Your menstrual cycle is a very physical expression of your female reproductive health. The food you eat has a huge influence on how you feel throughout your cycle and hormonal balance. Eating the right food can create a healthier, happier you. This article serves as a handy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) inspired guide on what foods to eat throughout your cycle.
Phase 1: Menstrual Phase
This is the phase when you shed your uterine lining and bleeding happens. This is also where estrogen and progesterone levels are the lowest. This phase can last between 3 to 7 days and may be accompanied by abdomen cramps, tiredness and back pain. This is also the most Yin (cooling, damping and nourishing energies) part of your cycle.
It is during this period where you should eat more warm and comforting food such as stews, casseroles and soups. As blood is lost during your period, it is important to replenish with iron-rich foods such as red meat, liver, green leafy vegetables and red, orange vegetables.
You should also reduce strenuous exercise, instead, opt for gentle low-impact exercises. Exercising can improve blood circulation and help to reduce cramping.
Phase 2: Follicular Phase
This phase starts after your period ends. Your body produces more estrogen to thicken and grow the uterine lining. You may observe your energy level starts to increase, you may feel more extroverted, have a greater motivation to exercise and eat healthier. This is also a Yin phase of your cycle.
Incorporate food that is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. Great examples of such foods include green leafy vegetables, fish, eggs, meat and shellfish. You can also eat some fermented food such as kombucha and kimchi to help metabolise and clear excess estrogen.
One of our favourite food to eat during this period is the Eight Treasure Tonic (Ba Zhen Soup). This TCM tonic is excellent for supporting a woman’s health menstrual health, and while you can drink it any time after your period ends, the follicular phase where your uterine lining is being rebuilt, is one of the best windows to drink this tonic soup and nourish your body.
Phase 3: Ovulation Phase
On approximately the 14th day of your period, ovulation starts to take place. This is when your Yang energy starts to rise. Better support your uterus by having more warm and spicy food such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon, rice, chicken and lamb. You will experience cravings and you should have several small meals throughout the day or include healthy snacks in between meals. Snack ideas include avocado, guacamole, sweet potatoes and muesli bars. Avocado can provide you with a good source of healthy fats and give your body the energy it needs.
Further support your body’s Yang energy by reducing the intake of cold drinks, uncooked vegetables such salads and frozen food such as ice cream.
Non-Food Tip: Keep your uterus warm with Meditrina QiActiv® Pelvic Care Essential Oil, apply daily on your lower abdomen and lower back regions.
Phase 4: Luteal Phase
This is the last two weeks of your cycle and starts after ovulation. This is the time your estrogen and progestogen levels are the highest and it is also the most Yang part of your cycle, reflected in a higher body temperature. Remember if pregnancy happens, your body requires a lot of energy to support the growth of the embryo and this makes this phase a very energetic and active part of your cycle.
Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, that is at least eight glasses. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods especially those rich in omega-3, such as walnut and olive oil. Do not forget to continue on food that is rich in minerals some examples included vegetables, fish and oysters. Soup cooked with chicken or pork bones is highly recommended as they are high in essential minerals that can increase successful implantation and support the growth of the embryo.
If you are not pregnant, you may experience a drop in energy levels a few days before your period and start to feel tired or irritable. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol. Avoid bingeing on snacks that are full of simple sugars, reach out for snacks that are rich in fibre and vitamins to help curb such cravings.
Non-Food Tip: Include Meditrina Ageless Herbal Cream as your natural hormonal balance support and daily body moisturiser.
Give this guide a try and let us know how it makes you feel.