Seed Cycling: What is It and Why Do it?
Heard of seed cycling recently? Or is this something completely new? I don’t blame you. I never heard of this concept until recently! Here’s why I started on this yesterday and what results I am looking for in the next 3 to 6 months.
Seed Cycling involves rotating ingestion of four different seeds at different times of your menstrual cycle in order to help with the balance between oestrogen and progesterone - two hormones which have important presence in our cycle.
Basics of the Menstrual Cycle
Our menstrual cycle happens every month and it prepares the female body for pregnancy. The beginning of our cycle starts with the first day of our period and this is where the uterine lining which has been build up over the past two weeks or so will start to break down, shed and exit the body. Every cycle length is different and can vary between 24 to 35 days. The average is 28 days.
Why is there a need to balance our hormones?
Oestrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks of our cycle- known as as the follicular & ovulation phase. This phase includes both menstrual bleeding and the lead up to ovulation (days 12 to 14) - the fertility window whereby a woman can get pregnant if her egg gets fertilised. Oestrogen’s role as the dominant hormone during the first two weeks helps build the uterine lining to prepare for possible pregnancy.
During the second half of our cycle, termed as the luteal phase, progesterone takes over as the dominant hormone. It is secreted when the follicle got ruptured during ovulation i.e. release of the egg. Progesterone helps the uterine lining to thicken and maintains it to prepare for that possible pregnancy. However, if the egg is not fertilised, this lining will then shed leading to what we known as our period.
Hormonal imbalances - the outcome
When these two hormones get imbalanced, for example, PCOS women tend to have excessive higher or lower levels of oestrogen, that is when we experience a multitude of symptoms including development of PCOS, acne, painful cramping, mood swings, low energy levels, low libido, chronic fatigue etc.
This is when seed cycling can potentially help!
All of the seeds above contain omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin E which helps with follicle and hormone production.
Benefits of Seed Cycling - Key Nutrients
Zinc, present in pumpkin seeds nourishes our ovary follicles (eggs) and helps to regulate the timing of ovulation - by doing so, our cycles can be re centred around ovulation and thus become regular. Good news for PCOS women who have higher amount of androgens - zinc helps to reduce excess testosterone levels, which can help with acne problems too. Zinc also helps reduces the amount of prostaglandins which means say hello to reduced period pain (and is not a normal symptom of PCOS)!
Lignans present in flax and sesame seeds helps to balance the amount of oestrogen in the body by binding to excess oestrogen.
Selenium in sunflower seeds (and brazil nuts, my favourite) help with detoxification of excess oestrogen from the body through the liver. Ever wonder why you poop so much whilst on your period? This is the reason!
How to seed cycle
Days 1 - 14 of your cycle: Starting with day 1 of your period is day 1 of seed cycling. Have 1 tbsp of raw pumpkin seeds and 1 tbsp of ground raw flax seeds in your meals daily for two weeks. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, top on toast etc.
Days 15-28 of your cycle: Switch to sunflower and sesame seeds. By the same guidelines, have 1 tbsp of each of the seeds in ground form in your meals on a daily basis for two weeks.
Grinding the seeds into powder form increases surface area and allows for better absorption of the nutrients. This is especially so for flax seeds! If you take them whole, they will pass through your digestive system and leave the body intact.
Apparently it takes 3 months at least to see results. I for one, am excited to try this as part of my never-ending experiments in using natural ingredients to help heal my body and create optimal health for myself.
hormones play a part in weight loss too..
Speaking of hormone balancing, there are two other surprising foods that help with hormones and eventually weight loss that you might not know about.
Get your guide to balancing hormones here.