According to some scientific studies there are certain foods that can help to decrease the discomforts of menstruation. Two of these are ginger and fennel. Check out this video from NutritionFacts.org to learn more. In short: consuming 1/8 teaspoon of ginger powder three times a day during your period can reduce menstrual bleeding by 50% PLUS eating fennel seeds can be as effective at alleviating dysmenorrhea as pain-relief drugs like ibuprofen (probably because of fennel's ability to relax muscles). 

Of course, eating a variety of colourful whole plant foods regularly and especially during this time of the month can generally aid in lessening cramps, skin breakouts, bloating, indigestion, cravings and the other fun stuff we folks with uteruses have all come to expect every 28 days or so (though every body's cycle is different). 

Drinking adequate water, stretching and resting are extra important for me and definitely play a role in maintaining a level of comfort for the 2-3 days I usually experience the worst of my period symptoms. My symptoms are pretty consistent: lower back pain/soreness, headaches, tiredness, some cramps, chocolate cravings (the bod wants iron!), increased emotional sensitivity (I cry at radio commercials), tender breasts, irritability and I also don't have much of an appetite and cannot digest solid food very well. All these start showing themselves 1-2 days before my bleeding starts and then last for 1-2 more days into the actual period. After that, the bleeding continues for another 3-4 days, but it's very light, and then for a few weeks I'm back to my "normal" self before the next cycle begins all over again. 

I cannot over-emphasize the significance of my heating pad either: it is my saviour and it gets me through. It provides instant, sustained relief for as long as I need it to. SERIOUSLY: if lower back pain is part of your period symptom list, go out and buy a heat pad right now. My back pain is the worst part of my period since my stomach cramps are usually not that noticeable and my flow isn't super heavy (though it varies a bit with each cycle and that is totally fine and pretty normal). And one final recommendation: get the Clue app! It's technically a period tracking app but really so much more. It allows you to input daily personal information and continually adds it all together to come up with predictions and averages for your cycle. You can input everything from how long you slept, what foods you were craving and your motivation levels to your digestion, sociability and sex drive. And in case the myriad of input categories aren't sufficient, you can type in custom tags. It's free and almost 100% gender-neutral. 

So with all that, I give you this smoothie recipe. It has a bunch of ingredients like ginger and fennel that will help to alleviate discomforts associated with menstruation (like cramps and bleeding). It also has cinnamon and turmeric because these foods are just AMAZING for you. Eat 'em daily. I added in some black pepper because it helps the bio-availability of turmeric. Have a happy, comfortable period!

Serves one.

1 banana
1 orange
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon black pepper 
1-2 cups non-dairy milk, fresh juice or water

Blend everything together until smooth and delicious. Enjoy!

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