How much thought can we say really goes into our daily food choices? Especially when it comes to that time of the month, sometimes the most thought goes into which block of chocolate to choose from right? If you’re in the same boat as us here, then this one's for you! Knowing which foods are going to support your different phases like your Menstrual phase, Follicular phase, Ovulation phase and Luteal phase, will influence your decisions as well as influencing your period for the better. Can we get an amen for that!
What we eat impacts everything, from physical health to our moods, energy, weight and yep, surprise surprise, your cycle. Throughout the month your body produces different levels of hormones like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These hormones can be thrown off their steady train tracks by some derailing foods, yet in the same breath, they can also be nudged back on track by certain foods.
So let’s talk about food, everyone’s favourite topic!
From the first to the last day of our bleeding, our hormone levels are at their lowest, during this time it is important to replenish levels of zinc and iron, paired with vitamin C for absorption, which can become depleted as we bleed. Iron rich foods to include during this time are red meats, oysters, tempeh and tofu, tahini, dark leafy greens such as silverbeet, fresh herbs and spinach, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and cacao powder.
Another nutritional focus for this phase is deep nourishment through warming and grounding foods including soups, stews and curries. Adding anti inflammatory foods such as oily fish, turmeric and ginger is a great way to help with period related pain and inflammation.
Reducing caffeine and increasing fluids including herbal teas and grounding lattes is also beneficial during the menstrual phase to keep headaches and fatigue at bay.
In the follicular phase our oestrogen levels begin to rise in preparation for ovulation. The nutrient focus shifts to vitamin B, vitamin C and zinc to strengthen the release of the egg and chances of implantation in the ovulation phase. Full fat greek style yoghurt, eggs, salmon, sardines and leafy greens are fantastic sources of vitamin B.
Pumpkin seeds and ground flax seeds are another nutritional focus of the follicular phase due to their high levels of the phytoestrogens, in particular lignans. This blend of seeds is also packed with omega 3 fatty acids which are powerful anti-inflammatories helping to reduce inflammation which can contribute to symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) such as pain and cramping. Check out our Salted Caramel Granola for your Follicular Cycle to start implementing these wonder seeds.
We move to a focus on fresh light vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, sprouts, and a variety of legumes for energy production and to support detoxification. Our last and favourite food to incorporate during this phase is avocado, known as a fertility food due to the vitamin E that promotes ovulation in the following phase!
As we venture into the middle of our cycle our hormone levels are at their peaks. The nutritional focus during this time is hydration, fibre and gut support to aid in the removal of excess estrogen.
Fibre rich vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, spinach, and dandelion greens also support glutathione production which supports the liver's detoxification of excess hormones. Other fibre rich plant foods such as non starchy vegetables, fermented vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes will contribute to the regular elimination and health of your gut. Antioxidant rich fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and coconut are more helpful for hydration and liver support.
Reducing salt and increasing water intake during this time will ease fluid retention.
Also known as the chocolate craving phase of our cycle, due to the increase in our metabolism during this phase (meaning you may feel more hungry). Our food focus in the luteal phase are nutrient dense, stabilising foods including protein with each meal and nourishing snacks in between if needed to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Energy production and progesterone production in the luteal phase are supported by magnesium and vitamin B6. Magnesium rich favourites include chicken, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, quinoa, dark chocolate and legumes. Fish, organ meats, legumes and starchy carbohydrates such as pumpkin, sweet potato, and apples are rich sources of vitamin B6.
Reducing caffeine, sugar and alcohol during the luteal phase will further support balanced blood sugar levels and ease the transition into the menstrual phase. Starting to incorporate more warming cooked meals and herbal teas such as cinnamon, fennel, chamomile and peppermint will further encourage the shift into the menstrual phase and completing the beautiful cycle of womanhood.
While it’s pretty commonly known that as women our cycle phases can feel like a roller coaster, these tools are ways to make sure we can be a little more supported like a seatbelt to enjoy that roller coaster as much as possible. If you lack any ideas on how to incorporate these foods, be sure to check out our recipes.
~This blog is for informational purposes only, regardless of the advice of holistic health practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Please obtain medical advice relevant to your particular circumstances from your health professional.