 servings of vegetable and 1-2 servings of fruits per day are considered as sufficient intake for adult women.
- Your body needs more protein for energy and cell growth during the premenstrual period; 2-3 pieces of 75-100g lean meat is considered sufficient for adult women, vegans can acquire their protein needs from legumes and soy protein alternatives
- To boost your iron intake, include more red meat in your protein sources; women who are vegan are suggested to take daily iron supplements
- Calcium and vitamin D intakes are essential for bone health and proper nerve and muscle activities; drink a cup of milk everyday and include calcium-rich foods like fish, tofu, and dark green vegetables to acquire your daily calcium intake from a variety of sources
- Daily intake of around 45-60g of healthy fat is essential for healthy reproductive functions and metabolism in women
- 2 servings of 75g fatty fish per week can meet women’s omega 3 requirement
- Aim for 1-2 servings of fruits and 6-7 servings of vegetables daily to acquire the complete vitamin spectrum for steady metabolism and antioxidants for better resistance to harmful substances
In conclusion, a balanced diet that emphasizes protein intake, supported by daily dose of calcium and vitamin D, and contains sufficient amount of healthy fats and fruits and vegetables is an essential support for healthy and struggle-free period. Let us know if you love our recommendations! Subscribe to us for more female health tips ☺