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What to eat to support each phase of your menstrual cycle

Making changes to your diet and lifestyle to support your fluctuating hormones can be a game changer – especially if you struggle with symptoms of hormone imbalance such as PMS, heavy/painful periods or mood fluctuations.

The length of the menstrual cycle can vary between individuals, but the average is 28 days from the start of one cycle to the next. The cycle consists of different phases, including menses, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. Your nutrient requirements differ during each phase based on the changes occurring in your body. 

Eating right for your time of the month begins with getting to know your own individual cycle – by tracking your period. There are some fab free apps out there that could really help. It will take the app a while to get to know your body at first. The most accurate results will come once you have three to four months of data, so it’s really important to make tracking your cycle a healthy habit.

Once you have used the app to figure out where you are in your cycle, align this with the information below to help nurture happier hormones. Here are our recommendations:

Menstrual Phase

Begins with day 1 of your period and finishes when your period ends

  • During the menstrual cycle, the lining of your uterus is shedding. Hormones are at an all-time low, meaning your energy levels are likely to be too. You are losing blood and iron – and prostaglandins (which cause cramping) are peaking. You may feel more inward, slow and restful during menstruation.
  • To support this, focus on nourishing and nutrient-dense foods that help to build iron stores and assist in iron absorption. These are foods such as spinach, kale, broccoli, beans, lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and, if you eat animal products, grass-fed beef, eggs and fish are a good source of heme iron.
  • To help with cramps, choose anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and garlic. Keep energy and blood sugar levels steady with protein at each meal, and carbohydrates with a low glycaemic load such as wholegrains and root veg. 

Movement – Your body is working hard during menstruation so be gentle with yourself and focus on restorative movement and rest. Avoid high-impact exercises and opt for light stretching instead. Rest with a warming cup of Get Me Through The Day Tea.

Follicular phase

Lasts around 13 days 

  • Your body is now preparing for an egg to be released. Oestrogen and testosterone are peaking, and therefore, so are your energy levels.
  • Support your body with light but energy-building foods. Think colourful foods like nutrient-dense, vibrant salads.
  • Consume a source of protein at each meal to support your increase in physical activity. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try to include two sources of protein to get a complete amino acid profile.
  • Support gut health with Chuckling Goat Kefir which is packed with beneficial bacteria. Gut health plays a key role in hormone balance. This can also help to manage skin breakouts which may start to appear at this stage of your cycle.
  • Support skin health during this time with our Skin Rescue Tea, Probiotic Kefir Lotions and Goats Milk Soaps.

Movement – Your physical energy is at one of its highest points during this phase so go ahead and go for those more strenuous workouts. This is a perfect time to try something new as your brain is able to form new neuro-connections more easily.

Ovulation phase

Occurs roughly 14 days after the first day of your period.

  • During this time, an egg is released into the fallopian tubes to prepare for fertilisation. Hormone levels are rising, particularly oestrogen.
  • You may start off feeling outgoing and social at first, but directly after ovulation progesterone is on the rise, which can leave you feeling more introverted. 
  • Excess oestrogen can cause symptoms such as breast tenderness and skin breakouts, so nutrients that support the liver are good to include to support detoxification. These are found in foods such as kale, broccoli, sprouts, onions and garlic. Try our Break Out skincare range if you are prone to hormonal acne.
  • Our Gut Cleanse Tea is perfect for this phase.

Movement – With testosterone and estrogen at their peak and energy levels high, you’re primed to take on more strenuous activities like weight lifting or cardio. Make sure to stay active to encourage detoxification via the skin and sweat, but listen to your body if you feel you need to rest.

Luteal Phase

Lasts around 14 days following the ovulation phase

  • At this stage, the egg is fertilised and prepares for attachment to the uterus – or if unfertilised, it disintegrates and your body prepares to cycle again.
  • You may notice energy and mood slowly decline over these two weeks, as hormones peak and then take a big drop again. This is where PMS symptoms creep in.
  • As oestrogen drops, serotonin does too, causing you to feel a little low. Progesterone, however, is high, which may cause cravings for fatty, high-carb foods as well as an increased appetite in general. Help to curb cravings by consuming foods rich in B vitamins such as whole grains, legumes, meat and eggs.
  • However, always remember to listen to your body! Your body has these cravings for a reason – you’re preparing for menstruation. Ultra-nourishing and indulgent foods are OK here. Warm and comforting foods are key. Think nutrient-dense soups and stews. Add iron sources like spinach and lentils to prepare for your period.
  • Support your mood with Ashwagandha – an apoptogenic herb well-known for reducing anxiety and balancing mood.
  • Be mindful of your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, which can worsen symptoms like anxiety and mood swings. Coffee and alcohol can also interfere with the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals required for optimal menstrual health.

Movement – With testosterone and estrogen at their peak and energy levels high, you’re primed to take on more strenuous activities like weight lifting or cardio.

To support mood and wellness throughout your menstrual cycle, we recommend our Shatavari tincture – nature’s gut-friendly, chemical-free answer to female hormonal imbalance. You can read more about Shatavari here.

Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.

Advice given is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always check with your GP for interactions with medications/health conditions before starting supplements.

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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