Sugar = pimples. Sauerkraut = less social anxiety. Pumpkin seeds = increased fertility?
We already know that the food we eat affects our emotions, mental health, and bodies. Artificial colors have been linked to ADHD behavior in kids, a sugar crash looks a lot like depression, and adding a little cayenne pepper into your diet can increase your metabolism.
So it makes sense that there are certain foods that affect the endocrine system and in turn, the body's hormones. Enter seed cycling, the all-natural way for women to balance their hormonal cycles to get more regular monthly periods, decrease painful periods, boost low libido, and finally put an end to PMS-induced acne and bloating.
Seed cycling is based on a pretty simple premise: There are two basic phases during the month that require either estrogen or progesterone to be higher for optimal fertility and the most normal cycle. By ingesting different types of seeds and nuts during these phases, the body can better support hormone production.
This leads to periods that are less painful and more regular in length, a decrease in PMS symptoms, and improved mood and energy throughout the month. Plus, for those who ascribe to non-hormonal birth control methods or who are trying to get pregnant, having regular periods and cycles is a must. You can try it in conjunction with your normal cycle. "For women without a defined menstrual period, it is best to start seed cycling either with the new moon or full moon," suggests naturopath Dr. Kristy Vermeulen.
As for the actual seed cycling, it's pretty easy. Think of your monthly cycle in two phases. The first phase starts on the first day of your period and goes through day 14, and it's called the follicular phase. During this time, it's important to boost estrogen levels. This is when the uterine lining becomes thicker and gets ready to support an egg. During the last five days of the follicular phase is when a woman ovulates—the last part of the follicular phase is a woman's most fertile time of the month. To boost estrogen levels during this time, every day eat:
The second phase is the luteal phase, days 15-28. During this time you'll want to up your progesterone levels as much as you can, because this hormone is responsible for sustaining a pregnancy (if there is one); if there isn't, progesterone helps ease cramping and bloating. PMS symptoms like acne, cramping, moodiness, and fatigue tend to be at their worst during the luteal phase, so it's especially important to support the endocrine system in these weeks. To boost progesterone levels, every day eat:
Super simple, right? All you need to do is throw some seeds into your morning smoothie, sprinkle them on oatmeal, or snack on them during the day. According to Dr. Vermeulen, it usually takes about three months before you'll start noticing the improvement in menstrual-related symptoms. Don't feel discouraged if you don't see results immediately. Just be patient and your hormones—and skin, ovaries, and brain—will thank you.
Illustration by Karley Koenig