Scandal of the ‘toxic’ period

The menstrual cycle is a normal healthy part of a woman’s life, right? Not according to some vegan health bloggers who have a somewhat different perspective.

Vegan Periods

They’ve claimed that periods are caused by a ‘toxic diet’, causing the body to shed the uterine lining – and so periods may be eliminated by eating only raw vegan foods.

Vegan vlogger FreeLee from Australia, aka the Banana Girl, posted a YouTube video where she claimed she lost her period for nine months after switching to the extreme raw diet, cutting out meat, dairy and junk food. At our last count, the video has attracted 400,000+ views.

She says,

I still believe that, largely, menstruation is toxicity leaving the body. So a lot of people are having these heavy periods and painful periods because they have a toxic body or have a toxic diet.

Whereas many women have noticed that their diet can affect their menstrual experiences, the claim that menstruation itself is linked to toxicity has caused an uproar.

We asked Chris Simon, a nutritionist with Origym, for his view. He says,

It makes me rather angry that they have said that the menstrual cycle is caused by a toxic diet. It is a natural cycle that supports the process of ovulation. I would not call the causality of childbirth or the human anatomy, toxic. Vegan meals can help with women’s menstruation but so can meals that are not vegan. For example, oily fish is rich in acid fats such as omega-3, which can produce prostagladins that nullify the intensity of period pains.

Vegan Periods

Registered nutritional therapist Sandra Greenbank shares his concerns. She says,

This type of statement by influential bloggers is very dangerous, as some young people may try to follow their advice. Amenhorrea (the absence of menstruation) is a sign that your body is under stress, usually due to a dangerously low weight or high levels of stress. It affects the levels of circulating oestrogen which falls to levels which are very unhealthy, and this can lead to osteoporosis later in life.

If you are experiencing PMT or PMS, bloating, or very heavy periods, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at your diet. Sugar, refined and processed foods, hydrogenated fats, alcohol and caffeine can interfere with the body’s delicate systems. A whole food diet with good quality protein, fats (avocados, fish, nuts, seeds), and plenty of colourful vegetables helps the body bring itself back into balance.

Medical herbalist, Katie Pande, offers this advice,

Excess stress hormones circulating in the body can have knock-on effects on oestrogen, which for women can make hormonal cycles out of sync and menopausal transition harder. Try taking Ashwagandha from Pukka Herbs, a traditional adaptogenic Ayurvedic herbal remedy shown to help the body deal with stress more effectively.

Vegan periods

FreeLee has since admitted in later YouTube videos that there were other changes that coincided with her loss of periods, including coming off the contraceptive pill and high stress, although she holds fast to her views.

The debate will no doubt continue, although we can’t help but feel we should choose our food for its nutrition and all-round yummyness, not to try and conquer our body’s natural rhythms.

We’d love to hear your view – tell us in the comments below!

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