PMS, mood-swings, fatigue, bloating, and cravings are all just part and parcel of the female experience, right? Wrong. Symptoms of estrogen dominance, pre-menstrual syndrome, and menopause are so common that we have come to believe they are natural and inevitable when, in fact, they are actually indicative of hormonal malfunction. When our hormones are properly balanced, we, as women, should not experience any of the painful side effects typically associated with the menstrual cycle and its cessation. In a day and age where it can be incredibly difficult to live a healthy lifestyle, we recommend finding easy and effective ways to regulate hormones naturally.
Below we explore the importance of protein, fat, and vegetables for hormone regulation. We also examine the seed cycling method for balancing hormones. If you are searching for ways to regulate hormones naturally, this is the post for you!
Experiment with Seed Cycling
Seed Cycling is an incredibly innovative yet remarkably simple way to regulate hormones naturally. This holistic approach to hormonal healing was cultivated for the purpose of supporting women who suffer from the many ailments associated with low progesterone and estrogen dominance, such as irregular or heavy periods, PMS, bloating, mood swings, tender breasts, hair loss, weight gain, and impaired thyroid function. It can also alleviate symptoms of menopause, including fatigue, night sweats, and hot flashes.
The objective of seed cycling is to support the body’s natural production of estrogen and progesterone, normalizing levels of the two hormones and thus alleviating symptoms of estrogen dominance and/or menopause. The protocol simply involves consuming 1-2 Tablespoons of flax and pumpkin seeds during the first two weeks of your cycle and 1-2 Tablespoons of sesame and sunflower seeks in the last two weeks of your cycle.
The first two weeks of your cycle constitute the Follicular phase. The Follicular phase begins on the first day of your menstrual period and lasts until you begin ovulating—typically a period of 14 days. During the Follicular phase, the body requires more estrogen. Seed Cycling encourages the consumption of flax and pumpkin seeds during this phase because they contain phytoestrogens that support estrogen production. Likewise, the body’s requirement for progesterone increases in the last two weeks of your cycle: the Luteal phase. Consuming sunflower and sesame seeds during this period supplies plenty of Zinc and Vitamin E, which enable progesterone production. Cycling seed consumption in this way thus supports the body’s natural hormonal rhythm, holistically restoring endocrine balance.
A Note on Estrogen Dominance
Most women experience symptoms of PMS as a result of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance develops when a woman produces or ingests too much estrogen. Estrogen dominance reduces the availability of thyroid hormones, thereby disrupting thyroid function. So, why would one attempt to combat estrogen dominance by consuming natural phytoestrogens during the Follicular phase?
The answer? Not all estrogens are created equal. Intake of hormonally disruptive foods and toxic environmental estrogens increases the body’s production of estradiol. Estradiol, in excess, can exacerbate symptoms of PMS and, ultimately, culminate in estrogen dominance.
Flax and pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, contain clean, healthy phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens don’t simply compound estrogen production. Instead, they actually curb estradiol production and promote the production of healthier estrogenic metabolites. These phytoestrogens can also improve estrogen metabolism. Thus, if you practice seed cycling, your body will have higher levels of “good” estrogens and lower levels of the “bad” ones. And that means fewer side effects and symptoms.
In sum, seed cycling is an incredibly effective way to regulate hormones naturally.
Eat High Quality Protein
Recent scientific studies tout the essential role of protein in promoting hormonal health, building muscle, supporting a healthy metabolism, and normalizing body weight. However, many of these studies sorely neglect the blatantly clear fact that not all proteins are created equal. Consuming the right proteins is actually a commonly overlooked way to regulate hormones naturally.
Consuming grain fed beef and poultry has a completely different impact on the microbiome than consuming grain, hormone, and additive free meats or vegan protein. Grain fed beef, for example, slows digestion, thus inhibiting the excretion of harmful estrogens. In fact, studies found that vegetarians excrete three times more estrogen than meat-eaters. Further, these toxic meats disturb the balance of micro-flora in the gut, which can alter sex hormone production.
Choosing clean protein is key to maintaining healthy hormonal balance. If you are a meat eater, always choose grain-free meats free of additives and antibiotics. Specifically, when purchasing beef, choose products that are both grass fed AND grass finished. Wild-caught fish are an excellent source of omnivorous protein, as they also contain inflammation combatting omega-3 fatty acids.
The best sources of vegan protein are pea and hemp protein. Pea protein is the least allergenic form of protein. It is also a complete protein, containing all of the amino acids the body requires. Hemp protein is the most digestible form of protein, and is therefore an excellent option for those with digestive complications.
Say Goodbye to Gluten
Gluten, too, can impact hormonal health by hampering thyroid function. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. This infamous protein can cause a whole host of problems for different individuals. In some, gluten causes hypothyroidism. It can even exacerbate Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system begins attacking the thyroid. In those with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, gluten can cause inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, increases cortisol production and suppresses the production of vital sex hormones, causing a cascade of hormonal complications and uncomfortable symptoms.
Increase Fat Consumption
Consuming healthy fats is absolutely critical to hormonal function. In order to regulate hormones naturally, you must be mindful of consuming plenty of anti-inflammatory, omega 3 fats.
Healthy fats contain anti-inflammatory compounds that curb cortisol production, preserving the necessary hormonal precursors for producing sex hormones.
Further, consuming a diet that is rich in healthy fats and low in carbs improves insulin sensitivity. Experts even say that the ketogenic diet, which requires consuming over 70% of your calories in the form of fat, improves insulin sensitivity so dramatically that it can prevent and improve hormonal conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. For that reason, many doctors recommend the ketogenic diet to women who are experiencing difficulties with fertility.
Eat Your Vegetables
Eating plenty of vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables, is critical to maintaining healthy hormones. Vegetables contain plenty of fiber, which help food move through the digestive tract efficiently. By promoting efficient excretion, fibrous vegetables help to eliminate harmful estrogens from the digestive tract, thus protecting against estrogen dominance.
Vegetables are also critical for effective detoxification. Sulfuric compounds in broccoli and other vegetables act as powerful detoxifiers. Leafy greens contain chlorophyll, which is critical to detoxification at the cellular level. Adopting a diet that includes plenty of green vegetables is conducive to regular detoxification, allowing the body to efficiently excrete harmful environmental estrogens and, by extension, further protecting against estrogen dominance.