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Should I go vegan or eat animal protein (for hormonal health)?

It seems like in the health food world there are only two sides to pick.

Being vegan (and glutenfree) or eating meat (and basically everything).

Sadly this can create a lot of confusion, guilt and essential nutrient needs not being met which are very important for healthy menstrual cycles.

I have to admit I have been caught up in this "label madness" myself many years ago until I realised that neither the one nor the other "side" worked for me. My true and authentic SELF / HEALTH was somewhere in between... Which also meant that I had to drop every label and figure out for myself what worked / didn't work for me - especially when it comes to hormonal health and the critical days before the menstruation...

Although I am a certified health and nutrition coach on "Menstrual Cycle Health & Awareness" - I chose to focus on the practical side of it - creating recipes and meal plans for my clients (I've been a professional chef for 15 years) while helping women understand why they should eat what and when vs just recommending "healthy foods" or some diet trends (paleo / keto / gluten-free etc). If you are interested in this topic and need help in the kitchen with meal prep, shopping lists, travel snacks, healthy sweets when cravings hit etc...check out my new Coaching Page! But because this only covers one part of the solution, I decided to work with a clinical nutritionist, scientist and sports performance expert - Samantha Frost - to provide you with education and science based knowledge.

She will regularly share (her) current research, health food claims / myths, supplement recommendations for women and nutritional advice on my blog and she also co-wrote this article to make sure you get the most accurate information possible! Sam and me will help with all your questions when it comes to WOMEN'S HEALTH - Stay tuned :-)

We often tend to have cravings and mood swings before our menstruation (along with other symptoms associated with Premenstrual Syndrome) – which are common collection of symptoms, but not considered ‘normal’ by medical professionals and there is a lot we can do to reduce and prevent these symptoms. Cravings are often the result of hormonal changes which are created by daily and monthly lifestyle choices (foods, meal timing, sleep, rest & play, exercise, medication, environmental factors etc).

Optimisation of nutritional habits alongside temporary supplementation can help supply us with sufficient macro and micro nutrients to meet our needs. This is also where the question animal proteins or not comes into play! Obviously the topic is more complex than a pro and cons list (especially considering ethical / moral / religious reasons) but more important is the question if your body is currently getting ALL the nutrients, amino acids and minerals it needs or would it be beneficial to add quality animal protein to your diet - alongside supplementation in case of a deficit.

I have been taking Magnesium from Sunday Natural for a few years now and have I also added iron and B6 to my daily regime. Magnesium plays many crucial roles in the body, such as supporting muscle contraction, maintenance of normal fat metabolism and energy production. B6 is also important for our mood, for preventing fatigue, for energy metabolism and for healthy skin, hair and nails. Many women who are struggling with HPA Axis Dysfunction find that addressing deficiencies in B-vitamins helps to reduce symptoms associated with PMS and other hormonal changes.

There are two types of iron that are found in our diet — heme iron comes from animal protein sources, while non-heme iron comes from plants. Your body can absorb heme iron more readily and we will discuss how Iron is an essential nutrient in women's hormonal health, the most reliable sources and how it complements the activities of Magnesium and B6 to support healthy hormonal cycles, prevent illness and enhance energy metabolism in our next post!

But for now, I leave you with a recipe that can be adapted to your daily / individual needs and should be a canvas and undogmatic approach to food and all the meals and recipes I will be sharing here! And on top we also have a special deal for you!

with the code LISAM10 you get a - 10% discount on the whole webshop from Sunday Natural

(except bundles) - until 28.02.23!

This Chickpea Tuna Salad recipe has a vegan base and can be adjusted for a vegetarian or animal protein version. This salad is best eaten during your luteal phase and it's so versatile - I love to use it for a quick Lunch sandwich, mixed into my kale salad or on top of quinoa, millet or brown rice when I need something more warm and filling. This is also not a "strict" recipe with exact measurements as I think the best way for us to integrate something new is by feeling free and unrestricted around food and experimenting (with a little bit of guidance) :-)

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained

  • (vegan) mayo

  • (vegan) greek yoghurt (I love the one from Sojade)

  • finely chopped red onion / shallot

  • finely chopped celery

  • diced pickles / capers / olives (if you want)

  • mustard (or horseradish)

  • toasted sesame or chopped sunflower seeds *

  • lemon juice white wine or apple cider vinegar

  • parsley, dill or chives

  • salt and pepper

Optional add ons: chopped hard boiled eggs, flaked smoked fish (try mackerel or trout - a more sustainable option than tuna or salmon and good source of Omega 3, B12 but all

B vitamins really, selenium and protein)

Mash the chickpeas with a fork, add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.

Season to taste. You can also add some sesame or hemp seeds to bulk up the Omega 3/6 and protein!

For a filling sandwich I spread some tuna salad on both sides of the bread, add 1/2 sliced avocado, sprouts and pickled onions or beets.

*Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are high in selenium, lignans, and omega-6, which support liver function and proper hormone excretion, regulate estrogen and progesterone levels, and reduce inflammation. Also, sesame seeds are high in zinc and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, which both support progesterone production.


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