How Your Diet Can Affect Your Menstrual Cycle

  • 4 Mins Read
  • Nutrition
  • Written by: Dr. Pramod Mane
Correlation between diet and menstrual health

Women all around the world are aware of food cravings during periods. The intense and unstoppable urge to eat sugary foods or salty crisps can hit you during your menstrual cycle, but is it healthy to indulge in such food habits during that time of the month? To speak the truth, no. It’s not advisable to feast on such unhealthy foods while on your periods. It can mess up with your weight loss or weight gain plans and can have side effects in the long run.

Worry not! There are lots of delicious and healthy foods that you can include in your diet for a healthier and happier period. Understanding the correlation between the menstrual cycle and your diet is therefore crucial.

Foods to eat for a healthier menstrual cycle

1. Green vegetables

Vegetables are nutrient-rich foods that are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and proteins. Eating your vegetables during your meals can help you combat the stress menstruation put on your body. Green leafy vegetables are a good source of iron and folate which help in the synthesis of new blood in the body. The magnesium in these vegetables can help in preventing period cramps. The high fiber content of green leafy vegetables can help with the problems of diarrhea during periods and even reduce bloating.

2. Fresh fruits

Fresh fruits are bursting with vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and natural sugars. During periods, there
are some obvious cravings to eat something sweet. Eating fresh fruit or a bunch of some berries during such times can be a healthy way to deal with your cravings.

3. Proteins

Proteins are very important when it comes to regulating the sugar levels in your body during periods. Having a nutritionally sound diet that is high in proteins can regulate your hormones, periods and also promote fertility. Including fatty fish, seafood, lean or red meat, tofu, dairy, soy, beans, lentils, etc in your diet can get optimum nutrition and stay full for longer hours during periods.

4. Healthy fats

Fats are an essential part of a balanced diet. Good fats such as the healthy fats in avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, fish oil, omega-3 fats, etc are essential to regulate the menstrual cycle. Fats are the building blocks of female reproductive hormones. Not consuming enough good fats can lead to irregular periods or irregular menstrual cycles, heavy flow during periods, premenstrual syndrome or PMS symptoms, or ovulation problems. Stay away from saturated fats and trans fats during periods.

5. Supplements

It happens many times that women have serious deficiencies like iron, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D . Since these deficiencies are not looked into, women tend to face various health issues related to their bones, skin, hair, fatigue, anemia, or more serious conditions. Menstrual problems can also raise their heads with these deficiencies. Consulting a doctor and taking the right supplements can prevent these issues.

6. Hydration

Drinking plenty of water is essential for hydration, digestion, hormone regulation, temperature regulation, flushing out toxins, and so on. Drinking plenty of water during periods can help in reducing bloating. It can also be useful in reducing period brain fog and headaches caused during periods.

Foods to avoid on your menstrual cycle

Eating healthy is a responsible task. Another responsible for a healthy menstrual cycle must be keeping in mind the food to avoid. Here are some foods that you must avoid during the period days.

1. Salt-laden foods

Foods laced with excessive salt might please the taste buds but they hurt one’s health. High sodium foods can increase bloating and water retention which can make you even more uneasy during periods. Excessive salt can also worsen cramps, induce constipation and ruin the overall rhythm of the body.

2. Sugary treats

As much as we all love ice creams, pastries, cupcakes, biscuits, chocolates, and sugary drinks they are no good for us during periods. Consuming too much sugar can lead to a sugar high which can make you feel jittery. This can ruin your mood later making you feel anxious or depressed. Make sure to keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range.

3. Fatty foods

Does eating junk food affect the menstrual cycle? The answer is, yes. Hogging on junk food or deep-fried foods in high amounts of oil, butter, margarine, etc can worsen the natural uterine contractions by spiking the prostaglandins in the body. This can lead to severe abdominal pain, painful period cramps, and make you very uncomfortable. Staying away from saturated fats can be a wise decision during periods.

4. Caffeine, alcohol, and Nicotine

Drinking several cups of coffee during periods can disturb the natural ph of the body. Excessive caffeine can cause vasoconstriction leading to painful cramps, discomfort, and bloating.
Drinking alcohol was also associated with severe menstrual pain and bleeding.
Smoking cigarettes or ingesting nicotine in any form can not only worsen period pain in women but also induce constipation and cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle.

Some foods are known for their emmenagogue properties. This means these foods are excellent for menstruation-related problems and also help in timely ovulation. This is because they alter the hormone levels in our bodies. What hormones regulate the menstrual cycle? Mainly, progesterone and estrogen. These food ingredients can regulate the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Including these super ingredients in your diet can help your menstrual health. Here are some superfoods to include in your diet for regulating your periods and having pain-free periods!

  1. Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, Fenugreek seeds
  2. Dark chocolate
  3. Ginger
  4. Turmeric
  5. Cinnamon
  6. Fennel
  7. Salmon
  8. Walnuts
  9. Chamomile
  10. Mint

Try out these tips in your daily life to see the difference healthy food can have on your menstrual health. Eat fresh and nutritious food and take a step towards a regulated menstrual cycle today.

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    1. Najafi N, et al. Major dietary patterns in relation to menstrual pain: a nested case-control study. BMC Women’s Health 18, 69 (2018).
    2. Onieva-Zafra, et al. Relationship between Diet, Menstrual Pain, and other Menstrual Characteristics among Spanish Students. (2020). Nutrients, 12(6), 1759–.
    3. Pirke K, et al. The influence of dieting on the menstrual cycle of healthy young women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1985 Jun;60(6):1174-9.