Ovulation is the key to cycle success you say?
Keep reading to find out how to promote ovulation and why it's the key to making hormones and beating PMS.
There are two main ways to support the menstrual cycle and its hormones in order to reduce pre-menstrual and period symptoms:
1> Support ovulation and egg quality
2> Support healthy hormone metabolism through digestive, liver, and lymphatic function.
Ovulation and egg quality
Ovulation is how hormones are made. When ovulation occurs the ovarian follicle that released that cycle's egg is triggered by FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone) to become a temporary body of tissue called the corpus luteum.
The corpus luteum starts to produce the main hormones of the 'luteal phase' or what you might call 'PMS territory' at least for now.
By acting on various tissues in the body, not just the reproductive cells, progesterone:
- Promotes healthy endometrial lining for egg and sperm implantation
- Reduces inflammation
- Converts to allopregnanalone, a hormone that acts on the brain to modulate GABA action for relaxant, neuroprotective, anti-depressant, and anxiolytic effects. Low progesterone and allopregnanolone levels are associated with major depression, anxiety disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Plays a role in bone formation
- Protects against oestrogen-driven endometrial cancer
- Plays a role in thyroid function and elevated body temperature in the luteal phase
- Suppresses oestrogen dominance
What does this all mean? Less pre-menstrual anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, breast tenderness and fluid retention/bloating, heavy bleeding, short cycles, spotting and reduce risk of chronic disease in later life. Great!
So in order to have enough progesterone and less PMS and period symptoms, it is important to promote healthy ovulation. Incorporate foods rich in the following:
Vitamin A is an umbrella term for retinyl palmitate (animal source that converts to active retinol in the intestines) and carotenes such as beta-carotene (plant-based, requires conversion via the liver).
Organ meats *choose organic to avoid heavy metal exposure
Organ meats *
Salmon ^ Choose wild-caught over farmed where possible
Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)
Non-mercury risk fish: small, oily fish. Choose wild-caught wherever possible
Herring / Tommy rough
High-quality cod liver oil
Evening primrose oil
Microalgae such as spirulina and chlorella
Fresh vegetables including starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, purple potato, carrot, turnips, radish, and peas
Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, red beans, mung beans, black beans
So that the body, as clever as it is, knows it is safe to ovulate and potentially create new life, it is a requirement to eat enough food relative to your energy output and feel safe and relaxed. How?
Eat sufficient wholefoods daily
Choose whole, unprocessed foods including plant-based or animal sources of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats daily to ensure you are meeting nutritional requirements for ovulation and endocrine function.
The more you move your body the more it needs
Your energy output needs to be matched with your energy intake. Lack of fuel may lead to excess physiological stress, thyroid dysfunction, irregular cycles, missed ovulation and missed periods.
Rest and Listen
Don't expect to feel the same every day of your cycle. Listen to your body. Rest when tired, overworked, or overwhelmed and implement stress management tools that work for you.
Change your exercise routine to cycle-friendly options based on the phase you are in. E.g. try higher intensity training during ovulatory and luteal phase and low intensity, walking or yoga during menstrual and follicular phases. Listen to your body and it's signs to avoid having to play catch up.