Figure: Dietary suggestions during monthly periods

Diet during Monthly Periods1-4

  • Monthly periods (or menstrual cycle) can have an important effect over food consumptions. Changes in feeding behavior in terms of the quantity and types of foods consumed, during the phases of the monthly periods, especially between the beginning of the cycle (follicular phase) and the end of the cycle (luteal phase) has reported.
  • Female steroid hormones, especially estradiol and progesterone, by means of regular fluctuations during the release of immature eggs in the female reproductive organ called ovary, can influence diet intake.
  • The control of the cycle thus plays an essential role in the maintenance of energy balance and, consequently, over the stability of the body weight.
Menstrual phase
  • At the start of the cycle, hormones are at their lowest state as they work to shed the uterine lining.
  • Because of this hormonal weakness, energy levels goes down, and to support that good mix of high level proteins, healthy fats and slowly digested carbohydrates such as vegetables from the underground soil, wholegrain like wheat, rice, bajra etc., and beans can support the energy levels during process of menstruation.
  • Cooked, fermented, sprouted or activated foods are suggested as they can be easier to digest.
  • Iron-rich foods such as pulses, lauki or kaddu seeds, kharbuja, aaloo-bukhara and palak are also suggested.
  • Animal products such as meat, eggs and fish are also a good source of heme iron called proteins that helps to refill iron levels that can be lost during your bleed.
  • Other foods that are suggested are nuts, shakarkand, brown rice, yogurt, ankurit wheat, chicken etc.
Follicular phase
  • This is the time between the first day of the period and the release of eggs. Throughout this phase, brain releases hormones that both stimulate the production of eggs in the female sex organ while also increasing sex hormone production.
  • With period-related blood loss, it’s important to increase uptake of iron, vitamin C and vitamin B as they help to promote blood cell production and prevent bloodlessness.
  • Vitamin B12 rich diet is also recommended in this phase as its low level can contribute to tiredness, faintness and nervousness.
  • Diet suggested for women in this phase include:
    • Iron: Meat, chicken, beans, palak, egg yolks, oats
    • Vitamin C: Orange, kiwi, pineapple, kharbuja, broccoli, phul govi, shimla mirch
    • Vitamin B12: Fish, cheese, eggs, low-fat milk, rice milk, coconut milk, soy milk and soy products
    • Vitamin B6: Fish, potatoes, shakarkand, shalgam, peas, grapes, bananas, apples, pears, coconuts etc
    • Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices: Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon or dalchini, dhaniya seeds, garlic, ajawain, etc., include these herbs to help fight in reducing pain and inflammation.
Ovulatory phase
  • Hormone shifts during the release of eggs from woman’s ovaries have been known to increase sugar cravings.
  • During this phase woman needs to get plenty of fiber to prevent gas production or disturbances in the digestive system and ensure intestinal regularity (for young women, we suggest 25 grams of fiber a day).
  • Fermented foods can also help to promote digestive health, intestinal regularity and liquid balance of your body.
  • Yogurt, raw apple vinegar etc., are also suggested during this phase.
  • Fiber rich foods found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like wheat, rice, bajra, etc., seeds, nuts, beans are highly recommended.
  • Healthy sweet foods like dark chocolate, dates and fresh seasonal fruits like mango, apple, orange, etc.,
  • Other foods that are suggested include kharbuja, strawberry, guava, apple, saunf, badam and pista.
Luteal phase2,3,4
  • This is the last phase of the menstrual cycle, the time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation, when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy.
  • Hormone levels are at their peak in luteal phase and a woman may experience PMS like depression, anxiety, irritability, etc., around this time, which can be managed by fish oil supplement.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid rich diet is suggested in this phase as it decreases the production of hormone-like substance which helps in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, controls blood pressure and improves period stiffness and pain.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids diet include: coconut oils, olive oils, butter, meat, fish, palak, akhrot, etc.
  • High salt, sugar intake and caffeine contains in coffee and alcohols are avoided in this phase as they can increase PMS-triggered anxiety and mood shifts.
  • Other foods that are also suggested in luteal phase include: Cauliflower, kheera, ginger tea, til, kishmish, palak, brown rice, and bajra; protein of choice: eggs, chicken, meats, fish, dark chocolates, etc.
References
  1. Gil YR, Fagundes RL, Santos E, et al. Relation of menstrual cycle and alimentary consumption of women. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. 2009 Oct 1;4(5):e257-260.
  2. Foods for each phase of your menstrual cycle. Adapted from https://www.theglowingfridge.com/happyhormonefoods/
  3. What foods to eat during your cycle. Adapted from https://moodymonth.com/articles/what-foods-to-eat-during-your-cycle
  4. Nutrition for your menstrual cycle. Adapted from https://abeautifulmess.com/2018/09/nutrition-for-your-menstrual-cycle.html
*PMS Premenstrual Syndrome

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