Have you ever wondered if what you eat can sync up with your menstrual cycle for a healthier, more balanced you? As women our bodies go through many changes during our monthly cycle; fluctuations in hormones can affect not just our mood and energy levels but also our nutritional needs too.
As we settle into 2024, many of you will be setting new wellness goals for the year ahead. This is a great time to learn more about your cycle and the benefits to tailoring your nutrition to your cycle, helping you to feel fuelled and energised.
Join us on a simplified journey through the world of nutrition tailored to your cycle, guided by the expertise of registered Nutritional Therapist, Marilia Chamon.
Understanding The Menstrual Cycle
Understanding your menstrual cycle and its nutritional demands empowers you to make informed choices for your well-being. Nutrition plays a vital role in supporting your body's unique needs, and today, we'll dive into how you can harness the power of nutrition to support your cycle.
The menstrual cycle is a symphony of hormonal fluctuations, each playing its part in preparing your body for potential pregnancy. It averages 28 days but can vary. Let's break it down:
- Menstruation (Day 1-5): This phase starts with the shedding of the uterine lining, marking the beginning of your cycle.
- Follicular Phase (Day 1-13): Overlapping with menstruation, this phase sees a rise in oestrogen, signalling your body to prepare an egg for ovulation.
- Ovulation (Day 14): Oestrogen peaks, and the ovary releases an egg. This is your most fertile period.
- Luteal Phase (Day 15-28): After ovulation, progesterone rises, preparing the uterus for possible pregnancy. If the egg isn't fertilised, hormone levels drop, and the cycle restarts with menstruation.
Hormonal Impact on Hunger and Energy
Each phase brings unique changes in appetite and energy levels. Oestrogen, peaking during ovulation, can boost your energy and mood, while progesterone, dominant in the luteal phase, may increase hunger and cravings. It's normal to feel varied energy levels and food preferences throughout the cycle.
Nutritional Support for Each Phase
- Menstruation: Focus on iron-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, and lean meats to replenish blood loss. Hydration is key, so drink plenty of water.
- Follicular Phase: Energise with complex carbs and lean proteins. Foods like whole grains, nuts, and fish are excellent choices.
- Ovulation: Maintain balanced nutrition. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods to support overall health.
- Luteal Phase: Manage cravings by combining healthy fats and proteins. Avocado, nuts, and yoghurt can be satisfying options.
Exercise and Lifestyle Tips
Pair your nutrition with gentle exercises like yoga or walking during menstruation and more energetic activities like cardio during the follicular and ovulation phases. The luteal phase might call for moderate activities like light jogging or Pilates.
The Bigger Picture of Hormonal Health
Remember, nutrition is a significant but not exclusive player in hormonal health. Adequate sleep, stress management, and regular physical activity are equally important. Also, everyone's body is unique, so listen to yours and adjust as needed.
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Gut Health, IBS & SIBO Expert
Founder of Gutfulness Nutrition
**At Free Soul, your well-being is our priority, and although we pride ourselves on our expertise in women's health and wellbeing, it is important to acknowledge the individuality of each person. Features published by Free Soul are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of your GP. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider if you encounter any health concerns, and we’ll always be here to support you so you’re never alone on your journey.