Last week, I promised you that we would discuss the carnivore diet's impact on mood and hormones. Our modern diet tends to upset the balance in both our mood and our hormones, and most women I know suffer the fallout of a dysregulated endocrine system.
We shall start with hormones.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mess with your endocrine system and throw off the signals that are sent to your hormone-producing glands like the brain, thyroid, ovaries, adrenals, pancreas, and testes. When your diet and lifestyle consist of fewer endocrine disruptors, your mood and hormones tend to balance out. This isn't a quick fix. Be wary of quick fixes when it comes to your health! Healing takes time, every time.
Endocrine disruptors prevent your hormones from doing their jobs.
They do this in three ways:
"They may (i) mimic the biological activity of a hormone by binding to a cellular receptor, leading to an unwarranted response by initiating the cell's normal response to the naturally occurring hormone at the wrong time or to an excessive extent (agonistic effect); (ii) bind to the receptor but not activate it. Instead the presence of the chemical on the receptor will prevent binding of the natural hormone (antagonistic effect); (iii) bind to transport proteins in the blood, thus altering the amounts of natural hormones that are present in the circulation; and/or (iv) interfere with the metabolic processes in the body, affecting the synthesis or breakdown rates of the natural hormones." (source)
Endocrine disruptors include:
Yup. All them yummy plants may be upping the fake hormones in your body.
Ok, listen. Plants are not bad. Bourbon is not bad either, for that matter. The Lord designed us to eat some plants, and He Himself created spinach and bourbon with bits of phytoestrogens. Don't assume I'm like against all plants or plant-eaters, for heaven's sake. I am simply sharing the information.
But let's say, hypothetically, that you just eat a lot of plants. And maybe drink beer and bourbon and lots of coffee. And your hormones get a little wonky. It's possible that your diet could be too full of phytoestrogens for your real estrogen to do its job.
To be fair, there is research that shows that phytoestrogens can prevent cancer, so it's not like they are all bad. Nothing in nutrition is all bad. You just have to find the balance that works for you. And if things are unbalanced, it is wise to look for root causes as to why this could be.
Industrial Chemicals (like dioxin)
Ohmygoodness, doesn't meat contain dioxin? And doesn't dioxin cause cancer?
Well, maybe. But doesn't everything cause cancer?
But dioxins have been around since the dawn of time, or of fire. And humans have been exposed to dioxins ever since we started cooking meat, or burning wood for heat. In fact,
"The smoke of fires–to which indigenous peoples, unlike moderns, were exposed on a daily basis–contains between 10 and 40 nanograms of chlorinated dioxins per gram of smoke.b A single gram of smoke thus contains between 125 and 500 times the amount of dioxin that a 80 kg adult consumes from food per day (source)."
Therefore, we have been ingesting dioxins for a very long time. While dioxins are a possible risk factor, getting some in charred meat is not going to kill you. And now, you have the more modern options of using instant pots or gas-powered ovens to cook your meat. Dioxins may additionally be found in animal products as one goes farther up the food chain, but dioxins in meat and dairy are not the stand-alone harmful substances they are purported to be. Who would think that spinach would be as equally high in dioxin as meat? Or that vegetable oils would have many times higher levels of dioxin than pork?
For example, in the Netherlands, leafy vegetables (4.4) contributed a quantity of TEQs roughly equivalent to pork (4.2), and poultry and eggs (4.8)
Vegetable oils (14) contributed 3.3 times as many TEQs as pork (4.2) and 7 percent more than beef (13) (source).
If you have a good hour, please go here to read an excellent article on meat and dioxins by Chris Masterjohn of the Weston A Price Foundation. I'm not smart or knowledgeable enough to break everything down like the Master of Nutrition.
To quote Masterjohn,
"What has changed in the modern era is not the introduction of chemical pollutants, but the disappearance of protective factors abundant in traditional diets — which have protected us from pollutants throughout history–from the modern menu" (source).
How does meat help hormones?
I have covered this in blogs before. Hormones need meat. They just do.
Your endocrine system needs plenty of Vitamin A in order to function correctly. Vitamin A in its most bioavailable form is only found in meat and eggs. That's it. Can you get Vitamin A from carrots and such? Well, not really. You can get beta-carotene from carrots and other orange and red vegetables, but your body has to convert it to Vitamin A before you can use it. This happens in the small intestine. If you are dealing with something like SIBO or a gut infection, or even gas and bloating and dysbiosis, your small intestine is not going to be converting beta carotene very efficiently.
Plus, beta carotene "absorption is about one order of magnitude less efficient compared to vitamin A (source)"
Getting Vitamin A from animals means quick absorption, also in the small intestine. No converting, just absorbing. If your gut is calm and happy and not inflamed, you will absorb your vitamins easier.
The most important endocrine system vitamin is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in zero plant foods.
This chart from Dr. Georgia Ede tells us a little bit more.
Getting bioavailable forms of all of these nutrients through a carnivore-ish diet will be very helpful for your endocrine system and thus, your hormones.
We shall finish with mood
The Grande Dame of meat-based diets for mood is none other than Dr. Georgia Ede.
I'll quote Dr. Ede to give you the short of it.
Q. So, do plant-based diets increase risk for mental health problems?
A. Yes, unfortunately they do.
Dr. Ede explains: "Most brain-essential nutrients are easier to find in animal foods, and in some cases are ONLY found in animal foods. A staggering variety of plant foods interfere with our ability to process vital nutrients, making them harder to absorb, utilize and/or store" (source).
For example, 47% of vegans are deficient in zinc and DHA and EPA levels in vegans are over 50% lower than those of their omnivore counterparts (source).
These nutritional deficiencies, among others, can lead to dysregulated mood, and even severe mood disorders.
If both your mood and hormones are negatively affected, it's entirely possible that you need more meat. Like, even if you eat meat once or twice a day, you may need more meat.
Did you know that Overeaters Anonymous prescribes the following way of eating for most of their participants?
8 oz protein
2 cups vegetables
At each meal. Every meal. Three times a day. And people lose weight, up to 100 pounds or more. And they keep it off- not everyone, not all of the time. But giving the body and the brain what it needs is a powerful way to regulate mood, thought, and compulsions.
What if you're just hungry?
Have you ever tried to eat 24 straight ounces of meat a day? It's almost a full time job! But if it is good enough for people in recovery, it is good enough for the rest of us. And frankly, maybe more of us should be part of the program. I meet with women daily who feel frustration and shame about their diet. They cut back food, they cut back portions, they eat clean food, yet they still struggle with their weight. It's rare to add more food to one's diet to regulate one's weight. But what if you tried?
What if you're just hungry?
When you are full and satisfied and your body is fed on a cellular level, your hormones and mood begin to even out. I see it every single day in my office.
Don't be scared of eating more meat. I continue to do it, and I feel strong and energized and even. I make it a priority for my family to get animal products at every meal, as those little brains and bones and joints and guts need the whole array of meaty vitamins shown by Dr. Ede. It's not like I'm amazing for eating more meat and you're not if you don't- that's not the gist of what I'm about.
I just want the best for you- for your health, for your mood, and for all of your cute little endocrine organs. Fight the tide of propaganda and do your research. Decide what is best for you and for your family. And if you need help, I'm here for you.
The carnivore diet seems to have a positive influence on both mood and hormones. Anecdotal evidence abounds, this girl agrees, and clients tell me that when they start eating more protein, mood and hormones start coming into balance.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Comment below and I will answer! Thanks for reading.