The Keto Diet and Hormonal Balance


Looking at the surface, it appears that the keto diet is a great eating plan for hormonal balance. This is because the diet is known as the champion of healthy fats. Reducing carbohydrates and sugar intake is associated with hormonal health. 


Keto Diet and Women’s Hormones


Some health experts think that the keto diet has gone overboard since it prohibits high-fiber foods such as vegetables and starchy grains that are essential to healthy hormones. 


Reducing carb intake drastically is linked to an increase in cortisol or the stress hormone. The keto diet prohibits the intake of fruit, green veggies, and starchy carbs that only puts stress on the body, increasing cortisol levels. When women don’t get enough complex carbs from their diet, their serotonin levels, progesterone levels, and insulin metabolism shift. This can result in problems like acne and may worsen certain conditions like PCOS or endometriosis. The keto diet may also affect the menstrual cycle. Some women may have heavier periods while others may stop completely or come less frequently. This could mean that your body is not getting sufficient nutrients for it to function properly. 


For women who are going through perimenopause or menopause, the symptoms can be worsened by the increase in estrogen and cortisol. Starchy carbs, fiber, and protein are essential for women at this stage to prevent the decline in bone density and retain muscle mass. 


High-fat intake and hormonal imbalance must also be considered when deciding on keto. A high-fat diet increases estrogen production, which is also associated with weight gain. High levels of estrogen can suppress the thyroid in women which causes weight gain. This is because it’s the thyroid that regulates the metabolic process, which acts as the control system of energy levels, concentration, weight management, sex drive, and mood. On the other hand, the rise in cortisol levels caused by the carb-intake restriction of the keto diet may suppress fertility-supporting hormones. 


Keto Diet: The Triple Whammy


Experts advise caution when following the keto diet. The first is that it increases the risk of having high cortisol due to limited carbohydrate intake. Second is that the diet can increase the level of estrogen because of the high fat intake. Third, high cortisol and high estrogen levels may lead to thyroid suppression, causing weight gain. The thyroid is important for women because it regulates so many hormones. 


Tips on Deciding if Keto Diet Is for You


There are no clear-cut means to know if the keto diet is meant for you. This is because we have different stress levels, sleep patterns, ages, and activity levels. That’s why you have to consider several steps for you to find out if this eating plan will work for you.


You have to know why you are following the keto diet in the first place. Is it because you want to lose weight, reduce your blood sugar, or increase your energy levels? Try to keep your goals in mind while you follow the diet consistently for a few weeks.


Try to notice how your body responds to the diet plan. Take note of your mood, sleep, and energy. If you observe some negative changes that last for more than a few days, the diet is not meant for you. 


Don’t forget to check your menstrual cycle. Any changes in your menstruation require a pause in the diet since this could be a sign that you’re stressing your body a lot. 


You also have to check your blood sugar and cardiovascular lab tests before you follow the diet and after you follow it for a few months. It’s a no-no to just follow the diet because it’s a trend.


 Keto Diet Benefits for Women


The keto diet has its own share of great benefits for women. The following are some of them:


Weight Loss


The keto diet gets rid of refined grains and processed foods that contribute to weight gain. Women also reported feeling less hungry while on keto. Studies have also revealed that the keto diet reduces the hormones that influence hunger. This eating plan also improves fat burning since it uses stored fats in the body instead of carbs to fuel the body’s energy. A small study conducted on women showed that they lost body fat after following a low-calorie keto diet. They also reported having fewer cravings after 14 weeks of following the diet plan. 


Blood Sugar Regulation


The keto diet can improve one’s blood sugar levels and insulin response due to the restricted carb intake. This means that the diet plan is beneficial to one’s metabolic health. Too much glucose from carbs may result in weight gain, increased insulin resistance, and consequently type 2 diabetes. With a keto diet, the carbs remain so low that the blood sugar level and the dependence on insulin are also reduced significantly. A meta-analysis revealed that the diet improved the body’s glycemic response and brought down the A1C (a blood sugar test) for people who have type 2 diabetes.


Cancer Treatment


There are also some indications that the keto diet can be beneficial for cancer treatment. A study revealed that following the keto diet helped women who suffer from ovarian or endometrial cancer, as it maintains lean muscles and reduces fat and insulin circulation. Another study conducted on women with cancer showed that after following the keto diet their food cravings were reduced and they experienced increased energy levels and physical functions.


Adjusting the Keto Diet for Women


Some people benefit more from the diet by cycling it. This way they follow the traditional diet plan most of the week and then pick one to two days to increase their carb intake. This may reduce the stress imposed on the body and it also helps lessen the feelings of deprivation. It’s also a must to increase the number of plant-based fat sources like nuts, olive oil, seeds, and avocado. These along with high-fat fish like salmon and sardines can ensure that you consume foods that are for optimum health.


Low-Carb and Keto-Friendly Foods for Healthy Hormones


When you follow a low-carb and high-fat diet like keto, you have to mind the balance of your hormones. The following food options can restore your natural hormonal balance:


Fermented Foods


Fermented foods are not only keto-friendly; they also restore the body’s hormonal balance. A good example of this is probiotics. Probiotics give the gut good bacteria to keep it healthy. Good bacteria help in metabolizing the hormones produced by the body. The hormones estrogen, phytoestrogens, and thyroid are all metabolized with the aid of probiotics. 


Fish Oil


Fish oil has omega-3 fatty acids that can help in the body’s hormonal balance. One of the best benefits of this is improving one’s mood. Fish oil also contains essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA that help to get rid of estrogen.


Cruciferous Veggies


Veggies like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garden cress, and broccoli are known as cruciferous. They are low in carbs and may help in restoring the body’s hormonal balance. The indol 3 carbinol is a potent constituent in such veggies that help detoxify the liver, which in turn stimulates the enzymes that are required for eliminating toxins and hormones from the body.


Citrus Fruits


Citrus fruits are loaded with antioxidants that are integral in balancing hormones. They are also loaded with hesperidin, vitamin C, and quercetin which aid in regulating the body’s estrogen levels. Citrus fruits like strawberries, lemons, and oranges have fewer carbs and they can normalize the body’s estrogen levels. 


Flaxseeds and Sesame Seeds 


These types of seeds are popular for their weight-loss properties. They are also known to support hormonal balance because of the presence of lignan, a type of fiber, which binds estrogen to the digestive tract and eliminates it from the system. 

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