By Amanda Rohwedder. Adapted from the original Family Foundations article.
The weather is getting warmer, flowers are starting to bloom, seeds are being planted, and farmer’s markets are opening – spring is here and summer is on the way!
What grows seasonally in spring that we can take advantage of to fuel our bodies? Each phase of your cycle demands specific nutrients to support normal hormonal fluctuations. Integrating spring seasonal foods with these inherent nutrients further boosts the nutritional value, as in-season produce naturally contains higher vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content compared with its out-of-season counterparts. Extra bonus: they tend to taste better too.
We’ll start with the menstruation, or menses phase, which typically occurs on days one through five of your cycle and is characterized by vaginal bleeding due to uterine lining shedding in the absence of pregnancy. Iron intake is important to focus on during this phase since this essential mineral is lost along with bleeding. Good sources of iron are dark green leafy vegetables, beans, beef, shellfish, quinoa, and dark chocolate. Spinach and peas, both at peak in spring months, supply the diet with iron.
The follicular phase occurs on days one through 14 of the average 28-day cycle. Because the body is preparing for potential pregnancy during this phase, estrogen levels rise in order for the endometrial lining of the uterus to thicken. This change in estrogen affects how your body uses nutrients and requires more energy as it prepares to release an egg. Focusing on complex carbohydrates such as fruit, whole grains, and starchy vegetables is recommended because they provide a quick energy source over fat or protein. Also, hydration is key during this phase! Be sure to drink plenty of water. Fruits in season – and perfect for consumption in the follicular phase – are pineapples and strawberries.
Your diet can influence ovulation, so recommended here are low-glycemic carbohydrates, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, antioxidant rich foods, and those high in vitamin D and folic acid. Salmon, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, dark leafy greens, and all berries hit the mark. Spring seasonals asparagus and radishes are both high in folic acid.
Lastly the luteal phase, or premenstrual phase, occurs around days 14 to 28 of your cycle. Progesterone levels increase in preparation for menstruation and to maintain the uterine lining for potential pregnancy. Adequate protein and fat intake are critical here because the body is using higher amounts of both for energy. Try to incorporate healthy fat sources such as fish, nuts, and avocado into meals where possible. Adding an extra protein-rich snack each day can help keep food cravings, typically experienced during this phase, at bay. It’s important to avoid skipping meals and focus on high-fiber foods for more even blood sugar levels and help with mood swings. Cauliflower, mushrooms, and arugula are readily available in spring and are great to consume during this phase. Other suggestions are pumpkin and sesame seeds, white beans, cashews, and tofu.
In summary, nutrition can play a significant role in how you experience your menstrual cycle and spring offers great options to provide nutrient support throughout it. If you have questions about your individual nutritional needs, especially concerning your menstrual cycle, talk with your registered dietician nutritionist or OB-GYN.
Fertility Science Institute offers Lifestyle resources, classes and coaching sessions to help with nutrition, wellness and fertility. In a partnership with Amanda Rohwedder, we have a series of self-paced healthy cooking classes which can be found on our website here. Check them out!
Amanda is a degreed nutritionist, with a B.S. Nutritional Science and M.S. Medical Science with a concentration in Women’s Health. She founded Temple and Table as a way to nourish our culture by drawing a connection between physical and spiritual health. For more information, visit templeandtable.com.