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Foods For Cramps: 10 Natural Ways To Fight Period Cramps

07/26/2012 08:43 EDT | Updated 12/19/2016 12:46 EST

Most women -- at least 40 to 70 per cent -- have experienced some type of menstruation pain. Painful backs, breasts, abdomens, you name it: periods can be uncomfortable, and at times, drain bodies of energy.

If you're looking for ways to avoid over-the-counter drugs, eating healthy and drinking fluids is one way to help ease painful periods.

"Try to have a mixture of everything. In terms of fighting cramps and PMS, 80 per cent of it is nutrition. Stick to foods that are natural, low in sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains, and nuts and seeds," says nutritionist Kathy Smart of Ottawa, Ont.

She also recommends hitting the gym and investing your time in a few downward dogs, despite how bloated you may be feeling -- exercise can help your body heal during painful cramps or aches.

Here are Smart's 10 foods and drinks that can help ease cramping...and five to say goodbye to:

10 Foods For Cramps...And 5 To Avoid

Fresh Dill

Fresh dill is packed with calcium and can add flavour to any bland salad or dip.

Sesame Seeds

Nutritionist Kathy Smart says sesame seeds are packed with calcium and can be easily made into a tasty paste.

Parsley

Parsley is not only high in minerals and vitamin C, but when used in a tea, it can be a great way to help your body relax from aching.

Celery

Smart says eating celery can also help fight fluid retention during your time of the month.

Salmon

A plate of salmon is high in Omega-3 and helps fight inflammation.

Sacha Inchi Seeds

Smart says sacha inchi seeds, a plant found in the Amazon, is rich in Omega-3.

Dark Chocolate

If you're craving chocolate, make sure it's over 70 per cent cocoa. This bittersweet treat will help you relax your muscles.

Water

We all know fluids are essential when your body is cramping or bloating. Smart recommends drinking two to three litres of water during your period.

Tea

Tea is an easy way to replace your caffeine craving. Smart recommends green tea to soothe cramps. Now, even though green tea contains caffeine, try decaffeinated green tea instead — but be aware, you may lose some health benefits with a decaf version, according to diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis.

Hummus

Chickpeas are not only full of nutrients but eating hummus during your period can result in a good night's sleep and uplift your mood.

Avoid: Dairy

Avoid getting calcium from dairy products, Smart says. Milks and cheeses can actually trigger cramps.

Avoid: Caffeine

Caffeine is another no-no. Drinking lots of coffee or pop during your period can increase higher levels of tension and anxiety.

Avoid: Too Much Sugar

Excessive sugary foods, even when you're not menstruating, can also trigger cramps Smart says.

Avoid: Alcohol

Smart says anything that can damage your liver should be off the list.

Avoid: Red Meat

Red meat, Smart says, is also know to cause stomach upsets and cramps.

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