Eating For Your Menstrual Cycle Phases

This guest blog post is written by our friends at Moon Cycle Bakery.

The term functional food is a popular one these days and it’s easy to see why. Studies and science continue to show us how what we put into and on our bodies (as well as our thoughts) affects our day-to-day life from how healthy and happy our gut is to how well our hair and nails grow.

At Moon Cycle Bakery, we totally believe that what we eat (and how we treat ourselves) absolutely has an effect on our bodies, but also that having a greasy slice of pizza or giant apple fritter is just as important for the soul and our bodies as getting in your fruits and veggies. We don’t believe in ticking boxes, a “one-size-fits-all” approach and we’re definitely not here to tell you not to buy a KitKat on your period. We’re here as a healthier, nourishing option for those of us who like to have our cake and eat it, too. And most of all, we’re here to help empower others through hormonal education and women’s health that we find can lead to the freedom of self-authored CHOICE — something we fervently believe everyone deserves, with a side of chocolate or not.

Hormone-supportive treats, say what?

Hormone-supportive treats — a phrase that sounds exciting and intriguing. But what does it actually mean and is it a bunch of consumerism hoo-ha? For us, the answer is yes and no.

Let’s start with the yes. Within the incredibly saturated wellness industry, we find that everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The best way to support most healthy bodies (individuals with illness, hormonal disorders such as PCOS,  autoimmune diseases, etc not included) is through whole ingredients, fresh food, and eating everything in variety so that we’re consistently absorbing different nutrients, vitamins, etc. Our product is here to support your nutrition regimen and add a big dose of joy to your life.

Will it cure your endometriosis? No.

Will it 100% replenish your iron in just one brownie? No.

Will it take away all of your PMS symptoms after one bite of a cookie? We’re going to say no.

Which is why we never make any of these claims. We can’t know every customer’s individual makeup, imbalance and how their bodies will absorb or metabolize the ingredients in our treats, so we focus more on the general aches and pains one experiences through their cycle.

Here is where the no “it’s not a bunch of hoo-ha” comes in: what our treats will do is help to replenish certain micronutrients that you lose throughout your menstrual cycle. How much of that lost micronutrient will it replenish? It’s hard to say. As we all metabolize at different rates, it’s impossible for us to know just how much cacao you need to replenish vs. how much your best friend needs. But our treats are created to help replenish some of the major nutrient players by using whole ingredients in each recipe. That doesn’t mean it replaces a meal or has the super power of spinach. It does mean, however, that it’s going to nourish your body a lot better than your typical chocolate bar or brownie. You’re feeding your soul AND your body, and did we mention adding joy to your life? Because dessert tends to do that!

Cookie on Moon Cycle Bakery box next to a stack of Natracare period products

Choosing ingredients

At Moon Cycle Bakery, we focus on each phase within the menstrual cycle. We talk with nutritionists about which micronutrients are depleted and why, better understanding how our hormones affect our bodies and which symptoms may arise when our hormones are imbalanced or our bodies are lacking  nourishment. From here, we scour studies and read about certain whole foods (think sweet potatoes, cinnamon, cacao, etc.) that have been shown to help support and replenish these certain micronutrients (magnesium, zinc, iron, etc.). We then join forces and talk taste profiles — what flavors we want to focus on and how to create a treat that is both delicious and nutritious, putting special attention on keeping them gluten-free, refined sugar- free and dairy-free. Some of our treats are also vegan to support those who live a vegan lifestyle. At the end of the day, we want treats that will help your body during your menstrual cycle by not adding to inflammation and will satisfy your soul and stomach, as well.

So what ingredients are we talking about here…

Menstrual phase: cacao

Cacao is chock-full of magnesium, a key nutrient we lose while on our periods. It helps to relax our muscles and keeps our digestive tract moving in the right direction. It’s also involved in over 300 biochemical processes including blood clotting and muscle contraction.

Follicular phase: oats

Oats are a great source of a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan, which acts as a prebiotic for beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome. Some of these little microbes in our gut help eliminate excess estrogen, which is important throughout the entire cycle, but especially as our hormone levels begin to increase (we don’t want to build estrogen up too high, too quickly). And what makes sprouted oats even better? Research shows that sprouted grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are easier to digest, which means we can absorb even more of those sweet nutrients found in oats like protein, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium.

Ovulation phase: citrus

Estrogen levels continue to rise and peak just after ovulation, so it’s important to continue to reach for fiber- and antioxidant-rich foods during this phase. This will support the body’s production of a powerful antioxidant called glutathione, which helps the liver in detoxifying. This ensures any excess estrogen can be metabolized (flushed out so it doesn’t hang around your body)  helping to avoid excess build-up and in turn, PMS symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as lemon, help the body produce more glutathione through recycling. Plus — besides being totally delicious, being high in vitamin C means it will help your body absorb iron.

Luteal phase: sweet potato

Sweet Potato is the perfect complex carb for when those carb-cravings kick in as they don’t digest and turn into sugar like simple carbs do, helping us avoid a sugar crash. They also help replenish vitamin-B packed goodness and re-boost serotonin and dopamine, helpful for those of us that experience mood swings during the luteal and menstrual phase.

You do you

At the end of the day, eating “well” depends on your body type, your preferences and your values. We aren’t here to tell you what to eat and when, but we will offer education (and treats!) if you’re interested in a hormone supportive diet.

MCB is about creating empowerment through education as well as celebrating a long-time stigmatized topic. We are badass for what our body creates and sheds every month, metaphorically and literally, and we’ll never stop believing that deserves to be acknowledged and revered. Moon Cycle Bakery is meant to enhance simple joy and wellbeing – nourishing the soul as much as the body, because that’s as important to our health as our physical elements are. And a brownie never hurts.

We’re hosting a giveaway together! Head over to our Instagram to get involved.

Interested in getting your hands on some hormone-supportive treats? Check out Moon Cycle Bakery’s products!

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