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Eating for Your Cycle: How to Sync Your Diet With Your Menstrual Phases

Many women experience some symptoms of PMS every month, which can affect their mood, energy, and skin. That's why it's important to eat foods that support our hormonal health and balance throughout our menstrual cycle.

The first phase of our cycle is menstruation (days 1-7), when we have low levels of estrogen and progesterone. To help our body make these hormones, we need to eat high-quality protein and fat sources, such as:

• organic eggs

• avocados

• bone broth

• grass-fed red meat

• grass-fed ghee or butter

• wild, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod, etc.)

• nut or seed butters (sprouted varieties are better tolerated)

These foods will also nourish our skin and help it stay hydrated and healthy. We should avoid inflammatory fats like sunflower, soybean or canola oil, trans fats found in packaged foods, and margarine and oxidized nuts and seeds. These fats can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in our body and disrupt our hormonal balance.

The second phase of our cycle is the follicular phase (days 8-13), when estrogen is increasing. To reduce inflammation and support hormone production, we need to eat plenty of plant foods and nutrient dense meals.

Some examples are:

• organic eggs

• quinoa (best soaked and sprouted)

• pastured poultry

• fatty fish

• sprouted lentils

• beans

• high quality protein powders

These foods help to keep our blood sugar stable and provide amino acids that help our liver detoxify toxins and 'used' hormones. Our liver is essential for hormonal health, but it needs enough nutrients to do its job properly. If not, toxins and 'used' hormones can build up in our body and cause hormonal imbalances.

The third phase of our cycle is ovulation (days 14-21), when estrogen and testosterone are at their peak. This can make us feel more confident, sexy, and beautiful, but it can also cause some issues like:

• acne

• mid-cycle bleeding

• cramping

• strong smelling body odour

• oily skin

• mood swings

To avoid these problems, we need to eat more raw and lighter foods that help us metabolize excess hormones, such as 1-2 servings of cruciferous vegetables per day. These include kale, pak choy, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. However, if we live in a cold climate or have digestive issues and bloating, we may prefer to eat these vegetables lightly steamed or cooked. We should listen to our body and how it reacts to different foods.

The last phase of our cycle is the luteal phase (days 22-28), when progesterone rises if we have ovulated. Ovulation is vital for hormonal health, even if we are not trying to conceive. It balances estrogen, reduces PMS symptoms, improves sleep quality and lowers anxiety. Some signs that we need to support our body during this phase are:

• breast tenderness

• water retention (bloating)

• mood swings

• anxiety

• sugar cravings

• headaches

• cramping

• insomnia

• acne

To help our body cope with these challenges, we need to eat balanced meals that keep our blood sugar stable. This means eating every 4-6 hours and including protein, fat, starch and/ or fiber in each meal. If we crave sweets, we can choose complex, starchy carbohydrates like stewed apples with cinnamon or high quality dark chocolate dipped in nut/seed butter.

Another important factor for hormonal health and skin is fiber. Fiber helps feed the good bacteria in our gut, which regulate our immunity and hormone metabolism. Fiber also slows down the absorption of glucose into our bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and crashes that can cause inflammation and insulin resistance. Both of these conditions can worsen acne and other skin issues.

We may not be able to follow these guidelines perfectly all the time, but the more we do, the more we support our hormone levels and skin.


DISCLAIMER: The information presented in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Check with your healthcare provider first if you have concerns about your health. In addition, you should speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before making adjustments to your diet or lifestyle and prior to introducing herbal and nutritional supplements as they may affect any treatment you may be receiving. You are advised to disclose all nutrient and herb supplements you are using to your healthcare team.

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