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“All eating is communion, feeding the soul as well as the body. Our cultural habit of eating 'fast food' reflects our current belief that all we need to take into ourselves, both literally and figuratively, is plain food, not food of real substance and not the imagination of real dining.” — Thomas Moore, Ph.D.
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Health Risks of Female Athlete Triad

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Posted: Thu, Jun 25, 2015
By: Danielle Heard, MS, HHC
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The female athlete triad involves three conditions:1
1) disordered eating
2) amenorrhea
3) osteoporosis

This combination of conditions can occur among females who are trying to stay lean and slim for various reasons such as sports or ballet dancing. However, in their efforts to stay very lean, not enough calories are consumed to make up for the physical activity, as well as enough protein, healthy fats and nutrients such as calcium.1,2 This in turn causes a cascade of health problems that are very serious and which can be life threatening.2

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Common symptoms which occur in those with female athlete triad include:2

1) Disordered Eating (This is a temporary or mild change in an eating behavior.)2(514)
2) Amenorrhea (Occurs with a 30% deficit in energy intake and is the most prominent red flag for this condition.)
3) Osteoporosis (The more severe the amenorrhea, the greater the negative impact on skeletal bones.)
4) Multiple Stress Fractures (Just a 5% loss of bone mass can increase stress fractures by 40%.)
5) Lean and Low Body Mass
6) Compulsive Behavior
7) Highly Competitive
8) Low Self-Esteem
9) Perfectionist
10) Self-Critical
11) Depression

WHO IS MOST AT RISK?
Young female competitive athletes are particularly at risk but female triad can also occur in young women who are very physically active but not necessarily a competitive athlete.2 There is a 25-75% prevalence of amenorrhea among young female athletes involved in sports such as distance running, gymnastics, ballet, cheerleading, figure skating, diving and body building. Young women not engaging in sports only have about a 5% prevalence of amenorrhea. Weight-loss and low body fat cause a shift in hormones leading to an abnormal secretion of luteinizing hormone and a decline in estrogen production.1,2 This in turn causes a weakening of the skeletal structure and bone loss. Coaches can often be a problem for these female athletes as 77% of female collegiate gymnasts have reported that their coaches tell them they weigh too much. 2(521) Additionally, 75% of these athletes then used weight-loss methods such as vomiting, laxatives and diuretics.

 

 

 


FEMALE ATHLETES NEED A CLINICAL NUTRITIONIST:
A clinical nutritionist can help a competitive athlete or active young woman meet their health needs with a more structured nutritional therapy and dietary plan. A nutritional plan would help them achieve adequate intake of enough energy so they can perform well and not become undernourished. Loss of bone mass and muscle mass can greatly affect quality of life.

Adolescence is a critical period for skeletal bone formation as 50% of bone formation is acquired during this time. By the age of 18 years, 90% of the adult skeleton is formed.1(360) It is very difficult to recover lost bone mass. This condition could result in permanent weakening of skeletal bones, increasing risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.2

A dietary plan should focus on total energy intake, body weight, restoring hormone balance and ensuring the female athlete is getting enough essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, protein, essential fatty acids and also iron.1(360), 2(81-84)

Sources:
1) Brown J. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle, 4th Edition, International Edition. Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdon, United States: Wadsworth CENGAGE Learning; 2011:75.
2) McArdle W, Katch F, Katch V. Sports and Exercise Nutrition, Fourth Edition. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkin; 2013:79-80.

Thank you very much for reading my blog and please continue to visit often.

I wish you good health, happiness and love!

Danielle

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Email: info@artemisinthecity.com | Phone: 866.330.5421 | United States
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Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | © 2008-2017 Artemis in the City, LLC. All rights reserved.
Email: info@artemisinthecity.com | Phone: 866.330.5421 | United States
Artemis in the City and logo and Food for the Untamed Soul are trademarks of Artemis in the City, LLC.

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