Seed Cycling: Unveiling the Power of Seeds for Hormonal Harmony in Indian Women, Especially Athletes!

Published on : May 23, 2024

Image Credits : Healthwire

Hey Indian athletes! We all know the dedication and discipline required to excel in your sport. But what if there was a natural way to optimize your training around your menstrual cycle, allowing you to perform at your peak? Seed cycling, a simple dietary approach, might be the key to achieving hormonal balance and peak performance. Let’s explore this concept with Mrs. Anuja Patel, a renowned nutritionist, sports dietitian, and Simply Periods Facilitator.

Understanding Your Cyclical Nature: The Fascinating Phases

Days 1-3: The Period Powerhouse

Embrace this shedding phase as your body prepares for a fresh start.

Days 4-14: Follicle Frenzy

Imagine a nurturing environment for your eggs as estrogen levels rise.

Day 14/15: Ovulation – The Champion’s Egg Hunt

A mature egg bursts free, ready for fertilization!

Days 15-28: The Luteal Phase – Waiting Game

The empty follicle transforms, producing progesterone to prepare the lining for a potential pregnancy. If fertilization doesn’t occur, your period arrives, and the cycle restarts.

Hormonal Harmony: The Key Players

  • Estrogen: The maestro of egg maturation and uterine lining growth.
  • Progesterone: Prepares your lining for a potential baby.
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): Nurtures follicles, like a coach encouraging your eggs.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH): Triggers ovulation, the grand release of your champion egg.

PCOS: Dispelling Myths for Indian Women

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder characterized by hormonal imbalance, irregular periods, and the presence of multiple small cysts on the ovaries. Managing PCOS involves lifestyle changes, scientifically proven medical interventions, and potentially supportive dietary approaches like seed cycling.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Understanding the Pre-Period Rollercoaster

PMS, with its fluctuating hormones, brings physical, emotional, and behavioral changes like bloating, mood swings, and cravings that can disrupt your training rhythm.

Seed Cycling: A Dietary Dance with Your Hormones

Seed cycling involves incorporating specific seeds during different menstrual phases to influence hormone levels. Seed cycling is a wellness trend that emerged around 2012, popularized by naturopathic practitioner Lindsey Jesswein. It supports the female endocrine system by consuming different seeds during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Rotating four seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower) between the first and second halves of your cycle may help regulate hormones, relieve PMS, reduce period pain, stimulate ovulation, increase fertility, and support conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.

Image Credits : Trillium Ayurveda

Follicular Phase (Days 1-14)

  • Flax Seeds: Rich in lignans that mimic estrogen.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: Loaded with zinc to support progesterone production.

Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)

  • Sesame Seeds: Another zinc powerhouse.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Brimming with vitamin E for healthy estrogen metabolism.

Seed Cycling and Your Menstrual Cycle

First Half of the Menstrual Cycle

During the first half of your cycle (menstrual, follicular, and ovulatory phases), estrogen levels rise. Adding flax and pumpkin seeds, rich in phytoestrogens and zinc, can help balance estrogen levels. Optimal estrogen effectively regulates other hormones like FSH, ensuring a healthy cycle.

Second Half of the Menstrual Cycle

In the luteal phase, progesterone levels rise, enhancing your uterine lining for potential implantation. Consuming sunflower and sesame seeds, rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), supports progesterone levels and reduces inflammation that can trigger PMS.

Does Seed Cycling Work?

While scientific evidence on seed cycling is limited, there is substantial research on the individual benefits of the seeds involved. These seeds are rich in fiber, essential minerals (zinc, selenium, calcium, iron), omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Studies suggest they can help eliminate excess estrogen, support ovulation and fertility, assist in hormone production, reduce inflammation, and alleviate PMS symptoms.

Getting Started with Seed Cycling: Your Personalized Game Plan

  1. Track Your Cycle: Use apps or a calendar to understand your phases.
  2. Portion Control: Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of ground seeds daily.
  3. Fresh is Best: Grind seeds just before consumption for optimal nutrient absorption.
  4. Consistency is Key: It might take a few cycles to see potential benefits. Be patient!
  5. Combine with Healthy Habits: Ensure you’re also prioritizing sleep, managing stress, and maintaining a balanced diet.

 

Knowing, Buying, and Using Seeds: A Guide for Indian Athletes

Finding Your Superstar Seeds

  • Flax Seeds (Alsi): Look for plump, golden-brown seeds. Avoid pre-ground flaxseed.
  • Pumpkin Seeds (Kaddu ke Beej): Buy them hulled for easier consumption.
  • Sesame Seeds (Til): Black or white sesame seeds are common in Indian kitchens.
  • Sunflower Seeds (Surajmukhi ke Beej): Choose plump, white or greyish-black seeds. Avoid brightly colored or heavily salted varieties.

Spicing Up Your Indian Diet

  • Flax Seeds: Add to salads, raita, chutneys, dals, or soups for a nutty flavor boost.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: Enjoy roasted with cumin and chili powder or add to protein bars or ladoos.
  • Sesame Seeds: Use in vegetables, salads, or traditional sweets like halwa or laddoos.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Toss into smoothies, trail mix, or as a garnish for curries or pulao.

Remember, freshly ground seeds offer the most benefits. Store leftover ground seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

A Word of Caution

Seed cycling is a promising approach, but more research is needed. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Additionally, excessive seed intake can lead to digestive issues. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Embrace the Potential

Seed cycling offers a natural approach to potentially support hormonal balance, leading to a more optimized training journey. It’s a simple dietary tweak that can empower you to take charge of your menstrual health and unleash your inner champion! Remember, this blog provides information, not medical advice.

References

Chandra, V., & Desai, S. (2019). Menstrual cycle.
Reed, B. G., & Carr, B. R. (2018). The normal menstrual cycle and the control of ovulation.
Lizneva, D., Suturina, L., Walker, W., Brakta, S., Gavrilova-Jordan, L., & Azziz, R. (2016). Criteria, prevalence, and phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome.
Dickerson, L. M., Mazyck, P. J., & Hunter, M. H. (2003). Premenstrual syndrome.
Babbar, S. (2021). Seed cycling for hormone balance: What is it and does it work?
Beavers, A. W., & Bobo, W. V. (2021). Seed cycling for hormone balance: A systematic review.

About the Author

Anuja Patel is a clinical dietitian and Sports Nutritionist deeply invested in correcting food misconceptions and supplement misuse in sports. She was inspired by her daughter’s weightlifting journey, aiming to make a significant impact at the grassroots level. She is committed to transforming the nutritional landscape for female athletes and promoting health and well-being.

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