Out of a woman's cycle, the luteal phase is the phase that gives many women the most trouble. During this phase progesterone is high as the the corpus luteum, a hormone-like substance, develops on the ovary. This sends a signal to the pituitary to stop making follicle stimulating and luteinizing hormones.
Progesterone in the feel-good hormone that helps us to feel relaxed and calm. When it is too low, this makes us feel cranky and irritable and want to rip the head off of anyone who looks at us the wrong way.
Stress is a big factor during this time as stress interferes with progesterone production. This causes estrogen to dominate which contributes to some common PMS symptoms.
Common estrogen dominant symptoms during this time:
Swollen or tender breasts (this can start as early as ovulation)
Digestive upset, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea,
Headache or backache; a low-grade estrogen-related migraine is common – it can last three days and painkillers have no effect
Food cravings and increased appetite
Joint and muscle aches
Brain fog, inability to focus and concentrate, memory issues
Mood swings, anger outbursts, general irritability – abnormal crying spells may also occur
Anxiety and/or depression
It is helpful to reduce stress and support the adrenals during this time to help prevent some uncomfortable symptoms.
Here are some key dietary and lifestyle strategies that you can implement to maintain proper hormonal balance during this time:
Helps to control stress and anxiety and creates a feeling of calm. Which is something we definitely want during this phase. It is found in green tea, black tea and matcha.
Balance blood sugar
Emphasizing more complex carbohydrates during this time helps to keep blood sugar stable and promotes energy which is commonly lower during this phase. Think root vegetables, peas, lentils, and whole-grains.
B vitamin-rich foods
B vitamins help to reduce cravings, help produce progesterone, and supports the adrenals, liver, thyroid and the gut. Think whole-grains, beans, nuts and seeds and many fruits and vegetables.
Cut back on coffee
Coffee stimulates the adrenals to produce stress hormones. This increases anxiety, fatigue and moods swings and exacerbates hormonal symptoms. Shizandra berry can be helpful at reducing caffeine withdrawal symptoms. It is helpful to begin to slowly cut back before this phase begins and switch to green and black teas during this time.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for hormone balance. It's benefits include lowering blood sugar, alleviating fatigue, promoting sleep, helping detoxify estrogen's, and promoting relaxation. It is also a building block of the steroid hormones. This is a great time to boost your magnesium intake by emphasizing foods like almonds, leafy green vegetables, and avocado as magnesium is often at it's lowest level during our periods.
Because energy runs low during this phase, it's a good idea to allow yourself to rest more. Switch from high-impact to more low-impact forms of exercise to reduce stressing the body. Meditation can be great during this time as well as it helps to control cortisol.
Bottom line, if you find that during the week or two before your period you are having trouble sleeping, or are anxious and irritable, you need to balance your hormones.
This is actually not that hard to do. Managing stress is a key factor here, so being kind to yourself and making adjustments that help to promote more calm during this phase can be very effective. This will help to reduce overall inflammation and keep hormones balanced.
Grab your FREE copy of the "QUICK-START GUIDE TO BALANCED HORMONES". It provides you with a helpful chart that you can attach to your fridge for how to start supporting your hormone health.