An estimated 70% of women experience bloating during their period. Higher oestrogen levels cause our bodies to retain water, whereas elevated progesterone levels in the latter half of our period cycle cause the digestive tract to slow down – leading to symptoms of fullness and bloating. In fact, it is normal to gain 1.5-2 kgs during your period. This weight gain is largely attributable to water retention and will go away a few days after your period starts.
However, in the meanwhile, here are a few ways to manage the bloat so you can look and feel your best even through your period!
Pick potassium and protein-rich foods to help balance the fluids.
Foods such as bananas, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and asparagus help the body flush out excess sodium and reduce inflammation. Bananas especially have soluble fiber, which combats constipation that could also cause excess bloating.
Eat healthy fats to lower prostaglandins
The prostaglandins are a group of lipids that control processes such as inflammation and blood flow. Lower prostaglandins helps with bloating and in easing menstrual pain. Chia seeds, nuts and salmon have omega-3 fatty acids that decrease prostaglandins, which promote cramps. You can also have seeds, eggs, avocado and cheese as healthy fats too.
Limit caffeine and alcohol – we know, easier said than done!
When you consume caffeine, it may stimulate your gut and lead to spasms that cause bloating and can last for over a few hours. With regular consumption, it could be a permanent issue. Bloating is one of the most common effects drinking alcohol can have on the body. It is an inflammatory substance, meaning it tends to cause swelling in the body, face and even dehydrates your skin.
Stay away from gas-inducing foods.
Beans, dairy and vegetables like broccoli and cabbage are a few food items that are known to cause excess gas. These vegetables contain the complex sugar, raffinose, which is a complex sugar that the body has trouble digesting. Lactose is a sugar that’s found in milk and most dairy products. People who have difficulties in digesting lactose can have increased gas in the body due to this lactose intolerance.
Avoid sugary foods and drinks
That chocolate chip cookie may be calling your name but artificial sweeteners will increase water retention, causing greater bloating! Similarly, sodas and other carbonated drinks add excess air every time you swallow. Air in your digestive tract has to pass through, this causes burping and increases how much gas you pass.
Get more ZZZs
The more sleep you receive, the better your body will work to regulate excess fluid. Simply lying down often provides relief from bloating. When lying down on your bed at night, stay on your back to help relieve some of the bloating pain too,
Try not to avoid your workouts
Physical activity will always help expel gas that causes pain and aids digestion. Whether a nice long walk, a brisk jog, a bike ride, or even a jaunt on the elliptical, cardio will help deflate your bloat. Try to aim for 30 minutes of mild to moderate exertion to see a difference in discomfort. Discuss a diuretic with your doctor. Some women may suffer from significant breast tenderness because of the water retention. A mild diuretic may be helpful in addressing this.
You know your body best. So while dealing with period symptoms can often be challenging, it helps to be equipped on how best to tackle the particular challenges your body faces. By making informed choices around diet and exercise, we can confront issues like bloating head-on, and hopefully have a more comfortable period!
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Read other articles by Meher Kairon here.