Menstruation is the best tool to evaluate our health. Hormones levels at specific times will guide us in the right direction, observation and re-connection with our cycle is needed. Balancing the hormones is a key for healthy and regular periods! Even though every woman is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others, there is a clear pattern that we should remember, it usually can take from 3 to 6 months to stabilize it, connect to the cycle and understand how our choices impact making more predictable. The more open we are to listen to its responses the faster and easier it gets. Some scientific research studies show that certain foods balance hormones and regulate periods naturally, but it’s a fact that may not stabilize your menstrual cycle.
Follicular Phase I (Approx. from day 1-5)
From your first day of your menstruation, estrogen and progesterone levels are low, due to the pituitary gland´s signal to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which begins the process of maturing a follicle. Womb lining breaks down and its released. In order to assist the process of physical and mental purification that nature provides to every woman, is it advised to avoid all kind of stimulants like caffeine, teas, so that the body can relax and you can slow down.
Advised diet: Warm, comforting and easy to digest food, mono-meals, and meals with fewer ingredients. 1 pot meal in a form of thick soup works excellent, also the reduction of grains intake, especially if you would like to lose weight. You can avoid animal products like fish and meat, but those who are not vegetarian can benefit from chicken broth soup. If you love legumes, try just mung beans instead of other types which are gas forming. More vegan orientated diet is recommended based only in fruits and vegetables, so the body does not need much energy during the digestive process and can continue with its cleansing mission!
Pre-ovulation, Follicular Phase 2. (Approx. from day 5-11)
The follicle produces more estrogen to prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy and starts ripening. The progesterone also gets increased. Since the body feels fresh and renewed our energy levels raise up, and we can coop easily with all kind of emotions. Since we feel good and enthusiastic, we can immediately have the urge to celebrate life with extra indulges. Try to keep it simple not stressing the body with hard to digest meals.
Advised diet: Green leaves, root vegetables to keep us grounded, whole grains, daals, plant based proteins and slowly incorporate some dairy (if not vegan), nuts and seeds. Quantity should be moderated according to your constitution.
At ovulation, usually around day 12 to 14, increased estrogen levels trigger a sharp rise in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland, causing the release of the egg from the follicle. Testosterone levels are high till their peak, we are more optimistic and confident. Our memory becomes sharper and our thinking faster, we are more concerned about our appearance and our libido increases. We feel we can deal with everything and our digestion is stronger. In this time of the month when we can treat ourselves with some festive or especial meals, even though are harder to digest, since our body will manage them better.
Advised diet: More complex or festive meals, if you are not vegan or vegetarian during these phase your body will get more from the metabolization of animal products. Whole grains, more heavy and oily stuff, nuts and seeds, daals, plant based proteins, dairy… Your body probably will ask for an increase of amount in quantity per meal, and here is ok, enjoy it!
Premenstrual Phase (Approx. day 15-22)
The follicle also called corpus luteum, secretes progesterone and estrogen in order to continue the preparation of uterus for pregnancy. When the egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and then the menses begin. Progesterone levels are high compare to Estrogen and testosterone. After half of this phase estrogen level raises and you will feel more sleepy, quiet, with less interested in socializing. Tendencies towards craving sugar, fat and salty foods might appear, with temptation to over eat. Here is very important to avoid foods rich in refined fats, oil, sugar & salt and to keep quantities moderated.
Advised diet: Healthy substitutes for sweets, like dates, raisins, etc. Sweet potatoes can also help you during this craving period. Magnesium and iron rich foods are essential to support the body during the coming phase. Good amounts of grains, green leaves and green vegetables, fruits, pulses, good omega 3 fatty acids like chia, flax seeds, avocado, nuts and seeds. It is very important to avoid caffeine and commercial chocolate, small indulgence of +80% dark chocolate is fine.
Few days before your Menstruation: If you do not have enough of rest and restoration within this phase, your energy level will suffer. Do only what is important, prioritize. Estrogen levels are still decreasing and that leads to moodiness, muscle ache, fatigue and a variety of other PMS related symptoms, when there is an imbalance. Listen to what your body want, taking the time to eat slowly and mindfulness. Your digestion needs to rest as well.
You can restore your cycle and balance your hormones, increasing your energy, your fertility and balancing your emotions, but If you are having many symptoms for long time, make sure that you are not facing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, between others. The sooner you address them the better.