Many women around the world dread their period for the discomfort it brings. From dull persistent back pain, headaches and nausea to irritability, moodiness, bloating, tiredness and breast tenderness – the list is endless.
Although periods are experienced by 51 per cent of the world’s population, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach and everyone’s experience differs. This makes it hard for many women to fully grasp how much menstruation can affect their bodies. Here are some tips to help you understand your body a bit more during this time of the month and how periods can affect you and your energy levels.
Food and eating during your period
Before and during your period, the hormones in your body are hard at work and are constantly fluctuating. This fluctuation, in particular the rise and fall of oestrogen and progesterone – is the reason why women experience food cravings on top of period bloating and indigestion while on their periods. Typically, most women crave foods that are sweet and rich in carbohydrates. This is because starchy foods can induce the release of serotonin, an important chemical that regulates mood, social behaviour, appetite, digestion, sleep and memory.
While it’s okay to give in to cravings, it’s best to choose healthier options as foods high in refined sugar, salt and carbs can provide a short-lived satisfaction and make you feel worse over time. Try complex carbs like beans, lentils, oats and brown rice. According to an article by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, brown rice can move waste through the digestive tract and help you absorb more nutrients, thereby helping you deal with period bloating and indigestion while satisfying your cravings and giving you more energy.
Your emotional well-being during your period
Fluctuating hormones during your period can also influence your emotional well-being. In some cases, women on their periods even find themselves feeling depressed, sad, anxious, irritable and close to tears. In addition to this, menstruation can also lead to a loss in iron. A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that iron deficiency anaemia is associated with depression and higher psychological distress.
To maintain energy levels naturally, start your day with a nutritious breakfast high in vitamins and minerals, like a smoothie. Exercise regularly and try stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. While physical activities can help invigorate you and allow you to enjoy a myriad of health benefits, meditating can help get the blood in your body flowing and enable you to manage feelings of worry and stress better.