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Food For…..Hormonal Balance and Running
Hormonal balance may reduce both PMS and menstrual symptoms at any life phase of a woman which includes peri menopause and menopause – and as runners that’s all about ensuring we have the energy and motivation to enjoy our running every day and not be limited by female hormonal symptoms.
We will focus on 3 food strategies to support Female Hormones and Running
1. Seed Cycling
2. Balancing Oestrogen
3. Promoting Progesterone
We will outline the nutritional properties of each and consider how they may be added as part of your meal plan with some menu ideas.
Finally, we’ll share a 1-day menu plan using these 3 food strategies.
Introducing the reasons it’s key for female runners to balance hormones to minimise PMS, menstrual, peri menopause and menopausal symptoms and how seed cycling may be supportive.
Why having optimal oestrogen levels is key for women in general and especially female runners.
An overview of the 3 types of oestrogen, E1 Estrone , E2, Estrodial and E3 Estriol and how imbalances may lead to oestrogen dominance and conditions such as heavy periods, fibroids, endometriosis and oestrogen driven cancers.
Nutritional strategies to support oestrogen balance e.g. foundations of optimal digestive health, optimal liver health, managing stress and and balancing blood sugar. Plus, a look at how adding cruciferous vegetables to your daily food plan helps to manage excess oestrogen.
Nutritional strategies to support progesterone levels e.g. first of all balancing oestrogen, then reducing inflammation resulting from high stress and eating foods which contain the nutrients to support the corpus luteum which is the hormonal structure which produces progesterone. Foods containing selenium, Vitamin B6 and Zinc support the production of progesterone.
Menu and recipe ideas for using each of the nutritional strategies discussed.
1. Food ideas for Seed Cycling: use ground seeds and sprinkle on porridge, yoghurt, soups or drinks, homemade crackers/oatcakes/flapjacks/muesli/granola or protein balls.
2. Food ideas for Balancing Oestrogen: eat 3 portions of cruciferous/brassica vegetables every day e.g. made into soups, salads or side dishes.
3. Food ideas for Promoting Progesterone: eat 2-3 brazil nuts as a daily snack for selenium, add a sprinkle of dried seaweed or other seeds to salads, soups or casseroles for zinc and choose Vitamin B6 is found in turkey, tuna, beef, chicken, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, chickpeas and bulgar wheat.
Our suggestions for a 1-Day Menu Plan
Key Take Aways
1. The nutritional strategy of introducing Seed Cycling is to used to promote production of oestrogen levels in the first part of your cycle and progesterone levels in the second part of your cycle.
2. The nutritional strategy of Balancing Oestrogen is to promote optimum levels of oestrogen to help regulate your cycle, and particularly for runners to protect bone health, support muscle building and fat utilisation by supporting increased muscle glycogen storage positively support body composition).
3. The nutritional strategy of Promoting Progesterone is to promote optimal levels for the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and also to balance the ratio of oestrogen:progesterone to minimise possibility of oestrogen dominance
4. Key nutrients for Seed Cycling are Flaxseed and Pumpkin Seeds in In Follicular Phase to promote oestrogen and in the Luteal Phase is Sunflower seeds and Sesame seeds to promote progesterone levels
5. Seed cycling appears to help regulate hormonal balance over a one 1-3 month time frame and supports resolving oestrogen dominance and low oestrogen levels.
6. Seed cycling can be used by women who are menstruating as well as women going through peri menopause and menopause.
7. The nutritional foundations for balancing hormones are optimal digestion, optimal liver health, managing stress and balancing blood sugar.
8. When digested, cruciferous vegetables produce indole-3-carbinol and DIM to block E2 Estrodial and detoxify excess oestrogen – we suggest eating 3 portions of cruciferous vegetable every day.
9. To support progesterone levels, first balance oestrogen, then reduce inflammation followed by foods which promote the production of progesterone.
10. Finally remember, balanced hormones reduce both PMS and hormonal symptoms at any life phase of a woman’s life. As runners, we aim to have the energy and motivation to enjoy our running every day and not be limited by female hormonal symptoms.
The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and
advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact
your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.
Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.
Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.
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Aileen and Karen