Image source: Adrianne Walujo
Written by Taleszia Raubenheimer
Any woman who’s experienced hormonal health woes will testify to just how daunting this intricate system is to understand. After experiencing my own set of red flags, all of which were deemed completely “normal”, I decided to plunge head first into this incredibly overlooked topic. As young girls, we just are not sufficiently equipped to go out into the world feeling confident about our female physiology. Not understanding the mechanics of our bodies can sometimes bring about imbalances in hormonal health, especially with the addition of external stressors and micronutrient deficiencies.
What is an Infradian Rhythm?
I recently learned that we have more than one rhythm to thank for our physiological clockwork. Familiar with the circadian clock, which is our 24 hour daily cycle and mostly associated with light- related waking and sleeping. This new word infradian clock entered my existence, and I was absolutely astounded to learn that not only does this magical rhythm exist in all of nature, but it exists in my 28 day cycle as well.
In chronobiology, an infradian rhythm is a rhythm with a period longer than one cycle in 24 hours, such as menstruation, breeding, tidal or seasonal rhythms.
Similar to a circadian rhythm, our infradian rhythm measures a period of time. But while everyone experiences a circadian rhythm over the course of a day, this time period relates to women’s menstrual cycles, which occur over the course of the month as well. In other words, a woman’s menstrual cycle is considered a monthly infradian rhythm.
According to Alisa Vitti, women’s hormone and functional nutrition expert and founder of The FLO Living Hormone Center, our infradian rhythm is just as—if not more—important to optimise as our circadian clocks.
Why is it important?
According to Vitti, women’s infradian rhythms affect many body processes: Women’s metabolisms speed up and slow down periodically throughout the monthly cycle, and cortisol levels are higher at some points than others.
“The infradian rhythm creates a 25% change in women’s brain chemistry over the course of the month,” Vitti adds.
According to Vitti, there’s a host of other differences women should look out for: not just what and when we eat, but also how we exercise, work productively, and cope with stress.
This makes so much sense, of course we’re different throughout the month and not every day is the same. What a relief it was to finally hear someone say it!
What can we do?
In order to truly optimize our health, Vitti says, “we need to place as much importance on our infradian rhythms as our everyday circadian clock.” When scientists recognize this importance, we have the potential to tailor what women should eat during the cycle, how they should adjust their workout plans to metabolic and cortisol changes, and how they can use the predictable brain changes they experience to reduce stress.
In other words, “We need a radical new approach for women to eat, exercise, work, and live in a way that actually supports their female biology,” Vitti says, who speaks to this process in her most recent book.
This is when you adapt your diet, exercise routine, social calendar, and even important work engagements to the different phases of your monthly cycle. That way, you give your body the support it needs, rather than pushing it to perform at the same high level at all times.
“During a woman’s menstrual cycle, awareness of how our hormones and brainwaves shift can support us to harness the cyclical energy and power of our fertility for greater health, creativity, and manifestation,” says Kara Maria Ananda, a women’s health educator and founder of Maia University, an online holistic wellness program for women.
Research shows that fluctuating female sex hormones — primarily estrogen and progesterone — during a woman’s menstrual cycle influence her mood, energy levels, attractiveness, pain tolerance, and the types of foods she wants to eat.  Some studies suggest that switching up what you eat and how you exercise during the different phases could even help you lose weight.
Start with tracking your cycle and using some of these femsmart biohacks
Here’s to finally knowing how to access our Wonder Women super powers, without feeling exhausted, allowing time for rest (as Nature intended) and building a deeply nourishing connection with our bodies!
Happy International Women’s Day, you’re beautiful and we love you! Now go take the world by storm 😉