When pregnancy and menopause are out of the equation, changes in your period can be cause for concern — especially if your menstrual cycle becomes longer, shorter, heavier, absent or more painful. Although a variety of lifestyle and medical factors can affect your period, a poor diet is a potential culprit for changes in your cycle. Eating a diet too low in fat, particularly the omega-3 fats abundant in fatty fish and some nuts and seeds, can have a negative impact on your menstrual cycle. According to a study published in the June issue of “Complementary Therapies in Medicine,” women consuming extra omega-3 fats experienced significantly less anxiety, bloating, depression, nervousness, headaches and breast tenderness before their periods than women in the low omega-3 placebo group — suggesting an insufficiency of omega-3 fats may be a factor in more severe premenstrual symptoms. In addition, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that a diet very low in total fat may play a role in developing secondary amenorrhea, which is characterized by missing at least three periods in a row. Even if you fill your menu with healthy, nutrient-rich foods, eating too much or too little can affect your hormones and lead to changes in your cycle. As the New York University Department of Pediatrics explains, excessive calories and dramatic weight gain can contribute to amenorrhea in some women. At the same time, a very low-calorie intake, often due to weight-loss diets or eating disorders like anorexia, can also cause your periods to stop. Maintaining an energy intake that’s appropriate for your body size and gaining or losing weight gradually instead of rapidly can help you avoid menstrual irregularities. Being deficient in certain vitamins and minerals can affect your period and worsen premenstrual symptoms.
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When you think about the relationship between your diet and your menstrual cycle, you might think about craving chocolate, carbs and all the sugar around the time your period arrives. But what you might not know is that the foods you eat can actually have an impact on your menstrual cycle. But research has also shown that the foods you eat can affect hormones, as well as your menstrual cycle. Jessica Chan, MD, to learn more about how your diet affects your menstrual cycle. After ovulation, progesterone rises, which can cause the body to have a higher resistance to insulin. When your body is more resistant to insulin, you might find yourself craving those sugary foods. Another side effect of eating too much sugar is, of course, weight gain.