The 5 Best Types Of Protein For Hormone Balance
When it comes to hormonal balance, certain protein sources serve you better than others. Eating protein provides your body with amino acids that are used to produce specific hormones, including insulin and growth hormone. Some proteins are adaptogenic, such as lentils and wild steelhead trout, whereas others overstimulate the immune system and create inflammation, such as grain-fed beef. Not only that, but some proteins may shift the microbiome in a positive or negative direction, resulting in hormonal changes particularly to estrogen. While we do not yet understand the effect of all forms of protein on different hormones, we’ll explore the effect of certain protein sources on estrogen, thyroid, and insulin.
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. Yet there’s something freaky that happens when you’re female and you eat grain-fed, hormone-injected, superbug-infected meat: It slows down your digestion and may make you bloated or constipated; it raises your body’s estrogen levels; and it messes with your microbiome, the collective DNA of the trillions of microbes that live in your gut and elsewhere in your body. Here is the biological principle: While it’s true that meat has a higher fat content than other sources of protein, the bigger problem is what’s hidden in the fat of most meats you find at your grocery store. You are anciently hard-wired by your own DNA and microbiome to eat mostly vegetables, nuts, seeds, the occasional fruit, and clean proteins, regardless of your blood type and ethical views. In fact, such native and unprocessed foods keep you lean and your hormones in balance, particularly estrogen.
When you eat conventionally raised red meat, estrogen overload is more likely. When you go meatless, your estrogen decreases. Not surprisingly, vegetarians have the edge here. That could be due to the hormones in the meat, the type of bacteria cultivated in the guts of people who eat a lot of meat, or a combination of factors. We do know that a meat-based diet is linked to higher body mass index and that too much of the wrong type of saturated fat raises estrogen.
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 stimulates removal of excess estrogen. As a result, studies show that women who eat meat have higher estrogen levels than vegetarians. Vegetarians poop more volume and excrete three times the amount of estrogen as meat eaters, thereby preventing estrogen overload. In fact, estrogen levels in the blood of vegetarians are 15 to 20 percent lower than those of omnivores.
So one of the best ways of creating healthy estrogen levels is to limit alcohol and red meat and to eat more vegetables (1 to 2 pounds per day) and fiber (35 to 50 grams per day).
I’m a big fan of pea protein because it’s a complete protein, i.e., it provides all of the amino acids you need. It’s also the least allergenic form of protein, so you are unlikely to develop intolerance as you might with other proteins (gluten and dairy). Choose a powder form of pea protein that’s free of gluten and dairy and low in sugar (less than 5 grams per serving).
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Some people tolerate them well; others experience inflammation, perhaps due to lectins or fermentation in the gut. See what’s true for you.
Especially flax, chia, sunflower.
One of the most digestible forms of protein if you have gut issues.
Macadamia and Brazil nuts are my favorites since they are less carby. Avoid: gluten, and if grains are inflammatory, avoid grains