Should Men and Women Follow Different Diets?

I am a Gynaecologist but first of all a woman. I exactly know how it feels when you lose your health. I have been there in my mid-thirties when I had a major hormonal breakdown.

Dr Disha Sridhar

I am a Gynaecologist Obstetrician ( MD, DNB OBGYN )with an emphasis on INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE.

I have suffered from a mild case of PCOS since puberty, which I tried to manage with the conventional approach of pills and drugs. But more than relief, I got the side effects of the therapy. Into my mid-thirties, I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease and premature menopause.

Now, I was taking even more pills after consulting so many doctors; how many, I have lost the count. Thyroid pills, birth control pills, synthetic hormones, and sleeping pills were all employed to treat me without success. My future forecast was filled with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. After wasting tons of time, money, and energy on conventional and alternate therapies, nothing much changed.

I realized that it’s up to me to empower my healing process, and I decided to take a break from my profession to find out the TRUTH. I researched nutrigenomics, human genome projects, epigenetics, gut microbiome, etc., and a gamut of ancient healing sciences like Ayurveda. 

After trials on myself, I discovered a new INTEGRATIVE APPROACH in healing a woman’s body – which I now call the TRUHEALING PROTOCOL. It is a combination of gut healing, nutrition therapy, mind-body medicine, and detoxification done in a way that respects women’s cyclic biology. When I researched, I focused on one thing – I am a woman, and a woman’s body has an entirely different hormonal, nutritional, and psychological set-up than a man's. 

TRUHEALING is a women-centric approach to good health. I succeeded in reversing all my symptoms, getting my periods back, and my hormones stabilized. But the best of all, I could experience a healthy pregnancy at the age of 40! I was elated and decided to make it my mission to help other women with my TRUHEALING PROTOCOL, which healed me by addressing the root cause of all my problems.

Today, I am happy to share that my protocol has healed hundreds of women with menstrual problems, fertility issues, low energy, weight issues, or any other chronic health issues that have refused to leave their bodies despite all the treatments. Truhealing is a women-centric protocol for achieving health goals, where female biology is at the centre stage. You have a compelling body that responds to the right and wrong that you do to it. The Truhealing protocol guides your eating and living based on your female biology. The ‘healing’ in Truhealing stands for our core objective of ‘healing your hormones.’ Hormones are responsible for all the changes in our bodies. Hence, healing the hormones means getting the fitness of your body back again. 

The key to working with your unique female biochemistry is to understand your monthly cyclical nature and how cleansing is embedded in your menstrual cycle so that you can use your hormones and bio-hack your biology to create the life you have always deserved! Matching your diet, exercise, supplements, and self-care to natural hormonal shifts does phenomenal good for your body. You will experience better periods, clearer skin, and improved weight and body composition. By acknowledging your hormonal reality, you’ll finally be able to look and feel your best.

Weekly changes happen in your body, so the micronutrient needs also change during each week of the 28-day cycle. Research suggests that our fluctuating hormone levels affect our nutrient levels, and our nutrient levels affect our hormones. Thus, we have different micronutrient needs at other times in our cycle. The popular diets ignore the natural interplay between micronutrients and our feminine rhythmic, constantly fluctuating hormones.

What is fundamentally wrong with new-age diets?

Some of these popular diets stress calorie restriction for weight loss. Unfortunately, research shows that calorie restriction is linked to thyroid hormone imbalances, which can cause a sluggish metabolism, lacklustre hair and skin, fatigue, and brain fog. Thus, most of the diet plans need to be revised when it comes to women with pre-existing hormone imbalances. When you limit calories, there is an increase in the secretion of a hormone called ‘cortisol.’ It is one of the body’s stress hormones. High Cortisol levels are known to cause weight gain. Considering that most of the women with Hormone imbalances already have stress Hormone dysregulation, we don’t want our diet to create the same.

Some of these popular diets focus on Low FAT OR NO FAT. Another fact that I would like to put forth is that ‘healthy fats’ are essential. Estrogen and progesterone are made from cholesterol. Without enough cholesterol, our body cannot produce the needed levels of these hormones to support healthy periods and fertility.

Why You Should Consider the Truhealing Protocol

Hence, my INTEGRATIVE PROTOCOL focuses on building the proper levels of hormones and paying equal attention to the breakdown and elimination of used-up hormones. This is important so that we as women don’t become estrogen-dominant. I recommend eating the right foods that support the liver in eliminating excess hormones and help a specific group of bacteria in the gut microbiome, called ‘astrobleme,’ to process the estrogen overload.

If isolated things are not working for you, I believe an Integrative holistic approach like the TRUHEALING protocol can end your struggle to achieve the right balance and good health. It can eliminate menstrual misery like weight issues, PMS, irregular or heavy periods, PCOS, fibroids, hormonal acne, or impaired fertility.

Why your diet may not be working for you?

Let’s closely examine why some of today’s most popular eating plans don’t work for most women.

The Keto Diet

This diet is principally a low-carbohydrate diet plan. It is based on the principle that when you put your body into ketosis by restricting glucose, the body starts to burn the stored fat, which becomes its fuel source. In this diet, 85 % of the calories are derived from petroleum, while protein is a source of 10%. The remaining 5% of calories come from the carbohydrates. This type of diet has one limitation. It restricts carbohydrates so much that there is an intense carbohydrate craving once your hormones shift mid-cycle. This craving may become a reason for binge eating.

Another damage that the low carbohydrate diet causes is that it puts a lot of stress on the adrenal system. This causes adrenal fatigue, a pre-existing hormone imbalance in most women with period problems. Thus, when there is a hormone imbalance, this diet will likely worsen the condition.

Raw Vegan

This type of diet involves eating rainbow-coloured vegetables and fruits, whether cooked or raw (or a combo of both); in a sufficient quantity.  This diet seems to offer a major advantage for health and hormone balance. A true raw diet though should consist only of plant-based foods without having them heated to 104-118 degrees F. The advocates of raw veganism stress that when food is cooked, it reduces its nutritional value and destroys many vital enzymes.

The unfortunate part of being on this diet is that it is linked to amenorrhea or the absence of menstruation. If your gut microbiome is not active or working because of synthetic birth control pills that you had, the absorption of nutrients from the raw food may not happen. We might eat right, but nutrients may not reach the bloodstream because of impaired absorption. This will lead to a nutritional deficiency that can adversely affect the hormonal system. The hormonal system imbalance will lead to missed periods, weight gain, etc.

Intermittent Fasting (IF):

Intermittent fasting means not having food for intermediate or short periods. The time for intermittent fasting can vary from 12 hours, including sleep time, to 16, 20, or even 24 hours.

Fasting can be very healing. Especially in the Indian subcontinent, we have a great culture of fasting (which we are losing, unfortunately). But your body should have a certain fitness level to attempt fasting safely. If you have a Hormone imbalance like PCOS, you are likely insulin-resistant and prediabetic/ diabetic. Fasting is to be avoided by diabetic patients; if need be, it must be done under medical supervision as it can be dangerous. Intermittent fasting has been linked to adrenal fatigue, where further hormone disruption occurs in women. Intermittent fasting can disrupt estrogen balance. This may lead to: 

  • Decreased bone density
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Reduced skin and hair health
  • Poorer cardiovascular health
  • Infertility
  • Low energy
  • Poor glucose control
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired cognitive function

Fasting may also adversely affect cortisol, stress hormone, and thyroid hormones. An imbalance in cortisol may cause the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Sugar cravings
  • Feeling wired-but-tired

The imbalance in thyroid hormones produces the following symptoms: 

  • Irregular periods
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble regulating body temperature.
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Dry hair

Thus, intermittent fasting has to be weighed on the benefits and possible adverse health effects in a woman with pre-existing hormone imbalance(s).

What’s missing in all of the above diets?

A woman’s cyclical hormonal health is not considered in any diet. The popular diets of all types do not consider the continuous hormonal changes or cyclical nature of female biochemistry. The diet cannot be uniform throughout the month. The shifting micronutrient needs must be addressed during each phase of your cycle to maintain hormonal balance. In this way, we can ensure adequate nutrition at critical times. It will aid in the breaking down of excess estrogen, which otherwise could cause period problems like breakouts, PMS, etc. Managing estrogen levels effectively supports good mood, sex drive, fertility, and energy.

Eat like a Woman!

Eating based on your cycle has other benefits as well. You get to enjoy various cuisines, which will likely enhance your compliance with the diet. Proper nutrition and good health are thus assured. 

Let us commit long-term to a lifestyle that works for us women. Let us all be healthy and happy by caring for our hormones. Let us not be a victim of our hormones but work with them to create the beautiful life we all deserve! 

We’re all in this together! So pass on this info to any girlfriend you see suffering from PCOS or Ovarian cysts or any kind of hormone imbalance. Thank you for reading this. I know you are a proactive health rockstar. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have read this far. Thank you for everything you are doing to help heal and transform our world.

To your healthy ovaries and cycles,

Dr.Disha Sridhar

Originally published April 14, 2020 by Dr Disha Sridhar

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