Seed cycling is one of the top trending topics in the women’s health world today. This is due to its purported hormone balancing, fertility boosting, period regulating and PMS relieving benefits. But, can it actually help you? Let’s dive into the evidence.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is an ancient naturopathic practice that consists of eating different types of seeds at different times of the month during your cycle. This is meant to coincide with the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. During the first half of your cycle or the follicular phase estrogen rises and during the second half of your cycle or the luteal phase progesterone rises. Seed cycling is meant to support this natural hormonal shift.
The typical seed cycling plan involves eating 1 tablespoon of flax and pumpkin seeds each day during your follicular phase. Then, during the luteal phase, you eat 1 tablespoon daily of sesame and sunflower seeds.
This supposedly helps improve hormonal symptoms like acne, irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes and a bunch of other issues related to PCOS, endometriosis, menopause and fertility.
Does Seed Cycling Actually Work?
The truth is that there is no real scientific evidence out there that indicates seed cycling helps with all these hormonal issues. In fact, there is very little research on seed cycling at all.
What we do know is that the seeds involved (pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower seeds) are healthy and have benefits when they’re part of a balanced diet. In fact, they may even help some with hormones like estrogen and progesterone, just not necessarily in the way they’re said to help in seed cycling.
What are the Health Benefits of Seeds?
Seeds are packed with micronutrients like zinc, omega-3 fats, magnesium, calcium and vitamin E that are essential for a healthy reproductive system and fighting inflammation. They can also help with insulin resistance and hormone metabolism in endometriosis and PCOS.
Seeds have polyphenols in them. These are natural compounds found in plants that are loaded with antioxidants. In other words, they help your body defend against inflammatory stressors! Phytoestrogens are a group of polyphenols found mainly in flax and chia seeds, that are structurally similar to estrogen. Phytoestrogens can be either pro or anti-estrogenic depending on the environment they’re in. This means they actually can help balance out your estrogen levels whether they’re high or low.
Some studies even show they can decrease testosterone in PCOS. High testosterone levels associated with PCOS cause acne, abnormal hair growth and infertility.
Plus, they may be helpful for menopause. Menopausal women lose a lot of estrogen. In recent studies, phytoestrogens were found to prevent bone loss and ease hot flashes and vaginal dryness in women going through menopause.
Key Takeaways About Seed Cycling
The specific practice of seed cycling is not a holy grail for balancing hormones, since there is no evidence that actually supports it. However, seeds can be part of a nutritious anti-inflammatory diet and are a great source of phytoestrogens, omega-3’s, fiber, and protein that can support healthy hormones.
Simply adding more seeds into your snacks and meals can help you get important nutrients and compounds. Plus, they’re fun to use in cooking, baking and cold dishes like chia seed pudding.
If you’re feeling confused and frustrated with all the conflicting nutrition advice out there and don’t know what to believe or where to start, book a free nutrition chat with me today!