By Alisa Vitti, Integrative Nutritionist and Hormone Expert Founder of FLOliving.com Author of WomanCode
This plan works on a four-week cycle, just like your cycle. This plan is good for women whether they are menstruating or no longer menstruating because, over the course of four weeks, we’ll be changing your diet such that we’ll be increasing valuable micronutrients and regulating their distribution so your endocrine system gets the right variety of the key micronutrients it needs to produce optimal hormone levels.
The second reason this works is that it provides a regular rotation of foods to help break down estrogen and clear it out of the body efficiently. This works for every woman at every stage because hormones affect everything that’s happening in our bodies. Whether you have an actual cycle or not, your body is producing all sorts of varying hormones and they need to move out of your system efficiently so you don’t become symptomatic.
If you still get your period, start the day after it ends. If you don’t get your period, start on a Sunday for your first week.
Don’t think that you have to eat only these foods during specific weeks; rather, think of “turning up the volume” on certain foods during the specific week. For example, don’t only eat raw juice during Week Two; rather, incorporate more raw juice during that week.
Focus on: Sprouted and Fermented Foods
Some of my favorite and healthiest sprouted and pickled foods are sauerkraut, kimchi, bean sprouts, broccoli sprouts and sprouted Ezekiel bread. These foods contain prebiotics and 3-endole-carbinol – two key micronutrients that help the body metabolize and break down estrogen. This is important during the first week as estrogen begins to rise (if you have a cycle).
Focus on: Raw Juices and Fresh Veggies
I recommend veggie juice made from beets, lemon, kale, apple, celery and ginger along with any fresh, raw veggies. Raw fruits and vegetables are important because you experience a surge of estrogen during this week, and they provide the antioxidants and fiber your body needs to break down and move estrogen out of the body quickly. Most importantly, raw juices and fresh veggies also ensure that the liver gets the micronutrient glutathione, which is required to break down estrogen. We cannot bottle glutathione – it’s only available in raw fruits & vegetables.
Focus on: Grains and Greens
Eat quinoa, buckwheat, bok choy, kale, escarole and swiss chard. In week three, there is both a surge of estrogen and progesterone and then a decline. This affects brain chemistry, and ultimately, our mood. Grains provide B vitamins, which give your body the building blocks to produce serotonin to help keep moods stable. Greens contain calcium and magnesium, which help your body use the hormones you do have efficiently. Grains and greens combined provide your body with plenty of soluble fiber to help move estrogen out of the body as quickly as possible.
Focus on: Healthy Fats and Root Vegetables
Eat salmon, avocados, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and beets. During this week, hormone levels shift toward their lower levels and the essential fatty acids help stabilize mood and energy. Additionally, root veggies give the body vitamin A, which is required to help the liver process estrogen.
A Note on Soy
You may have noticed that I don’t mention soy products very often. There is a reason for this. In my experience, women with estrogen-dominant conditions, like PCOS, fibroids, ovarian cysts, infertility and low libido, have a harder time including this as a significant part of their diet. So often we tend to overconsume foods that are touted as health foods. Traditionally, Asian cultures consume no more than two teaspoons of fermented soy a day, which has been shown to be health-promoting, while more than that quantity becomes problematic. Soy products contain high levels of phytoestrogens that mimic the body’s natural estrogen hormones. If you’re struggling to break down what you’re already producing, adding more to your taxed system can make your symptoms worse.