Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

The Masculinizing Diet

This is a follow-up post to my post, “Nutritional Guidelines for Transgender Patients.” See the original post here. This article is an excerpt from my research paper, “Nutritional Guidelines for Transgender Patients,” which was written for practitioners of TCM who can use this information as part of a holistic diet tailored to client’s constitutions. It is not intended to function as medical advice. Because every body can respond differently, before beginning or changing your diet always consult a healthcare provider. I have included a few gems in here for practitioners, if you don’t have an understanding of TCM theory you may skip over the italicized portions.


To start, proper general nutrition is important, including plenty of healthy fats, avoiding animal products raised with hormones and processed or refined foods, and adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and high quality protein.

As long as there are not contraindications based on your underlying constitution, a testosterone supportive diet should be high fiber, low carb and include a lot of vegetables and a moderate amount of protein.

This diet along with herbs and acupuncture can cause a slight elevation in testosterone levels in some people. However, please note that these diets alone will not have a significant effect.

Table 2: Trans-masculine Dietary Suggestions

  1. Limit carbohydrates -especially starches- and increase fiber, fruits and vegetables.
  2. Add white mushrooms, bee pollen, royal jelly, and/or celery. Meat in general is more yang, but especially poultry, lamb, wild game, tuna, lobster, salmon, and shrimp are beneficial for a masculinizing diet.
  3. If taking testosterone, add brazil nuts and garlic, and avoid salt.

Yang:
A mildly yang nourishing diet is generally safe for most people however care should be taken in following this diet long term if yang deficiency is not present. It is important to note that trans men who have just begun taking testosterone often have some degree of yin deficiency, and this diet would be inappropriate in that case. Always talk to your healthcare provider when making dietary changes.

A yang tonifying diet includes more warming, sweet, pungent foods (Pitchford, p. 54), and avoiding raw and cold temperature foods (Pitchford, p. 95). Meat, especially poultry, lamb, wild game, tuna, lobster, salmon, and shrimp are especially good, but if the client experiences side effects from the testosterone, especially high red blood cell counts, meat should be cut down. Once taking testosterone, a yang tonifying diet would have to be greatly modified and monitored by a TCM practitioner or discontinued since testosterone tends to create more yin deficiency and blood heat rather than yang deficiency.

Lowering Estrogen:

A high fiber diet can decrease blood estrogen levels by removing estrogen from the body before it can be reabsorbed in the bowel (Griffith, p. 158). Carbohydrates and especially starches should be limited as well because high blood sugar and associated high insulin levels can in turn raise estrogen levels. In addition, trans men should always avoid animal products raised on hormones (Cole and Han, p.75), since these hormones are estrogenic.

Anyone taking hormones should include sulfurous foods like garlic, dark leafy greens, and egg yolks, as well as lemons and limes, shiitake, reishi, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (cooked only if taking estrogens), to detox the body. Sulfur gives the liver the ability to get rid of toxins such as synthetic hormones (Duvall), tonifies the kidneys, warms yang, and benefits the skin (Caruso-Radin). Cruciferous vegetables, except for brussels sprouts and broccoli, stimulate testosterone production and flush out estrogen (Prodragonist), and celery has androgen like properties (Midnight). Lignans in sesame and whole grains -also in flax but that has an estrogenic effect- (Petersen), interfere with the enzymes that are involved with the production of estrogen (Duvall). Methionine, which aids estrogen breakdown (Marz, p.85), is found in many animal products; especially tuna, cheese, salmon, wild game, and shrimp, and also nuts, especially walnuts (Marz, p. 86), so protein should come especially from these sources. It is also important to balance excess methionine with glycine from bone broths (Caruso-Radin).

White button mushrooms also prevent testosterone to estrogen conversion (Prodragonist), and bee pollen and royal jelly may increase testosterone levels (Balch, p. 457). Acidophilus in lactofermented foods breaks down metabolites of estrogen (Balch, p. 588), as well as soothing the digestive tract which can be irritated by hormones. DHEA -via combining wild yam and cholesterol as described above is known to cause acne, hair loss, facial hair, and deepening voice in female assigned people (Griffith, p. 158-159), reminiscent of many of the effects of testosterone, and these “side effects” could be used to the client’s benefit. However, as DHEA can be converted to either estrogen or testosterone, it is important to monitor your hormone levels with a doctor when using this method.

Countering Side Effects:

Side effects from testosterone include high blood pressure, high red blood cell count, and high cholesterol. High blood pressure may be prevented somewhat by following a low salt, sugar, and caffeine diet, including avoiding foods with preservatives, aged meat, anchovies, avocado, fava beans, and pickled herring (Balch, p. 438). High blood pressure, if it occurs, can also be eased by selenium (Balch, p. 437), which is found in brewer’s yeast, brazil nuts, pork, eggs, liver, lamb, beef, tuna, and lobster (USDA). Selenium astringes yin, anchors yang, and calms shen (Caruso-Radin), allowing it to calm liver yang rising causing hypertension. High cholesterol, another potential side effect of testosterone use, can be helped with apples, cold water fish, dried beans, garlic, olive oil, carrot juice, and limiting sugars and oils to only unrefined cold or expeller pressed oils and naturally sweet foods like fruit (Balch, p. 442).

Vitamin C in citrus and brightly colored fruits and vegetables boosts testosterone levels, clears heat, stops bleeding, resolves toxins, and calms the shen (Caruso-Radin), potentially helping to stop the menses, prevent toxicity from hormone use, and ease initial mood swings as well as heat side effects, such as hypertension, hives, hot flashes, and acne. Vitamin E can also help reduce hot flashes common with starting testosterone (Balch, p. 512). Vitamin E is found in green vegetables, milk, liver, and nuts, and nourishes the blood and yang from a TCM perspective (Caruso-Radin), potentially countering liver yang rising due to deficient heat. Vitamin A, such as that in grass-fed whole dairy, bright orange and yellow fruits and vegetables and dark leafy greens (Caruso-Radin), is somewhat depleted by testosterone use (Gaby, p.175), so these foods should be increased in the diet.

Overall, a simple high fiber, low carb, moderate protein diet with plenty of vegetables should be followed for trans men. Good proteins to include are tuna, cheese, salmon, wild game, shrimp, lamb, and raw unsalted walnuts, peanuts, and almonds. White button mushrooms, bee pollen, royal jelly, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, lactoferments, beans, cruciferous vegetables, celery, sesame seeds, tomatoes, pears, and apples are great additional foods. If taking testosterone, clients should follow a low salt diet and add brazil nuts and garlic.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Nutrition for Transitioning

This article is an excerpt from my research paper, “Nutritional Guidelines for Transgender Patients.” It is not intended to function as medical advice. Before beginning or changing your diet, always consult a healthcare provider.

Nutrition is an important part of Chinese Medicine that should not be overlooked especially when working with clients taking hormones and other medications, as those medications can have significant effects on a client’s digestive system and nutrient absorption.

For any client, it is most important to start with a basic healthy diet. Clients should try to avoid animal products raised with hormones, salty and fried foods, sugar, white flour, chocolate, processed or refined foods, soy, alcohol, and caffeine, and to add more fresh fruits and vegetables (Gladstar, p. 84-85). Clients should also try to avoid too much raw or cold food and drinking with meals; and focus on chewing thoroughly, eating slowly, and eating a variety of foods (Caruso-Radin). Eating plenty of healthy fats helps to support mental health since fats form the myelin sheaths that coat nerve and brain cells, allowing them to function more effectively (Midnight). Fats also support the body in making hormones, many of which are derived from cholesterol (Midnight). Starting with these guidelines, specific nutrients may be used to support synthetic hormones and create a new healthy balance based on the client’s goals. Nutrition is extremely important for anyone’s health, but is especially valuable in a transitioning process which can cause both bodily and mental stress. Creating a diet that fits a client’s goals can ensure more compliance as well as enhance the work being done with other modalities.

Read more here on masculinizing and feminizing specific diets!

References:

American Pregnancy Association. Folic Acid. June 2014. Retrieved from americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/folic-acid/

Balch, Phyllis and Balch, James. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd edition. Avery, Penguin Putnam Inc, New York. 2000.

Bennett, Alan. How to Convert Cholesterol to Pregnenolone. Livestrong: Health. January 28, 2015. Retrieved from livestrong.com/article/72359-convert-cholesterol-pregnenolone

Caruso-Radin, David. Nutrition East and West. Course at AIMC Berkeley, Winter 2015.

Coffman, Melodie Anne. Which Foods are Rich in CoQ10? Livestrong. January 10, 2014. Retrieved from livestrong.com/article/256149-what-foods-are-rich-in-coq10/

Cole, B. and Luna Han, editors. Freeing Ourselves: A Guide to Health and Self Love for Brown Bois. 2011.

Earthangel, Reverend Doctor. The Importance of a Healthy Diet. The House of Sissify: The Herbal Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved from sissify.com/feminization-hormones/healthy-diet

Erickson-Schroth, Laura. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 2014.

Gaby, Alan R. and The Healthnotes Medical Team, editors. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions, 2nd edition. Three Rivers Press of Random House, NY. 2006.

The Gale Group. Ipriflavone. AltMD: Gale Cengage Learning. 2008. Retrieved from altmd.com/Articles/Ipriflavone–Encyclopedia-of-Alternative-Medicine

Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside of Simon & Schuster Inc, NY. 1993.

Griffith, H. Winter. Vitamins, Herbs, Minerals and Supplements: The Complete Guide, revised edition. New York, NY. 1988.

Kerns, Michelle. Foods with the Highest Content of Quercetin. Livestrong: Food and Drink. June 23, 2014. Retrieved from livestrong.com/article/301326-foods-with-the-highest-content- of-quercetin/

Kerns, Michelle. Foods Containing L-Carnitine. Livestrong: Food and Drink. August 25, 2015. Retrieved from livestrong.com/article/22647-foods-containing-l-carnitine

Marz, Russel B. Medical Nutrition from Marz, 2nd ed. mni-Press, U.S. 1999.

Midnight, Dori. Holistic Health for Transgender & Gender Variant Folks. Ohlone Herbal Center, Research Papers. December 28th, 2009. Retrieved from ohlonecenter.org/research- papers/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/

Petersen, Julia, Johanna Dwyer, Herman Adlercreutz, Augustin Scalbert, Paul Jacques, and Marjorie McCullough. Dietary Lignans: Physiology and Potential for Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction. Nutrition Review, 68 (10), p. 571-603. October, 2010. Retrieved from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951311

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions in Modern Nutrition 3rd edition. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. 2002.

The Prodragonist. More Queer Herbs (Masculine). July 24, 2013. Retrieved from belladonnaquixote.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/more-queer-herbs-masculine/comment- page-1

Renee, Janet. List of Foods that Contain Glutamine. Livestrong: Food and Drink. January 9, 2014. Retrieved from livestrong.com/article/249890-list-of-foods-that-contain-glutamine

Transgender Nutrition Considerations. February 27, 2013. Retrieved from transidentified.com/2013/02/27/transgender-nutrition-considerations

UCSF Medical Center. Guidelines for a Low Sodium Diet. University of California San Francisco. Retrieved from ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines_for_a_low_sodium_diet

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. Agicultural Research Service. Retrieved from ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients

ivCan include a variety of identities that do not fit into the categories of “man” and “woman.” Some terms are gender neutral, genderqueer, non-binary gender, gender non-conforming, and gender fluid, among others. Sometimes people with these identities also consider themselves trans and may or may not undergo medical transition.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

The Soy Controversy

“Women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill… men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy. –Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code

Soy is often touted as a natural source of estrogen, but is it safe to use either for this purpose or as a food?

“About two ounces of soy products per day may be sufficient to ward off hot flashes and other symptoms” of menopause (Wright & Morgenthaler, Natural Hormone Replacement for Women over 45). However, as an estrogen source, it may not be the safest food option.

Soy is present in nearly every packaged and processed food in the U.S, in fact, the average American gets up to 9% of our calories from soybean oil alone. Compare this to about 2 teaspoons per day in China and 9 teaspoons per day in Japan, most of which is fermented soy, which neutralizes the toxins (like trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function, and phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc) that are present in most of the soy we consume in the U.S. (Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code)

Unfermented soy also increases our requirement for vitamin D and B12 (the opposite of fermented soy which provides these vitamins!), and disrupts endocrine function (potentially causing breast cancer and thyroid problems). Processed unfermented soy often actually contains carcinogens as well. (Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code)

It is not fully known how soy consumption may impact synthetic hormones, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid all soy since it’s in most of the food we consume, but it would be wise for most people to avoid eating the major processed soy foods like tofu, soy milk, and soy protein isolate. Fermented soy still contains estrogens, but is not as disruptive (or potentially carcinogenic) to our natural hormones, and is probably a safe food for most people.

I would generally recommend that people transitioning towards the masculine side of the spectrum avoid soy foods, and for those looking for natural sources of estrogen, there are many safer feminizing herbs and foods out there. For example, “flax contains substances called lignans, which have been shown to have estrogen-like qualities” (Wright & Morgenthaler). A few foods have small amounts of identical-to-human hormones [about 1-2% potency of human hormones] (Wright & Morgenthaler), including:
Rice, apples, date palm, pomegranate (estrone)
French bean seedlings (estradiol)
rice, licorice (estriol)


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.