Women's Health Month Part 2 - Hormone Health and More

Mar 24, 2023My Store Admin

Menstrual pain, menopause, endometriosis, fertility…all wrapped up in hormones. We’re going to tap into hormone health, a growing interest in the wellness world. Diet and lifestyle plays a huge role in hormone health, something we didn’t learn while going through major changes as young adults. But let’s recap first. This time last year we put out our Women’s Health Month blogpost and focused on breast health, bone health, and skin/hair/nail health. We found that genetics aren’t usually the determining factor in common cancers and diseases, but shared familial diets and lifestyles are. Plant foods can quite literally be used as disease prevention and allow women to strengthen everything from their bones to their hair.


For breast health - Only 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancer comes from an inherited gene mutation. If the BRCA genes are mutated or broken, they can be passed down from one generation to the next (1). That being said, 90-95% of breast cancer cases are engendered by diet and lifestyle choices, not by a genetic predisposition. If you grew up in a house where an excess of meat, dairy, highly processed foods, and alcohol was prominent, you may be at risk (for breast cancer) if you carry the same habits with you throughout your life. The cycle of the familial manner in which we approach food can of course be broken.

For bone health - We found that countries who consumed the most amount of dairy products also had the highest cases of osteoporosis. A peer-reviewed Yale study involving subjects who were women and 50+ in age found that 70% of fracture rates were connected to the consumption of animal protein. The reason being that animal protein creates an acidic overload, which is eventually fought off by the body by using calcium from our bones. This loss of calcium weakens the bones and puts them at greater risk of fracture (2). Animal protein can also suppress the production of vitamin D, along with excessive calcium, unlike plant proteins (3).


For skin/hair/nails - We found that eating a plant-rich diet benefits us from the inside out. Eating the rainbow and including plenty of fibrous plants can create a healthy gut which shows on parts of the body you may have never expected. 97% of Americans are fiber deficient which makes sense considering only about 3% of Americans are currently vegan and fiber is only found in plant foods (4). Fruits and vegetables contain the essential vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients and fiber assists in the absorption of nutrients. Eating your water (cucumbers, watermelon, etc.) helps to promote healthy skin by hydrating and providing nutrients in concert with one another. It’s also important to incorporate plant diversity into your diet not only for a healthy gut microbiome, but to bring in plants that are magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, and silica-rich (5).


Menstrual Pain

During menstruation, estrogen levels can be boosted with animal products, oily foods, and fiber-depleted foods. When there is an excess of estrogen in the bloodstream, the uterine lining thickens more than it should which can result in cramping and pain. An excess of estrogen leads to an excess of inflammatory prostaglandins. When a period begins, the endometrial cells - the cells that form the lining to the uterus, begin to break down during menstruation which releases a high number of these prostaglandins (6). These chemicals make the muscle layer contract by constricting the blood vessels in the uterus, thus resulting in cramps. A low-fat, high fiber plant-based diet has been shown to reduce estrogen levels (78). Think whole grains, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, and fruit.


Endometriosis + Fertility

Endometriosis is a condition where the cells that normally line the uterus have moved to other parts of the abdomen. They implant in the out-of-place areas, become inflamed, and can cause women excruciating pain. These cells can disrupt the anatomy of the ovaries and fallopian tubes causing various issues beyond pain, including infertility (9). I have been reading about women who have overcome endometriosis with a simple diet change. Wanting to highlight one woman’s endometriosis journey told in Your Body in Balance, the New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health by Neal Barnard, Katherine, a patient, was told she would have to have a hysterectomy due to the severity of her diagnosis. Katherine wanted children but was realizing that may not pan out for her. Typical treatments for endometriosis include hormone treatments, laparoscopic surgery, and lots of pain killers. These methods don’t always work. Her doctor recommended a laparoscopy, a type of diagnostic surgical procedure that allows a closer look at the organs in the abdomen and reproductive organs (10). A small incision was made in her abdomen, a scope was inserted, and the doctor spotted the cause of her pain which led to her diagnosis. Katerine received advice from a friend to try a diet change. During the 6 weeks before her hysterectomy, Katerine cut out all animal products and was almost entirely no oil. She embraced brown rice, broccoli, beans, and a new whole-foods/plant-based world of options. When returning for her surgery, the doctor repeated her laparoscopy, looked around, and realized her endometriosis was practically gone. He did not feel comfortable going through with the hysterectomy. When Katerine’s family explained to the doctor that it must be from her new diet she had been on for the past 6 weeks, he said food had nothing to do with the condition. He instead said, it was a “miracle!” But it wasn’t a miracle. Katherine’s improvements were due to her diet and lifestyle changes, not divine intervention. She lost 55 pounds on her new diet, her pain disappeared, and went on to have 3 children.



During menopause, the ovaries begin to run out of viable eggs. The amount of estradiol and progesterone drops when ovulation is no longer happening. The term menopause is used to describe when periods have stopped for at least a year. Dr. Neal Barnard calls menopause nature’s way to protect us, as hormones can be dangerous and excess estrogen can increase the risk of cancer. We are given a time-limited window of fertility to protect our overall health (11). Soy has been shown to have incredible benefits on women experiencing menopause. The WAVS study (Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms) conducted in 2021, showed that postmenopausal women reporting two or more hot flashes a day reduced their hot flashes by changing their diet over a 12-week period. Women were randomly assigned to either an intervention group which consisted of eating a low-fat, vegan diet including ½ cup of cooked soybeans daily, or, to a control group which did not consist of any diet changes at all. The results were outstanding. The group fed a low-fat, plant-based diet with soybeans experienced an 84% drop in menopausal symptoms (12).


Hormone Health Foods at P.S. & Co.


Organic Protein-Packed Amaranth Porridge with Fresh Fruit, Maple Pecans and Fresh Jam

Organic Acai Bowl

Organic Greens Smoothie

Organic Breakfast Tacos

Organic Spicy BBQ Tempeh Kale Caesar Salad

Organic Mohinga Noodle Soup

Organic Forbidden Bowl



1 Danahy, A., Panoff, L., Funk, D. K., Levo, K., Underwood, C., Rodriguez, V., Wynter, P., Carson, Power, P. + P. =, Annemarie, Ciel, Griess, B., Evans, H., Carmichael, D., & Terzieff, L. (2021, November 16). BRCA gene mutations. Pink Lotus. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://pinklotus.com/powerup/breastcancer101/brca-gene-mutations/

2 Campbell, T. C., & Campbell, T. M. (2017). 205. The China Study: The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. BenBella Books, Inc.

3 Campbell, T. C., & Campbell, T. M. (2017). 208. The China Study: The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. BenBella Books, Inc.

4 Kotifani, A. (2020, September 11). Is your gut starving for fiber? fiber myths busted by "the gut health MD". Blue Zones. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://www.bluezones.com/2020/09/is-your-gut-starving-for-fiber-fiber-myths-busted-by-the-gut-health-md/

5 Feng Y, Duan Y, Xu Z, Lyu N, Liu F, Liang S, Zhu B. An examination of data from the American Gut Project reveals that the dominance of the genus Bifidobacterium is associated with the diversity and robustness of the gut microbiota. Microbiologyopen. 2019 Dec;8(12):e939. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.939. Epub 2019 Sep 30. PMID: 31568677; PMCID: PMC6925156.

6 Barnard, Neal (2021). 23-24. Your body in balance: The new science of food, hormones, and health. Grand Central Pub.

7 Turner-McGrievy GM, Wirth MD, Shivappa N, et al. Randomization to plant-based dietary approaches leads to larger short-term improvements in Dietary Inflammatory Index scores and macronutrient intake compared to diets that contain meat. Nutr Res. 2015;35:97-106.

8 Haghighatdoost F, Bellissimo N, de Zepetnek JOT, Rouhani MH. Association of vegetarian diet with inflammatory biomarkers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr. 2017;20:2713-2721.

9 Barnard, Neal (2021). 4-5. Your body in balance: The new science of food, hormones, and health. Grand Central Pub.

10 Laparoscopy: Procedure details, Safety & Recovery. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/4819-laparoscopy

11 Barnard, Neal (2021). 91-92. Your body in balance: The new science of food, hormones, and health. Grand Central Pub.

12 Barnard ND, Kahleova H, Holtz DN, Del Aguila F, Neola M, Crosby LM, Holubkov R. The Women's Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS): a randomized, controlled trial of a plant-based diet and whole soybeans for postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2021 Jul 12;28(10):1150-1156. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001812. PMID:

34260478; PMCID: PMC8462449.

More articles