Could your diet be the cause of your menstrual cramps?

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but what does that quote actually mean? From a holistic prospective, it’s taken pretty literally. If you eat unhealthy foods often, your health will gradually decline. On the flip side, if you eat healthy foods, you will generally be healthier. Have you evaluated your diet recently? Or ever? Most of the time, people are content with the way they are eating and feeling until there is a reason not to be.

If you suffer from menstrual cramps or pain, this is your sign to look into your diet. You may dismiss the pain because it is “normal” however, cramps are a symptom that something is a bit off; specifically estrogen hormones. Periods are caused by a drastic drop in estrogen, which triggers the uterine lining to shed. As the uterine lining sheds, hormone-like substances called prostaglandins are released. These substances cause the uterus to contract, which are the cramps you may feel.

The question is then, what can we do to decrease our prostaglandins? The answer is to balance our estrogen. One big way to begin to balance out estrogen levels is to ditch the dairy, according to multiple studies. Milk comes from pregnant cows and during pregnancy a cows estrogen level rises from 15 pg/ml in non-pregnant cows to 151 pg/ml in the first half of pregnancy and 1000 pg/ml in the last days of pregnancy. There’s no surprise that some of this estrogen enters our bodies when we consume dairy products. Some studies also show a link between consuming dairy products and estrogen linked cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancer. If you are suffering from menstrual cramps, conduct your own research and see if cutting back or eliminating dairy works for you!

Estrogen is mainly produced by our ovaries, but fat cells also produce estrogen. Trimming down on excess fat tissue will also help decrease the levels of estrogen, which in turn decreases prostaglandins resulting in less painful menstrual cramps. Studies have shown women with a BMI of 19 to 20 kg/m2 (someone who is 5 feet 4 inches would weigh between 114 and 120 pounds) have less problems with sever menstrual cramps, fibroids, and endometriosis. Even if you can’t get to that weight or don’t want to get to that weight, losing any amount of excess fat tissue will help.

Increasing your fiber to around 30 grams per day will also help flush out excess estrogens leading to less painful menstrual cramps. The average American gets about 14 grams of fiber, which is less than half of the recommended amount. Remember that slow and steady wins the race; don’t try to go straight to 30 grams of fiber over night. Figure out how much fiber you are having per day by adding your meals to sites like MyFitnessPal or cronometer, you can also check with your doctor or nutritionist! After you know how much you are currently having, focus on adding more fiber into one meal per day for one week, along with increasing your water intake. Continue to add fiber to each meal gradually until you are at your desired amount.

One of my personal favorite switches is having chia seed pudding for breakfast! Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds has roughly 11 grams of fiber and you can customize it to your liking. My base pudding starts out like:

You simply mix all of the ingredients and let sit over night or at least 15 minutes. If you like your pudding a little thicker, add a dash more milk when you’re ready to eat. I also like to add about 3 tablespoons of vanilla coconut yogurt with strawberries or frozen blueberries. Chia seeds are an awesome and tasty way to sneak some extra fiber into your diet and not add that many calories! WIN WIN!

In the end, whether you are suffering from painful periods or not, making healthier choices should be a priority. No one is perfect, and it’s important to remember that! Even the seemingly perfect Instagram model or the organic-gummy-giving-mom on Youtube have “bad” days, and that’s OKAY! Balance is key to anything in life, including diet.

If you or someone close to you are suffering from painful menstrual cramps or are wanting to lose weight, email me and I will help you find the perfect plan for you! I hope this helped you in some way, and as always, hit the work with me tab and send me an email with any questions you have! Happy day & happy flowing!