3

votes

Am I hurting my health?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 22, 2011 at 2:26 AM

I was always a very healthy weight even in the days when I ate sugar and grains(around 127 at 5' 8''). But I was having health problems--poor sleep, skin, knee aches, meloncholy to say the least..etc, so this last spring I cut out grains and sugar, legumes,nuts, dairy for the most part. Now I rarely eat even fruit as I just don't care for sweet things that much. I would say on average I get less than 100g of carbs, not sure but I would say I am quite low carb. I just turned 21, and I have not had my period in 5 or 6 months, I am 5' 8'' and at around 111 lbs. my parents are concerned. But I like the way I look and I don't have any of my past health issues...so I don't feel the pressure to gain weight really. But, granted, I know it isn't quite right when a woman stops menstrating, it is probably more complex than I realize, but just how harmful is it to my health?

C65b27dc0d4f0aa087e6f7e2f4affb49

(15)

on September 23, 2011
at 01:47 AM

And good luck to you too! :D

C65b27dc0d4f0aa087e6f7e2f4affb49

(15)

on September 23, 2011
at 01:46 AM

that is really interesting that you think it has nothing to do with carbs. That is all I hear and I thought that was what I would have to do. I should track my carb. grams just to see where I fall, but it really does seem to me like I do eat adequate amounts of fat and protein besides..perhaps I will have to track those too. Obviously I am lacking something somewhere in my diet, possibly I should think more about calories rather than focusing on the kinds of calories I consume..but then again I have read differently that the latter is the most vital to health and weight! It is most confusing..

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 05:53 PM

RootyB~ I agree that it is an evolutionary move, but not likely one that would have been needed for extended periods of time (months, perhaps, but not years!) Many modern women who have Hypothalamic Amenorrhoea have been without periods for years and this is definitely affecting their hormonal balance and possibly permanently impacting their fertility and bone health.

Ff6560918e3b3cede8958b070cc07822

(407)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:53 PM

This post got me thinking: What would be the benefit of amenorrhea from an evolutionary standpoint? The obvious answer would seem to be that a woman's reproductive system shuts down in times of reduced food ability (if she can't feed herself, of course she can't feed a child). Possible reasons: Preserve a limited egg supply Preserve energy. In the wikipedia article, it mentions "'athletic' and drug-induced amenorrhoea has no effect on long term fertility as long as menstruation can recommence." Is it possible that amenorrhea is an intentional (evolutionary) move by the body?

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:51 PM

There's always more room in your diet. :) I don't have the hugest appetite but need to eat a LOT to put on muscle and recover from workouts, so I understand. Writing out a meal plan and following it fairly strictly with with an effort towards extra bites and added portions is most helpful to me.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Yeah, it's easy to go to hard core on eliminating the carbs. Try some sweet potatoes with lots of butter and/or some white rice (Neo-Paleo!) Make some low sugar ice cream!

C65b27dc0d4f0aa087e6f7e2f4affb49

(15)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:11 PM

I eat an avocado most everyday and now that fall is here I have been eating some root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash, and beets from my garden, usually all mixed up in soup. I do get a very good amount of protein and fat in the form of grass fed meat, organ meat, raw goat cheese,eggs, coconut oil/lard/butter--I feel like there is no more room in my diet! I most certainly don't feel hungry, but I am concerned that my body thinks I am starving.. I was thinking about adding buckwheat into my diet every so often, but I feel like I have a carb phobia now...I should track my carb intake

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 22, 2011
at 11:47 AM

Eat more starch!!!! I dropped more weight than I'd planned and I need to eat starches and fruits in order to maintain my weight. Your meal plan sounds great for someone looking to lose weight, but now that you're on the other end of the spectrum, carbohydrates are your friend! Aim for double your current carb intake. I have a hard time making it too, on some days.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:07 AM

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa040388

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:03 AM

Kind of sounds like it's a glucose/cortisol issue though, at least in that study of the women who are exercising. If OP is really getting close to 100g, then I'd say this isn't the issue, but she doesn't seem sure so I'm going to assume that she is overestimating. We'd probably see amenorrhea in VLC/ZC adherents though if it were lack cortisol and glucose that were the cause.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:54 AM

Damn, I followed the citation on wikipedia hoping I'd see a proposed mechanism, but the study: http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/84/1/37 states "the GnRH pulse generator is disrupted by an as-yet-unidentified signal." In OP's case I think it could be either one, but I'd be *very* interested in the signalling mechanism for "low energy" if you guys ever come across it.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:12 AM

Me, too--even when I was a vegetarian, I was never low-fat and never low calorie.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:09 AM

Yes, this! It's far more complicated than losing too much weight or having lower body fat. I am lean and very thin, but have never missed a period - pretty sure it's because I've always eaten rather a lot of food, and a lot of fat.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:08 AM

This would be good advice if 95% of the advice she will get from doctors and gynos wouldn't be 'take the pill'

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8 Answers

7
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:03 AM

This is not good on any level. Time to add back in some carbs/calories!

I think this sums it up pretty well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amenorrhoea

Hypothalamic Amenorrhoea

*Women who go through significant weight loss, dieting, or perform considerable amounts of exercise on a regular basis are at risk of developing hypothalamic (or 'athletic') amenorrhoea. It was thought for many years that low body fat levels and exercise related chemicals (such as beta endorphins and catecholamines) disrupt the interplay of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. However, recent studies have shown that there are no differences in the body composition, or hormonal levels in amenorrhoeic athletes as compared to regularly cycling athletes. Instead, amenorrhoea has been shown to be directly attributable to a low energy availability. Many women who diet or who exercise at a high level do not take in enough calories to expend on their exercise as well as to maintain their normal menstrual cycles.[6]

A second serious risk factor of amenorrhoea is severe bone loss sometimes resulting in osteoporosis and osteopenia. It is the third component of an increasingly common disease known as female athlete triad syndrome. The other two components of this syndrome are osteoporosis and disordered eating. Awareness and intervention can usually prevent this occurrence in most female athletes. Many doctors simply prescribe the combined oral contraceptive pill to women with hypothalamic amenorrhoea, and these women continue in their patterns of under-eating and over-exercising. Often, they do not realize that they have a problem until they are trying to conceive, when their amenorrhoea leads them to seek the treatment of a reproductive endocrinologist.[7]*

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:12 AM

Me, too--even when I was a vegetarian, I was never low-fat and never low calorie.

C65b27dc0d4f0aa087e6f7e2f4affb49

(15)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:11 PM

I eat an avocado most everyday and now that fall is here I have been eating some root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash, and beets from my garden, usually all mixed up in soup. I do get a very good amount of protein and fat in the form of grass fed meat, organ meat, raw goat cheese,eggs, coconut oil/lard/butter--I feel like there is no more room in my diet! I most certainly don't feel hungry, but I am concerned that my body thinks I am starving.. I was thinking about adding buckwheat into my diet every so often, but I feel like I have a carb phobia now...I should track my carb intake

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 05:53 PM

RootyB~ I agree that it is an evolutionary move, but not likely one that would have been needed for extended periods of time (months, perhaps, but not years!) Many modern women who have Hypothalamic Amenorrhoea have been without periods for years and this is definitely affecting their hormonal balance and possibly permanently impacting their fertility and bone health.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:09 AM

Yes, this! It's far more complicated than losing too much weight or having lower body fat. I am lean and very thin, but have never missed a period - pretty sure it's because I've always eaten rather a lot of food, and a lot of fat.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Yeah, it's easy to go to hard core on eliminating the carbs. Try some sweet potatoes with lots of butter and/or some white rice (Neo-Paleo!) Make some low sugar ice cream!

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:03 AM

Kind of sounds like it's a glucose/cortisol issue though, at least in that study of the women who are exercising. If OP is really getting close to 100g, then I'd say this isn't the issue, but she doesn't seem sure so I'm going to assume that she is overestimating. We'd probably see amenorrhea in VLC/ZC adherents though if it were lack cortisol and glucose that were the cause.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:54 AM

Damn, I followed the citation on wikipedia hoping I'd see a proposed mechanism, but the study: http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/84/1/37 states "the GnRH pulse generator is disrupted by an as-yet-unidentified signal." In OP's case I think it could be either one, but I'd be *very* interested in the signalling mechanism for "low energy" if you guys ever come across it.

Ff6560918e3b3cede8958b070cc07822

(407)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:53 PM

This post got me thinking: What would be the benefit of amenorrhea from an evolutionary standpoint? The obvious answer would seem to be that a woman's reproductive system shuts down in times of reduced food ability (if she can't feed herself, of course she can't feed a child). Possible reasons: Preserve a limited egg supply Preserve energy. In the wikipedia article, it mentions "'athletic' and drug-induced amenorrhoea has no effect on long term fertility as long as menstruation can recommence." Is it possible that amenorrhea is an intentional (evolutionary) move by the body?

5
Medium avatar

on September 22, 2011
at 03:03 AM

Sounds like your leptin secretion from your fat cells is too low, so your hypothalamus shut down GnRH production, which shut down FSH, LH and eventually estradiol. You just need to gain some body fat one way or another. Eat more fatty meats, avocado, macadamia nuts etc. and eat more carbohydrates since there's no reason for you to restrict them.

Edit: Yeah what Dragonfly said.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:07 AM

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa040388

4
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:05 AM

Yes, you are hurting your health. Amenorrhoea can cause significant bone loss and fertility problems later. It's definitely a sign that you need to eat more carbs (probably) and put some weight back on. Unless the idea of having osteopenia in your twenties/early thirties sounds fun.

4
707bb8a600ee5ae10d4699a5020a8211

(259)

on September 22, 2011
at 02:48 AM

AFAIK not menstruating at the age of 21 is a serious problem, food-related or not. Maybe you should consult a doctor?

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:08 AM

This would be good advice if 95% of the advice she will get from doctors and gynos wouldn't be 'take the pill'

3
C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

on September 22, 2011
at 04:32 PM

JUST WANTED TO GIVE MY 2CENTS ON WHAT I HAVE READ...

The most common cause of the hormone deficiency leading to missed menstrual periods in young women is inadequate nutrition. Anorexia almost always causes amenorrhea. Many women who are not anorexic but who miss their periods have lower dietary intakes of fat, especially saturated fat, as well as protein and total calories, compared with women who menstruate regularly. Women with amenorrhea also tend to obtain a greater proportion of their calories from high-fiber carbohydrates. In preliminary studies of normal-weight women with no obvious eating disorders, those who reported missed periods had diets described as "close to normal" but significantly low in fat. These women also tended to have low percentages of body fat.

Amenorrhea also can result from excessive exercise. Women athletes and performers tend to diet to avoid weight gain. Combined with the increased nutritional demands of intensive exercise, dieting can lead to nutrient deficiencies and lowered body-fat percentages that lead to amenorrhea and bone loss.

Amenorrhea also has been linked to smoking and stress, but smoking cessation and relaxation do not necessarily cure it. The primary reason for treating amenorrhea is that it can cause bone loss that cannot be remedied by taking calcium and vitamin D. Amenorrhea also can result from potentially life-threatening disorders of the hypothalamus, ovaries, or pituitary gland.

Amenorrhea, though not a life threatening disease in and of itself, but it certainly needs attention. More importantly it causes mental trauma and physical pain to one who experiences it. This condition can be caused due to several reasons. Addressing the reasons causing Amenorrhea in a patient is the proper way to start the treatment

Hypothyroidism is a condition that describes an underactive thyroid gland and goes hand in hand with amenorrhea. This condition develops when the thyroid gland is not producing enough of certain important hormones. Hypothyroidism disrupts the optimal balance of chemical reactions within the body. It is difficult to detect in the early stages, but as time passes, the untreated condition can lead to several health problems including joint pain, excessive weight gain, osteoporosis, infertility and even heart disease. In some cases, hypothyroidism has been the underlying cause for amenorrhea. An imaging test may be administered by your doctor after reviewing your symptoms and blood test results. Imaging tests such as a CT scan (computerized tomography), an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or an ultrasound can show if there are pituitary tumors or any abnormalities in reproductive organs.

Birth control pills suppress the pituitary gland's production of the hormones FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). These hormones help stimulate the follicles in the ovaries to develop. As the follicles grow, they produce estrogen. After they release an egg, they produce progesterone. Birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone. If a woman is taking birth control pills, her body will believe that she is ovulating because of the estrogen and progesterone in the medication. Her pituitary gland will stop producing FSH and LH. Without these two hormones, ovulation does not occur and it is close to impossible to become pregnant (there is always a very small chance that birth control pills may not work for certain women). After taking birth control pills for a length of time, the pituitary gland may continue to believe that there is a sufficient amount of estrogen and progesterone even after the medication is stopped. This causes her body not to ovulate and subsequently not return to a normal menstrual cycle. This absence of a normal cycle can be the complete absence of a period or irregular periods.

Amenorrhea affects around 1% of women in their reproductive age and while the condition is a major cause for infertility, prolonged amenorrhea could trigger the irregular thickening of the uterus lining that sets the stage for endometrial cancer. Failure to menstruate may cause the uterine lining to thicken putting you at risk for cancers Typically, leaner women have higher levels of protein which affect estrogen; therefore, less free estrogen is available to stimulate the reproductive cycle properly. Other specific causes include stress, nutritional inadequacies, hormonal imbalances, tumors, intrauterine infection, endometriosis, discontinuation of oral contraceptives, diseases such as diabetes mellitus or tuberculosis, anorexia nervosa, or obesity. In hypergonadotropin amenorrhea, high gonadotropin ??"EUR any of several hormones that stimulate the growth and activity of the gonads, especially follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) ??"EUR and low estrogen levels create symptoms similar to those of menopause: atrophy of the reproductive organs, hot flashes, irritability and other changes. The patient may experience internal sensations of heat, thirst, irritability, low back pain, vaginal dryness or dryness of the eyes. This type is affiliated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or premature ovarian failure (POF).

Women who have amenorrhea should limit their consumption of caffeinated coffee to 1-2 cups per day. Caffeine can contribute to osteoporosis. Vaginal dryness is an indication of low estrogen production, but the frequently recommended soy isoflavones, red clover, and black cohosh are not appropriate. Flax seed (not flaxseed oil) may be more helpful, when taken for 3 to 4 months. Amenorrhea with unusual hair growth is a symptom of polycystic ovarian disease (POD), and unusual hair growth in women athletes is a strong indicator of the condition. Treatments for POD overlap those for type 2 diabetes (see Polycystic Ovarian Disease). Osteoarthritis (OA) is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Degenerative arthritis consists of the mechanical abnormalities of a particular joint that leads to the decay and break down of the joint cartilage and bone. Degenerative joint disease can be primarily caused by hereditary, developmental inefficiencies, metabolic alterations, and mechanical stresses, and nutritional deficiencies. In many situations, osteoarthritis accompanies other conditions such as diabetes, inflammatory diseases (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lyme???s Disease, Gout, etc), obesity, traumatic injury, and blood disorders.
Nutritionally, there are multiple minerals, vitamins and herbs than can give relief for a person that experiences pain and discomfort due to osteoarthritis. Although peer-reviewed literature occasionally demonstrates conflicting results when comparing nutritional and herbal therapies, clinical results prove the overwhelming effectiveness of supporting the natural biological process that is dependent on micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. ??? Glucosamine sulfate: Glucosamine sulfate is used to stimulate the rebuilding of damaged cartilage. It is not known to interfere with anti-inflammatory drugs, although some companies process their glucosamine sulfate with sodium chloride which can negatively affect a person???s symptoms. ??? Vitamin C ??? Iron ??? Alpha-ketoglutaric Acid: These substances are required for hydroxylation of L-proline to L-hydroxyproline which is needed for quality collagen production. Some of the best foods to get these nutrients include chard, spinach, kidney beans, kale, papaya, bell peppers, and broccoli. ??? Manganese: Manganese is a trace mineral that???s important for tissue repair including skin, bone and cartilage. Manganese is also important for the natural production of the superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant enzyme. According to Katherine Toye,???Manganese-based SOD helps prevent the deleterious effects of the super oxide free radical from destroying cellular components, and without it, cells are susceptible to damage and inflammation. Immediately after trauma, the body starts coding for more SOD1 to be produced, and repletion of manganese after inflammatory trauma is necessary to keep the free radical defense system in proper working order.??? ??? Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and prevent hypocalcemic tetany (spasms that result from lack of minerals in the blood stream). Vitamin D is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Without enough vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. There are a variety of nutritional factors involved with the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis. A lifestyle and diet that negatively affects the nutritional requirements that bones and joints need will result in accelerated degeneration of the affected tissues. Nutritional requirements work best when found in a nutritional complex and a patient would benefit greatly by incorporating nutritional supplements in a whole food base and not as a single, isolated part.

Celery seed Celery seed contains high amounts of butylidene-phthalide which helps to balance woman's natural hormones and reduce emotional stress causing irregular hormone production by cleansing toxins from the liver as well as improving reproduction of red blood cells caused by liver malfunction. Potato Potato contains high amounts of steroidial saponins that helps to block the over-production of estrogen by increasing levels of phyto-estrogen, the element which is necessary for normalizing menstrual cycle.

1
80d3637da6aee61892eb16b29b298bbf

on September 23, 2011
at 01:33 AM

I've actually been through what you're talking about. I started off overweight, lost a ton of weight, was 105lbs. at 5'6'', and stopped menstruating for a year. Honestly, I had to gain back to 115 by eating what I thought was a ridiculous enormous amount of food. It only seemed like a lot of food because I wasn't used to the increased volume of whole foods - so in essence I got fuller sooner eating paleo (as opposed to eating grains/processed food). HOWEVER, I DID get rid of a lot of health problems I had, such as crappy menstrual cycles, acne, etc. So it wasn't all bad times, but I think that the reason those things disappeared was because I wasn't eating crap food. But the periods went away because I wasn't eating ENOUGH food in general. So, eat more. Eat more meat, eat more fat. It has nothing to do with carbs. I eat under 70g of carbs per day (I measure my food - this is not overestimating!) and I have lots of energy and regular cycles.

C65b27dc0d4f0aa087e6f7e2f4affb49

(15)

on September 23, 2011
at 01:46 AM

that is really interesting that you think it has nothing to do with carbs. That is all I hear and I thought that was what I would have to do. I should track my carb. grams just to see where I fall, but it really does seem to me like I do eat adequate amounts of fat and protein besides..perhaps I will have to track those too. Obviously I am lacking something somewhere in my diet, possibly I should think more about calories rather than focusing on the kinds of calories I consume..but then again I have read differently that the latter is the most vital to health and weight! It is most confusing..

1
C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on September 22, 2011
at 04:38 PM

I am in the same situation as you.. I am 5'0 and about 85 lbs, down from 119 in December. I haven't had my period in 9 months. I'm working on gaining weight, which hopefully will bring my period back. Adding back in some carbs after being low carb for a long time is helping- sweet potatoes, fruit, white rice... all are good especially when you are not looking to lose weight. My issue right now is that if I lose too much more or don't gain in a reasonable time frame, I could be forced to go on medical leave from school (I'm 19) which I really don't want to do.

The most important thing is to make sure your body is healthy and that means having a period! Good luck; I know where you're coming from!

C65b27dc0d4f0aa087e6f7e2f4affb49

(15)

on September 23, 2011
at 01:47 AM

And good luck to you too! :D

0
E7b56f00c834263c45904f928745f247

(131)

on September 22, 2011
at 02:54 AM

For the lack of menstruation, consult a holistic women's practitioner. I would personally recommend Evening Primrose Oil -- as a fairly lean female myself, I too have had no periods for an extended amount of time. Eating meat after being a vegetarian and vegan for a while helped A LOT, but after Paleo, I also added in the Evening Primrose which has really helped in keeping my periods regular.

http://www.tccah.com/amenorrhea.htm

You can probably eat a bit more of the carbs if you are not interested in losing any more weight. More info on amounts here:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-continuum/

Even if you don't want to gain much more weight, make sure you are steady with good protein sources and fair amounts of saturated fats.

Good Luck!

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