Maybe you have really bad PMS. Or maybe you’ve been trying everything under the sun to try and battle various issues…breakouts, flaky scalp, crazy bloating, sharp abdominal pains, digestive duress, anxiety, etc. While these are all things on a much longer list of troubles that women have to face from time to time, we refuse to chalk it up to just coming with the feminine territory. We’re on a mission to discover the many ways we can get to the root of these issues, and a lot of that work starts with our hormones.
Our hormones hang in an annoyingly delicate balance. So many factors can throw things off, whether it’s environmental, dietary, or the use of products with toxic, disrupting ingredients. But nature has gifted us these tiny nutritional powerhouses that can help get things back on course. Enter nuts and seeds.
We know, this sounds wild. What do nuts and seeds have to do with our hormones? How can they help besides balance blood sugar issues if we are smart enough to keep some in our purse for that dreaded crash while we’re stuck behind the wheel at rush hour?
Certain nuts and seeds can naturally increase specific hormonal releases when consumed at the right times in your cycle. If you’re unsure about the different phases of your cycle besides the most obvious period, it’s time to get better acquainted with yourself. Don’t worry, we’ll review.
Women actually have 4 phases within each cycle. Your period is of course your menstrual phase, which is what most of us think of when we hear the word “cycle,” and everything else is just days in between. Actually, immediately following your period is another phase called the follicular phase. At this time, our bodies are (hopefully) increasing estrogen levels in preparation for the next phase, which is ovulation.
During our ovulatory phase, we reach our peak estrogen levels, and after we ovulate, our body moves into the luteal phase. At this time, we produce more progesterone, which thickens the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy. You know, if we want. If the egg is not fertilized by this time, we lose that lining, thus beginning our menstrual phase yet again. Still following?
Essentially, we want to be producing enough estrogen at the right times and enough progesterone at other times for things to run smoothly and keep PMS symptoms to a minimum. Our bodies are programmed to make this happen, but other factors can make this process so much harder. This can result in what feels like PMS on ‘roids, and sometimes contribute to even more painful and dangerous problems, like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Now back to seeds. Flax seeds have been shown to have estrogenic properties in the phytochemical lignan, meaning that they can improve your ovulation phase and lengthen the luteal phase, which can result in less cramping and bloating, as well as less breast tenderness.
Yes, for real. Additionally, seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame are all high in omega-3, omega-6, and vitamin E which all directly increase progesterone, making way for a healthy lining and a healthy period. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc, which is not only a beauty mineral (hello skin and hair) but supports production of progesterone.
“Nature has gifted us these tiny nutritional powerhouses that can help get things back on course.”
Before you start munching on all these seeds, let’s break it down by phase. The first two weeks, starting with day 1 of your period up to day 14 (the end of ovulation) you need to produce enough estrogen, but not too much. During this phase, it’s a good idea to consume 1-2 tbsp. of flax seeds, (organic raw, whole or ground) and 1-2 tbsp. of pumpkin seeds (organic raw, whole or ground) a day. For the second half of your cycle, days 15-28, eat 1-2 tbsp. of organic, raw sunflower seeds and 1-2 tbsp. of organic, raw sesame seeds. Sesame seeds, like flax, also contain lignans, which prevents excess estrogen from intervening and helps to detox unwanted hormones from the liver.
We suggest whole or ground seeds, but if you’re eating the seeds whole, make sure to chew very well to ensure maximum absorption. Otherwise, your safest bet is to grind them in a food processor, or even enjoy them in smoothies or as seed butters. Throw them on salads, on your yogurt, soups, desserts, you name it! They work with both sweet or savory dishes, and give your regular go-to meals a culinary kick. Or you can just eat a spoonful straight so you don’t forget.
It might take a few months to notice a difference, but commitment is key. It’s the easiest, healthiest, and safest way to approach balancing your hormones, and tasty to boot. If you stick to the plan, we promise you won’t OD on seeds. What have you got to lose?