The 10 Best Types Of Protein For Hormone Balance

22 Nov.,2022

 

Progesterone Powder

Estrogen is the hormone primarily responsible for making us uniquely women, with breasts, hips, curves, and glossy locks; that is, we’re not simply small men. Women’s hormonal milieu and even responses to nutritional factors are unique, and protein is no exception.

As a doctor, I’ve observed an unusual phenomenon. When women eat grain-fed, hormone-injected, superbug-infected meat, it can negatively impact digestion and may cause bloating or constipation. And this effect on the gut leads to hormonal imbalance, raising estrogen levels3.

Here is the underlying biology: While it’s true that meat has a higher fat content than other sources of protein (legumes, grains, nuts), the bigger problem is what can be hidden in the fat of meats you find at your grocery store.

You are anciently hard-wired4 by your own DNA and microbiome to eat mostly vegetables, nuts, seeds, the occasional fruit, and clean proteins. In fact, such native and unprocessed foods keep you lean, metabolically healthy5, and balanced when it comes to hormones, particularly estrogen.

When you eat conventionally raised red meat, estrogen overload6 is more likely. When you go meatless or even semi-vegetarian, your estrogen levels are lower7. So, vegetarians have the edge here. This meat/estrogen relationship could be due to the hormones in the meat, the type of bacteria cultivated in the guts1 of people who eat a lot of meat, or a combination of factors. 

We do know that a meat-heavy diet is linked to higher body mass index8 (and also more abdominal obesity). Red and processed meat intake specifically ups risk for obesity9 and a larger waist circumference. 

We also know that a dietary pattern with too much of the wrong type of fats (saturated instead of unsaturated) raises estrogen and increases risk for serious conditions10 like breast cancer and heart disease. Obesity is also known to elevate estrogen levels and risk for cardiovascular disease11 and breast cancer12. 

Omnivorous women with estrogen excess don’t remove that excess in their bowel movements like women who eat a more plant-based diet—which contains more fiber and facilitates removal of excess estrogen13.

Vegetarians poop more volume and excrete three times the amount of estrogen13 as meat eaters, thereby preventing estrogen overload. In fact, estrogen levels13 in the blood of vegetarians are 15 to 20 percent lower than those of omnivores. Because of the critical role of fiber in estrogen balance, it’s no wonder that a clear, inverse relationship exists between fiber and breast cancer risk14.

Although not related to protein, another modifiable lifestyle factor that raises estrogen levels (and increases breast cancer risk) is alcohol intake15. So some of the best ways to support healthy estrogen levels are in our control. Limit alcohol and meat (red meat especially; instead, focus on quality, lean protein) and eat more sources of fiber (25 to 40 grams per day), especially vegetables.