I have met many female patients who have asked if there are certain foods that can help with hormone balance. I’d like to discuss particularly the seed rotation and how it might benefit hormone function through a food is medicine approach.
The Basics of the Menstrual Cycle
To begin, it will be helpful to understand the basics of the menstrual cycle, which regulates the female hormone system. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days and is divided into 3 parts: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.
During the first part (follicular phase) of the cycle, an egg develops and matures. It is then released from one of the ovaries, known as ovulation. Next, the uterus prepares itself to receive a fertilized egg by thickening its lining, which is part of the luteal phase. If fertilization does not occur the endometrial lining sheds, marking the beginning of menstruation. The first day of menses is considered Day 1 of the cycle.
Two Important Hormones
The two major hormones that orchestrate the menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen predominates during the first part (follicular phase) of the cycle and progesterone is elevated during the last part (luteal phase). Imbalances in these hormones can lead to menstrual irregularity and symptoms of PMS, such as bloating, irritability, and cramps.
How can seeds help with my hormones?
The seed rotation involves taking various seeds in ground form during different parts of the cycle. It provides essential nutrients needed to optimize hormone production, function, and balance. The seeds used are flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower.
Flax seeds contain a significant amount of lignans, which are important for removing excess estrogen. Pumpkin seeds provide high amounts of zinc. Zinc helps support healthy levels of testosterone by preventing the conversion of testosterone to estrogen and primes the body for progesterone production.
Both sunflower and sesame seeds are a source of selenium and zinc, which are essential for the production of progesterone. They also contain an essential fatty acid called gamma linoleic acid, which is needed to balance estrogen and progesterone.
Seed Rotation can help with:
The Specifics of the Seed Rotation
Day 1 to 14 (Follicular Phase): 1 tablespoon each of ground raw pumpkin and flax seed
Day 15 to 28 (Luteal Phase): 1 tablespoon each of ground raw sesame and sunflower seed
Ground seeds using either a blender or coffee bean grinder. Seeds can be easily incorporated into the diet by sprinkling on a salad, adding to smoothies, or simply eating as a snack. It can take approximately 3 months to notice an improvement in symptoms and changes to the menstrual cycle.
By integrating these seeds at different times in the cycle, you can optimize your hormone balance using a food is medicine approach.
Reshma Patel, M.D. is Board certified in both Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine practicing in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. She is passionate about using nutrition and lifestyle choices to help heal the body. Please contact the office at 813-644-9384 or email at email@example.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.
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