Why do we care about what we eat at different points in our cycle? Wouldn't we just keep eating about the same thing all the time? This episode is all about how to work with the changes your body is already underway with as it's baseline normal. Hormones fluctuate, cells build up and detox, energy levels rise and fall, and your body systems are working to create homeostasis at all the milestones. Episode 29 gives some real practical tips and tricks for how to best support these changes.
The first thing Kelly discusses is the concept of seed cycling. The idea is that different seeds support different phases of the cycle to help boost estrogen in the first half of the cycle (day 1-14) when estrogen is naturally rising to prepare for ovulation; and then secondly boost progesterone in the second half of the cycle (day 14-28) during the luteal phase when your body is prepared to support a pregnancy. For estrogen building you'll consume 2 tablespoons of raw and ground flax seeds and 2 tablespoons of raw pumpkin seeds. For progesterone building you'll consume 2 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds and 2 tablespoons of raw sesame seeds. Give this system a few months to see the hormone regulating effects and Voila! That may be all you need to support these components of your endocrine system.
The nest aspects of our podcast discussion turn to what to eat during the specific phases of the cycle. To refresh on the phases of the cycle, listen to episode 10, to refresh on what your hormones are doing during the month, listen to episode 27.
In the menstrual phase (bleeding that usually lasts around 5 days) you can think warmth and comfort foods- not high fat or high carb comfort food- but the nutrient-dense homemade cooked meals. They are packed with veggies and super foods, soothing to eat and easy on digestion. Think soups, casseroles, slow cooked meats, broths and herbal teas. Its best to decrease salty foods, and eliminate caffeine and alcohol as much as possible. (We know, it's not the easiest.) We recommend taking methylated B vitamins each day, and a magnesium supplement (oral or topical). Light movement like slow flow yoga, moderately paced walks, and mellow nature hikes all work well for this phase.
The follicular phase is what happens in between menstruation and ovulation. You have finished bleeding and your body prepares for ovulation. The idea with these foods are fresh and light. You'll want to boost up your ability to metabolize estrogen as its rising steadily at the time. Sprouted and fermented foods are best for this, as are broccoli, sprouts and kimchi. If you are someone who enjoys periodic short=term cleanses, this is the time your body will be most receptive to it. Light cardio is the type of movement that will feel best at this point in your cycle.
The ovulatory phase is exactly what it sounds like, the egg prepares to release from the ovary and journeys to meet a sperm. This happens around 14 days in a 28 day cycle. You'll want to support your liver in this point, as estrogen peaks just before the release of the egg and your liver detoxes the hormone for you. Think anti inflammatory foods like whole foods, veggies, almonds, eggs, and again we harp on the importance of B6. This is when you'll feel the most energetic during your cycle so HIIT type workouts fit in perfectly, or any other harder and more intense workouts.
The luteal phase wraps up the cycle as the fourth stage. You have not conceived and as your body figures this out, it prepares for menstruation again. If you were to ever get on board with doing something significant with supporting your cycle with diet- this is the key phase to show up for. Your carb cravings are up as your get closer and closer to menstruation. By increasing your serotonin naturally you'll be able to curb some of those intense cravings while getting the real nutrients to your body that it needs. Plan to add in lots of greens, quinoa, and magnesium rich foods like spinach. Magnesium helps fight fatigue and low libido which often seem exacerbated before your period starts. Cucumber is recommended to fight water retention, and dark chocolate as another source of magnesium. Ashwaganda is an herb that can curb stress when taken regularly. Try your best again to eliminate sugar, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks and dairy which all cause a low-level of inflammation. Pilates and higher intensity yoga are good exercises for this phase.
Have you bee surprised by the recommendations? Do they seem like they would help? What's one thing you can try out for the next cycle?