How to Start Cycle Syncing

I discussed what cycle syncing was in my last post, but now I’m sure you’re wondering how to get started. Here are my top 5 tips on how to live according to your cycle without overcomplicating things.

  1. Read Alisa Vitti’s “In the Flo” book. This book is what sparked my interest in women’s health and biohacking your hormones .It’s a fairly easy read and account of how women are neglected in terms of diet and exercise advice compared to men (which many studies are based on). *hard eye roll*
  2. Take up seed cycling. Seed cycling is eating sunflower seeds and sesame seeds during your luteal and menstrual phases (the week before and of your period) and eating pumpkin and flax seeds during your follicular and ovulatory phases. These seeds contain phytoestrogens and other specific micronutrients that support your hormones during these phases. It is recommended to eat these seeds raw and to consume 1-2 Tbsp/day. *more on this in an upcoming post
  3. Exercise according to each phase.
    • Follicular phase: cardio
    • Ovulatory phase: HIIT, weight lifting, circuits
    • Luteal phase: pilates, yoga
    • Menstruation: walking, restorative yoga (Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube has a killer Yoga for Women sequence that helps ease cramps!)

*Each phase fluctuates in estrogen and progesterone levels, ultimately providing different levels of energy. This guide can help you give your body the grace and movement it thrives off of during each phase. Note: afternoon workouts are best as to avoid spiking cortisol levels.

4. Eat more whole foods in general. If you read “In the Flo”, you’ll notice that nearly all of the foods recommended are whole foods. Whole foods contain more fiber, active enzymes, antioxidants, and micronutrients that support your reproductive and overall health. Aim to consume 2-3 fruits per day and 3-4 veggies/day, along with whole food proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. *Those with PCOS or endometriosis should consult with a Registered Dietitian to set up a plan specific to their needs.

5. Eat or drink 1 fermented food per day! Good gut health impacts nearly every other bodily system. 80% of our immune cells are found within the GI tract. Eating healthy fats can result in glowing skin for our integumentary system, and a diverse microbiome encourages regular bowel movements. The list goes on and on. In relation to reproductive health, when gut health is rich in diversity, the estorbolome (what regulates estrogen) is also balanced and can maintain normal levels of this sex hormone. If the estrobolome is disrupted with dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) and inflammation, it strains its efficiency to maintain estrogen homeostasis.

Summary

Cycle syncing can be as simple or complex as you make it. I started out with these 5 changes listed above before diving into eating specific foods for each phase. With the stresses of everyday life, it can be difficult to take on new challenges and create new habits. Believe me, I know. Take on what amount is right for you, and remember, small changes add up!

What questions do you have? Leave a comment or message me on Instagram to discuss if you’d like. Happy syncing!

Women Have Testosterone Too!

Testosterone, a male sex hormone that many think is only produced in, well, men is also produced by women. Testosterone in women is made and secreted by the ovaries, just like estrogen. This hormone actually aids in growth and maintenance, muscle building, reproductive health, bone mass, mood balance and even influences behavior. So yes, as women, we need this hormone. It’s when testosterone is too low or found in excess in women that it becomes a problem.

Signs and symptoms of high testosterone:

  • excess body and/or facial hair
  • hair thinning/loss/balding
  • acne
  • enlarged clitoris
  • decrease in breast size
  • deepening of the voice
  • increased muscle mass
  • irregular periods
  • mood swings
  • low libido ¹

Some causes of elevated testosterone:

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • adrenal and thyroid disorders
  • certain medications

*genetics and insulin resistance can also be risk factors ¹

What can I do?

Elevated testosterone can be diagnosed through a routine blood test. From there, adjusting your lifestyle and habits could be the first proactive step to influence your hormonal status.

  • Take a step back from intense exercise. Instead, try walking for a bit until you feel better and your hormones balance out.
  • Consult with a dietitian to achieve a healthy weight to support your reproductive organs and system.
  • Aim to consume phytoestrogens to help raise estrogen levels and decrease testosterone. Minimize foods that metabolize estrogen, such as cruciferous vegetables (just for the time being).
  • Add healthy fats to your diet that support endocrine function and reproductive health, such as avocados, nuts and seeds, tahini, coconut milk, etc.

Phytoestrogens

Here is a list of phytoestrogens that may help raise low estrogen levels and decrease elevated testosterone levels.

  • Seeds! Flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
  • Fruits, such as strawberries, apricots, and oranges
  • Dairy
  • Soy products, mainly tofu, soybeans, and tempeh
  • Vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and kale
  • Lentils and legumes
  • Chickpeas
  • Olives and olive oil

So, what questions do you have? Leave them for me to answer, contemplate, and research for you. I am happy to assist! XO -Danielle

 

Quinn’s Popcorn

Quinn’s Popcorn

It’s Friday, and that means movie night and popcorn! JP and I always like using Fridays to wind down from the week and feel refreshed for the weekend adventures ahead.

I have very fond memories of my grandma making stovetop popcorn in this old copper pot. She used raw kernels and olive oil to pop the kernels, and then added parmesean and sea salt. OMG, it was divine chomping on that watching Tales of the Crypt lol. Anyone my age remember that terrifying show? Anyways…

I can still taste the flavor of her popcorn. You know, the way you have taste memories of how your mom or grandma makes their recipe. It never turns out the same if anyone else makes it, even following the recipe to a T. I haven’t attempted making it her way, for this reason and because I just never thought to try it or buy popcorn kernels! Now I just might.

This is how I decided to try Quinns popcorn though. They’re a snack company that is dedicated to providing real foods that are non-GMO and are wrapped up in chemical-free packaging. Did you know that most traditional microwave poppcorn bags contain cancer-causing chemicals?! Ugh, yes.

I have written a review on their popcorn product, specifically their Aged Parmesan Rosemary. It is the only popcorn I will buy that is prepackaged because their bags do not contain carcinogens and their popcorn additives are not fake and processed crap!

On a scale of 1-10 with explanations, here’s what I rated each category.

Texture: 9/10

I mean, the mouthfeel is that of popcorn- light and slightly crunchy- the perfect consistency for a snack or light meal (insert: Olivia Pope vibes with red wine). I wish the popcorn itself was a little….what’s the word…sturdier…to pack more of a crunch. Does that make sense? Like I feel that movie theatre popcorn (while I don’t love the gallons of butter and fake additives) is durable with each popped kernel. For that reason, texture receives a 9/10.

 

Flavor: 8.5/10

Think popcorn. aged parmesan. rosemary. and salt- YUMMMM! Simple ingredients with nothing you can’t pronounce. I am obsessed with a hint of cheese and herbs in my meals, and salt always elevates those flavors. I usually add freshly grated Parmesan on top too, because the flavor is a bit stronger. I deducted a point from flavor for this reason, because while their cheese is non-GMO and from a cow that has not been treated with antibiotics nor hormones, it’s not as strong as fresh parm. Of course, I couldn’t expect it to be without being refrigerated. I also wish there was a touch more salt, so I knocked off another half point for that, but adding a dash of sea salt is an easy fix. 😉 Overall, it’s tasty!

 

Nutrition Profile: 10/10

Calories: 510 kcal / bag (170 kcals / serving with 3 servings in each bag)

Fat: 6g/bag– factoring in the sunflower oil it comes with, so to be expected

Carbs: 51g/bag – as expected

Protein: 12g/bag – better than expected for popcorn!

Fiber: 9g/bag – woohoo! Get that fiber! Goal is usually 25g;day for women, 38g/day for men

Added sugars: 0g – yusssss honey!

*Plus, vitamin A 2%, vitamin C and iron 4% of your daily value🙂

Here’s a screenshot of the ingredients:

Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 4.44.41 PM

I am LOVING how short this ingredient list is! And please note that not all sunflower oils are made equal. While I typically prefer olive oil, high oleic sunflower oil contains more monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated fats- more of the type of fat we want in our diet and that olive oil also consists of! I gave the nutrition profile a 10/10 because it’s macros and micros are pretty impressive compared to other popcorn brands.

Click here to check out all of where Quinn’s Snacks ingredients are sourced from. As you’ll see when exploring, they offer many flavors of popcorn and GF sorghum pretzels too! I can’t wait to try those…

 

Cost: 9.5/10

You can buy a 3-pack of this popcorn on Amazon for $13.17 rn, so it’s roughly $4/box with 2 bags in each. I’ve seen popcorn for cheaper, but I think paying an extra buck or two is worth the company being so transparent with where they source their quality ingredients from.

 

Overall Score: 9/10!

 

All in all, I would highly recommend checking out Quinn’s Snacks! They care about the packaging they use because they care about their consumers! They want to provide a safe, healthy and delicious snack that still represents classic foods we’re familiar with. I always purchase my Quinn’s popcorn at Target, but you can also find them on Amazon and use their store finder to find a retailer that carries them near you.

Happy snacking!

Signs of Low Estrogen and What You Can Do About It!

Low estrogen levels can display in a number of ways. Not only can irritating symptoms such as fatigue and headaches present themselves, but serious health repercussions can result from long-term estrogen deficits.

As mentioned in my previous post, estrogen is a major female sex hormone that is mainly produced and secreted by the ovaries. Estrogen naturally increases during puberty and maintains levels during your reproductive years. As perimenopause approaches, levels begin to decline, but some women experience low estrogen symptoms well before this.

Signs and symptoms of low estrogen:

  • irregular periods
  • pain during sex
  • hot flashes
  • depression
  • headaches
  • recurring UTIs
  • incontinence
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • mood swings ¹

Please note that just because you identify with some of these symptoms, that doesn’t automatically mean you have low estrogen. This is not WebMD and you are not a doctor! If you suspect you may have low estrogen, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a blood draw and hormone analysis.

Some causes of low estrogen during your reproductive years include:

  • ovarian cysts
  • thyroid disorders
  • being underweight (if you don’t have enough body fat, your reproductive system cannot function properly)
  • excessive, intense exercise
  • chemotherapy
  • other endocrine disorders 

*genetics can also be a risk factor ¹

What can I do?

This is where I can come in to help! If you verify with your doctor that you have low estrogen levels, hormone therapy and estrogen doses are available. However, if you could raise your estrogen levels naturally, I recommend doing so with the following:

  • Consult with a dietitian to gain a healthy amount of weight to support your reproductive organs and system. (I will be offering this service as early as next March!).
  • Ease up on the exercise. To reset and regulate the body, I know many women who had to completely take a break from exercise. If you absolutely need to move for the sake of your mental health, I suggest going on walks or hikes with friends. 🙂 Light yoga can also be beneficial for the mind and body.
  • Reduce stress and cortisol levels by any means necessary,
  • Consume more phytoestrogens (plants that mimic the chemical structure of estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen-receptors).

Phytoestrogens

Here is a list of phytoestrogens that may help raise low estrogen levels and provide other protective, health benefits as well (against breast cancer, CVD, diabetes, obesity and more).

  • Seeds! Flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
  • Fruits, such as strawberries, apricots, and oranges
  • Vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and kale
  • Lentils and legumes
  • Chickpeas
  • Olives and olive oil ²

Foods High in Magnesium & Zinc

Foods high in magnesium and zinc have been proven to be supportive of reproductive health.

  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Shellfish
  • Wheatgerm
  • Oatmeal
  • Kidney beans
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt ²

Low estrogen levels can exist and plague women in their reproductive years for a number of reasons. Please seek medical advice and analysis if you suspect you have low estrogen before consulting with a dietitian and using your diet to balance hormones.

 

Resources

1. Medicalnewstoday.com. 2020. Low Estrogen: Causes, Effects, And Treatment Options. [online] Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321064&gt; [Accessed 12 July 2020].

2. Mdvip.com. 2020. Foods That Boost Estrogen & Testosterone – Living Well – MDVIP. [online] Available at: <https://www.mdvip.com/about-mdvip/blog/foods-to-boost-estrogen-testosterone-levels#:~:text=Eating%20foods%20that%20can%20help,help%20women%20raise%20estrogen%20levels.&gt; [Accessed 12 July 2020].

Strawberry Almond Butter Muffins

Strawberry Almond Butter Muffins

The season for fresh strawberries is here! 🍓🍓🍓 I have friends who love making jams, jellies, shrubs, and compotes with this beautiful and flavorful berry, but my favorite way to eat this fruit is by themselves or in a baked good. 😉

Almond butter is another favorite of mine. It typically gives baked goods a fudgey consistency, or at the very least, produces a moist batter. The key is using a creamy, all-natural nut butter with just a touch of the oil that pools on top. I mix mine, but not as thoroughly as I normally would using it solo.

I created this recipe with vegans in mind, along with those who are sick of seeing bananas in every👏damn👏recipe! Don’t get my wrong, I love bananas. I eat them nearly every single day as a runner, BUT, I don’t find it necessary to use them as a natural sweetener in every bloody recipe. LOL. Let’s switch it up people!

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Strawberry Almond Butter Muffins

Prep time: 5 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Wet 

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 applesauce (I used unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter (mix lightly and use top of jar contents)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg- click link to see how to make one (you can use a regular egg too)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 6-8 strawberries (depending on the size and amount desired)

Dry

  • 3 cups oat flour (rolled oats)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (if almond butter has salt, use 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Tools

  • muffin tin
  • muffin liners
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • rubber spatula
  • ice cream scoop

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Get your muffin tin out and insert muffin liners.
  2. Prepare flax egg if using. Add all of the wet ingredients (besides the strawberries) to a large bowl and whisk until evenly mixed.
  3. Blend or process 3 cups rolled oats until a rough flour consistency is formed. I counted to 10 processing on medium and left a few broken oat pieces in because I like the rustic texture and look.
  4. Add all dry ingredients to a small bowl and mix to combine. Then add to wet ingredients.
  5. After the batter is formed, dice strawberries and add to the batter. Mix with rubber spatula. Use an ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup to add batter to each muffin liner.
  6. Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and the muffins pass the knife test- insert knife into muffin, if the batter is not on it, it’s fully cooked!

I hope you enjoy these summer treats as much as my husband and I did! I’m not sure about the shelf life, but since there are fresh strawberries in them, I would recommend refrigerating them for longevity.