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surreptitious

Is CR bad for women/fertility

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Hello:

I searched the site extensively before posting.  I've been slim my entire life 35 years old, 5'5'' never been above BMI of 20, (currently at BMI 19).  I don't have an eating disorder and I practice loose "CR"- I eat large amounts of extremely nutrient dense fibrous foods and am careful about getting all nutrients from whole foods with very few supplements (calcium, the Bs etc); I know I'm thin, am not driving to be thinner etc.  Recently, and probably because of a slight amount increased energy expenditure (my walk to work changed and is longer) my period stopped.

Googling around and this appears to be called "functional hypothalamic amenorrhea" and comes from a "negative energy balance" (aka CR).  All the "treatments" I've found online are to eat more calories and especially more "junk foods." Some women report gaining 15-20 lbs to regain fertility.   Has anyone researched this?  The main bad effect appears to be bone loss, which I know some of the men on this site have complained about.

 

Having too little estrogen is connected to premature aging, not the other way around, so that's not what I want!  Also, I'm using "fertility" as a shorthand, I'm not trying to conceive, but simply be as healthy as possible and not lose my bones!

 

Thanks!

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I do recall from previous posts that women practicing CR do sometimes have the same problem.  The usual solution for those wanting to become pregnant:  temporarily reduce your level of CR, get pregnant, conceive, then go back on.

But that's not your concern; you're wisely concerned about potential bone loss.  One thing that definitely helps is exercise; the younger you are, the more effective it is in building strong bones.  Increasing your exercise routine should help.

Also, I'd suggest seeing your primary physician and ask if estrogen supplementation would be beneficial (or not).  Maybe also supplementing Vitamin D?

And some bloodwork might be a good idea.

  --  Saul

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20 hours ago, surreptitious said:

...I don't have an eating disorder and I practice loose "CR"- I eat large amounts of extremely nutrient dense fibrous foods and am careful about getting all nutrients from whole foods with very few supplements (calcium, the Bs etc); .....

Surreptitious, do you use tracking apps like cronometer or similar? The 'extremely nutrient dense fibrous food' may just be dense of mineral, vitamins and fiber, with little calories and protein as far as I can tell. If you are in a subjective caloric deficit, according to your individual metabolic needs, there is no other way than increase the energy input by eating more caloric healthy foods. And optimize the other parameters like micronutrients and amminoacids. Eating less fibers sometimes helps in the absorption of fats and carbs. It is not at all necessary to eat junk food, increasing insulin and IGF-1 by eating more carbs and simple healthy sugars like fresh fruit, bananas, honey, dried fruit, and whole starchy vegetables may help. Plus healthy fats like EVOO, avocados, nuts, dairy poroducts if you eat them. And let's not forget resistance exercise.

Possible hormonal imbalances, as suggested by Saul, should obviously be considered if all other things fail.

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Hmmm... calories and protein are exactly what one does not want in excess, if one is attempting CRON.   And increasing IGF1 (eating too much protein, especially animal protein) is great if you're a body builder; but being in the lower range of IGF1 is better, if you seek a long and healthy life.

  --  Saul

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Losing fertility is a sign of excessive CR.  There is a very simple solution here, eat more.  😂

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The word "excessive" is debatable.  Many female CRONnies have had amenorrhea and were very healthy.  When (and if) they want to get pregnant, they loosen up on CR; then go back on CR after conceiving.

Gordo wasn't a member of the CR Society prior to these Forums; then we had two email lists.  The examples I'm referring should be in the CR email list archives.

  --  Saul

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OK, lets just say there are two sides to this debate.  Luigi Fontana and others (myself included) believe, based on science, that you can take CR too far, and that this will likely be detrimental to your long term heath, wellbeing, and lifespan.  Even in mice this is true, most strains of mice do not gain any longevity from extreme CR. Others like Saul (anyone else?) don't seem to agree with this, but also don't seem to have much if any evidence that extreme CR is beneficial - for example Saul thinks being diagnosed with osteoporosis, breaking a few small bones now and then, and taking daily injections of drugs to prevent bone loss is all just fine.  But being diagnosed as anorexic, that's bad.  Some monkeys locked in cages where they can't catch any disease or break any bones, seem to have lived longer on CR (especially compared to monkeys on poor diet), maybe this is the evidence these guys are banking on?  Its certainly not very compelling.  

In Fontana's latest online lecture he identifies the signs that one is overdoing CR:

image.png.a3ca8171d340b98ce05f986fcee2c69c.png

 

Quote

 

43:40 Side effects of chronic severe CR - how to know if you are overdoing CR

44:30 It is NOT TRUE that the more CR the better. Talks about study showing how 40% CR did not result in increased longevity for 2/3rds of the subtypes of mice tested. 20% CR is optimal for many strains of mice.  Biomarkers are key for determining what the optimal CR level is.   You must have sufficient energy to promote longevity.

46:15 Used to think it was just about the calories, but now we know that is NOT true Composition of diet is important, meal timing is important - CR with eating all day does not result in longevity in mice (50:00)

 

If you have some or all of the above, you might not end up with optimal health or longevity.  If you need ideas about what to eat, this is a pretty good guide:

https://share.kaiserpermanente.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-Plant-Based-Diet-booklet.pdf

Published by Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest healthcare companies in the world, so they even have a financial incentive for people to have excellent health!

 

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Hi Surreptitious!

One good question is: "At what age should one optimally start CR?"

Basically, CR slows the rate of aging; it also slows the rate of growth.  So, it's probably not a good idea for e.g. a teenager to start serious CR.  The brain continues development, from babyhood into perhaps the early twenties.  Slowing down brain development is probably not a good idea for a teenager.  But, starting at about 21, the brain is fully developed; it's downhill from there.  So, that's probably the optimal age to start CR.

You're in your thirties -- so your age is probably close to optimal to start CR.

  --  Saul

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Thanks for the thoughts and updates.  I don't feel like I'm overdoing it as according to my calculations, I've cut about 15-20% off daily maintenance and only lost about 5 lbs from when I ate more 122-117.  My weight has now been stable about 5 lbs lower for a year and I've felt great.  Even the no menstruation thing is wonderful in the short term- no hormonal fluctuation or moodiness or PMS etc.  Alas.    

I also hear the argument by Gordo that by definition if hormones are non-existent, that by default means it's unhealthy / taken too far. 

I have an endocrinologist appointment this week and will see what she says.  My guess is, it will be "put on a few lbs" which...ok.  Mostly just wondering if this was common /accepted/ ok in the CR community.  From what I can tell, most people who practice this are men and you all can tolerate a much lower body fat overall and are more resistant to different hormonal/metabolic changes. 

Dang evolution. 

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Hi Surreptitious!

2 hours ago, surreptitious said:

have an endocrinologist appointment this week and will see what she says.  My guess is, it will be "put on a few lbs" which...ok.  Mostly just wondering if this was common /accepted/ ok in the CR community

Not so.

It depends on the Endocrinologist.  My Endocrinologist -- who is the Chief of Endocrinology at Strong Memorial Hospital -- is Cr friendly.  He once told me, if he were younger, he would go on CR.

He's a "more intelligent than average"  Endocrinologist.  I doubt that he would have a prejudice against women.  (But unfortunately, I doubt that you live near Rochester, NY.

(My nephrologist is CR friendly as well -- but not my primary, who is a (very young) gerontologist.)

  --  Saul

P.S. I began CR in my fifties.  You're at a great advantage, starting CR in your 30's.

 

Edited by Saul
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On 1/28/2019 at 8:39 PM, Saul said:

My nephrologist

Do you have kidney disease?

 

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I can't find my previous account.  I posted here for a while but quit over the woo and silliness involved in people asserting that it's totally okay to have impaired levels of sex hormones (for either women or men) and that stopping your period is totally fine because of the magic of CR.  The last straw was someone actually claiming that we are going to see that CR lengthens fertility and delays menopause in women.  (We have many, many reasons to believe that it will not and cannot.)

There is no advantage to such low levels of estrogen OR testosterone that it interferes with the basic maintenance of the body, including bone-building.  Recent studies have shown that male athletes face the SAME risks as female athletes when it comes to bone impairment with overtraining and excessively low body fat--and people on longterm CR  have developed clinical osteoporosis.  To throw stones at idols, there are several pictures of Meredith Averill with the beginnings of a classic dowager's hump.  (In fairness, Lisa Walford shows no skeletal deformities at all--but she also practices weight-bearing exercise through her daily yoga, which Averill does not.)

CR animals who gain life extension look dramatically younger than non-CR-matched peers.  They are more energetic, glossier, maintain lean mass longer, and are more active.  They do not look prematurely aged, haggard, or ill.  However, plenty of CR practitioners push so hard that they fit the second description far more than the first.  The data do NOT support this level of CR, and not only do their imperil their future health, but their current quality of life is also quite diminished by the side effects of near-starvation.

You don't have to become chubby to restore your menstrual cycles.  If you've skipped one, you just might be stressed.  Grab some nuts.  Eat a bit more.  Concentrate on your body composition.

I would not say that just because you skip a period you've always gone too far on CR.  Energy flux can be as much of an issue as total weight--in athletes, modifying their training program OR eating more both work to restore normal menses.  Since you probably don't work out much, though...it's probably the CR.

As the devil's advocate, I do not CR, yet I have every classic CR marker you want to claim.  Blood pressure?  At 39, it's 90-108/60-65, depending on the day and the time of day.  In the ER with a huge gash in my leg, it was 112/65.  Inflammatory markers?  C-reactive protein, ANA, rheumatoid factor--whatever you choose to measure, they're so low some don't even register.  Body temperature? 96.8-97.  Fasting glucose? 70.  Post-prandial? 105.  Cholesterol? A teenager would be envious of my numbers.

My BMI is 19.5.  As a woman, this is out of the typical CR range.  I also--GASP!--exercise quite a bit.  Yes, I exercise, and my body temperature is still low!  I can eat at any restaurant.  I rarely use a food scale.  I can hang out with friends and don't concern myself too much with what I eat on a given day because it will be fine tomorrow.  I keep up just fine with anyone.  I don't feel tired.  (I do often feel cold, but...I've felt cold pretty much my entire life.)

Of course, it's normal for people with CR to claim a youthful glow in spite of their advancing years, but people generally assume that my 5-year-old is my oldest child and I get many delicate questions about my supposed shockingly young teen pregnancy with my 16-year-old.

Whatever benefits there are to CR, the vast majority of it is down to a decent diet and the avoidance of visceral obesity.  Only a tiny percentage of the population does the second, and add in the first, and you're at a smaller number.

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4 hours ago, Gordo said:

Do you have kidney disease?

 

No.  My kidneys, lung, heart etc. are in perfect health.

I see a lot of specialists to get the best info (including an endocrinologist and even a cardiologist and a young gerontologist [my primary]).  Also, my nephrologist writes the prescriptions for my semi-annual bloodwork and urine work.

  --  Saul

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