Your Diet, Your Cycle, And You.
Has your cycle been a bit less regular than usual? Or maybe it has been lighter or heavier? What has caused it to change? Is it your diet??
A regular menstrual cycle is a sign of good health. Your menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. Changes in these hormones will therefore affect your menstrual cycle. Research shows that our hormone production can be affected by our diet, so yes, a change in diet can affect your menstrual cycle.
Excessive calorie restriction is strongly associated with menstrual change. Restrictive eating often means that calorie intake is inadequate compared to energy burned. If your calorie deficit is too large, your hormones may be disrupted. Your body will always prioritise keeping you and your vital organs alive, which means that your body will not be preparing for the possibility of pregnancy at this stage, and will cease ovulation! This can cause shorter cycles or amenorrhea (absence of periods).
Following a vegetarian diet
A vegetarian diet can be a very healthy diet pattern to follow, if you ensure you are meeting all of your nutritional requirements. However, studies show that vegetarians have a higher rate of self-reported premenstrual and menstrual symptoms, as well as irregular cycles and heavier periods, compared to non-vegetarians. It’s also important to note that if you are vegetarian and do have a heavy cycle, you need to make sure you are meeting your iron requirements to avoid anaemia.
Too much alcohol
Studies have shown a relationship between excessive long-term alcohol consumption and cycle irregularities. If your menstrual cycle is irregular, this could be something to check!
Change the amount of isoflavones in your diet
Isoflavones (or plant oestrogens/phytoestrogens) are substances that occur naturally in plants, but have a similar structure to our own oestrogen. Foods with these compounds include soy products (like tofu and soy milk), and legumes (like lentils and chickpeas).
Isoflavones have been shown in studies to help with symptoms of menopause like hot flushes and night sweats. So, there is a possibility that isoflavones may also have an impact on your PMS symptoms! More research is required in this area, but there is absolutely no harm in trying to increase/decrease your isoflavone intake to get on top of your PMS symptoms.
Being underweight, or simply over-exercising and under-eating can cause menstrual problems.
If you are underweight, you may experience menstrual irregularities, possibly amenorrhea. If your body fat percentage is too low, your body may stop producing oestrogen and therefore stop menstruation. Safely regaining a small percentage of body fat can help with this. Having a diet rich in healthy fats like fish, nuts, oils and avocado can help restore oestrogen levels and resume menstruation.
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