The Cycle Phases: Luteal
This week we dove into the very last cycle phase: the luteal phase. The luteal phase begins the day ofter ovulation and should last 10-14 days, ending on the first day of your period. During this phase, it's important to focus on preparing our body for menses, keeping energy levels up as hormones drop, and decreasing stress. This is a very telling time for women. We can tell a lot about our hormone balance due to the potential arrival of PMS symptoms so it may be the last phase, but that definitely doesn't mean it's not important!
What is going on in the body?
During the luteal phase, Estrogen levels continue to rise and the uterine lining continues to thicken. Progesterone also starts to rise, which is typically when we start to see signs of PMS if there is a hormone imbalance. PMS during this phase is caused by too much estrogen in the body relative to progesterone, also known as estrogen dominance which we went over in the our menstruation blog post. There are an array of things Jamie can recommend and work with you on to work on progesterone production and level out that estrogen to progesterone ration. PMS symptoms should be a thing of the past! Toward the end of the luteal phase, estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone peak and then begin to drop, hitting their lowest levels just before your period. You may also notice that your appetite increases around this time. This is because metabolism speeds up towards the back end of the luteal phase. It's important we fuel our body with the correct foods during this time so that we don't end up craving sugars and salts that only end up increasing those cravings further.
And last but not lease, these hormone changes prime your brain to be good at focusing on details and wrapping up projects. Toward the end of this phase, as your hormone levels plummet, you will have less energy and feel more inclined to focus inward rather than on socializing.
So, how can we support the body during these changes?
Preparing the body for menses should be the number one focus here. We want to try to keep energy levels up as much as possible and ward off as much stress in the body as we can. We can do this by fueling the body appropriately. As stated above, During the luteal phase, your metabolism speeds up and resting cortisol levels are higher, usually making us feel hungrier. Eating more calories throughout the day helps to maintain a stable blood sugar, which helps balance insulin — a critical hormone that greatly affects the degree of PMS you will experience. It's important to keep blood sugar balanced by keeping sugars down, proteins up, and choosing nutrients our body needs for menses. Our favorite foods for this phase include the following:
Proteins: Chicken, beef, turkey
Fruits: Apples, peaches, dates
Veggies: Cauliflower, celery, cucumber, onion, sweet potato
Nuts: sunflower seeds
During the luteal phase, we recommend the Chaste Tree Berry (also known as Vitex Berry) to women who are not pregnant or taking hormonal contraceptives. This herb is a great way to support your body by: relieving PMS and cramps, encouraging hormonal balance, supporting healthy progesterone and estrogen levels, working with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to balance hormone levels, and supports the clearing of hormone-related acne. We carry loose Chaste Tree Berry Powder, tinctures, and add Chaste Tree Berry Powder to our 'A Female Thing' blend; a great tea for balancing hormones, relieving PMS, and supporting uterine health.
As your hormone levels begin to drop off in the back end of the luteal phase so will your energy levels. During this phase it is best to opt for gentler movement like Pilates and other non-cardio strength training. How much PMS you have is totally in your control and directly related to how much or how little you support your hormones and body during this phase. In addition to fueling the body, how you move the body and what you expect out of it during this phase plays a significant role in how well your body is supported.
Supplements The natural increase in metabolism means your body needs more calories. However, if you don’t get that caloric level dialed in, you will experience sugar cravings during this phase. To keep those cravings at bay, it’s important to emphasize complex carbs, like sweet potato during this phase. You’ll want to continue to eat natural sugars and complex carbs throughout the entire luteal phase, because they help boost neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine to keep your mood stable. As your need for calories and complex carbs goes up in the luteal phase, it’s essential to keep your blood sugar stable — and that’s where chromium, spirulina, and cinnamon come in. Cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in fasting glucose levels, according to research, and has the potential to reduce blood sugar after eating a meal. Cinnamon has also been shown to help reduce insulin resistance, which can happen when blood sugar levels remain too high for a long period of time and which is a precursor to other, more serious conditions. Chromium is an essential mineral that helps regulate insulin activity in the body and enhance the metabolism of carbs, proteins, and fats. Studies show that chromium can help reduce insulin resistance, which sets the stage for clinical conditions like PCOS and gestational diabetes, and keep blood glucose stable. Spriulina has shown lower fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose levels. A significant reduction in the HbA(1c) level was also observed, indicating improved long-term glucose regulation. We carry all three supplements in the store.
It has been another info-packed week on the phases of our menstrual cycle. If you're looking for more information, be sure to check out our latest social media posts and don't hesitate to reach out. Jamie is available for one-on-one consults to offer specific recommendations and personalized help. We are located at 4242 Gordon Dr. here in Sioux City, IA. upstairs, above Chiropractic First of Iowa. If you're not in the area, please give us a call at (712) 525-0478 or message us on social media and we can set up a virtual chat or phone call.
Store hours are:
Monday 12pm - 4pm
Tuesday 10am - 6pm
Wednesday 10am - 6pm
Thursday 10am - 6pm
Friday 10am - 6pm
Saturday 10am - 3pm