Is it true that certain foods reduce menstrual cramps?

Dear doctor; Is it true that certain types of food can help reduce both menstrual pain and even stop the bleeding altogether?

Dear doctor;

Is it true that certain types of food can help reduce both menstrual pain and even stop the bleeding altogether?

Mukakanani, 19, Nyanza,

Dear Mukakanani,

Menstrual cramps or pain during menses is the most common gynecological problem faced by women world over. It is said that prostaglandins which are part of the inflammatory response, temporarily disrupt blood flow and oxygen to the uterus thus causing cramps and pain. There are food substances documented which can reduce prostaglandin levels and also improve menstrual pain.

Calcium is known to reduce muscle cramps. It is found in milk products like low fat milk and yoghurt. Leafy greens like broccoli, fenugreek leaves are rich source of calcium. High fibre vegetables, fruits and whole grains help to reduce prostaglandin levels  by reducing its absorption and enhancing its absorption. Carrots spinach, lentils. Kidney beans, assorted fruits are also good in this regard. Cold water fish like salmon, halibut, flax seeds, walnuts are also useful as these contain anti inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids. Sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, whole grains are rich source of vitamin E which helps in reducing menstrual cramps.

Bananas, lentils, chickpeas, oatmeal, nuts, lean beef, and chicken breast contain pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and are useful in reducing pain during menses. Zinc is also one of the useful nutrients for resolving menstrual pain. Red meat and oysters are good natural sources of zinc.

Cashews and wheat germs are sources of magnesium , the deficiency of which can aggravate menstrual pain. Studies have shown that foods rich in niacin (vitamin B3) also help in reducing menstrual cramps. Sun-dried tomatoes, tuna, pea nuts, brown rice, are some of the  good sources of this vitamin.

Consumption of much tea, coffee and alcohol is known to aggravate menstrual pain, hence these need to be avoided. Reducing salt and excess water or fluid consumption is also useful in this regard. Taking good amount of fresh green vegetables, citrus fruits, carrots, spinach pumpkin, peaches and nuts can help to reduce heavy bleeding as well.

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