Can a Balanced Intake of High-Protein Foods Regulate Your Hormones?

With the numerous diets out there today, it is often quite confusing as to what will work for your personal body type and lifestyle. Along with the diets come various contradicting ideas about low-carbs being key and a high-protein diet being beneficial.

The body needs proteins to produce amino acids, which in turn help in the production of various hormones like estrogen, thyroid and growth hormones. But while the body does need its share of proteins, there is a safe amount for consumption. So, can balancing the intake of high-protein foods help keep your hormones balanced?

Different Types of Proteins and Their Impact on Hormones

Proteins make up an important part of the cells in the body and are responsible for important functions that help us maintain our overall health. Studies show that protein deficiency can often lead to weight gain, deterioration in muscle mass and premature aging in terms of physical appearance and the biological clock.

On the other hand, excessive intake of protein can be destructive for the body too, by eventually causing weight gain, dehydration, kidney damage and increased risk of heart diseases.

While some proteins, like lentils and some types of seafood, are adaptogenic there are others like grain-fed beef that can cause inflammation and some that could disturb the delicate balance of the flora in your gut, directly impacting the hormones including estrogen.

Though experts have not been able to link the effect of proteins to each hormone in the body, there is enough data on how it can impact thyroid, estrogen and insulin.

Here’s how certain proteins impact these hormones:

  • Thyroid:

Thyroid problems are often caused by eating disorders and deficiencies and it has been found that food high in gluten and protein-rich seafood, like tuna and swordfish, that contain traces of mercury, might be the culprits. This is because gluten could increase the risk of a condition called autoimmune thyroiditis, which leads to hypothyroidism, and mercury may impact the endocrine system that regulates the levels of estrogen and thyroid hormones.

  • Estrogen:

Increased consumption of processed, sugar-laden foods and alcohol is said to impact the production and level of estrogen in the body. Experts believe that this happens because our bodies are designed to process natural foods like nuts, vegetables and fruits, but an influx of processed meats and unhealthy foods may have impacted our gut health, digestion and most importantly the production of estrogen. Hence, it is believed that women are better off on a predominantly vegetarian diet, especially because studies show that those following a vegetarian diet are able to excrete larger amounts of any excessive estrogen, unlike women on a non-vegetarian diet.

  • Insulin:

With the introduction of diets like keto and paleo that focus on a high-protein plan with low carbs and low fiber intake, many women do not get enough fiber into their systems, especially if they are meat eaters. Studies show that meat eaters get only half the amount of fiber when compared to vegetarians, and a lack of fiber could impact the production of insulin and its effective functioning in relation to blood sugar levels.

Some healthy protein sources include:

  • Lentils and legumes
  • Pastured poultry
  • Flax and chia seeds
  • Macadamia and Brazil nuts
  • Hemp protein
  • Wild-caught salmon, mackerel, anchovies
  • Oysters
  • Grass-fed beef

Some experts also believe that instead of following a particular diet plan, women should alter their diets according to their menstrual cycles, because at certain points of the cycle the body might crave more carbohydrates while at other times it might need more proteins.

Here’s an example of how a diet based on the monthly cycle would look like — vegan proteins, fish or eggs for the first half of the cycle and poultry, bison, etc., for the second half depending on your body. It might, therefore, help to observe and understand personal cycles and needs to adjust the protein intake without disrupting the body’s hormonal balance.

Can a Balanced Intake of High-Protein Foods Regulate Your Hormones?

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