There is a complementary relationship between the foods we eat and our menstruation. Our diet can affect our reproductive system and organs in different ways. We have previously discussed the relationship between vaginal health and nutrition .
In addition to the quality of food consumed, elimination diets, feeding times and the hunger the body is exposed to can also affect a person's menstrual cycle and symptoms.
Fasting is an ancient practice common in many religions and cultures. According to the Islamic religion, fasting is kept during the month of Ramadan when a person consciously abstains from food, drink and different pleasures for a purpose from sunrise to sunset. In Christianity, a single meal fast is observed for 40 days during Lent until Easter. In Judaism, we see Yom Kippur: It is a fast that lasts 25 hours and is prohibited from eating and drinking.
In addition to religious fasting, which is a condition of beliefs, we would like to talk about intermittent fasting and its effects, which have become increasingly popular in recent years for a healthy life and whose effects are widely talked about.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a nutritional model in which food is eaten for a certain period of time and beverages such as water, tea and unsweetened coffee are allowed during the non-eating period, in other words , no calorie intake is allowed during the non-eating period.
What does intermittent fasting do? What are the benefits and harms of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting basically aims to manage weight and reduce metabolic disorders . It reduces general inflammation occurring in the body. As growth hormone increases and insulin resistance decreases , stored fat is burned and weight is lost. In order to obtain new and healthier cells, the body's process of clearing damaged cells , that is, autophagy, begins, and unnecessary waste parts are removed from the body. It causes changes in genes that provide longevity and resistance to diseases.
What are the types of intermittent fasting?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition, as every body is unique. This also goes for intermittent fasting. Let's list a few popular approaches applied here.
It is the intermittent fasting method called 16/8. It recommends fasting for 16 hours and eating for the remaining 8 hours of the day. For example, if breakfast is skipped and the first meal of the day is eaten at 12:00, dinner is eaten at 20:00 at the latest, and then the 16 hours without eating begin.
One Meal a Day (OMAD) Method:
Method of fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. In the one-meal-a-day feeding method, if you eat at 20:00 in the evening, you do not eat anything until the next evening.
In this system, you eat normally five days a week; but on two fasting days you limit calorie intake to 500-600 calories. Thus, you can lose weight by consuming fewer calories and creating a calorie deficit. Unless, of course, you eat like crazy on other days to compensate for the days when you consume fewer calories. 🙂
Water fast is a type of fasting by drinking only water . Water fasting can be done for 24-72 hours . Longer-term water fasting is not recommended without the supervision of a specialist.
Water fasting provides weight loss, reduces the risk of chronic diseases, and initiates autophagy, allowing the old parts of cells to be broken down and regenerated. However, it is not suitable for everyone as it is associated with various risks. The motivations of people who do water fasting may be weight loss, detox, health benefits, spiritual or religious, or preparation for a medical procedure. After completing the water fast, when transitioning to normal nutrition , smaller portioned meals such as smoothies and soup are recommended instead of eating a large meal.
Menstruation and Fasting
Let's talk about the relationship between intermittent fasting and menstruation. Since men's hormonal cycle is daily while women's menstrual cycle is monthly, women may not be similarly affected by intermittent fasting. Studies on this subject are currently insufficient to reach a clear conclusion; However, there are studies showing that intermittent fasting may have different effects or may not work in women due to hormones.
To understand better, we can look at our cycle in more detail. While metabolism is at its slowest in the week before ovulation, it reaches its fastest during the luteal phase. In women, the body's needs may vary weekly.
A week before menstruation, the body is at its most vulnerable to stress. Estrogen drops high during this period, leading to sensitivity to cortisol (our stress hormone). That's why you may experience changes in your mood and energy level right before your period. Some experts say that intermittent fasting during this period can be challenging for the body . During this period when the body is more sensitive to stress, it is recommended to stay away from activities that may cause stress on the body, including high-intensity exercises and intermittent fasting.
There are many different approaches to fasting. Ultimately, each body type is unique, and bodies' reactions to fasting are naturally different. Fasting during menstruation and seeing the desired effect of fasting is a subject open to discussion and experimentation. If you're considering fasting during your period, remember to listen to your body and take care of yourself. As always, it's important to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or lifestyle.