Checking the calorie calculations are correct

Old 05-06-2011, 09:53 PM
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It's not actually the name of the book, it's one in a collection of short stories. Short Friday might be the collection. Like most of Singer's stories, it's set in a Jewish community in Poland a few centuries ago, with lashings of the occult. In this case, Taubele is a widow, and the "demon lover" is in fact an impoverished teacher who sneaks into her house, tells her he's a demon, and makes up all sorts of incredible stories for her. He does write some stories where the demons are literally real, however, and plenty more where the demons aren't literal but the situation is pretty demonic.

Ooh, you study hormones? Can you tell me more about what weight loss tends to do to them? Admittedly three weeks in is a bit early to tell, and perhaps I'm just stressed this month, but mine seem to be turning somersaults. I've gathered that spotting is usual when dieting, and I've heard theories about fat cells releasing oestrogen on their way out, but not really much about how it affects PMS and the like. This cycle has been nasty for PMS, odd for bleeding, shorter luteal phase than usual, and pretty much got let off the hook for migraine.
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Old 05-07-2011, 03:35 PM
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Thanks for the information about the book, I'll see if I can find it!

I'm actually a neuroscientist, and one of my research areas of interest is how steroid sex hormones (like testosterone and estrogen) affect brain functioning. My particular interest has been hormones in the androgen family in men - there's far more research done about "estrogen brain" in women, but when people think of testosterone, they tend to think of hairy bodies and deep voices and sex drive -- not brain function. However, I believe that androgen is extremely important for proper brain function in men, and the lack of it is a bad thing. Thus, I would say I'm more of a testosterone guru than an estrogen guru!

I'm not an expert on hormones in terms of their effects on peripheral systems, and there are many, many more hormones other than the sex steroids or the steroid family of hormones. A change in diet can certainly affect your cycling, and I know in particular that the amount of fat in your diet seems to affect estrogen (as estrogens are necessarily dependent on fat for many of their metabolic properties). Thus, the amount of fat and the type of fat in the diet is the most likely to be affected by estrogens and to affect the cycle.

A low-fat diet tends to result in the excretion of more estrogen and estrogen metabolites from the system. A very low-fat diet can also cause irregularity in the cycle, especially if it's paired with a lot of fiber (basically, in doing this you're flushing out your estrogens). In contrast, a high-fat diet can cause more cramping and more protracted PMS symptoms in some women, but more regular periods (saturated fat, for some reason, seems to help the most with regular cycles. Go figure). Basically: Research has suggested that the more fat you consume, the higher your body's estrogen production will be. The less fat, the less estrogen. Fiber also plays a key role because it helps the body to flush out excess estrogen through the liver and bile duct: The liver pulls estrogen from the bloodstream, through the bile duct and into the intestinal tract, where fiber soaks it up and carries it out of the body with the rest of your waste.

You, of course, seem to have symptoms of both! Spotting could an irregular period (low estrogen) but the increased PMS could high estrogen. Thus, science is sometimes not an exact science. It may have to do with your balance of fats on particular days of the cycle, but I'm not a nutritionist nor a nurse or an MD (I'm a Ph.D.) and I wouldn't feel comfortable giving that sort of specific advice. Plus, there are plenty of other things that can affect your cycle (like stress, as you say).

Gaining or losing a lot of weight in a short time can also affect your menstrual cycle, but since you're only three weeks in and haven't lost a significant amount of weight, I doubt that your weight in general has much to do with it?

Estrogens do make it more difficult for women to lose body fat - the higher your estrogen, the harder it is to lose weight, especially around the belly and from "visceral" body fat (the body fat around your organs). However, it's natural for women to be higher in estrogen.

That's about as much as I know off the top of my head (and I double-checked the stuff about the liver, cause that was fuzzy). I'd say if it's bothering you, speak to your OBGYN about it.
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Old 05-07-2011, 05:42 PM
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I'm probably eating the same proportion of fat in my diet that I was before, which according to Fitday is 30% or a bit under. Not much is saturated fat, about 5% of my total calorie intake, and I don't eat any animal fats at all (which is presumably relevant since meat and dairy tend to have quite a lot of artificial hormones in them). Of course, I will be eating less fat now because I'm eating less overall, and I'm also refraining from some of the fattier foods - although even then, I really wasn't eating biscuits or crisps all that often, and come to that it was probably only two or three packets of biscuits (cookies in American, I think) a year. The problem with biscuits is that I will eat the entire pack in 24 hours at most, which is why I'm not even going to bother trying to have one now and again, I know it won't work. Anyway, I haven't changed what I eat all that much, it was always pretty healthy. I've just lowered the amounts and tweaked this and that, rather than needing to make mammoth changes.

Tangential rambling about biscuits aside, all I know about spotting is that a lot of women seem to be reporting it when they're losing weight, I get it sometimes due to having a copper IUD, and mine improved once I started taking echium oil (EFA supplement, basically meant to be the best veggie alternative to fish oils) about 18 months ago. We'll see what happens. I ovulated late this cycle and the last (weirdly low body temperatures last cycle too, no idea why), so I think stress is probably the factor there. I'm curious to see whether the shorter luteal phase continues. That's associated with PMS and excess oestrogen, and there's been the odd study reporting shorter luteal phase length with IUDs, though doctors all swear blind that copper IUDs don't affect your hormones. (Both the PMDD and the sudden weight gain started when I got the previous IUD, but since I'd had IUDs before without trouble, who knows what's happening there. Unfortunately I didn't start the FAM tracking until after I got the IUD, I'm using it as a warning system for the PMDD, so I don't know what my luteal phase length was before.) Something to do with prostaglandins, I think? I've started taking a good-quality ginger supplement, initially to help with feeling chilly (again, very common with dieting, they tell me), and also because apparently it's a damned good anti-inflammatory, for reasons which I can't quite remember but involving prostaglandins again, and I'd be thrilled if I could find an effective form of pain relief. So I'll be watching that with interest.

You've now got me curious about how androgen and its friends affect brain function when someone is undergoing hormone treatment as part of gender reassignment. I don't think I've ever known anyone FTM all that closely, at any rate not closely enough for them to tell me how hormone treatment felt.

I'm making a note of the various things that are cropping up and I'll mention them next time I speak to my GP, who covers the vast majority of my healthcare (and with whose blessing I am on this diet, don't worry). I'm in the UK where the system is a bit different. Women don't tend to see gynaecologists unless there's an actual problem, we don't have regular check-ups with them for instance, and right now I'm not under the care of a gynae. I've found my GP to be far more helpful with gynae matters than some of the gynaes I've seen anyway, she's a stonking good doctor.
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