Painful Periods & Omega 3’s – Put Simply

This is one of the simplest ways to reduce your monthly pain.  Better than that – if you have other pain, such as back or joint, it could well help that too!

What are Omega 3’s?

Omega 3’s are a type of fat.  They are part of the PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids).  There are also Omega 6, Omega 7 and Omega 9.

Why are Omega 3 important for pain relief?

It’s not so much about how many Omega 3 you eat, it’s more about how many you eat compared to omega 6!

  • Omega 3 – anti inflammation (effects similar to ibuprofen)
  • Omega 6 – cause inflammation – pain, swelling, heat

Most of us are eating way too much Omega 6 compared to Omega 3!  This causes inflammation, rather than soothing.

What am I eating with Omega 6 in it?

Most people eat these foods on a daily basis: Meat, vegetable oils (olive, canola, palm, rapeseed, sunflower), most ready made snack/dip/baking foods in the supermarket (crisps, cakes, breads, sauces, check the label) takeouts, fried foods, margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, nuts, seeds, evening primrose oil.

Where can I find Omega 3’s?

Food sources include:   Walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed (linseed), hemp seed, borage, oily fish, spinach, spirulina and mustard greens.

Other vegetarian food sources include: turnips, zucchini, squash, brussel sprouts, collard greens, dandelion greens.

Supplements are called:  Omega 3 Fish Oils.  If you buy any then make sure they are low mercury tested.   Vegetarians use Flaxseed Oil Capsules.

Whats the problem with eating more Omega 6 than Omega 3?

All of your cells are walled with fat.  The type of fat you eat will make up your cell walls.  When cells degenerate, their cell walls get broken down and release molecules.  Omega 3 breakdown encourages cause anti-pain, reduced swelling and less heat.  Omega 6 breakdown causes pain, swelling, redness and heat.  So you want to eat more of the Omega 3’s, and less Omega 6, to get your cell walls built of the good stuff!

Ideally we would have a 1:1 ratio of O3:O6, or at least under 1:4.  Most people eat more like 1:17.    If you cannot get enough Omega 3 by food, you can suffer pain on a monthly basis, or in other ways like in your joints – then that is when you start supplementing with between 1000mg-4000mg fish oils a day.

Now you’ve named everything I eat as an Omega 6!  Will I starve?

The most important thing is to be aware of what has Omega3 and Omega6 in it.  Make a list and stick it on your fridge.  Over time check in with it, and you will become familiar.  Omega 6 are not bad , it’s the ratio that counts.

Focus on buying and eating the Omega 3 foods that you like.

Easy ways to a better Omega 3 ratio for period pain

  • Take 1-4 high strength fish oil capsule a day, Make sure it’s mercury tested!  You should find you need less painkillers.
  • Eat a salmon salad with spinach leaves, walnuts and chia
  • Make a smoothie and add a few tablespoons of flax seed
  • Stash a few cans of tuna/salmon/sardines/mackerel at work for hunger emergencies
  • Try more meat free meals – beans, lentils, tempeh
  • Make chia porridge for a change (pre-soak chia in filtered water and prepare as you would you porridge – very filling!)
  • Snack on fruit and nuts instead of muffins
  • Put spirulina in your sommothie, along with flax or chia
  • Mash avocado with coconut cream, lemon juice, salt & pepper to avoid margarine/store brought dips
  • Quicker than a take out is sweet and salty anything :  Instant rice+grated zucchini+spinach leaves+canned fish/tempeh+soy sauce+ginger+cocnout oil+honey (heat it all in a pan) = 5 minute yum
  • Grass fed/organic meat and egg products are best.

What other oily fish are there?

The ones you will find easily in your supermarket are: Pink and Atlantic Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel.

The best Omega 3 fish are: Anchovies, Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Bluefish, Cobo Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Pink Salmon, Sablefish, Sardines, Sockeye Salmon, Spiny Dogfish, Whitefish.

If you buy fish then do your best to get it from a fresh fish market.   Easy alternatives are canned fish and the supermarket fish counter.

How long will this take to work?

Give it 3 months.  I’ve seen some women get a rapid effect from Omega 3 capsules – in days .  These healthy lifestyle additions can be used alongside painkillers, birth control pills and any other medical intervention you are using.  The effects will build up over time.  Let your doctor/specialist know what you are taking, especially if you are going in for surgery.

About Claire Bhavani

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