Do smoothies help period cramps? Smoothies offer a lot of flexibility, which means you can easily make the best smoothie for period cramps by combining ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, detox-friendly and gut-friendly...all in one glass!
And in this post I’m showing you exactly how to do that by sharing one of my favorite smoothie recipes that soothes menstrual pain.
The best part? You only need a few ingredients: bananas, blueberries, pineapples, baby spinach and beetroot powder.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to make your own cramp-busting period smoothie, then keep reading!
Note: this post contains some affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase.
TOP REASONS WHY SMOOTHIES ARE GOOD FOR PERIOD CRAMPS
Before we get into the smoothie recipe, let’s have a look at how the ingredients actually help to ease painful periods.
1. Fight Inflammation
In a previous post on home remedies for menstrual cramps, I talked about how high levels of prostaglandins (a hormone) are the underlying cause of menstrual pain.
Now, this is not to say that prostaglandins are inherently bad. We do need them.
But, when prostaglandin levels get too high, they cause inflammation.
Thankfully you can combat that inflammation with smoothies!
In this particular recipe we’re using blueberries and spinach, both of which are very high in antioxidants (which fight inflammation).
Plus, this recipe gives you magnesium (from spinach) and potassium (from bananas), which are two minerals that are very effective at lowering pain.
And in addition, we’re throwing in some beetroot powder to further lower inflammation and improve circulation.
2. Support Detoxification
Since toxins contribute significantly to inflammation and hormonal imbalance, it’s important to support our detox pathways if we want to get rid of cramps.
And supporting detoxification means keeping organs like the liver and colon in good health.
Leafy greens are an excellent way to support those organs and that’s why this recipe uses spinach.
Spinach contains a lot of fiber which keeps the colon healthy and facilitates elimination.
Another way to boost detoxification is with berries.
And in this recipe we’ll be using blueberries which contain anthocyanins (a type of antioxidant) that protect the liver and keep it functioning optimally (source).
And last but not least, the beet powder in this smoothie also supports liver function and further helps to boost detoxification.
3. Boost Gut Health
Aside from the liver and colon, the gut also plays a role in detoxification, as well as hormone production/regulation.
So, we want to make sure that we boost gut health and more specifically, our “friendly” gut bacteria.
The healthy fibers from the fruits and veggies in this smoothie will help you do just that! They will basically “feed” your bacteria.
Furthermore, because this smoothie is full of nutrient-dense, whole foods it helps to heal your gut lining and prevent leaky gut syndrome (something else that worsens inflammation).
4. Easy To Absorb
Because smoothies are blended and in liquid form, they’re very easy for the body to digest and absorb.
This means you can enjoy the positive effects sooner than later!
Furthermore, smoothies can be particularly helpful if you have a delicate digestive system.
In fact, I noticed this with one of my clients who struggled with raw spinach and elimination.
Whenever she drank her spinach in a smoothie, she was able to have a bowel movement shortly after (regular bowel movements are important but that is safest way to get toxins out of the body).
But whenever she ate whole spinach (say in the morning) it would sometimes take her till the evening to eliminate.
So, this difference highlighted the fact that the liquids were the easiest way for her to the nutrients she needed.
And since constipation also tends to occur with hormonal imbalances, I always recommend drinking smoothies to help your body heal from the inside out.
DO BANANAS HELP WITH MENSTRUAL CRAMPS?
Okay I’ve already talked about the fact that the potassium in bananas improves cramps.
But I want to take a moment to talk more about bananas because they’re a high sugar fruit.
And sometimes we avoid bananas because we’ve been taught that all sugar is bad.
But that’s simply not true.
Processed sugar and other concentrates of sugar (such as pasteurized juices) are unhealthy. They have no nutritional value because they’ve been processed or pasteurized (which kills off lots of nutrients).
However, the sugar in bananas is not something to fear because nature has balanced it out with lots of other nutrients that are great for cramps and overall health.
- Magnesium and calcium which, together with potassium, are three minerals that help a lot with relieving cramps.
- Antioxidants such as catechins and dopamine (not the same as the dopamine hormone). These antioxidants help fight inflammation and fight off chronic illness.
- Vitamin C, which we need in higher quantities when we have any kind of stress or inflammation.
- Fibers such as pectin (when ripe) and resistant starch (when unripe). Both of these fibers prevent blood sugar spikes (which affects hormones and inflammation).
Now, this is just a quick overview of what bananas have to offer us (there’s more in this post: Do Bananas Help With Menstrual Cramps).
And as you can see, even though bananas have natural sugar, they also have a lot of healing power.
Quite different from the sugar in many processed or packaged foods which usually offer zero benefits!
So, please don’t deprive yourself of the healing benefits of fruits like bananas just because of the sugar.
When you’re eating the whole food, there’s always a natural balance from the other nutrients that works in your favor 🙂
GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE FOR PERIOD CRAMPS
Alrighty! Now that we’ve covered the basics of why smoothies are amazing, what do you say we put together a period cramp smoothie?
Here’s what you’ll need for this “green” smoothie (the spinach qualifies it as a green smoothie, but the color is really a dark purple).
Ingredients (makes 2 servings)
2 ripe bananas
2 cups spinach (tightly packed)
1.5 cups frozen blueberries
1.5 cups frozen pineapple
1 cup water (or almond milk)
1 tsp beet root powder (here’s my recommended brand)
1 tbsp hemp seeds (optional – the healthy fats in hemp lower inflammation and support hormone production)
- Place all ingredients (except hemp seeds) into a blender in the order listed.
- Blend on high until smooth and well combined.
- Pour into a glass and top with hemp seeds (if using).
- I like to let my frozen fruit thaw out at room temperature for about 30 – 45 minutes. Makes it easier to blend and gives a smooth texture.
- It can be very helpful to drink two servings of this smoothie per day, for 4 days leading up to your period. Once your period starts, monitor the intensity and frequency of your cramps. You can either continue with 2 servings a day or just 1.
WHAT FRUIT HELPS WITH MENSTRUAL CRAMPS?
Aside from bananas and blueberries, there are many other fruits that can help relieve period cramps.
When choosing fruits to eat for period pain, look for fruits that are high in vitamin C, magnesium or potassium.
You’ll often find that many foods contain one or more of these nutrients.
So, feel free to mix and match them based on what’s available to you (and what your taste buds like!).
And even though there are other nutrients that also help cramps, starting with the three listed in this section will give you a solid dietary foundation.
Here are a few fruits to choose from:
- Citrus fruits (limes, oranges, grapefruits and lemons, for example)
WHAT CAUSES MENSTRUAL CRAMPS TO WORSEN?
Stress and inflammation are two things that intensify cramps.
Now, both of these things are pretty much the same thing because:
- Stress triggers the inflammatory response in the body. Another way of saying that is: inflammation is how the body fights off stress.
So, does this mean you have to avoid stress?
No, not all. That’s not the goal.
Stress comes and goes. It’s part of life.
But you want to be mindful when it comes to chronic stress.
Chronic stress is the thing that really aggravates menstrual pain.
Some common sources of stress are:
- Emotional worries/stressors.
- Poor sleep.
- Processed foods.
- Refined ingredients (such as hydrogenated fats, white cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup).
- Excessive alcohol.
- Carbonated drinks.
- Food additives and preservatives.
Take a look at your diet and lifestyle, and see if the items listed above are a staple.
If they are, then start taking steps to reduce or eliminate them as best you can.
Does Maca help with cramps?
Maca has a cortisol-regulating effect that improves hormone balance and inflammation.
And as a result, maca can help some women get relief from cramps.
Does chocolate help period cramps?
When it comes to chocolate, dark chocolate is the most helpful for cramps. Dark chocolate that has at least 70% cacao content is best because cacao is an excellent source of magnesium.
So, you can try snacking on some dark chocolate to see how you feel.
Or better yet, you can make a cramp relief shake with bananas, cacao powder and some almond (or peanut) butter!
What home remedies get rid of menstrual cramps?
Some home remedies that help menstrual cramps are essential oils, herbal teas and light exercise.
You can get more tips on all of these and more in this post on home remedies for menstrual cramps.
That’s it for my simple period pain smoothie recipe. I hope it helps you get some much needed relief.
Now, remember that there are lots of different foods that you can enjoy and use to get relief from cramps. For more details on those foods, make sure to read this article on what to eat during each phase of the menstrual cycle.
And if you want more free resources to help you get a healthy and struggle-free cycle, don’t hesitate to check out the articles listed below (or visit the Menstrual Cycle section of this blog).