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Diet tips to prevent menstrual cramps

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate statio...

Fight off period pain

Make smarter food choices to reduce painful cramps and PMS symptoms.
Woman with pineapple

Take a nutritional approach to combating the pain of menstrual cramps. During your period, hormonal changes occur and your body retains water while digestion slows down. No wonder you sometimes feel cramped and bloated!

Help yourself by drinking more water... at least two liters daily. The liquid flows through your intestines and speeds up your digestion. Make sure you are getting enough good vitamins in the foods you eat and with the help of supplements. Vitamin B6 eliminates bloating, while vitamin C and zinc are essential for proper function of the reproductive system. Reduce salt and caffeine intake and up your consumption of foods rich in calcium by eating plenty of dark green vegetables and fruit. Nutritionist Cassandra Roberts recommends these foods as a natural way to reduce monthly cramps and PMS symptoms:

Wheat germ

Wheat germ

Wheat germ provides a concentrated source of vitamin B6 and other B vitamins and zinc. It also contains high amounts of magnesium and vitamin E. It's simple to add wheat germ to bread, cereals, even milk shakes and get 75 percent of the recommended daily intake of B vitamins in just one meal.

Pineapple

Pineapple

Quick relief from cramps with pineapple? Cassandra says "absolutely." Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps relax muscles to relieve menstrual discomfort. Regularly enjoying fresh pineapple will make a difference in how you feel. The greatest concentration of bromelain in pineapple is in and near the stem.

Tip

In traditional Chinese medicine, ginger has widely been used as a remedy for menstrual cramps. The most effective form is fresh ginger, available in the produce section of most grocery stores. Add it to your favorite dishes for pungent flavor and relief from cramps!

Parsley

Parsley

Don't underestimate parsley... it's not just a garnish! Parsley is rich in apiol, a compound that has been proven to stimulate the menstrual process and relieve cramps. It's also a superfood loaded with lots of healthy nutrients.

Spinach

Spinach

The nutrients that we know fight menstrual cramps -- magnesium and vitamins B6 and E -- are found in abundance in spinach. The nutritional profile of this healthy vegetable makes it an excellent option for women who suffer from pain and bloating during their periods.

Kale

Kale

Kale is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium and a nutritional heavyweight loaded with vitamins and minerals that help to maintain normal muscle tone. This green, leafy beauty is delicious in salads or sauteed in favorite hot and hearty dishes.

More recommendations

Other superfoods you'll want to include to reduce menstrual symptoms are potassium-rich bananas to help minimize water retention, walnuts for their healthy omega-3 fatty acids (known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties), sesame seeds as a quick-loaded source of vitamin B6 and oats, full of the anti-cramping mineral magnesium. Eating a bowl of oatmeal will actually help you start your day off with less pain!

More on women's health

7 Things to avoid when you're on your period
Best foods to eat while on your period
5 Reasons getting your period is actually a good thing

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