Natural Hormone Balancing: Seed Cycling by Contributing Author, Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD from Hungry Hobby.
Hormones a mess?
Sadly, most women do not even know when their hormone balance is off. They assume symptoms of PMS, hot flashes, or irregular periods are a normal part of being a woman.
The fact is that in today’s society the liver is charged with protecting us from a constant array of chemicals, many of them known as xenoestrogens. These compounds have estrogen-like effects in our bodies. By binding to estrogen receptors, estrogen builds up and this lead to an over dominance of estrogen in the body.
In addition, more chemicals, stress, and even exercise may lower the production of progesterone in the body. The imbalance of these two hormones is thought to lead to many of the uncomfortable symptoms relating to PMS and menopause. They might also be the root cause behind an inability to lose weight or menstrual irregularities.
For those wishing to promote balance without using HRT (hormone replacement therapy), seed cycling is thought to be a gentle way to promote hormone balance. It isn’t a cure-all and because the process is gentle, it can take up to 3 months to notice results. Therefore the research studies support the idea, but nothing has been truly validated in larger studies.
That being said, adding these nutrient dense seeds to your diet will only benefit your overall health, the rotation may also help with hormone imbalance symptoms.
Day 1 – 14 (Follicular phase):
(starting from first day after your menstrual cycle)
· 1 tbsp. flax seeds, ground
· 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds, ground
· 2,000mg of EPA & DHA – fish oil
Day 15 – 28 (Luteal phase):
· 1 tbsp. sunflower seeds, ground
1 tbsp. sesame seeds, ground
· 1,000-2,000mg of GLA (evening primrose oil or borage oil)
· NOTE: If you struggle with low estrogen or have other specific conditions, you may want to work on designing your own program with a functional dietitian, Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner(sm), or naturopath.
· 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds every day according to the phase you are in. The seeds should be ground (I use my coffee grinder) for optimal nutrient absorption. In fact, the human body can’t digest whole flax seeds at all, so they will go out the way they came in. Add your ground seeds to soups, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, salad or anything else.
· Avoid sunflower & sesame seeds (including hummus) during follicular phase.
· Avoid flax, chia (similar omega 3 based supplement) and pumpkin seeds during luteal phase.
Why These Seeds?
The lignans from the flax seeds bind to excess estrogen and help the body eliminate it (therefore if you struggle with low estrogen your program may need to be independently designed.) High zinc levels in pumpkin seeds prevent the estrogen from converting to harmful forms of testosterone and prime the body for progesterone production, which rises in the luteal phase. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and an extremely important piece of supporting overall health and hormone balance.
In the luteal phase the sesame seeds contain fewer lignans. However, the combination of pumpkin and sesame contains higher levels of zinc and selenium, which may help promote progesterone production. (You can also add 2-3 brazil nuts to this phase for the same reason.)
These seeds are also a rich source of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that can convert to gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is a potent anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid shown to ease symptoms of PMS before and during menstruation, so switching to this type of healthy essential fat helps to promote balance and keep the body fighting inflammation.
The seeds should be ground once a week and stored in the refrigerator or freezer as the delicate fats in them can go rancid easily.
Be Well & THRIVE!
Kelli Shallal MPH, RD, owner of Hungry Hobby LLC provides virtual and local one on one nutrition counseling emphasizing a holistic view point and intuitive eating principles. In addition, she regularly appears in the media, provides brand representation and dynamic group presentations. If you are interested in working with her check out her nutrition services website at www.hungryhobbyrd.com. She is also the author of Hungry Hobby and healthy living blog with an emphasis on healthy recipes, quick workouts as well as health tips. Follow her on instagram, pinterest, and facebook for more healthy living tips.