Environmental Nutrition: A review of seed cycling; what is whey?
Q: What is seed cycling?
A: Proponents of seed cycling claim that eating certain types of seeds during different phases of your menstrual cycle can help regulate your hormone levels. According to proponents, eating flax and pumpkin seeds every day for two weeks, then switching to sunflower and sesame seeds for two weeks, can reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), regulate the menstrual cycle, improve fertility, reduce hot flashes during menopause, and improve general well-being. The theory is that seed cycling balances and optimizes estrogen and progesterone levels.
However, while flax and sesame seeds contain lignans — a type of phytochemical that has been shown to affect estrogen activity in lab animals — there’s no evidence that eating seeds has a measurable effect on hormone levels in menstruating women. And studies examining the effects of lignans in post-menopausal women found that the effects were similar to a placebo, even though they used more flax lignans than someone following a typical seed cycling protocol would ingest.
Seeds are good for us, offering protein, fiber, and healthy fats. While there’s likely no harm in consuming them in cycles, there’s also no evidence that timing matters.
—Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN
Q: What is whey and what is it used for?
A: Many people have heard of whey protein but don’t really know what whey is. Whey is actually a byproduct that is left behind in the cheese making process, after milk has been curdled and strained. The liquid that remains behind at the end of this process is called whey, and it serves as one of the two primary proteins that are found within dairy products (along with casein). Whey is a good source of essential amino acids that the body uses for many functions. If you’ve seen whey in the stores, it’s likely been in powdered form — with directions to blend or mix into beverages, smoothies, or soft foods.
Researchers have noted specific benefits associated with intake of whey (whey protein), including possible positive impacts on:
As always, EN recommends consulting with your health care professional before adding any new supplement to your day.
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit www.environmentalnutrition.com.)
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