What is Seed Cycling and Does it Work?

Seed cycling is a dietary lifestyle habit that aims to positively improve hormonal health, specifically for women and their menstrual cycle.  It is theorised that through altering the consumption of seed types during the menstrual phases, those particular phases then function in a healthier manner.  

A woman’s menstrual cycle is a vital sign of health for a woman.  It is a monthly indicator of hormonal health and particular irregularities are signs of potential imbalance.  The Shift Podcast, Season Two goes into more detail about this, find it here.

As a brief recap, your menstrual cycle consists of four distinct phases:

  1. Follicular Phase (Days 1-14)
  2. Ovulation
  3. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)
  4. Menstruation

Hormones regulate these phases.  In particular, oestrogen and progesterone play a huge role in varying degrees. Your ovaries produce both oestrogen and progesterone. They produce two oestrogens known as oestrone and oestradiol.  Oestrogen helps the body to develop and release the egg (ovulation), whereas progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare it to accept a fertilised egg (conception).  There are many health benefits to these hormones for women including keeping your bone, hair, skin and nails healthy; preserving memory and assisting in mood regulation; and supporting a healthy immune system. 

Oestrogen Rises during the follicular phase, and lowers during the luteal phase.
  • Important for ovulation, libido, and conception
  • Necessary for balancing moods
  • Helps to maintain quality sleep
  • Supports healthy bone and muscle structures
Progesterone Rises during the luteal phase, and lowers during the follicular phase.
  • Important for pregnancy (also known as the ‘Mother Hormone’)
  • Assists regulating energy
  • Helps support relaxation and sleep onset
  • Supports skin health

So, back to seed cycling.

 

Follicular Phase – Days 1-14 (Menstruation)

Flaxseeds (Linseeds) + Pumpkin Seeds

 

Luteal Phase – Days 15-28 (Ovulation)

Sesame Seeds + Sunflower Seeds

 

How to Consume

Try adding one to two tablespoons of freshly ground seeds to your diet each day.  Refrain from buying the pre-ground packaged seeds as some of the oils are very delicate and it is likely that they are rancid.  This is especially true of flaxseed.  You can grind up a batch and place in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for two weeks at a time.  

Some ideas:

  • Smoothie ingredients.  A great way to do this is by putting them in your blender container overnight with a little water, add the rest of your ingredients the next day.  Blend together and enjoy!
  • Add to oat or gluten-free porridge recipe.
  • Mix into some coconut yogurt or chia pudding.
  • Simply put the ground seeds in water and drink it down!

As seeds are very high in soluble and insoluble fibre, make sure you keep hydrated when adding them into your diet, to prevent constipation.  The recommendation is at least 2L (eight glasses) of water a day, before taking into consideration exercise output, season (and if you’re sweating a lot) and coffee intake (which dehydrates the body).  

 

For the Science Lovers! … The Evidence!

The science behind seed cycling is lacking, however, it is an age-old practice.  Despite there being a lack of research on seed cycling itself, there have been studies conducted on the actual seeds.  Each seed contains specific nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids.  

  • Flaxseeds are phytoestrogenic and have a modulatory effect on your hormones.  Research has shown them to be beneficial in PCOS patients, where it can have beneficial effects on insulin and triglycerides.  It has also been found to alter oestrogens in a beneficial way, helping the body to eliminate any excesses.  Also, flaxseeds are a source of beneficial fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are beneficial to hormonal health. 
  • Pumpkin seeds provide a source of zinc and lignans (a phytoestrogen).  Research has shown that pumpkin seeds may assist in preventing breast cancer due to their effect on estradiol production and particular oestrogen and progesterone receptors that have effects on hormone-dependent tumour production.  Also, it has been postulated that zinc deficiency in women may enhance period pain and cramping due to high levels of prostaglandins.  From this, zinc works to inhibit the metabolism of prostaglandins, which in turn assists with blood flow to the uterus to calm uterus contractions and pain during menstruation. 
  • Sesame seeds provide a source of essential fatty acids, calcium, lignans and other vitamins and nutrients.  They have been shown to enhance vitamin E activity, which is an antioxidant.  Antioxidants assist in liver detoxification, especially for excess oestrogen.  Vitamin E also assists in stimulating progesterone production.  
  • Sunflower seeds provide a source of vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and copper, which are all supportive of healthy hormonal processes.  They also contain plant compounds known as phenolic acids and flavonoids, which are functional antioxidants that are important for liver detoxification for excess oestrogen. 

In conclusion, seed cycling is postulated to be an effective way of supporting hormonal health.  If you do decide to give this a go, consider buying your seeds organically.  Organic food has been found to contain more nutrients than conventional, as well as remove the toxic chemical load from pesticides commonly used on crops these days.  For more information on this refer to Episode 8 of the Shift Podcast, Season Two.

So your naturopath said…”no gluten”!

Why do we ask you not to eat gluten even if you don’t have Celiac’s Disease?

The main reason is that your gut is so very important to your overall health. The lining of your gut is the largest surface that provides a barrier between the environment and your body, thus it is crucial that the gut lining has the ability to critically select out what may enter and what shall not pass!

Leaky gut refers to an alteration in what your digestive tract allows to enter your body, compared to what it eliminates as waste. A large number of chronic inflammatory diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s disease, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases and autistic spectrum disorders have been associated with leaky gut.  Current research tells us that leaky gut increases after exposure to gluten in all individuals whether you have a predisposition to coeliac disease or not. If you have any kind of inflammation occurring in your body, removing gluten is a simple, dietary way to address one of the key underlying drivers or causes of that inflammation and work towards having the best gut health and therefore overall health outcomes.

 

Why is gluten so rough on our digestive system?

Gluten Triggers Inflammation

Gliadins and glutanins are two main components of the gluten protein occurring in wheat, barley, rye and oat seeds or grain. It is thought that gliadins are most implicated in the immune reaction that occurs in celiac disease, but glutanins and gliadins are so similar in structure that they are both considered to be inflammatory and can trigger an immune system reaction.

Zonulin

It sound’s like an alien planet, but it’s in your gut and opens up “doorways” in your intestinal lining to allow nutrients and other molecules to get in and out of your gut. Too much zonulin, opens these “doorways” too far, allowing toxins, large immune- reactive protein molecules, intestinal contents and bacterial waste to enter your bloodstream. This not only triggers inflammation and immune response but also increases the workload on the liver to filter out “garbage” for disposal. In other words, too much Zonulin equals leaky gut.  

The triggers for too much Zonulin include overgrowth of harmful bacteria or yeasts in the gut, parasitic infections and the consumption of gluten.  

Regardless of whether you have the genes for celiacs or not, the gliadin in gluten has been shown to significantly increase Zonulin in the gut.

 

But what about all the B vitamins and fibre I’ll miss out on?

B Vitamins are abundant in many foods, not just those containing gluten. Unprocessed gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa, teff, legumes, vegetables and meats and offal are all great sources of B vitamins.   Eating a variety of foods from the various food groups is the key to balanced nutrition, and is completely doable without touching gluten.

Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you:

The mistake many make when going gluten-free is to look for replacements in the supermarket which are labelled gluten-free. The problem with this is that the usual substitutes most sort after are bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers.  The market has portrayed gluten-free to be a healthier option, but in many cases, this is not true. Often, gluten-free products contain more refined grains, additives and sugars to maintain a similar appearance, taste and texture of the original product attempting to be cloned.  For example, a gluten-free brownie doesn’t automatically become a healthy option and some gluten-free bread are higher in sugar, white flours and food additives than regular bread.

A gluten-free sweet still remains a treat or sometimes food.  In order to improve your overall health, the fundamental key is to eat less processed, packaged food overall. Your practitioner will help you with this.

 

What foods contain gluten?

If your practitioner has asked you to avoid gluten, this means any product that is derived from :

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Kamut/Khorasan
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Khorasan
  • Oats

This may include cous cous, semolina, bourghal, bulgar.

Also remember to check the labels on foods which you may not have thought contain gluten grain products such as wraps, condiments, muesli bars, ice-creams, vinegar, some supplements.

Common foods misinterpreted as gluten-free are: mountain bread, sauces, cous cous, bourghul or tabbouli, noodles, ice-creams, yoghurts, milk containing malt. Always check the ingredients list!

 

How strict do I need to be?

You may not have to avoid gluten 100% forever. Unless you are a celiac, you are not allergic to gluten and the occasional indiscretion may not be critical to your health. Your naturopath will advise you on whether any forms of gluten can be introduced along the way or at a later date, and what to look for to avoid inflammation and optimise nutrition.

 

References:

Leaky Gut & Autoimmune Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896

Zonulin, a regulator of epithelial and endothelial barrier functions, and its involvement in chronic inflammatory diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734566

 


Osteopathy

Our osteopath helps Brisbane patients to recover, heal and thrive.

Osteopathy is one of the best modalities if you’re experiencing pain, discomfort or headaches. At Shift at Brisbane Natural Health our osteopath has over 10 years experience in getting you balanced and back to living your best life. 

Osteopaths use advanced techniques that work with the natural rhythms of your own body to correct postural misalignments, areas of tension and pain and help you recover from injury.

Under the gentle care of an osteopath your body can be gently coaxed and encouraged back to where things need to be. Our osteopath uses a holistic model of health care that looks at your musculoskeletal system and where the pain originates, but also takes into account what other issues in your body may be adding to the issue.

What can osteopathy help with?

At our Brisbane clinic, our osteopath Julie Sainsbury works with patients from all walks of life – the young, the elderly and even pregnant women. Julie has over 13 years experience and has helped thousands of patients in her years of practice.

Here’s a list of the most common issues we help patients with at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health.

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sciatica
  • Knee or foot pain
  • Hip pain
  • Muscular pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Is there any evidence for osteopathy?

The evidence behind the use of osteopathy is mounting. Because osteopathy is an individualised treatment no 2 patients will be treated the same, so it can be difficult to conduct research on the modality as a whole. Here are a collection of studies that show benefit of specific osteopathic techniques for headaches and neck pain. Here is a list of studies showing benefits for lower back and pelvic pain issues.

In most cases, we find osteopathy to be very helpful to those that are in pain.

What to Expect in Your First Treatment

Your Medical History

Your appointment will begin with a thorough medical history assessment. Your practitioner will take the time to listen to you, and ask questions so that there is a more complete understanding of the situation and circumstances that have brought you to seek help. If relevant, questions may be asked about your work routine, diet, pattern of exercise, sleep habits, etc., as these may give clues to help our assessment.  

Assessment

In addition to a detailed medical history, Osteopathic assessment consists of postural observation, mobility testing and hands on palpation. The Osteopath will perform a physical examination of any structures and systems that could be related to the presenting concerns. Standard orthopaedic and neurological evaluations are performed to ensure osteopathic treatment is appropriate. If further medical investigation or medical follow up is necessary, you will be referred back to your family physician for their intervention. Osteopathy is a form of complementary medicine, designed to work together with your M.D., or other health-care practitioners.

Your Treatment

Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle manipulations, depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. Treatment is different for every patient but may include techniques such as different types of soft tissue massage, visceral and joint manipulation to release tension, return muscles to their normal length, help relieve pain and mobilize your joints.

Discover

At your initial appointment, your osteopath will use several diagnostic techniques to assess your health. Many of these would be similar to what you’d experience in a physiotherapists office. From this information, your osteopath can then develop a custom treatment that will be able to help you as much as possible.

Renew

Your osteopathy treatment will help to begin correcting the issue right there on the table. Your recovery and results really depends on how severe the issue is, how long you have had it and what particular factors the therapist is dealing with.

Arrive

Our main aim is for you to get back to where you want to be. We want to help you  resolve or manage your issue so you can live a life that you love.

We help clients from all over Brisbane – North Brisbane, South Brisbane, and the CBD.

Our clinic is located in Milton, just a short drive from Paddington, Red Hill, Toowong, Indooroopilly, Brisbane city, Kelvin Grove, and many other inner-city Brisbane locations.  The Milton train station is right across the road and there is a bus stop right out front. Treat yourself to an hour of healing and renewal – book your initial appointment today.

Call our Milton clinic to find out more

Call us on 07 3367 0337 or click the online booking button to make an appointment with an osteopath at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health and start feeling great again!


Watch our client story video to see how 3 of our clients – Tessa, Tammy and Sam went through their wellness journey with us.