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 always 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 thereafter, 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, 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 own healing process and I decided to take a break from my profession to find out the TRUTH. I researched nutrigenomics, human genome project, epigenetics, gut microbiome, etc. along with a gamut of ancient healing sciences like Ayurveda, etc. 

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 as compared to a man. 

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 had healed me by addressing the root cause of all my problems.

Today, I am happy to share with you that my protocol has healed hundreds of women with menstrual problems, fertility issues, low energy, weight issues or any other chronic health issues which have refused to leave their body despite all the treatments. Truhealing is a women-centric protocol for achieving health goals, where female biology is at the centre stage. You have an incredibly powerful body that responds to the right and wrong that you do to it. The Truhealing protocol guides you to eat and live 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 to your body. You will experience better periods, clearer skin and improvements in weight and body composition. By acknowledging your hormonal reality, you’ll finally be able to look and feel your best.

There are weekly changes happening in your body and 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 different times in our cycle. The current 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 on 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 are flawed 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 very important. Oestrogen 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 not just focuses on building the right levels of hormones, but it also pays 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 ‘estrobolome’ to process the estrogen overload.

If isolated things are not working for you, I believe that an Integrative holistic approach like TRUHEALING protocol can put an end to your struggle of achieving the right balance and good health. It can eliminate any 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 take a close look at 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 the fuel source for it. In this type of diet, 85 % of the calories are derived from fat while protein is a source for 10% of the calories. The remaining 5% of calories come from the carbohydrates. This type of diet has one limitation. It restricts carbohydrates to such an extent that once your hormones start to shift mid cycle, there is an intense carbohydrate craving. This craving may become a reason for binge eating. 

Another damage that the low carbohydrate diet causes are that it puts a lot of stress on the adrenal system. This causes adrenal fatigue which is already a pre-existing hormone imbalance in most women with period problems. Thus, when there is an existing hormone imbalance, this diet is likely to 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 the nutritional value and destroys many vital enzymes.

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

Intermittent Fasting (IF):

Intermittent fasting means not having food for intermediate or short periods of time. The time for intermittent fasting can vary from 12 hours and include sleep time or 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 to attempt fasting in a safe way, your body should have a certain level of fitness. If you have a Hormone imbalance like PCOS, very likely you are insulin resistant and prediabetic/ diabetic. Fasting is to be avoided by diabetic patients and if need be, it has to 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 has a possibility to 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

Cortisol, the stress hormone and thyroid hormone also may get affected adversely by fasting. 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 negative health effects in a woman with pre-existing hormone imbalance(s).

What’s missing in all of the above diets?

A women’s cyclical hormonal health is not considered in any of the diets. The continuous hormonal changes or cyclical nature of female biochemistry is not taken into account by the popular diets of all types.  The diet cannot be uniform throughout the month. The shifting micronutrient needs are to be addressed during each phase of your cycle in order to maintain hormonal balance. In this way, we can ensure adequate nutrition at critical times. This will aid in breaking down of excess estrogen which otherwise could cause period problems like breakouts, PMS, etc. Managing the 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 a variety of cuisines and that is likely to enhance your compliance to the diet. Right nutrition and good health are thus assured. 

Let us commit long-term to a lifestyle that really works for us women. Let us all be healthy and happy by taking good care of our hormones. Let us not be a victim to our hormones but work with them to create a beautiful life which 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 that you are already 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