For many people, a painful side effect of their period is cramps. If you experience excruciating monthly (period) cramps, you have looked for remedies to relieve them.
Period cramp relief is frequently claimed to be found in chocolate. Some contend that the reason so many people want it during their periods is because it can alleviate the intensity of cramps. But some believe that its advantages are more myth than reality.
The effectiveness of chocolate in treating menstrual cramps is discussed in this article along with some additional foods and therapies.
Can chocolate relieve leg cramps?
Chocolate may very well ease period pains for some people.
Dark chocolate may lessen cramps and related pain, according to a few small studies. One study examined the effects of dark versus milk chocolate on period pains in 50 menstrual teens at an Indonesian boarding school.
The findings showed that menstrual pain was reduced in individuals who had up to 40 grams of a 69% dark chocolate bar every day for the first three days following menstruation as compared to those who drank the same quantity of chocolate milk every day for the same period.
A second study that involved 40 menstruation students at an Indonesian institution discovered that dark chocolate lessened period pain.
Finally, scientists at an Indian institution split 90 students into three groups: those who consumed 120 grams of dark chocolate daily for three days following menstruation, those who consumed 120 grams of milk chocolate daily during this period, and those who consumed no chocolate at all.
According to the findings, the dark chocolate group experienced the greatest relief in menstruation discomfort, while the milk chocolate group only experienced minor changes.
We still need an additional investigation into whether and how dark chocolate relieves cramps, as both studies were tiny.
A few modest studies have suggested that dark chocolate may lessen period cramp pain. It lessens pain more effectively than milk chocolate.
Why is chocolate good for you?
It is believed that several nutrients in dark chocolate influence the mechanism causing cramping. The uterus sheds its lining during periods. Prostaglandins, lipids that resemble hormones, are released to accomplish this, causing the uterus to contract. Painful menstrual cramps are brought on by these contractions.
Dark chocolate contains the mineral magnesium, which is known to help relax muscles and, as a result, may lessen uterine contractions and pain. Magnesium may also prevent the synthesis of prostaglandins, which trigger contractions.
This notion is supported by some research, which even argues that more painful periods may be linked to decreased blood levels of magnesium. Dark chocolate is more beneficial in reducing period pain than milk chocolate because it contains more magnesium.
While white chocolate only supplies 4% of the dietary value (DV) of magnesium in an ounce (28 grams), 70-85% of dark chocolate does (15%).
56% of the daily value (DV) of the mineral copper is likewise provided by the same amount of dark chocolate.
Compared to magnesium, copper’s effect in lowering period discomfort is less evident. According to some experts, copper may help relieve menstrual cramps because the body uses it to make endorphins, which are molecules that reduce pain.
Other foods to eat that can help ease your cramps:
Foods that can relieve period symptoms? Try these:
There is some evidence that certain meals may help relieve some menstrual discomfort. 90% of people, according to the Office on Women’s Health, report having premenstrual symptoms like these:
- dysmenorrhea or painful periods
- lower back ache
- mood changes
- constipation, or diarrhea
- breast sensitivity
The following foods may help with period-related symptoms, according to studies:
Veggies and fruits
Although fruit and vegetables are essential sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for everyone, they may be particularly useful when menstruating.
According to a 2018 research, that is a Spanish university study, vegetarian diets and consuming more fruits and vegetables were associated with less cramps and lessened menstruation pain. This was confirmed in several of the research the authors mentioned, but it did not seem to make endometriosis sufferers’ symptoms any better.
Water consumption is crucial for good health and can help prevent headaches from dehydration during the menstrual cycle. Additionally, it can prevent bloating and water retention.
There is no recommended daily water intake in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, according to sources. The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, however, advises consuming 6 to 8 glasses per day.
Seafood and fish
Oysters, salmon, tuna, and sardines are excellent providers of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients may help treat period discomfort by lowering bodily inflammation. A 2012 study examined the impact of omega-3 dietary supplements on the severity of menstruation pain in women between the ages of 18 and 22.
Omega-3 supplements were given to one group, while a placebo was given to the other. The amount of pain felt by those in the omega-3 group was significantly lessened. They used ibuprofen less frequently to treat their pain as well.
According to a 2014 study, omega-3 fatty acids may also lessen depression. Those who endure mood swings and poor mood around their menstruation may find this helpful.
These additional meals also contain omega-3s:
flax oil and flax seeds; chia seeds; foods fortified with soybean, canola, and algal oil, such as some yogurts, juices, plant-based milk, walnuts, etc.
Beans and lentils
Other sources of iron and high in protein are lentils and beans. Consuming enough protein is crucial for good health, and it may reduce cravings for unhealthier foods throughout the menstrual cycle.
Legumes also contain zinc, a necessary element. According to a 2007 study, zinc may help relieve uncomfortable menstrual cramps.
Are there other foods that you need to avoid?
How some foods can lessen period symptoms, and others can exacerbate them. These are typically foods that result in bloating or inflammation.
Avoid these foods:
- ultra-processed foods sometimes referred to as highly processed foods.
- foods that produce flatulence, such as cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.
- foods heavy in sugar items made with white flour, like white bread or spaghetti.
Additionally, consuming less sodium might lessen weight gain and bloating brought on by periods. According to 2019 research, people who consume more sodium may bloat more frequently. It is crucial to remember that this study did not examine period-related bloating; rather, it examined bloating. According to the American Heart Association, the average person should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium daily. This level of salt should be avoided to help with bloating reduction.
Can any meals speed up the end of my period?
The length of a period may be shortened by eating certain foods that contain certain nutrients, notwithstanding the paucity of studies in this area.
B6 is one illustration. This vitamin balances menstrual hormones by lowering oestrogen and raising progesterone, according to a 1983 study. This might cut down on the length of a period and lessen PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms.
Numerous foods contain vitamin B6. Fish, organ meats, potatoes, and starchy vegetables are among the richest foods.
Myrtle fruit syrup, albeit uncommon, could potentially be helpful. In a 2014 study including 30 participants, it was discovered that daily doses of syrup reduced the number of bleeding days while also reducing discomfort. More studies are required to confirm whether myrtle fruit syrup can lessen bleeding and pain due to the small sample size.
Other cramping treatments:
There are numerous different treatments that could ease period cramps in addition to eating some dark chocolate.
These consist of:
- consuming NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen (Advil), which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
- placing a heated towel or heating pad on your lower back and abdomen.
- receiving massage treatment.
- warm drinks, such as chamomile, ginger, or turmeric tea, to sip on.
- walking and engaging in other light exercises.
- mild yoga poses.
When to seek medical help:
Even though many menstruation symptoms are typical, people should speak to a doctor about their menstrual cycle if they encounter any of the following:
- bleeding following sex.
- unusual times
- bleeding between cycles or spotting
- bleeding heavily after menopause
- bleeding for more than seven days
- extreme pain or discomfort that is resistant to over-the-counter painkillers
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