Dysmenorrhea, which is also known as menstrual cramps, is pain that occurs in a woman’s lower abdomen. This condition happens prior to a woman’s menstrual cycle or during her period of menstruation. It has been observed that dysmenorrhea worsens when a woman eats foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and wheat during her menstrual cycle. Since there appears to be foods that aggravate dysmenorrheal, there are also foods that help lessen the pain, or even prevent it.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods that are an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids are said to relieve pain of menstrual cramps. This is because these fatty acids are known for having anti-inflammatory properties. Because the body cannot create omega-3 fatty acids, these important nutrients have to be obtained through diet. Examples of foods that have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, sardines, tuna and mackerel. Non-seafood examples include flaxseed oil and flaxseed, nuts and walnuts. It has been suggested that women should eat 3 to 4 servings of seafood (fish) every week in order to alleviate menstruation discomforts. Aside from seafood, taking 4 tablespoons of flaxseed (ground) also eases menstrual cramps. Ground flaxseeds may be mixed with oatmeal, yogurt or smoothies, or it can also be added to baked goods.
Peppermint is known as a digestive aid. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint has antispasmodic and anti-gas properties. This food also has the ability to numb the body from pain, which is why it is used to treat skin irritations, nausea, flatulence, headaches, emotional anxiety, menstrual cramps and diarrhea.
Peppermint is most commonly sold as an herbal tea. Drinking this kind of tea at least 4 times a day helps ease menstrual cramps. It is also important to know that peppermint may have some contraindications to different medications and thus one should refer to a physician first before drinking peppermint tea.
Magnesium is an important nutrient for the body. This mineral helps the body create energy and transport it. Magnesium also helps the muscles contract and relax and is important for the proper function of enzymes in the body.
Because magnesium soothes muscle tissues, this helps reduce the pain that is caused by menstrual cramps. Examples of foods that have high magnesium content are bananas, dried apricots, spinach, almonds, pinto beans, peanuts, brown rice, avocados, prunes, cashews, nut butters, kidney beans, tofu and millet.
It is believed that taking about 100 milligrams of magnesium (from food) every few hours can ease the discomfort and pain of dysmenorrhea.