Diet and the Reproductive System

We all know that, during our menstrual cycle, our body tends to crave certain foods, typically fatty, salty and/or sweet. For most, the association between diet and the reproductive system stops here. Yet, food and your diet are intricately linked to your reproductive system. What you eat, or fail to eat, can increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant, worsen your PMS symptoms and possibly even disrupt your menstrual cycle.

The Role of Hormones in PMS


Every month during ovulation, the pituitary gland in the brain signals the ovaries to produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones help to prepare the uterus in case of a pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, the hormone levels decrease and menstruation occurs. This increase in hormones helps to explain all the mysterious symptoms of PMS, including craving junk food and fat.

Unfortunately, though, eating all that junk food can actually make your PMS symptoms worse. Not to say that you shouldn\'t give in once in awhile. But it is important to make the right food choices, particularly when you have PMS, as eating healthy can help to beat those typical PMS symptoms, like fatigue and bloating. But reaching for the crisps more often than those carrots can do more than worsen PMS.

You Are What you Eat (or Don\'t Eat)


By eating a high-fat diet or starving yourself, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing some serious medical conditions, like amenorrhea (the absence of a period). According to British researchers, if you do not eat a healthy, nutritious diet with all the essential vitamins and minerals, your hormones levels can be seriously altered. Some theorise that an imbalanced diet actually causes deficiencies that lead to PMS.

Here are some basic dietary guidelines for you to follow during your period to help control your PMS and for better overall health:

  • Be sure to get enough calcium. Women need at least 1,200mg of calcium every day. Some good sources of calcium include low-fat milk, yogurt, broccoli and salmon.

  • If you do not drink milk, you can increase your calcium intake with soy or rice milk, tofu or kale. Look for fermented soy products as certain soy products contain phytoestrogens, which can mimic the natural estrogen found in your body, leading to reproductive health difficulties. Your fertility is significantly compromised if you have too much or too little estrogen in your body.

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