Episode number 14 has just been released and is available for you to listen.
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It is estimated that period pain affects over 90% of women to varying degrees and so often we think that this is just the way it is – as we discussed in detail back in episode 10 when I interviewed Elodie about her experience with period pain.
In this episode, I am talking with Henrietta Chang, a Naturopath from NSW in Australia, where we discuss the impacts of food and lifestyle on how we experience period pain and the impacts are very real. It’s a very practical and important conversation that I know will be of great support to many women, particularly those who think there really is no solution to what they are experiencing month in and month out. This episode just scratches the surface, as there is so much to talk about when it comes to our relationship with food, but it is a necessary surface to scratch to start questioning our behaviours and how every choice we make affects us in some way. Henrietta and I will have much more to share on this in coming episodes. But for now, let’s get clear on the science about why and how certain food groups can increase our experience of period pain.
Henrietta has been a naturopath and complimentary medicine practitioner since 2001 and has a background in science with a keen interest in nutritional biochemistry. She combines her considerable knowledge and experience with an unwavering dedication and deep care for her clients and the wider community. She works closely with conventional medicine and also deeply values all that complementary medicines brings - knowing that a client's best outcomes are often based on a combination of both approaches.
Some of the topics we discuss:
Give yourself permission to look at all of the options available that both conventional and complementary medicine offer
The difference between period pain and endometriosis
As women, we have normalised pain in relation to our periods. This is passed down from generation to generation.
Lack of education in knowing what is actually not normal, in relation to period pain.
A lack of talking to each other about our periods, means we carry on without realising that what we may be experiencing may be an issue.
Nutrition and supplements do play key roles in supporting our menstrual health
Period Pain is the body signalling that we need extra support in this area.
Period pain is experience by over 90% of women to varying degrees. This is different to endometriosis which involves the immune system and the whole body.
From our experience, changes in diet and lifestyle can often resolve period pain quite quickly. Endometriosis will need more specific support.
Nutritional support for period pain (and any chronic pain or inflammatory conditions) –
Drink more water, stay very well hydrated.
Avoid or minimise sugar as much as possible. Sugar causes inflammation which contributes to period pain. Be aware of sugars in fruits and hidden sugars in refined grains.
Increase vegetable intake to support digestion and metabolism of excess oestrogen. Fibre helps populate good bacteria in the gut and digestive tract. Green vegetables are a huge support working as anti-inflammatory.
Look at your consumption of gluten and dairy. Both play a huge role in inflammation.
Dairy from an animal origin is what we are referring to. They contain lactose (sugar) or the protein. We are more concerned about the protein in regards to period pain and inflammation.
Avoiding dairy can have a huge affect on how women experience period pain.
Dairy has an affect on the brain in such a way that makes it addictive. It creates a dependant pathway in the body, which says ‘I can’t function without this substance’
Dairy is one of the most affective but can be one of the hardest for people to cut out.
Dairy alternatives – all variations of nut milk, soy milk, dairy free betters
Calcium from dairy (calcium carbonate) is very difficult for the human body to absorb. Calcium Citrate or plant forms of calcium are readily available and are much easier for the body to absorb. Examples are nuts and seeds, green vegetables, seaweed, tahini, fish, leave the bones in canned salmon.
Omega 3 fatty acids – support with the good types of prostaglandins. Certain foods can trigger inflammatory pathways – Prostaglandins 2. And then other foods can trigger the anti-inflammatory pathways – Prostaglandins 2 & 3, our natural pain killers!
Gluten also contributes hugely to inflammation.
Research has found that, something like 120 illness and diseases significantly reduced simply by eliminating gluten. Why is this not a first line intervention when it comes to treating inflammatory conditions?
Gluten has the same affect on the brain as dairy having an addictive impact.
Zinc works as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Often is depleted in so many people.
Start with Gluten and Dairy free diet and see how this impacts you.
Henrietta recommends a personalised baseline diet that you can always come back to as a foundation when things go wrong. When we deviate we feel the impact of this and have much more clarity and motivation to come back to what truly supports us.
More from Henrietta and all that she offers:
L’Alchimiste – Natural Medicine Clinic & Apothecary
Based in Ballina, NSW Australia. Also offering online consults, so you can access Henrietta wherever you are!
Need support to understand how your daily choices affect your period pain?
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