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Whole grains for a healthy menstrual cycle

Some of the most common advice women may hear when inquiring about fertility diets is “eat whole grains every day”. And the same applies to food for menstrual cycle too!


Because regardless of your pregnancy plans, a healthy menstrual cycle is all about fertility!

If you want to read more about this topic, don't forget to check out my blog post Let's Start Talking About Menstrual Health Outside of "Pregnancy" where I shared my thoughts on why the menstrual cycle and women’s health continue to be mostly discussed in the context of pregnancy, and how we mixed up "fertility" and "pregnancy"...two related, yet quite significantly different, concepts.

But today I’d like to invite you to look at what whole grains are and why and how much of it can be beneficial for women who want to naturally reduce PMS symptoms and address hormonal imbalance.

What are whole grains?

Unlike processed grains (that are stripped of precious nutrients during the refining process), whole grains contain every part of the original grain (including the outer layers, bran and germ) as was intended by nature. Some examples include:

· whole oats

· whole corn

· popcorn

· whole rye

· brown rice

· whole barley

· bulgur

· amaranth

· millet

· quinoa

· wild rice

· teff

· buckwheat

and of course, whole wheat* (note: in the store “whole wheat” is not always “whole grain”). I know, crazy, right?

WHEAT SHOPPING TIP: When looking at ingredient lists for whole wheat products, make sure it says “whole grain whole wheat”. If it just says “whole wheat” or “100% whole wheat”, that often means that part of the wheat kernel has been removed.

Why whole grains?

Whole grains contain a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that help to restore the unique balance in a woman’s body.

It appears that aside from various well-known health benefits (such as helping with weight management and supporting heart health), whole grains is an essential menstrual cycle food that helps to reduce menstrual pain, decrease various PMS symptoms and improve your hormones. For example, in contrast to processed grains, whole grains can balance your insulin levels, which in turn improves your ovulation and your overall cycle!

Some research also found that a whole grain called quinoa can help women who suffer from migraines before their period.

Are any whole grains gluten-free?

Yes! While not all, many whole grains are naturally gluten-free and completely suitable for people with celiac disease or those avoiding gluten. You can see more examples and descriptions of gluten-free grains and flours here.

How much to eat for best results?

Everyone’s need and diet is different, so consult your nutritionist on what is best for you. On average, I usually recommend to my clients to start with a minimum of 40g of whole grains / day and increase based on the individualized plan.

How to eat whole grains?

If you are completely new to whole grains, starting with whole grain breads is the easiest. Once you get more comfortable, see if you would enjoy some warm and cozy steel cut oats for breakfast or unleash your imagination and start experimenting by adding whole grains to soups, casseroles, side dishes, salads and baking!

Love you all and til next!

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