Depending on which stage of the menstrual cycle we are in, our bodies can feel different. As our levels of hormones are changing, this changes certain conditions in our bodies. We can use food to support us at different parts of our menstrual cycle, and make the journey a little easier. Continue reading this blog post to find out which foods you should be eating at each stage of your menstrual cycle!
Foods to Eat at Different Stages of Your Cycle: How can this help?
When we are going through the menstrual cycle, our hormone levels are fluctuating as we progress through each stage. As our hormone levels are constantly changing, the nutritional needs of our bodies are also changing, and therefore we can provide food for our bodies according to the stage of the menstrual cycle that we are in.
In order to know and be aware of which stage of the menstrual cycle that we are in at any point in time, you will need to start by tracking your menstrual cycle for a few months to identify your own unique patterns. The aim of eating certain foods according to your menstrual cycle is to find a balance among your hormones and potentially reduce the symptoms of menstruation or PMS.
Foods to Eat at Different Stages of Your Cycle: Menstrual Phase
This is when you are on your period. During the menstrual phase of your cycle, you are losing blood and the lining of your uterus is shedding. Therefore, the types of foods that are most important at this time are anti-inflammatory, nutritious and high in iron.
Examples of such foods that could be eaten at this phase include:
- Spinach as it is rich in iron
- Foods that contain antioxidants (that can reduce inflammation), such as berries and green leafy vegetables
- Avocados and olive oil which both contain healthy fats and can reduce inflammation
- Chamomile or other teas to help reduce cramps
Foods to Eat at Different Stages of Your Cycle: Follicular Phase
At this stage of the menstrual cycle, your body is developing follicles that will turn into eggs. During the follicular phase, you can focus on eating a nutritious and well balanced diet. It is important to provide good nutrients for the development of the follicles. Dehydration may also occur in this stage of the menstrual cycle due to the changing levels of hormones. Be conscious of drinking lots of water during the follicular phase.
Estrogen levels during the follicular phase are high, therefore it can be useful to incorporate foods into your diet that can metabolize estrogen. Such foods include sprouted or fermented foods like broccoli sprouts and sauerkraut.
Foods to Eat at Different Stages of Your Cycle: Ovulation Phase
Estrogen levels are very high during the ovulation phase as an egg is released from the ovary. Foods that are anti-inflammatory and also support your liver should be incorporated into your diet at this stage of the menstrual cycle. Examples of such foods include:
- Fruits that are high in antioxidants, such as raspberries and strawberries
- Nuts, for example, almonds, pecans and pistachios
Foods to Eat at Different Stages of Your Cycle: Luteal Phase
During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, your estrogen and progesterone levels increase and then fall again. To support your body throughout this process, it is important to consider foods that will increase the levels of serotonin in your body. Such foods include green leafy vegetables and quinoa. You may also want to increase your intake of magnesium, as magnesium can help mitigate against low libido and fatigue. Foods that are rich in magnesium include dark chocolate and spinach.