Tailoring your diet to support your body's changing requirements throughout the menstrual cycle can promote overall well-being and hopefully minimise some of the common symptoms associated with this time.
Menstrual Phase (Days 1-7)
During this time, your body expends energy and may experience a drop in iron levels due to blood loss. To nourish your body during this phase:
Iron-Rich Foods: Incorporate iron-rich foods like lean meats, beans, lentils and leafy greens to replenish the iron lost through menstruation.
Fibre Intake: Opt for fibre-rich foods to support healthy digestion and manage hormonal fluctuations. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of fibre.
Follicular Phase (Days 7-14)
Following menstruation, the body enters the follicular phase. During this phase, oestrogen levels gradually rise. Focus on nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body's increasing energy needs:
Protein-Packed Foods: Incorporate lean proteins such as poultry, fish, eggs and nuts to provide the necessary building blocks for tissue repair.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Include sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), flaxseeds, and walnuts to reduce inflammation and support brain health.
Ovulatory Phase (Days 14-16)
The ovulatory phase marks the release of an egg from the ovary. During this time, oestrogen levels peak, contributing to increased energy levels. Focus on balanced meals to maintain steady blood sugar levels:
Complex Carbohydrates: Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and quinoa to provide sustained energy and support serotonin production for mood regulation.
Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Include colourful fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants that help combat stress and inflammation.
Luteal Phase (Days 16-28)
The luteal phase follows ovulation and is characterized by the dominance of progesterone. This phase can bring about changes in appetite and mood. Prioritize foods that help manage these fluctuations:
B Vitamins: Incorporate foods rich in B vitamins, such as leafy greens, whole grains, and nuts, to support energy metabolism and stabilize mood.
Magnesium-Rich Foods: Magnesium can help to reduce bloating, cramps, and mood swings. Magnesium is in foods like spinach, almonds, avocados, and bananas.
Hydration: Staying hydrated throughout your cycle is essential. Herbal teas, water-rich fruits, and ordinary water will help maintain proper hydration levels.
Limit Processed Foods: Minimize processed foods high in added sugars and unhealthy fats, as they can exacerbate inflammation and hormonal imbalances.
Listen to Your Body: Cravings are common during the menstrual cycle. Opt for healthier alternatives when satisfying your cravings to support your body's nutritional needs.
Understanding how your body's nutritional needs shift throughout the menstrual cycle can help you to make informed choices that support your overall health and well-being.
By nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods, you can reduce some of the discomfort and mood changes associated with the menstrual cycle, Always remember that individual needs may vary, so it's important to pay attention to your body's cues and make adjustments as needed.