Hormones are sensitive and complicated, but there is a lot we can do naturally through diet and lifestyle to support healthy hormone balance. Seed cycling is one of the natural ways we can support proper estrogen and progesterone fluctuation in a woman's cycle. In this article, you'll learn how easy seed cycling can be. You'll wonder why you haven't done this sooner!
To start, let's talk about a few foods - seeds in particular - that can be a huge help in regulating menstrual cycles, PMS symptoms, mood changes, and overall nutrients.
Seed Cycling is the practice of adding in 2 tablespoons of a specific combination of seeds daily. There are a variety of ways you can add in seeds to your diet. I included my favorite ways to add seeds into my diet at the end of this article.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is eating a small amount of specific seeds daily according to where you are in your menstrual cycle. The seeds used in seed cycling are pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower. These seeds have specific properties that help to promote estrogen and progesterone production properly.
Phase 1 - Follicular Phase begins on day 1 of your cycle (first day of your period), and goes until ovulation occurs. Ovulation can range anywhere from day 11 to day 21. If you are not sure when you ovulate but you have a normal 27-32 day cycle, use day 15 as your ovulation day.
During the follicular phase, we want our bodies to be making more estrogen than progesterone. Pumpkin and flax seeds contain phytoestrogens, which are the plant's natural estrogen.
Phytoestrogens help to support estrogen balance, as well as help to clear excess estrogen from the body to prevent imbalance. Pumpkin and flax are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc to help reduce inflammation, support the immune system, and produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
Phase 2 - Luteal Phase begins the day after ovulation and continues until the end of your cycle, when you get your period. Typical cycle lengths can range from 27 days to 35 days.
During the luteal phase, we want our bodies to be making more progesterone. Sesame and sunflower seeds are high in lignans, which help to keep the proper balance of progesterone to estrogen.
Sesame seeds are rich in zinc and sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E. These two nutrients together help to support progesterone production. These seeds also both contain selenium and omega-6 fatty acids, which convert to gamma-linolenic acid in the body - another nutrient that helps to promote progesterone levels.
Can you balance hormones naturally if you have an irregular cycle?
Whether you are not getting your period regularly because you have PCOS, are on continuous birth control, or are in perimenopause or menopause -- seed cycling will still benefit you!
Since you don't have a regular cycle to work off of for your follicular and luteal phase, you will use the lunar cycle. Your follicular phase will start with the new moon being your cycle day one. Your mid-cycle switch will be with the full moon. When the full moon comes you will switch to luteal phase seed cycling until the next new moon (when you start your cycle over).
How to Start Seed Cycling
We are splitting up the seeds into two cycles, the follicular phase and the luteal phase. The follicular phase is the first half of your menstrual cycle before ovulation occurs. The luteal phase is the second half of your cycle, after ovulation occurs.
If you are not sure when you ovulate, we can estimate. To do this let's take the average number of days your cycle lasts, for example let's say your cycle is 30 days. We can estimate that ovulation occurs 14 days before your period, so in this case that would be day 16.
Follow the follicular phase seeds from days 1 to 15, then switch to the luteal phase seeds days 16 to 30 or until you get your period. If your cycle is irregular, then you will want to follow this strict schedule for seed cycling to try and get your body on a monthly cycle.
>> Make your life easier by purchasing organic seeds already blended for your follicular phase and luteal phase like Manski's Wellness Glow & Radiant Seed Blends
Keep in Mind: Natural support of hormone balance takes time. It may be a few months of seed cycling before you see any change or benefit. I recommend tracking your cycle and symptoms, so you can more easily monitor changes.
Tips to Purchasing and Storing Seeds
Purchase raw, organic seeds for the highest quality and to ensure potency of nutrients
Store seeds in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and warm temperatures because seeds are high in fats and they can oxidize easily.
Beeya is a company who specializes in seed cycling, using organic seed blends packaged for “phase 1” follicular and “phase 2” luteal of your cycle. This is a super simple and clean way to incorporate seed cycling into your diet. You can check them out here to learn more.
My Favorite Ways to Add Seeds to Your Diet
Try them in a smoothie, salad, soup, or grain bowl. If you’re eating them with warm foods, add them to the dish after cooking to avoid denaturing the nutrients.
Add seeds to a smoothie
Add seeds to your oatmeal or yogurt
Grind seeds up to make seed butter and spread on fruit or toast
Sprinkle seeds on a salad or in a wrap
Add seeds to overnight oats or avocado pudding
Make energy bites and add seeds to bites (make sure to measure enough to get 1 tbsp. each seed in one serving of bites)
Roast sweet potatoes and sprinkle on top, or on a baked sweet potato
It can feel like our body is working against us, but please know that is never the case!
If you're looking for additional guidance and support, let me know. Now is the time to invest in yourself and your body. You deserve to feel happy, energized, and comfortable in your body! Apply to work with me here
Please note: some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you in advance if you wish to purchase through the links!
Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian
works specifically with women's hormones, inflammation, and digestive health. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including bloating, weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, irregular cycles, and other inflammatory symptoms.
Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle. Follow me @moms.hormone.dietitian