THE VEGAN DIET FOR THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE: PROS AND CONS
First of all: what is meant by a vegan diet? It is very important to clarify this factor in order to fully understand the possible positive and negative effects, perhaps more in the long term, of this diet which is certainly very interesting and positive for our health, but with some attention.
The vegan diet mostly includes the following foods: fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, seaweed, wakame, kombuspirulina klamath, cereals, bread, rice, soy drinks, coconut, rice, almonds, legumes, oil and finally spices.
It is an apparently very simple cuisine but which includes very tasty dishes which however require imagination and commitment.
In this article, however, we will look at the caloric intake of a typically vegan diet and the influence it can have on the cycle.
- Vegan yes
- Not vegan
VEGANA YES FOR THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
First of all you must understand that often the vegan choice is not only a healthy choice but also an ethical choice where people decide not to participate in the breeding and consequent killing of animals to feed the human species, but this aspect, however honorable it is it is not the topic of this article. In recent years, the percentage of people who have decided to become vegan has grown by 350% in Italy, embracing only 0.8%, perhaps because our diet contains a minimum percentage of meat. All the studies to date conducted on vegan diets have provided clear answers on their usefulness towards health: they improve body composition, insulin resistance, the cardio circulatory system, cancer, the brain, skeletal health and much more, just like the cycle. In fact, the vegan diet provides many nutrients that can make blood flow much easier, reduce systemic inflammation, allow optimal oxygenation of the tissues and regulate the hormonal system, all factors of extreme importance for a regular cycle without psycho-physical problems. By increasing the percentage of fruit and vegetables and seeds, high systemic and organic levels of components such as polyphenols, carotenoids can be reached, and as we have seen in other articles, vegan diets are rich in minerals and vitamins essential for the health of the menstrual cycle such as vitamin C , vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium essential for the production of thyroid hormones and antioxidants. Furthermore, the presence of large quantities of magnesium and potassium make the muscular system reactive and not very congested, all factors that facilitate the menstrual cycle, reducing the pain in the first days of the cycle from which many women unfortunately suffer. Many studies have also verified that an increase in the percentage of polyunsaturated fats in the diet can improve ovulation and the menstrual cycle with a longer duration of the follicular phase. Furthermore, the presence of high levels of these vegetable fats induces a lower concentration of prostaglandins which are directly involved in the sometimes too painful inflammation that occurs in dysmenorrhea. All these studies therefore make us understand the importance of using a vegan diet especially in these cases where menstrual pain or the cycle itself is irregular.
VEGAN NO FOR THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
Now, however, is the time to talk about the contraindications of a vegan diet without adequate supplementation and its influences on the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, in a strictly vegan diet without any type of integration that is well carried out also on the basis of age and psycho-physical commitments, the vegan diet can lead to serious deficits that can alter and in some cases even interrupt the menstrual cycle. The major deficiencies are found in the quantities of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin which is mostly found in products of animal origin and it plays a fundamental role in haematopoiesis, i.e. the process which leads to the formation red blood cells and tissue oxygenation. However, it also plays a fundamental role in the proper functioning of the nervous system, therefore over time it can lead to even serious changes in mental state. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is correlated with calcium metabolism and therefore with the functionality and integrity of the skeleton, obviously it can be produced by normal sun exposure, however in some countries at certain latitudes and due to our lifestyle during the winter months it can be lacking and create problems not only at the skeletal level but also at the immune level as we know that this vitamin is active in numerous cells of the immune system and enhances their actions during viral or bacterial infections. There are also deficiencies in minerals such as iodine, calcium, zinc with consequences hypothyroidism lowering of the metabolic system which can certainly affect the menstrual cycle. Of course, the iron content is also very important, which is low in vegans, in fact the measurement of ferritin levels, a protein that sequesters iron, is sometimes low in people who have been practicing this nutritional regimen for a long time. The iron in vegetables is present but it comes in a form that is not very absorbable in the intestine so it must be integrated or monitored. A little iron also means a lot of weakness due to slowed hematopoiesis which, in combination with low vitamin B12, can create particular situations and interrupt the cycle or make it unstable and sometimes painful. Finally, proteins of high biological value which are low in a vegan diet and can create a state of lean mass deficit especially in more active and sporty women which, in synergy with physical effort, can lead to secondary amenorrhea.
It is therefore clear that if we want to start a vegan nutritional journey, savoring all the physical and psychological benefits, including for the cycle itself, we must rely on a competent doctor or nutritionist who can guide us in finding the right balance to avoid nutritional deficiencies which can then lead over time Health problems