What Is Seed Cycling? (+ Tips On How To Integrate It)
By: Emily Balaguer
What is seed cycling?
Many women experience difficult symptoms with their menstrual cycles, including cycle irregularity, acne, painful periods or cramps, abnormally heavy or light bleeding, fatigue, infertility, sleep issues, and PMS. These symptoms are often the result of some kind of hormonal imbalance within the body, and they can be improved through a relatively easy and nutritionally supportive practice called Seed Cycling.
The practice of seed cycling is a completely safe and incredibly easy way to begin improving period symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances. That is because seed cycling helps balance sex hormones simply by means of nutrition. The idea is that, by eating certain seeds with specific nutrients that promote hormonal regulation during the different phases of the menstrual cycle, a healthy balance of sex hormones can be achieved.
In a healthy menstrual cycle, estrogen is the dominant hormone during the first half, called the follicular phase, and progesterone is dominant during the second half, called the luteal phase. Seed Cycling works by incorporating seeds that promote estrogen production during the first half of the cycle and seeds that promote progesterone during the second half of the cycle. Specifically, 1 tablespoon each of ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are eaten per day during the first half of the cycle, and 1 tablespoon each of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are eaten per day during the second half of the cycle. By sticking to this rotation throughout the month, we are essentially encouraging our bodies to produce the right amounts of the appropriate hormones. Over time, this nutritional practice can help minimize and heal the challenging symptoms that result from having hormonal imbalances.
How Do I Do It?
During the first half of your cycle (this is called your Follicular phase), strive to incorporate 1 Tbsp of Flax Seeds and 1 Tbsp of Pumpkin Seeds each day.
● Blend these into smoothies or salad dressings, toss them into oatmeal, or top salads with these follicular-phase-supporting seeds. The good news is that they pair nicely with both savory and sweet flavor profiles.
● Tips About Flax Seeds Preparation & Storage:
○ Because flax seeds contain such a high content of ALA (an essential, omega-3 fatty acid), they are extremely sensitive to becoming rancid rather quickly. Once they become rancid, the harms they can impose on our bodies are likely to outweigh their benefits. Although flax seeds are an excellent choice for supporting a healthy menstrual cycle, if eaten when rancid, flax seeds may contain a large amount of free radicals that can put a lot of oxidative stress on the different systems of the body, most likely outweighing any positive effect. So, be mindful, and follow these precautionary measures to ensure you’re maximizing their health benefits:
○ Exposing flax seeds to heat increases their likelihood to go rancid. Try storing them in the freezer!
○ Flax seeds are also really susceptible to going rancid once they are ground. However, it is actually best if they are consumed in the ground form, as this helps improve their bioavailability. Because flax seeds are so small, if they are eaten whole, it is possible for the entire seed to pass straight through our digestive system without actually being broken down and absorbed. So, when we eat ground flax seeds it is easier for our bodies to access their active healing constituents. For best results, try storing flax seeds in their whole form and in the freezer until immediately prior to being consumed, at which point they should be ground.
During the second half of your cycle (this is called your Luteal Phase), strive to incorporate 1 Tbsp of Sesame Seeds and 1 Tbsp of Sunflower Seeds each day.
● Blend these into salad dressings or pestos, top salads, and do so much more with these luteal-phase-supporting seeds.
● Here are some yummy ideas for incorporating these into your daily routine:
○ Sesame seeds + anything with cacao or chocolate
○ Sesame seeds + salmon
○ Sesame seeds + anything with strawberries
○ Sunflower seeds in granola
○ Sunflower seeds + humus
○ Sunflower seeds in homemade (GF) bread