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Healthy menstrual cycles need good nutrition. Period.

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

The video I popped online talking about a couple of bits and pieces about how we should be eating for healthy menstrual cycles went down really well so I thought I’d pop it up in blog form too.

Now this area is a minefield and there’s so much to it but I have included the basics and essentials of what we, ladies, need to know to have a healthy menstrual cycle whether you are having regular periods, are menopausal or your periods are hit and miss. Boys, you are bound to have a lovely lady in your life be it your Mumma, sister, partner, friend…this is important for you too and whether you are male or female if you are a coach and can’t talk to those that you train about this then you’re doing your clients a big disservice.

First things first, as with almost everything, the most beneficial approach here is going to be to have an adequate supply of all three macronutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, everyday – bear in mind that what is adequate will look different for me than it does for you and different than it does for Sally down the road. This will also look different again if you are living with PCOS - we can talk about that separately another day - give me a shout if you would like more of an individual chat about that one too. But basically for the general population among us:

· FIBRE – the fibre in fruit and veg is super helpful to promote healthy oestrogen metabolism and digestive health which is key in overall health but also in relation to the menstrual cycle

· We need adequate carbohydrates for energy in order for our wonderful bodies to ovulate, amounts, of course, vary from individual to individual

· Fats are very important in healthy hormone function including oestrogen and progesterone which are two of the main hormones involved in the menstrual cycle

· The benefits of protein I have harped on enough about – we need enough of all three of those macronutrients so that the hypothalamus in the brain will allow us to ovulate and have a happy period

· Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in good quantities are also pivotal here

- Nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables in abundance for magnesium

- Animal products including red meats for Zinc for healthy hormones and ovulation

- Sunlight, egg yolks and mackerel for vitamin D for that all important immune and hormone function

- Seafoods, some butters and plant foods grown in iodine rich soil for iodine levels that have been linked with healthy ovaries

· Girls, eat to satiety (fullness). HONOUR YOUR HUNGER, especially around your period!! DO NOT fear foods or unnecessarily cut out certain food groups, this can be very damaging for your hormones and menstrual cycle. Please, please, if nothing else from this blog take this on board, I am talking from experience here, you can and will suffer long term hormonal issues if you don’t take this into consideration – you need a varied, flexible and balanced diet full of all the good stuff and enjoyment!

· You DO NOT have to just put up with sugar cravings, the same as you wouldn’t, or at least, shouldn’t, put up with crippling stomach cramps. It is totally normal to be a little hungrier in the run up to your period due to oestrogen and serotonin levels dropping (these hormones act as natural appetite suppressants) causing us to be left with relatively more progesterone (a natural appetite stimulant). You do also burn fractionally more energy during the time of your period so it is okay to eat slightly more than normal, this is NOT however, me giving you unconditional permission to eat everything under the sun.

The long and short of it is, without getting too nuanced – a varied and balanced diet full of all the macro and micronutrients is absolutely essential, sleep well as always, eat adequate protein as always, minimised processed sugar as always and largely you will be right as rain.

Any questions? Fire away.

Peace and love, A x

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