We all know the importance of protein in our diet, whether it is to build and maintain muscle mass or aid in the production of essential hormones.
But not every type of protein plays a positive role in maintaining hormonal balance. For example, some proteins can be considered adaptogens because they help our body adapt to stressful situations and prevent stress-related weight gain. These proteins are often found in wild steelhead trout and lentils.
On the other hand, there are protein that can have an adverse effect on your health and create inflammation and overstimulation of the immune system. Grain-fed beef is a good example of such proteins.
Besides their role in producing insulin and other growth hormones, proteins can also impact the microbiome environment in your gut. This impact can either be positive or negative depending on the type of protein you consume can it can change the levels of certain hormones like thyroid and estrogen.
Protein’s Effect on Estrogen
Estrogen is a female reproductive hormone that is responsible for giving us distinct features of our gender such as curves, long hair and other feminine traits. But something scary happens when your diet mainly consists of hormone injected, grain-fed meat.
This type of protein can slow down digestion, making you feel constipated and gassy. Not only that, most types of meat can crank up the estrogen levels in your body and disrupts the microbiome ecosystem inside the gut.
While it is popularly known that meats contain a higher fat content that other clean sources of protein, most people aren’t aware how these fats can harm the hormone levels in your body.
As human beings, we are hardwired by own DNA to consume foods that consist mainly of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. This is a biological fact no matter what your religious or ethical vies are. The microbiome in our bodies depend on unprocessed foods that are free of additives to keep our hormones in balance.
Many studies have proven that a rich high in meat and animal products is linked to higher body mass index, weight gain and obesity. Your estrogen levels are also more likely to go through the roof if you’re raised predominantly on red meat. Too much of bad fats can raise estrogen levels and alter the type of bacteria that live inside your gut.
Women who consume mostly plant-based foods are likely to remove any excess estrogen through bowel movements (the high fiber content in plant-based foods helps in fast digestion and frequent bowel movements). On the other hand, women who ate more meat weren’t able to remove excess estrogen from their bodies, leading to health complications later on in life.
According to health experts, the best way to maintain healthy estrogen levels in the body is by consuming less red meat and alcohol while increasing the content of plant-based foods in your diet.
Protein’s Effect on Thyroid
The main culprits behind thyroid imbalance are foods that contain gluten and fish with high mercury levels. Studies have shown a link between gluten and high risk of autoimmune thyroiditis which is the main cause of hypothyroidism.
On the other hand, mercury is a harmful substance that can disrupt estrogen and thyroid levels once ingested. Fish that contains the highest mercury levels are tuna, swordfish and shark whereas Salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, clams, oysters, scallops and snapper are considered safe sources of protein.
Protein’s Effect on Insulin
Our blood sugar levels depend on the amount of fiber we consume in our diets. High-fiber diets stabilize glucose levels and prevent insulin resistance. Since meat eaters generally get less than half the amount of fiber as vegetarians or vegans, they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Vegetarians generally consume 26 grams of fiber per day whereas omnivores only consume 12 grams.
Many studies indicate that paleo diet can actually reverse insulin resistance but the effect is only short-term in comparison to the low-fat diet approved by American Diabetes Association. A diet high in mercury levels is also linked with increased risk of insulin resistance.