Seasonal Attunement: Bringing Hormonal Balance Through Summer

Contributor: Avery Geary
Photographer: Saffron & Sage
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A woman’s menstrual cycle is strongly connected to the mind and body that influences creative flow and energy from within. Understanding the strengths of each part of your cycle can inherently bring your cycle into balance.

Those who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine believe the seasons have a profound effect on human growth and well-being - we are influenced by climate changes and should strive to live in harmony with them. This relates to balancing our hormones as well.

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Our bodies are strongly connected to nature, corresponding to the natural law and flow of rhythms. Many are in-tune with body temperature changes and food cravings with each season of the year - winter, spring, summer and fall but may not fully understand how the menstrual cycle is influenced.

Your body responds appropriately according to the weather outside. Eating heavier foods in the winter because it is cold and eating lighter foods in the summer reflects this. This understanding can be translated to the use of energy and nurturing of our bodies at different points in our menstrual cycle - the inner seasons.

Summer/Late Summer (the outer season) reflects the ovulatory phase of your cycle (the inner season).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Summer is strongly connected to the heart and mind. It is greatly seen as a time for optimum energy, nurturing growth and enhancing work. Red foods are strongly associated with enhancing the heart and mind. Focusing on foods rich in lycopene (the pigment that makes food red) enhance this connection. Such food are: raspberries, strawberries, red lentils, guava, and tomatoes.

Late summer is connected to the spleen and pancreas. This season is creates a strong sense of unity, harmony, and is coordinated with the distribution of food and nutrients (through the stomach). During this time, yellow foods such as corn, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, apricots, nectarines are best to focus on.

Connecting Summer to the Menstrual Cycle:

The ovulatory phase is a time for the expansive energy of highest follicle growth. This  relates to the summer season of expanded plant growth and long days which is why this phase is called our “inner summer.”

During “inner summer,” focusing on foods that are expansive, and lighter are best suited to support your menstrual cycle. This greatly reflects the season of Summer.

Foods to Support:

Foods strongly connected to Summer/Late Summer are foods that are lighter and nutrient dense, often considered “summer foods.”

Summer: asparagus, red bell pepper, brussels sprouts, chicory, eggplant, sweet potato, spinach cantaloupe, fig, permission, turmeric, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, pistachios, red lentils, salmon, shrimp, tuna.

Late Summer: millet, sweet potatoes, tofu, amaranth, sweet rice, apricots, cantaloupe, barley,

Connecting Summer to Each Phase:

Menstrual (winter inside):  Salads garnished with kidney beans, sushi

Follicular (spring inside): Crisp salads with avocado, plums and cherries for snack

Ovulation (summer inside): In sync with “Outer Summer”

Luteal (fall inside): Hummus, cauliflower, and grilled vegetables

Supportive Nutrients:  iron, iodine, vitamin c, calcium, zinc, sufficient b vitamins, Omega 3 and 6, vitamin E

*Summer/Late Summer focus on the taste of bitter (romaine, rye, alfalfa) and bitter and sweet (asparagus, quinoa, papaya).  

Ways to use:

  • Cook lightly, regularly, incorporate many brightly colored foods, and creating beautiful meals. Consume plenty of water and little salt.

  • Use foods in season - those that are catered to the ovulatory phase support hormonal balance during the summer season (connection between heart/mind, and spleen/pancreas).

  • Time to get creative, and move - eat lighter and support digestive health through food and exercise/movement.

  • Explore recipes that are easy to digest, and easy to make - access farmer’s markets and use local produce when possible.

Adaptogens for Hormonal Support

  • Maca: hormonal balancing

  • Ashwagandha: thyroid and mood enhancing

  • Schizandra berry:  adrenal balancing

  • Ginseng: energy

  • Rhidiola: stress reliever