Can diet affect my menstrual cycle? | Nourish with Melanie #100


Has your menstrual cycle been a bit less regular
than usual? Or maybe it’s lighter or heavier? If it was previously regular, you might be
wondering what’s caused it to change…. You may be wondering ‘can diet affect my menstrual
cycle?’ Well the answer is yes. Stay tuned and I’ll explain how. Hi, my name is Melanie McGrice and I’m a fertility
and prenatal dietitian. A regular menstrual cycle is a sign of good
health. Your menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones
such as estrogen and progesterone. Changes in these hormones will therefore affect
your menstrual cycle. Research shows that our hormone production
can be affected by our diet… so a change in diet can affect your menstrual cycle. Let’s have a look at some of the ways this
could happen. Number 1 – Restrictive eating.
Excessive calorie restriction has been strongly associated with menstrual change. Restrictive eating (such as Anorexia Nervosa, rapid weight loss or famine) often means that calorie intake is inadequate
compared to energy burned. This calorie deficit may disrupt the hormones
that regulate your menstrual cycle and can cause shorter cycles or amenorrhea (which
is a technical name for an absence of periods). Number 2 – Following a vegetarian diet.
A vegetarian diet can be a very healthy diet to follow, if you ensure you are meeting all
your nutritional requirements. However, a study by Baines and colleagues
suggested vegetarians have a higher rate of self-reported premenstrual and menstrual symptoms,
as well as irregular cycles and heavier periods, compared to non-vegetarians. Furthermore, if you experience heavy bleeding
during your cycle and are on a vegetarian diet, it is very important to ensure sure
you are meeting your iron requirements to avoid anaemia. Number 3 – Too much alcohol.
Some studies have shown a relationship between excessive long-term alcohol consumption and
cycle irregularities. If your menstrual cycle is irregular, it may
be worth considering how much alcohol you are consuming Number 4 – Changes the amount of isoflavones
in your diet. Isoflavones (also known as plant estrogens)
are substances that occur naturally in plants, but have a similar structure to our own body’s
estrogen. Some common foods containing isoflavones include
soy products (like tofu and soy milk) and legumes (like lentils and chickpeas). Some studies suggest that isoflavones may
improve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes and night sweats. The impact of isoflavones on the regularity
of our menstrual cycles remains controversial. Most studies suggest that a diet high in isoflavones
has little impact on the menstrual cycle, including length, amount of bleeding or hormone
levels. However, if you’ve tried everything else,
increasing or decreasing your isoflavone intake might be something that is worth considering. And, finally, number 5, weight changes.
Being both underweight or overweight can impact your menstrual cycle…. If you are underweight you may experience
irregular menstrual cycles, or in severe cases, amenorrhea. If your percentage of body fat is too low,
your body will simply stop producing estrogen and therefore stop menstruation. Regaining weight safely with the guidance
of a health professional and a diet rich in healthy fats from sources such fish, nuts,
oils and avocado and can help restore your estrogen levels and resume menstruation. On the other hand, being overweight can also
lead to menstrual disruptions or amenorrhea. Problems occur when you have too many fat
cells as they can produce an excessive amount of estrogen. And although there is no ovulation, blood
continues to line the uterine wall and builds up to such an extent that, when you finally
do get your period, it will be heavier and longer than normal. Losing body fat may help get your menstrual
cycle back on track. So you can see that a regular menstrual cycle
is a good indication of hormonal balance. It’s even more important when you are trying
to conceive, as ovulation obviously plays a big role in falling pregnant. If you need help restoring your menstrual
cycle while trying to conceive download my free fertility meal plan at melaniemcgrice.com/fertility
and if you haven’t done so already, make sure you subscribe so that you get my weekly tips. Let me know if you have any questions in the
chat box below, otherwise, I’ll look forward to seeing you in my next video!