Women go through a monthly cycle that affects not only the reproductive system but also overall health and well-being. By understanding the menstrual cycle and the different phases that come with it, you can optimize your nutrition to support your body and achieve optimal health.
What is Cycle Syncing?
Cycle Syncing is a term used to describe the practice of adjusting diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle habits to align with the different phases of the menstrual cycle. By doing so, you can better support your body’s natural rhythms and hormone levels.
There are 4 phases of the menstrual cycle: menstruation, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. Each phase is associated with specific hormonal changes and unique nutritional needs.
Phase 1: Menstruation
Menstruation, or menses is the first phase of the menstrual cycle. It typically lasts between 3-7 days and is associated with lower levels of estrogen and progesterone. During this stage, the body sheds the uterine lining, resulting in the release of blood and other substances from the body. Fatigue and low energy usually occur and is associated with depleted irons levels.
To compensate for blood loss and lower levels of iron in the body, incorporate more iron-rich foods like leafy greens, beans, and red meat. For those who experience cramps, it’s helpful to have more anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, and omega-3-rich foods like salmon and chia seeds.
Phase 2: Follicular
The follicular phase is the longest phase of the of the menstrual cycle, lasting about 14-21 days. The uterine lining thickens as estrogen levels begin to rise. Hormones are also released to develop follicles and prepare the body for ovulation.
During this stage, it’s good to focus on foods that support estrogen production such as flaxseed, soy, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Vitamin B6 rich foods like bananas, potatoes, and poultry also help with healthy hormone levels.
Phase 3: Ovulatory
The next phase occurs when estrogen levels peak, a particular hormone called luteinizing hormone is released, and ovulation begins. It is in this stage where pregnancy becomes possible as a mature egg moves toward the uterus, ready to be fertilized.
When ovulating, incorporate whole grains, leafy greens, and healthy fats like avocado and nuts for healthy ovulation. Antioxidant rich foods such as berries are good for supporting egg health and reducing inflammation.
Phase 4: Luteal
The luteal phase is the final phase of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone becomes the dominant hormone to keep the uterine wall ready for implantation of an egg. Once an egg becomes fertilized, the uterine lining thickens for the egg to develop into an embryo. On the other hand, if unfertilized, both estrogen and progesterone levels drop which signals the beginning of the menstrual phase.
To support progesterone production in this phase, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are a good addition to your diet. Pre-menstrual symptoms also commonly occur and foods high in magnesium, such as spinach and pumpkin seeds, help reduce bloating and support relaxation.
The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive and Vitality Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol by Sara Gottfried
Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods by Lara Briden
Nutrition and Exercise Throughout Your Menstrual Cycle from health.clevelandclinic.org