What helps regulate our period and allow for a healthy flow? Our hormones.
Yes, these tiny chemicals orchestrate most functions within our bodies from metabolism to digestion, menstrual cycles to fertility. When our hormones are out of balance we can experience symptoms including acne, weight gain, irregular periods, infertility, PCOS, and even diabetes. While genetics, stress, and lifestyle play important roles, what you eat does too. If you are suffering from some of these symptoms or trying to avoid them let’s focus on nourishing yourself from the inside out. Below I’ve listed my favorite nutrition tips to help you keep your hormones humming and your energy up too!
More whole foods.
If you are experiencing irregular periods consider turning your focus to whole foods including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, full-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and healthy oils. These foods help to keep blood sugar balanced, provide vitamins and minerals, feed your gut microbiome, and in turn keep your estrogen and progesterone happy.
Less processed foods, 80/20 applies!
We’ve all heard this 100 times, but here’s one more great reason to avoid processed “junk” foods: Overly processed foods like chips, candy and popular cookie brands (you know the ones!) contain less nutrition from vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and probiotics but are high in sugar and empty calories. Eating too much can increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone and elevated levels can throw off our sex hormones leading to irregular cycles.
Of course, sometimes it’s more important to relax and enjoy foods that make us happy (cake at a friend’s birthday?) than to sweat exactly what’s inside. We recommend the 80/20 rule to keep you healthy, happy, and craving-free.
Seed Cycle for a Happy Cycle.
If you’ve experienced some sort of PMS symptom from cramps to bloating, breast tenderness to mood swings, you are not alone. My favorite way to manage these symptoms is by eating seeds! Seeds are tiny powerhouses with varied nutrients and fatty acid profiles. When consumed at specific times of your cycle they support your hormones and may ease symptoms. Adding seeds to your diet is easy — especially when using the seasonings in Agni’s Better Periods Box which does all of the work for you! Stir them into oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, salads, or sprinkle on roasted vegetables… yum!
Simply follow these steps and nourish your way to feeling better:
- Day one of your period until ovulation, enjoy 1 TBSP ground raw pumpkin seeds and ground organic flax seeds daily (or 1 TBSP of Cinnamon Maca Seasoning).
- Then from ovulation until the start of your next period enjoy 1 TBSP ground raw sunflower seeds and ground raw sesame seeds (or 1 TBSP of Sesame Nori Seasoning). Rinse and repeat! Make it fun (and tasty) and remember there are no quick fixes. Give your body time to heal and after a few months, you should feel the benefits kick in.
Vitamins and Minerals from Food (and Supplements). As a Dietitian I recommend eating a colorful plate to allow for a variety of nutrients, since colors reflect the benefits each food provides. In fact, being deficient in certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants correlates with more severe period symptoms. Some of the nutrients I recommend focusing on in order to improve common symptoms include:
Vitamin B6 – Found in leafy greens, bananas, chickpeas, and oats. It helps to alleviate emotional symptoms of PMS such as depression and irritability while increasing progesterone in those who are deficient.
Magnesium – Found in dark chocolate (yay!), cashews, legumes, tofu, seeds, and avocados this electrolyte supports many systems in our body. It lessens anxiety from PMS and in conjunction with vitamin B6 helps reduce period cramps.
DHA – This type of Omega 3 fatty acid is found in cold water fish and algae. It also gets converted from ALA, another type of omega 3 found in walnuts, flax, chia, and hemp seeds. Omega 3s are powerful mood stabilizers and reduce the severity of cramps thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin D3 – Most of us are deficient in this vitamin since we mainly get it from the sun so supplementing is essential to maintaining adequate levels. Proper levels help to balance our entire hormonal system, boost immunity and reduce the experience of cramps.
Probiotics – Found in fermented foods, dairy/plant based yogurts, kefir, and tempeh, these good for you bacteria prevent excess estrogen from getting trapped in the GI tract which can lead to heavy periods. They have also been shown to relieve negative mood swings related to PMS.
Let these tips provide you with a sense of empowerment. Now you can take charge of your cycle with food to feel your best no matter what day of the month it is!
This article was first published on AGNI and is repurposed with permission.