4 Nutrition Tips That May Help Ease Your Period Symptoms

by Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Last Updated: August 10, 2021

It’s that week-long time of the month we ladies all dread – our period. We all are unique and experience different symptoms. Some have go-to tricks to lessen symptoms, such as a hot bath, rest, medication, or maybe a heating pad on your belly or lower back. Did you know what you eat may also play a role in helping manage symptoms?

Menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, are all times in a woman’s life of increased nutritional demand. Consuming a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is important throughout the menstrual cycle, especially during the first phase. Commonly referred to as our period, the first phase is when our nutrition can positively impact how we look, feel, and our overall energy.
  1. Hydration
    Generally, drinking water is important, but even more so during your period. Water has many roles within the body, including joint lubrication, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, aiding digestion, and regulating body temperature, to name a few. Being dehydrated can make you feel more lethargic and may cause increased muscular pain due to not enough oxygen reaching the cells. It’s best to aim for about 11.5 cups or 92 ounces of water each day to ensure adequate hydration, which can help fight bloating and cramps as it helps flush out your system. To help hit hydration goals, try incorporating more water-rich foods, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, and watermelon.
  2. Iron
    Women need more iron than men to make up for the amount they lose during our period. Most women will lose an average of 6-8 teaspoons of blood during menstruation. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a compound that carries oxygen in the blood. Without enough iron, there are not enough red blood cells to transport oxygen. This can lead to fatigue, making replenishing lost iron that much more important. Good dietary sources of heme iron include red meat, chicken, and fish. Good sources of non-heme iron include whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dark leafy greens. Try incorporating some more salads topped with nuts and seeds for an iron-packed meal.
  3. Omega-3
    This type of fatty acid is considered essential because the body cannot make it and therefore must get it from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in making hormones, blood clot regulation, artery wall contraction and relaxation, and inflammation. Due to omega-3’s anti-inflammatory properties, it may be effective in helping ease menstrual cramps. Consuming a variety of all three omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA) is crucial to ensure adequate intake. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) food sources include nuts, seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin), canola oil, and dark leafy greens. Food sources of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) include fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and trout. Try incorporating fish two nights per week or topping your morning oatmeal with a combination of seeds.
  4. Probiotics
    Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our intestines and other areas that help eliminate bad bacteria and balance our microbiome. Common symptoms experienced during menstruation include bloating and digestive issues, therefore making probiotics a perfect go-to. Yeast infections are also common to get around our period due to hormonal changes we experience. Food sources of probiotics include yogurt, cottage cheese, kombucha, tempeh, and sauerkraut. Try adding yogurt to your favorite smoothie or sipping on a no sugar added kombucha as a refreshing afternoon beverage.

No matter where you are in your menstrual cycle, incorporating these nutrients into your diet can help reduce period symptoms. Next time you are at the store picking up the essentials, swing by the seafood aisle and pass through the produce for some of these nutrient-dense foods. For more tips and recipes, schedule a free virtual Telenutrition appointment with a Kroger Health Registered Dietitian.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth loves being a dietitian because it connects her two passions- helping people, and healthy living. She’s a walking encyclopedia of better for you foods, meals, and culinary hacks to ensure her patients are enjoying the flavors they love while eating and staying well.