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Your Functional Flow and Phases

Your Functional Flow and Phases

Talk to most women and their flows are always a hot topic; I’m so moody this month! Or I’m not sure what’s wrong with me at the moment?  I feel so bloated! I’ve got serious cravings!  I can’t go I’ve got my period! I’m in pain. These statements and questions are related to our flows and hormone imbalances. Some say that your period should come and go without you noticing, I don’t necessarily agree with this because I think if you’re in tune with your body you will and should notice the nuances of each  phase you’re in.  What I do agree with is that your cycle shouldn’t stop you from doing everyday life and you certainly shouldn’t be in severe pain. 

 

However, if you are in pain and you have severe symptoms, its’ not your fault, particularly if you have the debilitating condition; endometriosis. 

I’m going to cover for each phase;

1.     What is happening physiologically

2.     What exercise may be best suited at this time

3.     What foods will support this phase and what foods won’t

4.     Supplements to support each phase

5.     Self care tips for each phase

6.     Essential oils to support each phase (when used topically, always use with a carrier oil)

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Phase 1:  Menstrual – Follicular (Day 1-7)

Physiology:

Hormone levels are at their lowest concentrations in your flow cycle.  The drop in progesterone because it hasn’t been fertilised, is what triggers your uterine lining to shed.  Your declining estrogen levels stimulates Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) from the brain.  FSH stimulates follicles  (containing an undeveloped egg) to grow in the ovary.  Growing follicles make estrogen so as your flow is coming to an end, estrogen is starting to rise again. 

Feelings:

This is different for everyone but you may have a sense of relief and ability to let go of things, baggage.  Allow yourself to turn inward and reflect on where you are at in your life.  Allow yourself compassion and self love.

Nutrition:

This is an intense process of shedding and expelling.  Your diet should be nutrient dense and high in antioxidants.  Lots of veggies with every color of the rainbow.  Low GI foods are best to regulate blood sugar along with high quality protein and fats.  In particular foods high in iron and zinc are essential due to loss during your flow.  Anti-inflanmmtory foods like  turmeric and omega 3’s will help reduce inflammation in this phase.

Iron rich foods:

·      Spirulina

·      Liver/pate

·      Grassfed beef

·      Lentils

·      Dark chocolate

·      Spinach

·      Nettle tea

·      Red raspberry leaf tea

Zinc rich foods:

·      Pumpkin seeds

·      Quality lamb

·      Grass fed beef

·      Chickpeas

·      Oysters and other shell fish

Seed cycling: 1 tablespoon of each seed grounded fresh every morning for this phase

·      Linseeds – moderate estrogen production and prevent estrogen excess

·      Pumpkin seeds – high in zinc, promting the release of progesterone.  Helps to modulate androgen levels, also good in PCOS.

Exercise:

Your energy will be at its lowest at the beginning of your flow, so go with this and don’t push yourself.  Gentle exercise will support this phase, such as walking, pilates, yoga or swimming.  Or just incidental exercise such as gardening, cleaning the house, walking to the shops or park. 

Supplements:

 Magnesium

·      Either chelate, glycinate or threonate types

·      may help with cramping , pain, aches and spams and aids in relaxation

Magnesium chloride oil

·      applied to the belly and back of neck and chest or bottoms of feet.

Iron

·      Only needed if deficient

Curcumin

·      Anti-inflammatory

Celloids

·      Magnesium Phosphate (MP) - may help with tension and cravings for sugar, also dysmenorrhea.

Essential oils to support each phase (when used topically, always use with a carrier oil)

  • Cramps - peppermint, clary sage (with lavender and sweet marjoram), fennel.

  • General hormone balance - geranium, neroli, clary sage, womens monthly blend.

 

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Phase 2 – Follicular Phase – Ovulation (Day 7-14)

Physiology:

Estrogen is really amping up now as the follicles in our ovaries are being matured and will reach it’s highest point just before ovulation.  One (normally) main egg is developed and shuts off FSH because no more eggs are required. Estrogen is also getting your uterus ready for implantation and helps make your cervical mucus, sperm friendly!

Estrogen will surge up which triggers the brain to cause a luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. This causes the matured egg to burst out (ovulation) ready for fertilisation.  The tissue left over from the egg is called the Corpus Luteum which is why the second half of the cycle is called the luteal phase.

Feelings:

Due to high estrogen levels, energy may be at its highest in this week and if our hormones are in balance we should be feeling pretty good.  We may be feeling sexy and ready to rumble more than any other time throughout our cycle due to the anticipation of ovulation.  This is also our most extroverted time and where we feel most confident.  This is an action week for attacking your goals. 

However, if you are estrogen dominant (excess estrogen in-relation to progesterone), you may also have some pre-menstrual type symptoms here.  I will address this in the luteal phase to give you some tools to avoid this happening and also below in the nutrition section.

Nutrition:

Fresh, light foods will support this phase best.  Lots of salads and veggies, include every color of the rainbow.  Include high quality proteins and sprouted nuts, seeds and gluten free grains for a nutrient dense, energy sustaining diet.  Continue to eat foods high in iron and at this point because of the loss in blood. You also want to maintain a healthy blood sugar to support ovulation occurring smoothly without interruption.  Blood supply and healthy capillaries are critical for follicle survival and development, anything that slows blood flow like sugar and caffeine can cause real problems. 

Because estrogen is at its highest, eat foods that will help metabolise excess estrogen out of your system.  This includes foods that are high in sulphur; eggs, onion, garlic, leeks and chives.  Foods also from the brassica family that are high in a compound called DIM that is very effective in healthy estrogen metabolism;  cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy… remember if you have thyroid issues to lightly cook these.

Green Tea or matcha tea is excellent due to its anti-aromatase action (helps with the preferred estrogen metabolites rather than the toxic ones).  Liver supporting teas such as dandelion root and chicory root are beneficial too.

High fibre foods will also help with estrogen metabolism; chia seeds, flax seeds, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  

Continue seed cycling: 1 tablespoon of each seed grounded fresh every morning for this phase

·      Linseeds – moderate estrogen production and prevent estrogen excess

·      Pumpkin seeds – high in zinc, promting the release of progesterone.  Helps to modulate androgen levels, also good in PCOS.

Exercise:

This is the time to do your high intensity exercise if that’s what you love doing; HITT, boxing, running, whatever it is that gets your heart rate pumping.  If you’re not into high intensity exercise just get out and move your body. 

Supplements:  This week if clients have high estrogen symptoms or we know for sure because we have tested, I like to get them on some supplements to help with estrogen metabolism.  Not all of these at once and it depends what else is going on but here are some suggested ones.

·      Calcium-D-Glucarate – is my favourite for estrogen metabolism. 

·      DIM – beneficial effects on estrogen metabolism

·      Amino Acids that’s support phase 2 detoxification – Taurine, methionine, cysteine

·      A high quality probiotic – gut dysbiosis can effect estrogen metabolism.

·      Magnesium and SAM  and methyl B’s – help to turn the estrogen metabolites water soluble so you can pee them out and so they don’t head down the more cancerous pathway.

  • Compounded supplement - I compound a supplement to include some of the above ingredients specifically for clients.

Essential oils to support each phase (when used topically, always use with a carrier oil)

  • General hormone balance - geranium, neroli, clary sage, womens monthly blend

 

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Phase 3 – Luteal Phase  - Post ovulation (day 15- 21)

 Physiology:

Progesterone is made in the ovaries by the corpus luteum after you ovulate.  Also in small amounts by the adrenal glands.  If you don’t ovulate, you don’t make adequate progesterone. You can, not ovulate and still get a period too.  At this point the corpus luteum (the tissue left over from the egg) is what starts making progesterone.  Progesterone continues to rise until around day 20 and if isn’t fertilised, drops away and continues to drop.

 Did you know in ‘normal’, non pregnant women during this mid luteal phase, progesterone exhibits a prominent circadian rhythm with peak production occurring in the evening around 6pm. 

 Estrogen follows progesterone but at much lesser amounts.  However, if you don’t metabolise estrogen sufficiently then it can still be re-circulating in your system causing problems and head down the toxic quinone pathway. 

 Feelings:

Progesterone  has a calming effect, so you may feel this, as progesterone is rising, you may also feel a slight drop in energy compared to the previous week but they should still be somewhat stable.  If hormones are out of balance, in particular estrogen:progesterone ratio this is where PMT symptoms start to appear.  Mood changes, bloating, cravings, emotional instability and fatigue.

 Nutrition:

Continue eating foods to support estrogen metabolism in this phase as in the previous phase to help as much as possible guide your estrogens down the right pathways and out of your body. 

 Did you know we make progesterone from cholesterol, yes that’s right we need good amounts of cholesterol to make adequate hormones.  This is why a low fat diet is never a good idea for hormone health.  So including eggs, fish, healthy animals, avo’s, olives, coconut, nuts and seeds is helpful. 

 Seed cycling: 1 tablespoon of each seed grounded fresh every morning for this phase.

Sunflower seeds – provide selenium , which a potent antioxidant that help live detoxification, also promotes progesterone.

Sesame seeds – high in lignans, antioxidants, EFAs and phytosterols and othet nourishing nutrients.

Exercise:

You may still have good energy during this phase, particularly at the beginning, so higher intensity exercise and being more active is ok to do here. 

 

Supplements:

·      Tryptophan, 5HTP – to increase mood if need be, if it is a concern to the client.

·      Magnesium – Can support energy levels, relieve anxiety reduce fluid retention, balance mood swings, helps with bloating.

·      Vitex (chaste berry) – (unless you have PCOS) take in the morning on an empty stomach in the luteal phase. After ovulation.  Its been shown to increase the luteal phase, increase progesterone levels and help with endometriosis, PMS and amenorrhea.  However, needs to be monitored by a health care practitioner.

·      Essential Vitamins; C, D, E, A and other carotenoids.

  • Compounded supplement - I compound these ingredients together for this phase of the cycle for women who needs this support.

 

 Essential oils to support each phase (when used topically, always use with a carrier oil)

  • Headaches - peppermint, lavender

  • Cramps - peppermint, clary sage (with lavender and sweet marjoram), fennel

  • Bloating/digestion issues - fennel, rosemary

  • Brain fog - rosemary

  • Insomnia - lavender

  • Low libido - ylang ylang

  • Anxiety, stress or depression - orange, lavender, neroli, clary sage

  • low energy/fatigue - peppermint, orange

  • mood swings - geranium

  • general hormonal balance - geranium, clary sage, neroli

 

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Phase 4: Luteal Phase – Pre Flow (Day 21-28)

Physiology:

If the egg hasn’t been fertilised at this point then progesterone levels decrease and signifies the uterine lining to shed.  If the egg has been fertilised, congratulations , progesterone stimulates the growth of blood vessels that supply the lining of the womb (endometrium) and stimulates glands in the endometrium to secrete nutrients that nourish the early embryo. Progesterone then prepares the tissue lining of the uterus to allow the fertilised egg to implant and helps to maintain the endometrium throughout pregnancy.

If the egg isn’t fertilised progesterone and estrogen continue to  decrease and  things may become more stormy.  Your brain may look for ways to boost energy (chocolate everything become more appealing and extra coffee runs at this point).  However, if you have set yourself up well during the previous weeks, hopefully you don’t have any symptoms because your hormones are in balance.

 FEELINGS:

This is when women who suffer from PMS will experience their myriad of symptoms such as; cravings, bloating, cravings, fatigue, emotional and various other symptoms.    Moods can be at its lowest at this point .  You may feel introverted here, be gentle and compassionate to yourself. 

Nutrition:

It is common to reach for caffeine and other stimulants at this point as energy may be waining and mood may be low.  Including foods that help produce the neurotransmitter serotonin to lift mood such as leafy greens, quinoa, buckwheat, eggs, spirulina, wild caught fish, pasture raised chickens, sesame seeds, grass-fed beef or lamb, beans, bananas and potatoes.

Magnesium rich foods that fight fatigue and low libido like dark chocolate, spinach and pumpkin seeds.

It is important to eat foods that will support your blood sugar during this time to minimise cravings.  High quality protein such as eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, fish, pork or tempeh are great.  Good quality omega 3 fats such as chia seeds, fish, walnuts are also important.  Continue to cycle in starchier carbs if you are having cravings. Homemade protein balls with a natural sweetener if the sweet cravings take over can be a saviour. 

Continue seed cycling: 1 tablespoon of each seed grounded fresh every morning for this phase.

Sunflower seeds – provide selenium , which a potent antioxidant that help live detoxification, also promotes progesterone.

Sesame seeds – high in lignans, antioxidants, EFAs and phytosterols and othet nourishing nutrients.

Supplements:

 Chromium – Can help with stabilising blood sugar and reducing sugar cravings

 Inositol  - Helps with insulin signalling, helping with insulin resisitance

Magnesium – calming, can support energy levels, relieve anxiety reduce fluid retention, balance mood swings, helps with bloating

Acetyl -L- Carnitine - supports the nervous system and assists the metabolism of fats. May support reproductive fertility.

Activated B vitamins – supports energy production, adrenal support and healthy methylation.

Tryptophan, 5HTP – to increase mood if need be, if it is a concern to the client.

Celloids:
Potassium Phosphate (PP) – helps with energy producing aspects of cell metabolism,  May help with low mood, anxiety and fatigue

Magnesium Phosphate (MP) – may help with tension and cravings for sugar, also dysmenorrhea.

Compounded supplements - specific for this phase with some of the above ingredients.

Essential oils to support each phase (when used topically, always use with a carrier oil)

  • Headaches - peppermint, lavender

  • Cramps - peppermint, clary sage (with lavender and sweet marjoram), fennel

  • Bloating/digestion issues - fennel, rosemary

  • Brain fog - rosemary

  • Insomnia - lavender

  • Low libido - ylang ylang

  • Anxiety, stress or depression - orange, lavender, neroli, clary sage

  • low energy/fatigue - peppermint, orange

  • mood swings - geranium

  • general hormonal balance - geranium, clary sage, neroli

 

I hope that gives you some insight into your cycle and what you could be doing to support each phase of your cycle.

Please contact me for an individual consult, functional diagnostic testing and specifically designed compounded supplements. The above mentioned supplements are to be monitored by a certified functional practitioner.

Mel x 

How To Increase Progesterone Naturally

How To Increase Progesterone Naturally

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