Written by Tayla Gardiner Naturopath at Cura WellnessFinding harmony in all areas of life, especially our health, is an area that resonates deeply with many women as we navigate all seasons of life including our menstrual cycle. Our hormones play a delicate symphony within us, influencing our mood, energy, creativity, and overall well-being. Now more than ever, women are increasing their awareness around cycle syncing and how to honour our cycles through a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. As a Qualified Naturopath, I want to share some gentle yet effective ways to restore and maintain hormonal balance from a holistic perspective.
Nutrition and Hormone Balance:
1. Boost your Dietary Fibre IntakeFibre is essential for eliminating waste from the body. As your hormones require sufficient detoxification processes to effectively excrete excess hormones, fibre is key to ensure your elimination pathways are doing their best job bybinding onto the waste products and excreting via the bowels.
2. Seed CyclingImplement Seed Cycling into your dietary routine. Seed cycling is a nurturing ritual that invites us to harmonise with the cycles of nature and our bodies. (more on this below)
3. ZincZinc is essential for hormonal health to support hormonal development andmetabolism. Zinc is also a key nutrient for maintaining moods, managingpremenstrual symptoms (PMS) and down-regulating menstrual pain. Dietarysources of zinc include oysters, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, cashews,legumes, eggs, chickpeas, whole-grains, dairy products, meat, spinach, nuts.
4. MagnesiumMagnesium is a woman's best friend. Magnesium is incredible for reducingPMS-related presentations, period pain, mood swings, promoting sleep quality,boosting energy levels, and reducing stress. Magnesium levels can significantly deplete during times of heightened stress, however this is the time when we need it most as it's one of our calming minerals, helping to reduce feelings of stress. It can become a vicious cycle! This is why it's so important to ensure you consume magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy veg, nuts, seeds, cacao and possibly supplement under the guidance of a qualified practitioner if required. Maintaining practices and lifestyle habits that help to calm your nervous systemand lower stress levels also helps to prevent this essential nutrient frombecoming depleted.
5. Iodine for Hormone and Thyroid HealthAnother mineral we don't often think of too often for our hormones is iodine!Iodine is crucial for supporting our thyroid health. Considering our thyroid isresponsible for hormonal development/production, metabolism, energy, moods,ovaries and breast tissue then it's definitely a nutrient you want to ensure you geta good intake of. Dietary sources include seaweed (nori, kelp, wakame), fish/seafood (cod, tuna, oysters, shrimp), dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt), eggs, beef liver, chicken. Please note, this will not be suitable for everyone especially in individuals with certain thyroid conditions. If you're concerned, please consult a professional.
6. B-Vitamins and Hormone BalanceB-Vitamins are essential for energy production, hormonal metabolism, moods,and encouraging liver detoxification. They provide us with the key cofactors foroverall vitality and give us a boost of energy!
7. Omega 3sOmega 3 essential fatty acids help to reduce menstrual related pain as theyreduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, andwalnuts lend a hand in hormone production, while cruciferous vegetables such asbroccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale etc support their metabolism.
Mindful MovementEach phase in your menstrual cycle requires you to adapt to your hormonal needs at that time, which also requires you to modify your exercise routine to align with each phase.
Menstrual PhaseSlow down your physical activity by allowing yourself to rest, or engage in more gentle/restorative forms of movement such as yin yoga and/or nature walks.
Follicular PhaseAs oestrogen begins to increase post-menstruation, you may feel moreinclined to amp up your activity levels by doing a power yoga session, going for a hike, or adding resistance bands/light weights to your Pilates or strength workouts.
Ovulation PhaseThis is the peak of your motivation as oestrogen is at its highest point! Intensify your movement through heavier strength/weight training, cardio workouts, running and cycling.
Luteal PhaseAs you're entering your premenstrual phase, begin to slowly reduce your intensityby opting for mat pilates, reducing your heart rate/pace when running/cardio
Hormones and Our Nervous SystemFor The Mind Hormonally, our body works best when our nervous system is regulated and calm. In our modern day, it's hard to avoid distraction, noise, stimulus, notifications, stressors, however if you can invite mindfulness practices into your daily routine, this will help to modulate your body's stress response and support hormonal balance. Mindfulness practices may include deep breathing exercises, guided meditation, journalling, outdoor walks listening to the sounds of nature, and painting. Finding a ritual or practice that you enjoy is the key to maintaining consistency. Prioritise Rest & Sleep. Beyond restoring energy levels, obtaining 7-9 hours of deep, restful nights sleep is conducive to restoring and rejuvenating your hormones. Prioritise a restorative night's sleep by creating a calming night-time routine. Unplug from screens, dim bright lights, diffuse lavender essential oil in an oil burner/diffuser, read a book/journal/meditate, and create a serene sleep environment.
Herbal Support for Hormone BalanceAs a Naturopath, I'm a sucker for utilising herbal medicine to help regulate and restore hormonal balance, and/or addressing hormonal related conditions/symptoms.
- Gentle infusions of Peonia, Chaste tree, Raspberry Leaf, Tribulus, and Black Cohosh act as hormonal modulators which may help to modulate and balance hormonal levels.
- To nurture the nervous system, where stress/anxiety is related to premenstrualsymptoms/mood fluctuations, I love to prescribe adaptogenic herbs such as Withania, Korean Ginseng, Rhodiola, Siberian Ginseng and Bacopa.
- To directly minimise menstrual pain, antispasmodic herbs are great for this as they act by reducing pain receptors and inflammation specifically in the pelvis region. Herbs such as Ginger, Cramp bark, Skullcap and Kava.
Understanding Seed Cycling: A Naturopathic PerspectiveSeed cycling is a holistic approach that utilises the power of seeds to support hormonal balance throughout the menstrual cycle. It taps into the nourishing properties of specific seeds to regulate the ebb and flow of estrogen and progesterone. Seed cycling follows a pattern that mirrors the menstrual cycle's two distinct phases: the follicular phase (Days 1-14) and the luteal phase (Days 15-28).During the follicular phase, flaxseeds are incorporated due to their abundance of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids to nurture oestrogen production, as well as the addition of pumpkin seeds which are packed with zinc and essential fatty acids to support progesterone production. Throughout the luteal phase, sesame seeds are encouraged to support oestrogen metabolism and excretion due to their lignan content and a source of healthy fats. Sunflower seeds are also utilised throughout this phase for their source of selenium and Vitamin E to help promote progesterone production.
How To Begin Seed CyclingEmbarking on a seed cycling journey is a way to connect with your body's natural rhythm. Getting started can feel overwhelming so here's a few recommendations to consider before getting started:
- -Mindful Seed Selection: Begin by sourcing high-quality, organic seeds from The Seed Cycle.
- Cycle Synchronisation: Sync your seed consumption with the respective phases of your menstrual cycle. (See below for the different stages of your menstrual cycle and how to determine which phase you are potentially in).
- Incorporating it into your Daily routine: During the follicular phase (Days 1-14), consume 1 tablespoon each of freshly ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds daily.
- Transition to 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds during the luteal phase (Days 15-28). You can add these to a smoothie, mixed with yoghurt, or added to a glass of water.
About Naturopath Tayla Gardiner
If you’re looking for further support with hormonal health, please contact Tayla via email firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram @curawellness.co or book in for a naturopathic consultation (Australia-wide only).ContactEmail: email@example.comInstagram/Tik Tok: @curanaturopathyWebsite: curawellness.co