The menstrual cycle can be affected by many factors. Our sleep, exercise and misbalanced hormones all play a role in our cycle and so does diet. It is a well-known fact that there are certain foods that help our hormones stay on track but what is the impact of being vegan and the menstrual cycle?
What is the connection between periods and food?
By eating a well balanced and healthy diet we can help our bodies maintain a regular menstrual cycle. When we don’t eat enough, lose too much weight or work out to the extreme, one may experience the loss of periods which is also referred to as amenorrhea.
What is a healthy vegan diet?
Having a healthy diet means that we consume the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals for the body to sustain all its bodily functions; and having periods is one of them. Eating too little or too much of certain foods can impact our hormone levels which directly link to your menstrual cycle and if you are one to experiment with different diets you may find that the constant change of food, throws your hormones out of balance and contributes to an irregular cycle.
Does being vegan impact my period?
Having a healthy vegan diet means that your meals are thought-about to a greater extent to ensure you are delivering the right amount vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbs to your body. Iron is one of the most important minerals of having a healthy menstrual cycle and iron deficiency has been known to affect one’s period. As vegans do not consume meat (where large amounts of iron are found), it is essential that other sources of iron are included in a vegan diet.
Why is iron important for healthy periods?
A shortage of iron can lead to the onset of a condition called anaemia. When this happens there is a lack of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, which in turn can make you feel weak and fatigued. During a period, women, girls, trans men and non-binary people with periods lose iron-rich blood and when this is combined with a further lack of iron from meat products, anaemia can become severe.
What does iron have to do with periods?
Iron found in plant-based foods is not as easily absorbed as the iron found in meat and it can be helpful to eat iron-rich foods with a secondary food rich in Vitamin C; as Vitamin C helps the body to absorb the mineral. Vegans with periods should eat plenty of iron-rich plant-based foods such as nuts, tofu, beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, grains and dried fruits to help counter the lack of meat-based iron and reduce the risk of developing anaemia.
Can I be Vegan and have healthy periods?
Yes you can! Being vegan does not have to mean that your periods will be affected as long as you ensure to eat a balanced and varied diet, which hopefully includes a lot of iron. In fact, there are many benefits of being vegan on your period such as reduction in PMS symptoms that are believed to occur as s result of the absence of dairy. As with all things in life, one’s diet is a personal choice and as long as you listen to your body and ensure you eat what your body needs you can still have a healthy and vegan period.