Can you really help balance your hormones by eating seeds?
Yes, you can! Believe it or not by eating a few tablespoons of different seeds daily you can make an impact on hormone regulation and menstrual cycle balancing. Food is medicine and there are so many great ways to make changes to your internal environment by making changes to your diet. I love supporting nutrition changes that involve ADDING things in as opposed to enacting strict limitations. Seed cycling is a great way to add things into your diet that can enhance your body's hormone balance.
First, let's take a look at the follicular and luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. The follicular phase starts on day 1 and lasts until about day 14. It is the proliferative or estrous phase of your cycle and involves the egg containing follicle maturing for release at ovulation. The pituitary gland releases FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) to prompt the ovary to grow follicles that contain eggs, one of which will be released at ovulation. The pituitary gland also releases LH during the follicular phase which stimulates estrogen production to aid in follicle development and ultimately successful ovulation. This stage of your cycle is very estrogen reliant.
Following ovulation, the luteal phase begins. The luteal phase lasts until your next period starts. In this phase, the follicle that released a mature egg at ovulation becomes the corpus luteum and produces progesterone (and a little estrogen). The progesterone causes your uterine lining to thicken so that it can accept a fertilized egg. If you do not become pregnant, the corpus luteum shrinks, and the drop in progesterone triggers the uterine lining to shed. Progesterone levels are important during this phase so that the uterine lining thickens enough to support a pregnancy if that is the goal, or so that your period is triggered at the appropriate time due to the progesterone drop associated with no pregnancy.
So how do you seed cycle and what do the seeds do exactly?
Follicular phase, Day 1-14 - Here we want to optimize estrogen production but keep excess estrogen in check. Eat 1-2 tablespoons of raw ground flaxseed and raw pumpkin seeds daily. The lignans and zinc in these seeds help to clear excess estrogen but also promote estrogen production. Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen and naturally help with estrogen balance in the body. Ground flax is better than whole flax seeds since whole flax seeds may pass through your system undigested.
Luteal phase, Day 15-28 (or however long your cycle lasts) - Here we want to ensure that progesterone production is adequate and that estrogen is appropriately downregulated. Eat 1-2 tablespoons of sunflower and sesame seeds daily. If you are blood deficient (ask your acupuncturist) use black sesame seeds instead of white to optimize their blood building effect. Sunflower and sesame seeds are high in zinc, vitamin e, and selenium which help support progesterone production and reduce estrogen dominance.
How are you going to eat all those seeds every day? No, you don't have to eat them by the spoonful. You can make seed butter, add them to oatmeal, smoothies, sprinkle them on toast, salads or steamed veggies, make a seed based granola...or if you want, eat them by the spoonful!
I'm Amy! I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist,
registered nurse and expert in anxiety and
**All information and resources found on balancedstonewellness.com are based on the opinions, experience and research of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their health care provider...even if that provider may be the author ;)