Foods to nourish your menstrual cycle
As women, there are specific macro and micronutrients we require to sustain a healthy menstrual cycle. There may be some nutrients that you're not including in your diet that can be contributing to the hormonal imbalances manifesting in the symptoms such as a lack of a period, general pain, fibroids and heavy periods. Try creating health hormones by including the following foods as apart of your regular diet:
Wholegrain – Brown rice, wholegrain bread, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, barley
Wholegrain derived from complex carbohydrates contain starch which has many benefits for your period! Starchy, low carbohydrates provide fibre to feed a healthy microbiome and promote healthy metabolism of estrogen . They also assist in activating the thyroid hormone and reduce excessive cortisol, which causes stress. Be sure to avoid poor quality bread and other high GI foods such as sweets as this can have an opposing inflammatory effect!
Oily fish, Grass-fed meat – Salmon, sardines, chicken breast, grass-fed beef
Food sources high protein and fat sources are vital for proper hormonal balance, helping us achieving a healthy period. Protein is needed for its high amino acid content, to fix and maintain hormones, as well as the nervous system, your organs, and muscles . The omega-3 fat content found in oily fish is essential in creating the steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone as well as having an anti-inflammatory effect. Meat also provides us with Zinc, which is vital for period health in stimulating healthy levels of progesterone and is essential for all hormone health .
Leafy greens – Kale, Spinach, broccoli, rocket, chard
Leafy greens are abundant of b-vitamins, iron, calcium, fibre, and antioxidants. However, a great nutrient that has great benefit to female hormones in this group of vegetables is magnesium. Magnesium has its effect here by regulating estrogen metabolism and producing an anti-inflammatory effect . It is usually depleted most at the luteal phase, which why supplementing here can reduce PMS symptoms such as headaches, stress and bloating . It also has shown great benefit in reducing stress by controlling the HPA axis and release of cortisol .
While this is a great place to start, there may be many other aspects of your diet that may be causing menstrual woes. A Naturopath can help identify these factors of your diet and lifestyle and work with you to improve your situation.
1- Briden, L. (2018). Period Repair Manual. Macmillan Publishers Aus.
2- Li, W., Zheng, T., Altura, B. M., & Altura, B. T. (2001). Sex steroid hormones exert biphasic effects on cytosolic magnesium ions in cerebral vascular smooth muscle cells: possible relationships to migraine frequency in premenstrual syndromes and stroke incidence. Brain research bulletin, 54(1), 83-89.