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Supporting Every Phase: Cycle-Aware Eating

Understanding the complex interplay between the menstrual cycle and nutrition is key to optimal female health. As each phase of the cycle brings different physiological changes, it also brings varied nutritional needs. In this blog post, we will navigate through these needs, providing diet recommendations tailored to each phase. Backed by scientific research, our goal is to help manage menstrual symptoms, boost energy, and promote overall wellness through mindful eating. Remember, personalization is key – adjust these guidelines to fit your unique dietary needs and health circumstances.

1. Menstrual Phase (Days 1-7)


During the menstrual phase, loss of blood can lead to a decrease in iron levels. Iron-rich foods can be beneficial during this period. Also, this is a time when many women experience cramping and discomfort, and anti-inflammatory foods can help ease these symptoms.

  • Iron-Rich Foods: Lean meats, seafood, beans, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified foods can help replenish lost iron. For vegetarians and vegans, it's important to pair iron-rich plant foods with a source of vitamin C to increase iron absorption1.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and mackerel2.


2. Follicular Phase (Days 1-14)


Estrogen levels rise during this phase. Foods rich in antioxidants can support the body during this period.

  • Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Berries, dark chocolate, artichokes, and pecans can support the body's use of estrogen3.

  • Fiber-Rich Foods: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds can aid in regulating blood sugar levels, which helps balance hormones4.


3. Ovulation Phase (Days 14-16)


Ovulation requires a lot of energy and can be supported by energy-dense, nutrient-rich foods.

  • Complex Carbohydrates and Protein: Brown rice, quinoa, lentils, lean meats, and fish can provide sustained energy for the body5.

  • Hydrating Foods: Cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, and berries can help keep you hydrated, as water balance can affect the menstrual cycle6.


4. Luteal Phase (Days 16-28)


Progesterone levels rise during this phase, which can lead to bloating and cravings. Foods rich in B-vitamins and magnesium can help alleviate these symptoms.

  • B-Vitamin Rich Foods: Whole grains, meat, eggs, legumes, seeds, and nuts can help reduce feelings of fatigue and mood swings[^7^].

  • Magnesium-Rich Foods: Avocados, dark chocolate, bananas, and leafy green vegetables can alleviate water retention and bloating[^8^].

Regarding supplements, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. In some cases, women may benefit from additional iron, omega-3 fatty acids, or vitamin D, but these needs should be assessed individually.



Sources:

  1. National Institutes of Health. "Iron Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet." NIH, 2021.

  2. Harvard Health Publishing. "Foods that fight inflammation." Harvard Medical School, 2020.

  3. Prior, J.C. "Ovulation: Marker for Health." Journal of Restorative Medicine, 2020.

  4. Cassidy, A. "Dietary Fibre and Oestrogen Metabolism: The Trophin Study." Nutrition and Cancer, 1994.

  5. West, H. "16 Foods That Boost Your Metabolism and Help With Weight Loss." Healthline, 2017.

  6. Armstrong, L.E. "Hydration in Health

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