You probably know one.
Hey, you might even be one yourself.
If so, hello and welcome to this article. You may be offended by it. But please don’t get too stroppy in the comments section. This isn’t so much an attack on your lifestyle choices as it is a health PSA.
An alarming trend has been growing (organically, no less) among the vegan bloggersphere. A sect of ‘clean eating’ truthers have been celebrating the loss of their periods thanks to their strict diets.
It all started back in 2013 when notable Aussie vegan vlogger and Raw Till 4 founder, Freelee The Banana Girl, posted a video detailing how her raw vegan diet saw her lose her period entirely:
“When I first came to a 100%, raw food diet, that was back in 2007 and as soon as I came onto the lifestyle, like within the first month, I lost my period. It was gone,” she says.
“And I was like, ‘Yes, get out of here, I don’t want to see you ever again, don’t come back now, you hear?!'”
Banana then goes on describe how losing her “heavy, painful” period was a godsend.
“When I took out the meat and dairy and junk food, my body finally had the energy and the vitality to start cleaning house, to start balancing out my hormones,” she continues.
In the years since, numerous other ‘health’ bloggers have hopped on the bandwagon.
Most recently was a post by Miliany Bonet on her popular blog, Raw Vegan Living.
It’s titled ‘Is Losing Your Period a Sign That Your Body is Healthy & Clean? + My Experience Losing My Period‘ and spoiler: she reckons yes, losing your period on a raw, vegan diet is a sign of your body being “clean”.
“This is a very controversial, feminine topic that needs to be discussed, as a lot of girls and women who eat a raw foods diet commonly lose their period,” she begins.
“Period loss happens to almost every young girl or women who transitions to a raw foods diet, so it’s quite ‘normal’ to los yor [sic] period eating fully raw.”
“Many girls who lose their period often worry and try numerous things to get it back. It’s often advised that to get your period back, you should stop exercising and eat more calories and incorporate more plant-based fats in your diet. What if I told you that almost everything you were taught about menstrual cycles was a complete LIE?!”
She goes on to cite research presented from a book called ‘God’s Way To Ultimate Health’ as well as sharing this clear nugget of wizz:
“The lighter you menstruate, the cleaner you are.”
While it’s got to be said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion (and Bonet is quick to point out she’s not a medical professional nor a nutritional expert), the spread of this kind of information is clearly damaging. Losing your period is about as normal as eating an asparagus like this:
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to Australian Medical Association President and practicing gynaecologist Michael Gannon to get the facts straight on vegan diets and how they can affect menstruation.
He explained that the phenomenon of vegan women losing their periods can be chalked up to a medical condition called amenorrhoea.
“Amenorrhoea very simply means no periods,” says Dr Gannon. “Primary amenorrhoea is when a young girl never develops her period, or when a woman’s never arrives.”
“Secondary amenorrhoea is when they have it and they lose them, and it’s a sign that something is wrong. The truth is, one of the ways your body can stop functioning as its meant to, is if you are on an unhealthy exclusion diet.”
One diet that Dr Gannon sees as an unhealthy exclusion one is a raw vegan one.
“If you are under a situation of stress or starvation, then your body will know it’s not a good time to reproduce. So people on starvation diets will commonly stop ovulating, they will commonly lose their periods, and it’s very easy for some strict vegan diets to be akin to a starvation diet,” he says.
“Vegan diets are not healthy. They’re fashionable and often promoted by celebrities, but as an organism, human beings cannot function without iron and B12 [which are two elements most vegan diets struggle to incorporate].”
“Vegan diets [the strict ones, at least] are just as unhealthy as junk food diets.”
What’s Dr Gannon’s advice if you’ve lost your period and you reckon it could be related to your diet?
“If a woman’s periods disappears for more than 6 months, that should always be investigated. If they disappear for anything more than 3 months, or if they become irregular, you should discuss that with a GP.”
He leaves us with this parting wisdom about diets in general:
“If your diet is dominated by things that the way nature intended, then you’re usually on a good wicket. Everyone in our community could go with eating not as many processed foods. Everyone should be striving for a balanced diet rich in foodstuffs that are as natural intended them veggies, wholegrain and with a modest amount of protein in the form of meat, eggs and/or fish.”
Photo: Freelee The Banana Girl.