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Eat Your Way to Reduced Period Pain and Hot Flashes

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you can eat your way to reduced experience of hot flashes and period pain iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Did you know you can use food to reduce period pain, hot flashes and other female disorders including problems in pregnancy? If you eat the right things, sometimes a drug approach is not needed.

Food to Reduce Period Pain

University of Maryland Medical Center recommends drinking six to eight glasses of filtered water a day. Eat lots of beans and leafy green vegetables like lettuce, spinach and kale.

Eat foods high in antioxidants.

Some vegetables high in antioxidants are red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peppers and squash.

Fruits high in antioxidants are berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.), tomatoes, grapes, oranges, plums, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi and cherries.

Nuts also have high levels of antioxidants and good oils necessary for health, for instance, almonds, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.

Eat oily fish or take a fish oil supplement for omega-3 as this is an anti-inflammatory. If you are vegetarian, you can get omega-3 essential fatty acids from flaxseed and linseeds added to your breakfast or you can take a supplement via tablet.

Some studies have shown women who take omega-3 supplements have less period pain.

In countries where fermented soy is eaten as a staple part of the diet, women report less postmenopausal symptoms. Some women say it eases their period pains and it has been reported in medical literature to possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

However, other women say that fermented soy makes their period pain worse and the scientific evidence on this subject is limited and contradictory.

Avoid refined and processed foods such as white bread, pasta and rice. Get the wholemeal variety instead.

Don’t eat junk food. These are full of sugar, aspartame and unhealthy trans fats. Examples of foods to avoid are cookies, donuts, cakes, potato chips, French fries and margarine.

If you are prone to period pain, avoid caffeine and alcohol as this can make it worse. Don’t smoke as period pain can be more frequent in women who smoke.

Foods for a Healthy Pregnancy

All pregnant women up to 12 weeks gestation, and women planning a pregnancy, should eat foods containing folic acid. This reduces the risk of the baby developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Sources of folic acid include broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, chickpeas and brown rice. It has also been added to some foods like fortified breakfast cereals. You should also take a pregnancy supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid, daily.

Several studies have found that taking a vitamin B6 supplement helps reduce morning sickness. However, other studies have found no benefit. The studies suggested an intake of 30mgs daily.

Vitamin B6 is also available from potatoes, eggs, milk, peanuts, vegetables, wholegrains, pork, chicken, turkey and cod.

Eat foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries and all other berries, green beans, zucchini, broccoli and lettuce. Consider taking a vitamin C supplement as well.

Research has found that women who take vitamin C during the second trimester had a reduced risk of premature delivery. Women with a low intake of vitamin C had twice the risk of premature rupture of the amniotic sac and pre-term birth.

Foods for Menopause

As mentioned before, fermented soy has been helpful to some women in reducing postmenopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness. This may be because soy mimics the effects of estrogen so eating soy may be like a natural form of hormone replacement therapy or HRT.

Eat foods with calcium to help your bones since postmenopausal women can have reduced bone density. Foods containing calcium are dairy products, fish with bones, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, orange juice, tofu and fortified cereals and drinks.


Menstrual Pain, University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 18 July 2012.

Biological effects of a diet of soy protein rich in isoflavones on the menstrual cycle of pre-menopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr September 1994 vol. 60 no. 3 333-340.
Full Text: http://www.ajcn.org/content/60/3/333.full.pdf+html

Vitamins and Minerals – B Vitamins and Folic Acid. NHS Choices. Web. 18 July 2012.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 18 July 2012.

Vitamin C intake and the risk of preterm delivery, Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Aug;189(2):519-25.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14520228?dopt=Abstract

Calcium, Office of Dietary Supplements. Web. 18 July 2012.

Menopause and Good Nutrition, WebMD. Web. 18 July 2012.

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/

She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and has an A grade diploma in Neuro-psychological Immunology, which is the study of how the mind affects the immune system.

Reviewed July 18, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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