This is the first blog in a 4-part series on micronutrient and botanical support for the four phases of the infradian rhythm.
At Flo Living, our goal is to help women in their reproductive years balance their hormones and resolve period problems with food, supplements, and lifestyle changes. We take a functional nutrition and systems-medicine approach to achieving optimal hormone health.
The first step for any woman* in balancing her hormones is learning about the 28-day hormone cycle, which is governed by a special biological rhythm called the infradian rhythm. The infradian rhythm plays a vital role in female health and wellness and you experience it in your monthly cycle. Knowing what your body needs during each phase of your cycle is key not only to hormonal healing but to your health overall.
To help deepen that learning for all women, this is the first blog post in our four-part series on micronutrient and botanical support to help better support the infradian rhythm. In this post, we will explore specific micronutrient needs during the first phase of the cycle: the follicular phase.
A Brief Intro to the Infradian Rhythm
Before we dive into the specifics of how to support your body with food, supplements, and lifestyle strategies during each phase of your cycle, it helps to have a clearer understanding of the infradian rhythm. You can do a deep dive on the infradian rhythm here or in my new book In the Flo, but here are some key facts:
- Every person with female physiology in their reproductive years is affected by the infradian rhythm
- The infradian rhythm is one two internal timekeepers experienced by women. The other timekeeper is the 24-hour circadian rhythm. People with male physiology only experience the circadian rhythm. People with female physiology experience both.
- The infradian rhythm (and its four phases) track with the menstrual cycle, but to think of the infradian rhythm as only affecting the reproductive hormones shortchanges its more global influences on brain and body. The infradian rhythm powerfully affects six different systems of the body:
- Immune system
- Stress response system
- Reproductive system
It’s precisely because the infradian rhythm affects our entire physiology cyclically that it is critical to support the body in a cyclical way. For women, the key to optimal hormonal health — and overall health — is to eat, move, supplement, and live in line with the infradian rhythm.
The infradian rhythm as expressed in your menstrual cycle has four distinct phases. They are:
Today we’re doing a deep dive on micronutrient support for the follicular phase.
Meet The Follicular Phase
When: The 7 to 10 days after your period ends.
What’s happening in your body:
- Your reproductive hormones are at their lowest level (which is where they were during your bleed) during the first part of this phase
- Estrogen starts to ramp up during the later part of this phase
- The lining of your uterus starts to thicken
- Your ovaries get ready to release an egg during ovulation (the next phase)
- Metabolism is slower and resting cortisol levels are lower. No significant progesterone or testosterone production during this time and women can feel a little tired during this phase if their hormones are unbalanced.
What’s happening in your brain:
The subtle increase in estrogen has you interested in planning out new things and exploring new ideas during this time. Symbolically, this is a phase of new beginnings.
Food, Exercise, and Lifestyle Strategies for the Follicular Phase
To achieve optimal hormone health, and to ease period problems like PMS, cramps, bloating, acne, heavy or irregular periods and missing periods, it requires a multipronged approach that includes food, movement, and lifestyle strategies implemented in a cyclical way. I encourage women to eat in a cyclical pattern, exercise in line with their cycle, and plan their schedules with their infradian rhythm in mind - a system I created called The Cycle Syncing Method(R).
During the follicular phase, specifically, metabolism is slower and resting cortisol levels are lower. You should tailor your food and exercise routine to match this infradian effect. I recommend running or other cardio during this phase.
Supplements are important, too. There are key micronutrients that I recommend every woman in her reproductive years take in daily supplement form to protect against hormone imbalances and remain symptom-free. Women can also take supplements specific for each phase of their cycle as a way to further optimize their hormone health. For phase-based support during the follicular phase, I recommend women take a supplement that builds energy.
Key Supplement for the Follicular Phase
CoQ10 is a powerful health-promoting supplement for reproductive health and overall health. When it comes to the whole body, this compound supports optimal functioning by nourishing the mitochondria. (Mitochondria are the tiny engines that power every cell in your body). The mitochondrial support offered by CoQ10 helps prevent DNA damage and premature aging. It also helps protect your cells against unwanted changes, like those that can occur in cancer and other disease processes.
CoQ10 is valuable for women in the follicular phase because it helps support ovarian health, ovarian response, and the health of your eggs. Research suggests that CoQ10 can help boost ovarian response and embryo quality in younger women trying to get pregnant, as well as boost the embryo quality in women in their late 30s and 40s who are trying to conceive. Robust levels of CoQ10 are also associated with a higher rate of pregnancy in women going through IVF.
Much of the research focuses on the benefits of CoQ10 for women who are trying to conceive, but taking this powerful antioxidant during your follicular phase helps protect egg and ovarian health no matter your reproductive goals. Because this supplement helps de-accelerate cellular aging, with specific benefits for ovarian aging, it offers excellent protection for all people with ovaries. And while there is no wrong time to take CoQ10, taking it during the follicular phase, when your ovaries are ramping up to produce an egg during ovulation, may be especially valuable for egg health, ovarian health, and overall infradian support.
I created The Cycle Syncing Ⓡ Supplement Kit to help women feel energized, calm, focused and pain-free throughout each phase of their cycle. Taking these targeted supplements can help reduce or eliminate the need for ibuprofen for pain and cramps, acne medications for cyclical breakouts, birth control pills for regular periods, and caffeine for an energy boost — all of which only mask symptoms anyway.
The Flo Living Cycle Syncing Ⓡ Supplements helps you exactly when and how your body needs it during each distinct phase of your cycle. Since your hormones change each phase, it makes sense to change the way you target certain supplements each phase too.
I carefully curated the key nutrients you need to help you look and feel your best throughout your cycle. And you simply take the one for the phase you’re in - period.
At FloLiving, we are building a future where it’s easy and simple to get targeted support for your hormonal symptoms from your first period to your last. With the right support, women in their reproductive years can ease their symptoms, live with less pain, and look and feel their best — which is what every woman deserves.
NOTE: We use the words “woman” and “women” and she/her pronouns throughout these posts for ease of writing, but the principles and advice apply to any person, regardless of gender identity, who was born with female physiology. At the same time, if you are a person born with male physiology and you identify as non-binary or you are transitioning to identify as female, using a cyclical support system can help you feel more in sync with your female energy.
The Cycle Syncing® Supplement Kit
Targeted Nutraceuticals to help you optimize each phase of your cycle
Since your hormones change each phase of your cycle and you have different symptoms from those hormonal ratios each phase, you need targeted supplements for each phase to ease those specific symptoms during that phase.
This kit will help relieve your period symptoms so you can stay energized and focused all month long.