Due to the changing hormone balance during the cycle, you should pay particular attention to certain nutrients depending on the phase. In general, you are on the right track with a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. This allows your body to get all the relevant nutrients. With the right ingredients, you can reduce PMS symptoms throughout the cycle.
The four phases of the female cycle
The average monthly cycle lasts 28 days. Since each body is unique, your cycle can be longer or shorter. Thus, the cycle length can range from 21 to 35 days. The cycle occurs in four phases.
|Tip: To determine which phase you're in, an app can be helpful. Many women use apps like Flo, which you can use for free.
- Menstrual phase
Your cycle usually begins with the menstrual phase. During this time, the uterine lining can shed, leading to a monthly period. This phase might be characterized by low hormone levels.
- Follicular phase
During the so-called proliferation phase, the uterine lining can be rebuilt. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) can trigger the maturation of up to 15 eggs in each ovary. Estrogen levels typically rise in this phase. Estrogen is a female sex hormone responsible, among other things, for regulating the menstrual cycle.
- Ovulation phase
Ovulation occurs during this phase. This is due to the sharp increase in estrogen levels, which can stimulate luteinizing hormone (LH) production. LH controls sexual functions and is produced in the pituitary gland. In the female body, LH can trigger ovulation. Following ovulation, the hormone can cause an increase in progesterone levels.
- Luteal phase
The secretion phase is the final phase in your cycle. Progesterone levels can increase during this time, and the uterine lining can change to facilitate the implantation of a fertilized egg. If no egg implants, hormone levels can drop, leading to the onset of menstruation.
Cycle and nutrition: Proper nutrition for each phase of the cycle
A lack of nutrients can negatively impact your cycle. For instance, a deficiency in zinc can lead to cycle disruptions. Poor nutrition can also worsen PMS symptoms.
Menstrual phase: Important nutrients for this phase
During this phase, you may experience significant nutrient loss as your body sheds the uterine lining. Therefore, the following nutrients are important:
Your body can lose between 15 and 30 milligrams of iron during the menstrual phase. Hence, paying attention to iron intake is essential.
For example, meat and liver are good sources of iron. However, animal products contain arachidonic acid, which can exacerbate menstrual cramps. Therefore, we recommend iron-rich plant-based foods like oats, wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, legumes, beets, and flaxseeds. Arugula, fennel, broccoli, and spinach also contain a lot of iron.
This vitamin can support iron absorption. Orange juice is rich in vitamin C. Sea buckthorn berries, black currants, bell peppers, and parsley are also high in vitamin C. You can prepare a smoothie with these ingredients, for example.
This mineral can have an antispasmodic effect. Magnesium-rich foods include wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
There are 550 milligrams of magnesium in 100 grams of wheat bran. Furthermore, about 270 milligrams of magnesium are present in cashews. If you crave something sweet, you can eat dark chocolate, which is also rich in magnesium.
Vitamin A can assist the liver in hormone conversion and contribute to egg development and blood formation.
Veal liver contains the highest amount of retinol, as this vitamin is also known. However, an animal product can exacerbate cramps during menstruation. Therefore, we recommend plant-based foods like carrots, broccoli, and spinach. Dill and parsley also contain a lot of vitamin A.
Since healthy fats can enhance the absorption of vitamin A, you can consume the foods together with oil and prepare a salad, for example. Healthy oils include canola oil, olive oil, and flaxseed oil.
Follicular phase: Best nutrition practices
During the follicular phase, your body primarily needs proteins. Proteins are necessary because your body is now busy with egg maturation and rebuilding the uterine lining.
Proteins can support the buildup of the uterine lining. Plant-based foods like nuts, legumes, pumpkin seeds, or quinoa are good choices for this purpose. Dairy products and meat are also rich in protein. Conventional animal products usually contain hormones that can disrupt your cycle's balance.
The ingredients in yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha can be involved in processing emerging hormones.
Ovulation phase: Ovulation and proper cycle nutrition
This phase typically lasts a maximum of 32 hours. During the ovulation phase, your energy level can be very high. Your body needs a significant amount of fiber, calcium, and antioxidants. You should avoid carbohydrates during this short phase.
Antioxidants and fiberFoods rich in fiber and antioxidants include bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, blueberries, currants, and apples. Plant oils and nuts also contain many antioxidants.
|Tip: Spices have a high concentration of antioxidants.
To support your hormone balance, you can consume foods high in calcium. These include broccoli, kale, nuts, and legumes.
Dairy products are less recommended. Furthermore, mineral water contains a lot of calcium. The label on the water bottle indicates how much calcium the water contains. A variety with 300 to 400 milligrams of calcium is optimal.
Luteal phase: Watch out for these nutrients
During this phase, you're close to menstruation, and PMS symptoms can arise. Women often experience symptoms like mood swings, fatigue, back pain, headaches, and others during the luteal phase. You can reduce PMS symptoms through proper food choices.
B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, can promote the formation of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These hormones can influence mood. B vitamins are present in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, broccoli, chanterelles, and avocado.
Your energy level decreases during the luteal phase. Carbohydrates are important at this time because they can provide your body with energy. Good and healthy energy sources include potatoes, whole grains, and oats.
It's not healthy to satisfy your increased energy needs with sugary foods.
Extra tip: Balance your cycle with håvsund Harmony
Our dietary supplement, Havsund Harmony, can support your body during cycle-related discomfort. In addition to a healthy diet tailored to the cycle phases, our valuable ingredients can alleviate symptoms.
For various menstrual complaints, such as an irregular period, chasteberry is recommended. This herb is believed to regulate hormones and has been used for period-related discomfort in the past. The advantage is that chasteberry is generally well-tolerated.
Lady's mantle is also considered a traditional medicinal plant for women's ailments. The plant contains phytohormones that can positively influence the menstrual cycle. Phytohormones in lady's mantle resemble progesterone and thus can have a calming effect.
If you suffer from mood swings during your cycle, St. John's Wort is recommended. The plant is said to particularly work against depressive moods.
Both chasteberry and St. John's Wort, as well as lady's mantle, are included in our dietary supplement håvsund Harmony. The capsules are 100 percent vegan and gluten-free. Among the additional ingredients of Havsund Harmony are magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12.
Foods to avoid
While some foods can support the menstrual cycle, others are best avoided. Certain foods can exacerbate premenstrual symptoms such as fatigue or headaches, especially right before your period.
- Coffee: The caffeine in coffee can hinder iron absorption, thus intensifying fatigue and other symptoms. Additionally, coffee can lead to sleep disturbances and irritability. If you experience PMS symptoms, it's advisable to opt for herbal tea or mineral water instead of coffee.
- Alcohol: Some women try to counteract depressive moods with alcohol. However, this isn't a good idea as alcohol depletes your body of magnesium. If your body has insufficient magnesium, abdominal cramps can worsen.
- Salt: Water retention is a common complaint of premenstrual syndrome. Salt can promote water retention, which is why it's better to largely avoid salty foods such as processed meals and snacks. Opt for herbs and spices rich in antioxidants instead.
- Sugar: You might experience strong cravings for sweets just before your period. However, sugar causes your blood sugar levels to rise and then drop quickly. This means you'll be hit with the next craving soon. To avoid completely giving up sweets, you can enjoy chocolate with a high cocoa content in moderation. Cocoa contains antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
Each cycle is unique
The mentioned tips can only provide limited help for severe symptoms and hormone imbalances. If your period is absent or if you experience irregular bleeding or an unusually light or heavy period, it's important to consult your doctor. They will look for the cause and initiate appropriate treatment.
|Tip: We recommend keeping a journal. Write down your symptoms and note when and during which phase the symptoms occur. Apps are also useful for this purpose. With your data, you can create a personalized nutrition plan.