You’ve Heard of Seed Cycling. How about Bean Cycling?

Bean Cycling? Yes, I made it up! The term, but not the practice. It’s a thing, I promise. I know you’re probably envisioning Mr. Bean on a bicycle. Oh, wait. That wasn’t the first thing to cross your mind? Whoops! Sorry for that visual! Anywho, you probably haven’t heard of bean cycling but you have heard of seed cycling so let’s do a quick review first.

What is Seed Cycling?

We all know that our hormones go up and down during our menstrual month. We are dynamic beings. If everything is copacetic, estrogen goes up in the first 2 weeks and progesterone goes up in the last 2 weeks. In Chinese Medicine, estrogen is akin to Yin; all the fluids, blood and substance of the body. Basically all the juicy stuff. Estrogen is necessary in the first 2 weeks, because #1, you are bleeding (losing yin/blood) and #2, yin is necessary to mature a new follicle and build a luscious lining.

Side note: Boy, estrogen gets a bad rap these days, doesn’t it? But, we need it ladies. It’s what makes us be all feminine and stuff. Of course, we are exposed to a lot of fake type estrogens that throws our whole system off, but we’ll talk about that in another blog post.

So what about progesterone? It’s the Yang of the two female reproductive hormones. It’s the warmth, holding, active counterpart to estrogen. Okay, so what does this have to do with seeds, Kris? Bringing it back, we can eat certain seeds to support these natural increases of each hormone.

The Seed Cycling Protocol

Days 1-14: Estrogen Boost with 1 tbsp each of Pumpkin Seeds & Flaxseeds

Days 15-28: Progesterone Boost with 1 tbsp each of Sunflower Seeds & Sesame Seeds

You’ve Heard of Seed Cycling. How about Bean Cycling?, Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara
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Okay, so you get the gist of seed cycling, so what’s this Bean Cycling thing I’m talking about? I educate women on how to honor their tides, meaning that our physiological menstrual cycle has ups and downs, so why do we feel the need to function at full speed e’re day? We have distinct phases and distinct needs during each phase. We have what’s called inner seasons. Our needs change in each season and when we honor that, we achieve harmonious hormones.

What’s Bean Cycling?

I am a huge proponent of food as medicine. I practice Food Therapy with the lens of East Asian Medicine where each food has properties and tastes just like strong herbal medicines. We can use foods to enhance health and also use foods to regain lost health. In my Menstrual Attunement Program, I teach women about what foods are best during each phase of the menstrual cycle, because your body needs different things at different times.

Just as with seed cycling, we’ll use beans to harness the best potential for each phase of the menstrual cycle. When I say “beans”, I’m talking about legumes. Oh yeah, and just because Adzuki beans are listed in the Period Phase, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them all month long in moderation. It’s just the best “bang for your buck” during the period phase. Here’s the Bean Cycling Protocol and the reasons behind it:

Best Beans for Each Menstrual Phase

Days 1-4 :: Blood Phase :: Period Phase :: Inner Winter

Adzuki Beans: The color red influences the Heart & Blood. These tiny red beans tonify the kidney-adrenal function, detoxifies the body, disperses stagnant blood, reduces swelling and has a diuretic effect

Days 5-12 :: Yin Phase :: Follicular Phase :: Inner Spring

Black Beans: The color black influences the kidneys & reproductive functions. Black beans build yin fluids and blood as well as being diuretic

Kidney Beans: These big red beans increase yin fluids, reduces swelling and edema; the name also suggests that it’s good for our kidneys

Lentils: Benefits the Heart and circulation, stimulates the adrenals and increases vitality (jing/essence). Also a diuretic

Days 13-16 :: Yang Phase :: Ovulation :: Inner Summer

Red Lentils: All the benefits of lentils but slightly warmer than other types of lentils so it helps with ovulation

Days 17-28 :: Qi Phase :: Luteal Phase :: Inner Autumn

Navy Beans: Cooling, beneficial to the lungs and beautifies skin

Mung Beans: Cooling, detoxifying, beneficial the the liver as it’s green in color; alleviates excessive heat and fluid accumulation in the body

Kristin Gonzalez offers Acupuncture in Santa Barbara

So how do I practice this? I normally pick a bean/legume for each phase. I prepare it in bulk and then warm up portions and enjoy it as a side dish, part of soups/stews, or cook it with my grains. My mom is Korean and you will often see multi-grain rice mixed with beans. They are cooked and enjoyed together. Here’s an example:

Kris Gonzalez Acupuncture in Santa Barbara
photo by Beyond Kimchi

What’s all the fuss about?

Beans & Legumes are staple foods all around the world. Here are some benefits:

1. High in Protein: Great source of vegetarian protein.
2. High in Fiber: Supports daily bowel movements which is absolutely crucial for hormonal harmony. Because of the high fiber, they help to stabilize blood sugar; another really important factor in hormonal health. And because it does these 2 things really well, it aids with any weight loss goals.
3. Most are longevity foods: In Chinese Medicine, beans & legumes are seen as longevity foods. They are the fruit and seed of the plant. They hold all the potential of that plant. When you consume them, you harness all that potential.
4. Good for Heart Health

But, Kris, I don’t digest beans well……

I hear this a lot and I can attest to this personally. It’s because we’re not really taught how to prepare them properly. Here’s some tips!

1. Rinse all legumes thoroughly
2. Soak em! Soak em real good! In warm water like at least 8 hrs (basically overnight) and up to 24 hrs. Lentils, split peas and split mung beans don’t need much soaking. Maybe just an hour.
3. Some people like to add an acidic medium like 1 tbsp of vinegar, lemon juice or a pinch of baking soda to enhance the process.
4. Don’t ever eat them raw; cooking eliminates all or most of the indigestible components.
5. After soaking, you must rinse them. I’d do it several times. That liquid the legumes were soaking in contains a lot of that indigestible stuff.
6. Add water to cover at least 3 inches and they are ready to cook! For increased digestibility, add a big piece of kombu seaweed to the pot of legumes and water before boiling. Remove the kombu at the end. Enjoy!

So What’s the Take Away?

Beans are a magical fruit, and the more you eat, the more you….lol...okay, in all seriousness, you can cycle your beans to follow your menstrual cycle and gain the most benefits from them during certain phases. Plus, they have so many added benefits. Eat your beans! Share some of your favorite recipes with me!!!

Be Well & In Health,