Mar. 2021 – Topic of the Month
March 2021 – Topic of the Month: Seed Cycling for Happy Hormones
By: Kate Morton, RDN + Funk It Wellness Founder
Have you heard of seed cycling? This hormone-focused practice has become more popular over the years as more and more people are struggling with hormone balance.
While our hormones are complex, we can do a few simple things to support our menstrual cycles, and nutrition is one key factor to consider. This brings us to seed cycling; it is a small routine addition that can make a big difference when done consistently and correctly.
But what is seed cycling?
Let’s start with understanding your cycle. Your cycle has 4 unique parts that fall into 2 main phases – the follicular phase and the luteal phase. Seed cycling uses a curated combination of seeds to deliver the optimal nutrients to support your body in each phase, so in short, as your body shifts, so do the seeds you eat.
- The Follicular Phase (Days 1-14) starts on the first day of your period and ends on the last day of ovulation. You eat 1 Tbsp of organic pumpkin seeds and 1 Tbsp of organic ground flax seeds for this phase.
- The Luteal Luteal (Days 15-28) starts after ovulation and will take you through to your next period. For this phase, eat 1 Tbsp of organic sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp of organic sunflower seeds.
Note: When you seed cycle with Funk It, all of the seeds are ground and perfectly measured out for you to make seed cycling as easy and tasty as possible!
Being a dietitian, I always fall back on the research, and while there have not been specific studies on seed cycling, there are quite a few studies on how specific nutrients impact the menstrual cycle. Research has found that nutrition is a critical indicator in predicting menstrual distress, aka if we don’t have adequate nutrition, it shows up as PMS.2,11
How Pumpkin + Flax Seeds support your Follicular Phase:
Pumpkin seeds are packed with omega-3’s, Magnesium, Manganese, and B Vitamins, all of which have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms.1,16,17 Flax seeds are packed with Omega 3’s to fend off inflammation that tends to flare up while we are menstruating, and flax seeds are also packed with these fantastic things called lignans.8,10 These little super lignans support estrogen detoxification and can aid in a smooth transition into our ovulatory + luteal phases.12,13
How Sesame + Sunflower Seeds support your Luteal Phase:
Sesame seeds are packed with zinc which has been shown to help menstrual cramps and may help boost progesterone in the second half of your cycle.14 Bonus: zinc is also vital for many other functions in the body, including immunity.15 Sesame seeds also contain lignans but in a smaller concentration than flax seeds. Sunflower seeds are rich in selenium which supports our liver through hormonal changes, and they are also packed with Vitamin E + B6, which have been shown to help decrease sore breasts before your period.16,17
Bonus Benefits: These seeds are all loaded with prebiotic fiber to keep our digestive systems regular and our guts happy and healthy.22 You won’t be surprised to find that our gut health is a crucial part of our hormonal health as a whole!23
It is as easy as tracking your cycle → Eating your seeds → Switching your seeds → Repeat.
So now you know what seed cycling is, but what do you eat the seeds with?
Here comes the fun part – eating your seeds! They are naturally delicious and you can eat your seeds with pretty much anything you can sprinkle them on. Some of my favorite ways are sprinkled on avocado toast, oats, smoothies, salads, and bliss balls! Consistency is essential with seed cycling. Give it 3 consistent months and see what happens!
Would you like to learn more about the phases of the menstrual cycle? HERE
- Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu9050429
- Lee CA, Kadir RA, Kouides PA. Inherited Bleeding Disorders In Women. United Kingdom: Wiley Online Library; 2009
- Wyatt KM, Dimmock PW, Hayes-Gill B, Crowe J, O’brien PM. Menstrual symptometrics: A simple computer-aided method to quantify menstrual cycle disorders. Fertil Steril. 2002;78:96–101.
- Fujiwara T. Diet during adolescence is a trigger for subsequent development of dysmenorrhea in young women. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007;58:437–44
- Rosolowich V, Saettler E, Szuck B; BREAST DISEASE COMMITTEE. Mastalgia. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2006;28(1):49‐57. doi:10.1016/S1701-2163(16)32027-8
- De Souza MJ. Menstrual disturbances in athletes: a focus on luteal phase defects. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(9):1553‐1563. doi:10.1249/01.MSS.0000084530.31478.DF
- McGregor C, Sau A, Ruddy SC, et al. Novel ligands balance estrogen receptor β and α agonism for safe and effective suppression of the vasomotor response in the ovariectomized female rat model of menopause. Endocrinology. 2014;155(7):2480‐2491. doi:10.1210/en.2013-1976
- Gold EB, Wells C, Rasor MO. The Association of Inflammation with Premenstrual Symptoms. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016;25(9):865‐874. doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5529
- Abdollahifard S, Rahmanian Koshkaki A, Moazamiyanfar R. The effects of vitamin B1 on ameliorating the premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Glob J Health Sci. 2014;6(6):144-153. Published 2014 Jul 29. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v6n6p144
- Su, K., Tseng, P., Lin, P., Okubo, R., Chen, T., Chen, Y., & Matsuoka, Y. (2018, September 7). Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324500/
- Mohamadirizi, S., & Kordi, M. (2015). The relationship between food frequency and menstrual distress in high school females. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700688/
- Adibmoghaddam, Elham & Sourinejad, Hadis & Beigi, Marjan & Hadian, Mohammad. (2019). The Use of Flaxseed in Gynecology: A Review Article. Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health. 7. 10.22038/JMRH.2019.31820.1345.
- Haidari, F., Banaei-Jahromi, N., Zakerkish, M. et al. The effects of flaxseed supplementation on metabolic status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized open-labeled controlled clinical trial. Nutr J 19, 8 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-020-0524-5
- Eby GA. Zinc treatment prevents dysmenorrhea. Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(2):297-301. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2006.12.009. Epub 2007 Feb 7. PMID: 17289285.
- Gammoh, Nour Zahi, and Lothar Rink. “Zinc in Infection and Inflammation.” Nutrients vol. 9,6 624. 17 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9060624
- Masoumi, Seyedeh Zahra et al. “Effect of Combined Use of Calcium and Vitamin B6 on Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms: a Randomized Clinical Trial.” Journal of caring sciences vol. 5,1 67-73. 1 Mar. 2016, doi:10.15171/jcs.2016.007
- Ebrahimi, Elham et al. “Effects of magnesium and vitamin b6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms.” Journal of caring sciences vol. 1,4 183-9. 22 Nov. 2012, doi:10.5681/jcs.2012.026
- Shobeiri, Fatemeh et al. “Clinical effectiveness of vitamin E and vitamin B6 for improving pain severity in cyclic mastalgia.” Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research vol. 20,6 (2015): 723-7. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.170003
- Goyal, Ankit et al. “Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 51,9 (2014): 1633-53. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-1247-9
- Mahendra Kumar, C, and Sridevi Annapurna Singh. “Bioactive lignans from sesame (Sesamum indicum L.): evaluation of their antioxidant and antibacterial effects for food applications.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 52,5 (2015): 2934-41. doi:10.1007/s13197-014-1334-6
- McGregor C, Sau A, Ruddy SC, Leung D, Webb M, Durst T, Wright JS, Lagace D, Pratt MA. Novel ligands balance estrogen receptor β and α agonism for safe and effective suppression of the vasomotor response in the ovariectomized female rat model of menopause. Endocrinology. 2014 Jul;155(7):2480-91. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1976. Epub 2014 May 13. PMID: 24823389.
- Sugizaki, C., & Naves, M. (2018). Potential Prebiotic Properties of Nuts and Edible Seeds and Their Relationship to Obesity. Nutrients, 10(11), 1645. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111645
- Martin, A. M., Sun, E. W., Rogers, G. B., & Keating, D. J. (2019). The Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Host Metabolism Through the Regulation of Gut Hormone Release. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 428. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00428