Balancing Your Hormones Through A Healthy Vegan Diet
While humans are naturally omnivorous, that doesn’t automatically mean that an individual can’t live a complete, healthy lifestyle on a plant-based diet. As most vegans already know, it’s just a matter of determining what essential nutrients are found in meat and what plant, fruit, or vegetable contains these nutrients. Sometimes, the alternatives may even contain much more of the essential nutrients than their meat counterparts.
However, there is one thing that we fail to consider when we put too much emphasis on the nutrients alone, and that is the factor of whether or not our hormones are at a healthy level or not.
This is important for many reasons:
Hormones help regulate many of the body’s processes including hunger, blood pressure, and sexual desire. Hormones are essential to all the systems in your body and to have a hormone imbalance also means that many of these normal bodily functions are disrupted, or worse, outright disabled.
So, how exactly do you keep your hormones balanced?
Eat More Healthy Fats
Even as cholesterol is viewed as unhealthy (only in high amounts), it is essential for the regulation of hormones. This is also the reason why low-fat diets are likely to cause a hormonal imbalance. It’s important to increase your intake of Omega 3-rich fatty acids such as avocados, coconut oil, eggs, etc. Avoid vegetable-based oils such as canola as these are high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation.
Document Protein Intake
It’s been mentioned many times that protein is an essential nutrient whether you’re trying to build muscle or not. However, because meat is the primary source of protein, vegans are going to be at a disadvantage in terms of being able to consume enough of it. This is why it’s important to keep track of your protein intake so that you’re able to sustain your body’s needs.
Don’t Consume Too Much Soy
While soy is good for those who are able to digest it, it can potentially cause a hormone imbalance when consumed in large amounts. This is because soy contains isoflavones, which, in turn, contain estrogen mimickers that increase estrogen-related activity in the body. Consuming too much soy can cause heavy periods, bloating, acne, and other menstrual pain. In men, this can lead to a decline in testosterone levels and it can cause other symptoms like constant fatigue and increased fat tissue.
Again, soy is good for you. It yields a reduction in the risk of heart diseases, breast and prostate cancer but it must be eaten in moderation. Avoid richly-concentrated soy products such as soy protein isolates as they are so concentrated in isoflavones that they are bordering on pharmaceutical.
Regulate Your Blood Sugar Levels
Eating too much sugar leads to high levels of cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, which helps keep us alert for any overt threats. You don’t want to be constantly on edge. Unfortunately, many products that are labeled vegan are high in sugar. Thankfully, regulating your blood sugar levels simply entails that you avoid food that’s high in glucose. Bread, pasta, and some fruits are high in glucose.
It’s also important to avoid refined sugar and artificial sweeteners because these increase insulin levels in the body to a point where the body becomes tolerant to ghrelin and leptin, both of which control our appetite.
Regulate Your Coffee And Alcohol Intake
The reason why it’s important to regulate coffee is so that you’re able to control your Cortisol levels. As previously mentioned, Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone and it is what keeps us alert. Coffee is responsible for raising Cortisol levels and this is also why you feel as though you have an energy boost after a cup of coffee. The problem here, though, is that when your Cortisol levels are too high, you might have an increased appetite the moment that the caffeine wears off. Others might also experience an increased heart rate and suffer from sleep problems. A cup or two should be sufficient.
Alcohol not only directly influences your hormone levels, but it also takes a heavy toll on your liver, which is essential for maintaining hormone balance and excreting toxins. An excess in alcohol can cause your testosterone levels to drop and it can also increase your oestrogen levels.
Consider Using Supplements
While nothing quite beats organic food, there will be times when you simply won’t be able to meet your body’s nutritional needs on a vegan diet. This is especially true when you consider hormones. It’s during situations like this when you might want to consider alternatives such as hormone replacement therapy Nashville TN, especially since activated B12 and folate supplements, as well as a full spectrum of amino acids are difficult to sustain with a vegan diet.
A vegan diet has many benefits as long as you’re able to meet the nutritional needs of your body. And like most health-related things, you’re only going to be able to enjoy these benefits if you can strike a balance.