We have all been in the awkward middle school classroom where we received the dreaded “talk” from our school nurse. Amid the giggles from squirming 13-year-olds, you can hear talk about the ways bodies will change and how to have safe sex, but that’s about it.
Young girls learn that they will bleed once a month, what the difference between pads and tampons are and that they now have to be careful not to get pregnant. But there is so much more to your period than just bleeding.
That’s where author Alisa Vitti’s book, “In the FLO,” comes into play. Vitti was studying to be a GYN at Johns Hopkins University when she began suffering from depression, rapid weight gain and severe acne. Her doctors could not come to a conclusive diagnosis for her, and it was not until she was researching hormonal imbalances in her library that she found out she had all the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). She walked into her GYN’s office the following day to corroborate her findings and finally get the diagnosis she was looking for. While she finally got the diagnosis, her GYN told her PCOS was incurable in western medicine.
This inspired Vitti to do her own health research and she was able to reverse her PCOS symptoms with food. Following the knowledge she obtained in her healing process she became a holistic head practitioner and hormone expert, opening a women’s clinic in New York City that now also offers virtual services to thousands of women across the country.
Additionally, Vitti offers guidance to women struggling with hormonal imbalances in her books. In “In the Flo,” Vitti explains the importance of both the circadian and infradian rhythms for women. While both men and women have a circadian rhythm — our 24-hour biological clock regulating our bodies for sleeping and waking — only women have an infradian rhythm. A woman’s infradian rhythm is the 28-day cycle that regulates her menstrual cycle and can have influences on the brain, metabolism, immune system, gut microbiome, stress response system and reproductive system.
Heard of cycle syncing on TikTok? Vitti coined the term in her books to describe her plan that offers food, fitness and lifestyle suggestions for the four parts of your cycle. The cycle syncing method is a way of adjusting your lifestyle to match your menstrual cycle in order to optimize your health and wellbeing. This method takes into consideration the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle and makes adjustments to diet, exercise and self-care practices accordingly.
So how can you implement this into your cycle?
- Menstrual phase (days 1-5): During this phase, estrogen and progesterone levels are low, and many women experience fatigue, cramps, and mood swings. It’s important to rest and prioritize self-care during this time, do slow exercise, and eat nutrient-dense foods like kale, wild rice and blackberries to support your body’s energy needs.
- Follicular phase (days 6-14): This phase is characterized by increasing estrogen levels, which can improve mood, motivation and creativity. It’s a good time to focus on physical activity and strength training, as well as eating foods that support liver detoxification and hormone metabolism such as carrots, chicken and parsley.
- Ovulatory phase (days 15-17): This is when estrogen levels peak and ovulation occurs. It’s a great time to socialize, communicate and engage in creative pursuits, as well as eating foods that support fertility and healthy egg development. This includes salmon, quinoa and spinach.
- Luteal phase (days 18-28): During this phase, estrogen levels drop and progesterone levels rise, which can lead to premenstrual symptoms like bloating, irritability and anxiety. It’s important to focus on stress reduction, adequate sleep and eating foods that support healthy progesterone levels and estrogen metabolism like cauliflower, beef and sweet potatoes.
Scientific studies on the menstrual cycle’s health aspects provide some evidence for the benefits of cycle syncing. One found that women’s brains show different patterns of connectivity and activity depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. Another found that women’s muscle strength and power fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycle, with the highest levels occurring in the late follicular phase. A third found that yoga was effective in reducing PMS symptoms.
Cycle syncing is a holistic approach to menstrual health that recognizes the interconnectedness of diet, exercise, stress and hormonal balance. By working with your body’s natural rhythms and supporting your unique needs, you can achieve greater vitality, resilience and well-being throughout your cycle.
You should always consult with your doctor before trying new diets and supplements.