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NUTRITION AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Your diet is going well, you’ve created a healthy eating pattern, all is going well until *bam* mother nature calls, your period arrives and your ‘diet’ seems to go out the window. You’re not alone and we’ve all been there. 

Learning to understand your menstrual cycle and the changes in your hormones could be the key to staying consistent with your healthy eating goals, even when your time of the month arrives. 

Eating behaviours differ between individuals and between individual menstrual cycle phases1. “The role of sex steroid hormones and the menstrual cycle significantly impact women’s physiology”2. That’s right, our bodies are in constant flux. So, isn’t it bizarre that traditional nutrition advice is so focused on rigid diets, rules, and timings? And, isn’t it more bizarre that most dietary advice does not account for the dynamic hormonal shifts that we experience as women?

A true SUPERHUM2N doesn’t just follow rules, she honours individuality. In this article, we discuss how to hack your diet during your period.

Changes In Hormones

Premenstrual cravings are common for most women3. Shifts in our estrogen and progesterone levels are thought to be at the root4

In fact, women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) / premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) may be more vulnerable to hormonal fluctuations and the shifts in behaviour that come with it. A few studies have found women with PMS to show a marked increase in food intake during the luteal phase compared to the follicular phase, which was largely due to increased carbohydrate intake. 

Other studies showed an increased craving for fatty foods5. Sound familiar? Whilst this is normal to some extent, severe cravings can also hinder your progress. HUM2N can help. Our Hormone Balancer is designed specifically for women; it protects and supports beneficial estrogen aromatase activity, eliminating excess estrogen, and protecting antioxidants. It’s time to experience an overall lift and a greater sense of balance.

Hormone Balancer

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You're A Super-Burner

A 2020 meta-analysis found that there is a small yet significant increase in resting metabolic rate during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle6. Your body needs to compensate for the 100 – 300 kcal extra calories it burns, so naturally, you feel hungrier2. The reason we crave “unhealthy” food may be because it’s calorie-dense – something our bodies may prefer during this phase of our menstrual cycle 

So, the next time your period comes, rather than being consumed by negative thoughts, we urge you to shift your mindset from “Why am I so hungry” to “My body needs this – let me honour my amazing body”. This way, you will be able to satisfy your cravings without getting consumed by them. You will feel empowered to enjoy your body throughout the month, instead of dreading “that” time of the month.

Nutritional Pain-Points

As mentioned above, our calorie requirements increase during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, but what about micronutrients? 

Iron deficiency in women of childbearing age is common because of the demands of  menstruation and pregnancy. This is especially relevant for women with heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB),estimated to affect 18–38% of women of reproductive age, as well as those adhering to iron-limited diets7. If this is you, we recommend that you consider taking a high-quality, medical-grade iron supplement like Knight by HUM2N, which provides 27mg of elemental iron without any unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, constipation and gastric upset commonly experienced with other supplements.

A 2021 meta-analysis looking at the sex differences and consideration for female-specific nutritional strategies8 stated that female athletes who are menstruating often lack folate, riboflavin and B12 as well as vitamin D and calcium. Whilst the study looked specifically at athletes, active women may benefit from supplementing with these nutrients. 

HUM2N Top Tip: Always choose medical-grade, high-quality supplements, and consult with your HUM2N coach to uncover your personalised programme.

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Find Comfort In Health

You might yourself reaching for comfort food before your period and that is perfectly normal. “Comfort” does not need to mean unhealthy; if a salad just isn’t going to hit the spot, try opting for more warming dishes like stews, soups and bakes. Opt for hearty ingredients, like root vegetables, pulses, grains and dark leafy greens which will keep you satiated and help you to feel fuller for longer. 

In addition to this, remember to be kind to yourself during your “time of the month.” Our bodies are going through a multitude of hormonal changes and, if you really think about it, isn’t it amazing how our bodies look after us and prepare us for the next cycle to come? 

Next time you’re experiencing a hormonal craving, understand that your body is trying to tell you something, that it might need a little more energy than usual.

If you want to dig deeper into health throughout your menstrual cycle, book a personalised consultation to unearth what your unique body needs at the cellular level. With our unparalleled understanding of the body’s interconnected internal systems, we can re-connect the dots, and remove any blocks between your biology and optimal health.


REFERENCES 

[1] Bowen, D.J. and N.E. Grunberg, Variations in food preference and consumption across the menstrual cycle. Physiology & Behavior, 1990. 47(2): p. 287-291.

[2] Rocha-Rodrigues, S., et al., Bidirectional Interactions between the Menstrual Cycle, Exercise Training, and Macronutrient Intake in Women: A Review. Nutrients, 2021. 13(2): p. 438.

[3] Zellner, D.A., et al., Chocolate craving and the menstrual cycle. Appetite, 2004. 42(1): p. 119-21.

[4] Strahler, J., et al., Food cue-elicited brain potentials change throughout menstrual cycle: Modulation by eating styles, negative affect, and premenstrual complaints. Hormones and Behavior, 2020. 124: p. 104811.

[5] Reed, S.C., F.R. Levin, and S.M. Evans, Changes in mood, cognitive performance and appetite in the late luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle in women with and without PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Hormones and Behavior, 2008. 54(1): p. 185-193.

[6] Benton, M.J., A.M. Hutchins, and J.J. Dawes, Effect of menstrual cycle on resting metabolism: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 2020. 15(7): p. e0236025-e0236025.

[7] Mansour, D., A. Hofmann, and K. Gemzell-Danielsson, A Review of Clinical Guidelines on the Management of Iron Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anemia in Women with Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. Advances in Therapy, 2021. 38(1): p. 201-225.

[8] Wohlgemuth, K.J., et al., Sex differences and considerations for female specific nutritional strategies: a narrative review. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2021. 18(1): p. 27.

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