In the past year, an army of women are rising up and fighting for our health and hormones – it’s an amazing revolution to be a part of!
One of the most common populations we work with are women who have lost their period due to over-exercising, over-stressing, and under-eating. Sound like you? Then you’ll want to read more!
When it comes to hormonal health, most people will tell you that proteins and fats are essential for the production of hormones. And they are right – they are essential. But for women who have lost their period, carbs may be just as essential to regaining their period.
Why are periods important for your health?
In 2015 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that physicians evaluate every woman’s menstrual cycle as a vital sign — just like they do with blood pressure, temperature, respiration, and pulse.
So if you aren’t getting your period, then your body is telling you important information that are clues about deeper underlying conditions, just like a high blood pressure reading would tell us insights into your health. If it’s not addressed, your risk of developing even more debilitating conditions in the future increases.
Women’s periods are not just a monthly nuisance, they provide incredible insights about hormones, nutritional and stress status along with overall health.
How Carbohydrates Restore Your period
-Calm your Adrenals – in short, your adrenals release cortisol in times of stress and imbalance. When these stress hormones are released, sex hormone production simultaneously decreases. This is because cortisol and sex hormones compete for the same precursor, pregnenolone. There’s also an evolutionary mechanism at play that suppresses the signal from the brain to the ovaries. Meaning, if you are stressed, then bringing a baby into the world is not wise. As a result, your brain takes care of that for you. One way to decrease the release of cortisol (besides living a more zen life), is to make sure you’re eating adequate carbs in your diet. This takes the pressure off your adrenal glands and encourage sex hormone production which may restore your period.
-Nourish your Thyroid – this gland gets a lot of hype, but it’s for a good reason. It’s hormonal production has an impact on pretty much every aspect of your health – including your precious menstrual cycle and fertility. When you eat carbohydrates, your body releases insulin (gasp! I thought that was bad!). Well, too much of a good thing is always bad, but in just the right amounts can mean optimal health. In this case, optimal conversion of T4 to T3 (your active thyroid hormone that makes things work). So too little carbs in a Paleo or keto diet means too little insulin, which can suppress thyroid and possibly fertility as well.
-Feed your Beneficial Gut Bacteria – in short, gut bacteria are essential to your health, mood and hormone balance. So if we don’t feed these critters, then we don’t get the benefits of a properly colonized gut. And if our gut doesn’t contain the bacteria utilized to digest food optimally, then we aren’t absorbing nutrients and our motility likely suffers (ie constipation nation). What do they feed on? You guessed it, primarily carbohydrates and fiber.
-Increase your Caloric Intake – as I mentioned in the intro, most women that don’t get their period deal with under-eating and over-exercising. Meaning their energy balance is in the red. It’s no wonder your body shuts off fertility – if you can’t feed yourself, then you won’t be able to feed a baby for 9 months, either. So by increasing your carb intake, you can help to improve appetite and energy intake, thus helping convince your body that you are safe, well-fed, and your period may be restored.
What Carbohydrates You Should be Eating and How Much
High-quality, nutrient-dense sources of carbs are the way to go – we’re talking starchy veggies such as sweet potato, white potato, parsnips, squashes, etc; good-quality grains including quinoa, buckwheat, rice and then legumes and fruit also fit the bill.
The amount to eat is going to vary from person to person, but it is generally a factor of your activity level and lean body mass. Meaning if you CrossFit and run 6-10 times per week then you are going to need heaps and bounds more carbohydrate (350g+ / day) than the person sitting at a desk all day with no exercise (150g / day).
Scared to eat more and know you should be? We’d love to help you find peace and happiness with your nutrition and body. Contact us and we can chat!