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How diet and exercise can help in the long run

Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping up a regular exercise regimen can go a long way toward preventing menstrual pain.

Diet

Generally, a diet geared toward decreasing menstrual pain should be high in minimally processed foods, fiber, and plants.

Give these foods a try:

  • Papaya is rich in vitamins.
  • Brown rice contains vitamin B-6, which may reduce bloating.
  • Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are rich in manganese, which eases cramps.
  • Olive oil and broccoli contain vitamin E.
  • Chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables contain iron, which is lost during menstruation.
  • Flaxseed contains omega-3s with antioxidant properties, which reduce swelling and inflammation.

Reducing or cutting out these foods can help alleviate cramps and decrease tension. Instead, try soothing (caffeine-free) ginger or mint teas or hot water flavored with lemon. If you need a sugar fix, snack on fruits such as strawberries or raspberries.

Boron :

This mineral helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. It also reduces menstrual cramps

Foods with high concentration of boron include:

  • avocados
  • peanut butter
  • prunes
  • chickpeas
  • bananas

You can also take boron supplements, if your diet doesn’t provide enough. However, you should consult your doctor before taking boron supplements. Discover how boron helps the brains and bones, too.

Water :

It sounds odd, but drinking water keeps your body from retaining water and helps to avoid painful bloating during menstruation. Warm or hot water is usually better for cramps, as hot liquids increase blood flow to your skin and may relax cramped muscles.

You can also eat water-based foods to increase your hydration, including:

  • lettuce
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • watermelon
  • berries, including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries

Calcium :

This mineral can help reduce muscle cramping during menstruation. The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for women between the ages of 19 and 50. Foods high in calcium include:

  • dairy products
  • sesame seeds
  • almonds
  • leafy green vegetables

Calcium is also available in supplement form. But speak to your doctor before taking supplements to find out if it’s safe for you.

Excercise

The idea of exercise immediately before or during your period may not appeal to you. But exercise releases endorphins.

Research suggests exercise is effective at reducing menstrual pain to the extent it may also eliminate or reduce the need for pain-relief medication.

Moderate activity such as walking can be beneficial during your period in place of more strenuous activity.

Yoga is a gentle exercise that also releases endorphins and helps prevent or reduce menstrual symptoms. In one 2011 study, researchers found three different yoga poses — Cobra, Cat, and Fish — significantly reduced intensity and duration of pain during menstruation for young women ages 18 to 22.

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