There was a time - a long time - that I cursed my menstrual cycle. It always seemed like nothing more than an inconvenience standing in the way of an active lifestyle. While becoming a holistic health care practitioner, I realized that I was wrong. Very wrong. A healthy cycle has everything to do with whole-body health and tuning in to the intricacies of Aunt Flo can tell us a lot about potential hormonal imbalances. This makes sense, right? Our bodies need to be functioning optimally to be ready for reproduction. Constant cortisol spikes (i.e. high stress levels) put the body into fight or flight mode – not ideal for nourishing our reproductive system or being in the mood to make babies.
In the beginning of our cycles, estrogen runs the show. Steady levels are important to prepare for ovulation. Estrogen is a strong hormone associated with lifted mood as it triggers serotonin and dopamine. After two weeks and successful ovulation, progesterone kicks in and helps to calm the nervous system, stimulate the thyroid, and may even reduce inflammation. Without proper estrogen manufacture and detoxification, we don’t attain optimal levels of progesterone and our hormonal balance is disrupted.
There are compounds found in food along with micro-nutrients that are important in keeping this yin-yang relationship. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Phytoestrogens // Found in flax and soy – moderate amounts can help with detoxifying excess estrogen.
Healthy Fats // These provide cholesterol which is the precursor to our sex hormones. Omega 3 essential fatty acids also decrease inflammation.
Magnesium // Helps to regulate hormone communication, calms the nervous system, and plays a role in sex hormone manufacture. Leafy greens, raw cacao, and nuts/seeds are all good ways to consume magnesium.
Zinc // Important in supporting ovulation and promoting progesterone and also helps with hormone communication. Best source is animal products but zinc is also found in nuts + seeds!
We also need a combination of B6, folate, B12, and protein to move estrogen out of the body & give progesterone a chance to shine. Majority of these are found in high concentration in animal products but nuts + seeds provide them too.
Between high stress, increased inflammation from environmental triggers, and years of birth control use – it’s no surprise that our menstrual cycles have become uncomfortable, irregular, and even painful. It certainly shouldn't be that way & the foods we choose to consume can play a huge role in regulating a healthy cycle. Enter: Aunt Flo’s Bars.
These are really simple to make and excellent for a grab & go snack. Most importantly, they’re filled with ingredients that support your reproductive health, which is integral to feeling well! Here's the 10 minute recipe:
1 cup raw cacao powder (magnesium!)
1 tbsp flax meal (phytoestrogens!)
2 tbsp chia (magensium + healthy fat!)
¼ cup coconut oil (healthy fat!)
1 cup hazelnuts (magnesium!)
¼ cup sunflower seeds (magnesium + folate!)
½ cup almond butter (magnesium + zinc!)
5 pitted dates (magnesium + iron!)
1 cup alternative milk
1 tbsp cinnamon (great for blood flow! + iron)
Top with coconut flakes
Throw into a food processor and blend until it becomes a dough like consistency. Press into a casserole dish + freeze for 15-20 minutes. Slice into squares. These will melt so keep refrigerated!