Hormones play a vital role in health, helping to regulate not just our reproductive health but also many other factors like our moods, sleep, energy levels, libido, skin & hair condition, bone health and weight.
It’s important to note that pretty much everyone will experience natural periods of hormonal imbalance or fluctuations at key hormonal turning points in their life – perimenopause is one of them. During this transition phase our hormone levels fluctuate and fall – and this is widely thought to be the reason that we experience many of the symptoms commonly experience at this time in our lives – hot flushes, mood swings, insomnia and low energy to name a few.
What else gets in the way of healthy hormone function? Unfortunately, a lot! Your hormones can be disrupted by the toxins you absorb, stress, poor diet, lifestyle choices, and your weight to name a few.
But the good news is that small changes to your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on the way that you feel. If you would like to talk to me about my hormone-balancing nutrition programmes, please book a free 30 minute health and energy review call me HERE
Can what you eat affect your hormones?
Of course! A healthy balanced diet that supports your hormonal and menstrual health is one that balances your blood sugar levels, contains adequate protein with each meal, plenty of fibre to mop up excess hormones, healthy fats and maybe includes some phytoestrogens, which are weak, plant sources of oestrogen like soy products, flaxseeds, lentils, chickpeas, beans and so on. If you’ve been following me for a little while, you have probably heard me talk about these things a lot.
There’s also something called seed cycling that you might be interested in if you feel your hormones are a little out of balance. It’s a great example of using food as medicine. There’s very little robust science to prove it will definitely help you but, since this is as simple as eating specific types of seeds at different times during your menstrual cycle, it’s worth building into your routine if you are looking to rebalance your hormones. There’s literally no risk involved.
Seed cycling is based on the idea that certain seeds contain specific nutrients that can help promote oestrogen or progesterone production at different times during your cycle, and it can be a really helpful natural way to balance female hormones and dampen some of the symptoms of perimenopause.
Here's how seed cycling typically works:
During the first half of your menstrual cycle (follicular phase), which is typically days 1-14, you eat 1 tablespoon each of flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds contain lignans, which can help support oestrogen production, while pumpkin seeds contain zinc and essential fatty acids that may support progesterone production, which is needed for the next phase of your cycle.
During the second half of your menstrual cycle (luteal phase), which is typically days 15-28, you 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds contain lignans that can stop oestrogen levels climbing too high, while sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, which can help support progesterone production.
While there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that seed cycling may be helpful for promoting hormone balance, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness. However, incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense seeds into your diet can certainly be a healthy practice.
In addition to their potential hormone-balancing effects, seeds are also a good source of fibre, healthy fats, and other important nutrients. They can be easily added to smoothies, salads, yogurt, or oatmeal, and can help support overall health and well-being.
1 tbsp freshly pure ground flaxseed and 1 tbsp (whole) pumpkin seeds.
PLUS (optional extra) 2000mg fish oil (combined EPA/DHA) should be taken from day 1 of the cycle to day 15.
DAYS 15- 28
1 tbsp of sunflower AND 1 tbsp sesame seed
PLUS (optional extra)2000mg of borage, black currant, or evening primrose oil (supplying approximately 400mg of gamma-linolenic acid) taken the second half of the cycle from days 16 through 28 (or until next period begins).
Here's How Seed Cycling Works for Women No Longer Cycling:
Since oestrogen and progesterone levels naturally decline during perimenopause & menopause, seed cycling can offer extra support to reduce symptoms related to lower hormone levels and minimise the effects of hormonal fluctuations. If this is you can start the 2 week cycle at any time.You may experience fewer hot flashes, mood swings, improved sleep, and increased energy.
What’s the downside:
Even if the scientific literature isn’t strong on this, adding these seeds into your diet is a good thing. All are rich in fibre, healthy fats and minerals like manganese, magnesium and copper, vitamin B1 and vitamin E, and research shows they could be helpful for a variety of other health outcomes, like reducing inflammation and cholesterol as well as cutting the risk for cardiovascular disease, and improving blood sugar control.