The “Divine” has created this universe and many ecosystems, which includes many living and nonliving things. To sustain this ecosystem, he thought to create an organism that could reproduce, and thus he created “feminine beings” in every creature. This feminine being could create and nurture.
In human beings, females reproduce and nourish as they have some peculiar physical and physiological characteristics. Hormones play a key role in maintaining these characteristics. Menarche is one of the first stages in a female’s life during the adolescent period and continues as a regular monthly menstrual cycle for fertility. This cycle ends with menopause after a particular duration. This cycle of menarche to menopause in a female act as a shield to protect her from various diseases and disorders.
Starting phase of the reproductive period: Estrogen and Progesterone are the key players of the whole cycle. Sound nourishment and a healthy lifestyle during childhood and adolescence are the necessities of a healthy menstrual cycle.
Menarche also brings in newly bodily changes, skin issues, digestion changes causing sensitivity. Adding seeds like carrom (ajwain) or cumin (jeera) & coriander (dhaniya) seeds in small quantities to their diets provides relief from period pains or cramps.
2. Fertile stage up to 30 years:
Women’s peak reproductive years are from the late teens to 40 years of their age. The menstrual cycle has three phases in a month:
i) Follicular phase:
The Follicular phase is the first phase of 1 to 14 days. Growth and development of the follicles occur in this phase due to the rise in Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) secreted by the Pituitary gland. Basal body temperature stays normal in this phase while Estrogen levels rise gradually. During the ovulation phase, they are at a peak.
During this phase, female physiology needs micronutrients such as Vitamin B12, D, C-rich foods, Calcium, Zinc, Iron-rich foods, essential fatty acids with phytoestrogens. All these nutrients are available in superfoods like flax and pumpkin seeds, Avocado, milk, red meat, walnuts, and dandelions. Such foods are good in the follicular phase for ease of menstruation.
According to Ayurveda principles, Kapha dosha dominates in the follicular phase and is called Rutu kala. Kapha dosha – acts as the binding substance. It is a synonym for ojas, which nourishes, supports, and gives strength. Owing to this property of Kapha, it usually involves the follicular phase until ovulation.
Seeds like ‘flax seeds & pumpkin seeds’ taken in small quantities over small periods will help reduce the aggravated Vata, balance Kapha, and serve as binding & strengthening agents in this phase. Always add the seeds to your diet under guidance of an Expert.
ii) Ovulation phase:
The Corpus luteum, the outer covering of the remaining follicle secretes Progesterone and Estrogen. The timeline of the ovulation phase is from the 13th day to the 14th day. One of the follicles matures into the egg and gets released from an ovary which moves along a fallopian tube toward the uterus. It can last for 16 – 32 hours.
Estrogen levels are at the peak, thickening the endometrial linings and breast tenderness. It could be a preparatory phase for pregnancy. If the egg gets fertilized with sperm, only then the pregnancy occurs else that egg starts disintegrating. It is the beginning of the next phase.
Adding seeds like sesame seeds (roasted) with dill seeds (balantshepa or suva seeds toasted) added with black salt or with a small pellet of jaggery can help in balancing the hormones.
iii) Luteinizing Phase:
The luteinizing phase starts from day 15 – day 28. Progesterone hormone starts gradually increasing and is at its peak between the 22nd-24th day. Along with this, Estrogen levels rise gradually which dropped just after ovulation.
One needs to consume foods that will improve the secretion of progesterone. There are no particular foods containing progesterone, but the following foods will certainly help elevate progesterone secretion and ease this part of the cycle.
# Fiber-rich food: Oats, Flax seeds and Quinoa
# Zinc-rich food: Lean beef, seafood, Pumpkin and squash seeds and nuts
# Vitamin B6-rich food: Sunflower seeds, fish, Turkey and dried fruits (dates, apricots, raisins)
# Magnesium-rich food: Spinach, fish, dark chocolate, whole grains (Barley, Bulgur, also called cracked wheat, Farro, Quinoa Black rice, Brown rice)
# Vitamin C-rich food: Oranges, broccoli, Kiwi
# L-Arginine-rich food: Lentils, Salmon, pumpkin seeds, pork, chicken, lean beef.
3. Post 30 physiological changes:
After 30, metabolism starts declining which impacts the quality of the ovum and hormonal secretions. Women should take care of their diet and Lifestyle to overcome these physiological changes.
To increase metabolic rate, one should perform physical activities like Yoga, exercise, Brisk walking, Pranayama, meditation, etc, and consume superfoods like nuts and oil seeds which may boost the secretion of feminine hormones. Adding seeds like flax seeds (roasted) with dill seeds (balantshepa or suva seeds toasted) along with salt and made into a powder can be consumed with a glass of warm water or buttermilk post meals can help in balancing the metabolism.
4. Post 40 physiological changes:
By every decade, metabolism declines 7-10% of every individual body. Also, the water content of the body reduces due to advancing age. Female body composition has a high-fat percentage as they tend to have lower metabolism by birth than males.
Pre and perimenopausal changes begin between 40- 50 years of female age that may depend on their genetic makeup and lifestyle.
Adding seeds like toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds along with carrom or dill seeds in small amounts and consuming post lunch & dinner have shown effect in taking care of the pre-menopausal symptoms.
5. Post 50 physiological changes:
Usually, in most females, menopause occurs between 50 -60 years of age or early menopause may occur. The ovulation process ceases and ultimately there will be no ovum production, leading to no secretions of female hormones like Estrogen and Progesterone.
From menarche to menopause, female health is under the protection of these feminine hormones. Metabolism is effective and boosts psychological strength to overcome conditions like stress, anxiety, nervousness, etc. During menopause, females must take care of their health, as such valued protection is ripe off. Calcium metabolism disturbs that leads to less calcium deposition in bones and muscles, reducing bone density, and muscular strength. Due to these physiological changes, females are more vulnerable to disorders like osteoporosis, arthritis, and sarcopenia. Also, they become more emotionally sensitive.
According to Ayurveda principles, the menopausal stage is a period of Vata domination. The lower abdomen and pelvic region are the site of “Apana Vayu” which has expulsion as the main function. As dryness is one of the characteristics of Vata, it causes dryness to the inner lining of the uterus, vagina, skin, hair, etc. Aggravated Vata leads to several psychological issues like mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
Sometimes in some females, Pitta aggravation in the menopausal stage may lead to symptoms like anger, irritability, hot flushes and sweating.
The Kapha dosha gets reduced due to Vata predominance, which decreases the binding capability and lubrication of the Strotasas.
Adapting to lifestyle changes and consuming superfoods like nuts and seeds can overcome physiological and psychological stress. These superfoods are packed with essential nutrients with phytochemicals that boost feminine hormones required for ease of journey from menarche to menopause.
Adding seeds like roasted sesame seeds and flax seeds with turmeric and pink salt and consumed early morning on empty stomach helps in managing the changes in the hormones and also help with the symptoms.
Thank you for reading the story of seed formation in a female, which gives rise to creation, and the cycle will continue until eternity!!
Happy International Women’s Day 2023.
Author. Archana Amol Patil.
Nutrition wellness coach,
Atreya Innovations Pvt Ltd.
Vaidya Shillpa Venkatesh Jamdarkhana
Certified Ayurveda Wellness Coach
Atreya Innovations Pvt Ltd.
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