How diet affects your cycle
What we eat affects everything from physical health to mood to weight and more. Not surprisingly, it also has a major impact on our cycle. Because throughout the month, various hormone levels like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are affected by the food we eat. Just as these can be unbalanced by certain foods, they can also be helped by others.
In general, eating whole foods throughout your cycle can help keep your hormones balanced. Not allowing too much time between meals and avoiding sugary foods can help regulate blood sugar levels and avoid cortisol spikes that contribute to mood swings.
What is the best way to eat during the cycle phases?
The menstrual phase
The menstrual phase is the easiest to spot, as this is when you actually bleed, and estrogen and progesterone drop to their lowest levels. It's wise to eat a nutritious diet throughout your cycle and limit things like sugar, alcohol, and caffeine, as they can can trigger hormone imbalances, but this is especially important during periods. Unfortunately, this is also the time when we crave certain foods, so don't limit yourself too much - all in moderation!
At this stage, you should limit your consumption of fatty and salty foods and drink herbal teas like chamomile to relieve cramps. Depending on how heavy your bleeding is, it can also be beneficial if you consume more iron during this time. It's thought to lose about 1 mg of iron for each day of bleeding, so eating foods like red meat, spinach, and other dark leafy varieties might help.
In the case of iron deficiency, foods containing vitamin C can also promote iron absorption. Therefore, often add fruits & vegetables such as oranges, red and green peppers, pineapple, strawberries, broccoli and mango to increase your vitamin C levels.
The follicular phase
During this phase, estrogen levels begin to rise again to prepare the egg cells for the forthcoming ovulation phase. Your body can conserve its carbohydrate stores, but it also has an increased ability to burn fat. Energy increases and your body is more receptive to activities like strength training, so it's a good time to focus on fitness.
Therefore, your body needs more carbohydrates in this phase... so bring on the carbohydrates! Of course, in addition to carbohydrates, you should also consume protein regularly, and it also doesn't hurt to consume iron and vitamin C to further replenish the levels lost during the period. Eating sprouted and fermented foods that break down estrogen, like broccoli sprouts and kimchi, can also help.
In the follicular phase, foods such as oatmeal, soybeans, lentils, poultry, peppers and oranges are also particularly good.
The ovulation phase
During the ovulation phase, your estrogen levels will peak and even out when your body releases an egg. When you have high estrogen levels, you should eat foods that support your liver, as they offer health benefits and may protect against environmental toxins known to affect hormones. Anti-inflammatory foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds are spot on.
This is the phase of your cycle when you are most fertile. So if you're trying to conceive during this time, there are a few things you can include in your diet to help you achieve it. A study of 232 women found that higher folic acid intake was associated with higher implantation rates. So, eating more green leafy vegetables, peas, kidney beans, and folic acid-fortified breakfast cereal could help.
The luteal phase
Consuming serotonin-building foods like quinoa and buckwheat are thought to be especially helpful during this time. It also helps to include more healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados, nuts and fish if possible.
It is considered proven that the Eating magnesium-rich foods can help with the fatigue and low libido at this stage of the cycle. So include foods like spinach and pumpkin seeds in your diet, and dark chocolate!
The luteal phase is the time before your period when you should eat a healthy diet and avoid foods that can trigger menstrual cramps. So it's best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, salt and carbonated drinks.