Seed Cycling: Supporting Menstrual Health through Diet
Seed Cycling and Managing Women’s Hormones
There are loads of ways to maintain and to better hormone health with food. One of my favorite ways to do so is with seed cycling. Seed cycling is an alternative way to help regulate hormone health for menstruating humans. Different seeds are eaten daily, according to the different stages of the menstrual cycle. To understand seed cycling, we first need to understand the two different stages of the menstrual cycle, and what hormones regulate each stage.
Stage 1 – Follicular phase. The follicular phase is the first half of the menstrual cycle, starting with Day 1 of menstruation. In this stage, estrogen elevates, and progesterone dips.
Seed Cycling Protocol: To assist the elevated levels of estrogen, seed cycling protocols dictate consuming 1 tablespoon each of raw flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds daily.
Stage 2 – Luteal phase. The luteal phase begins the day of ovulation and lasts until menstruation starts. In this stage, progesterone increase.
Seed Cycling Protocol: To boost progesterone production, seed cycling protocols dictate consuming 1 tablespoon each of raw sesame seeds and sunflower seeds daily.
The way I remember it is a mnemonic device – First stage, Flaxseeds. Second Stage – Sesame and Sunflower seeds.
Evidence for the efficacy of seed cycling is anecdotal at best but eating these seeds on rotation daily definitely will not hurt. They contain lots of healthy plant-based protein, fats, and minerals to support a healthful, well-rounded lifestyle.
There are so many ways to incorporate these seeds into daily life, but here are some of my personal favorites:
- Flaxseeds: adding them to smoothies, pancake/waffle recipes, and soups/stews will work wonders and you won’t even taste them!
- Pumpkin Seeds: these are best added in a parfait, in a granola recipe, or tossed in a salad to add some healthful crunch!
- Sunflower Seeds: much like pumpkin seeds, they are best eaten in a salad or topped onto dinner.
- Sesame Seeds: unless you are eating much Japanese food or sticking to a macrobiotic diet, I find the best way to eat sesame seeds daily is to enjoy it in the form of tahini. I use tahini to make tahini fudge as a dessert, or to use as a salad dressing.