Instead of running to pop an Advil for the headache or putting up with feeling tired and fatigued all the time take a peek at this list from Shape.com and see if maybe your diet could be causing you to feel ill.
Problem: Weakness, Fatigue
Possible cause A low-calorie diet Dipping below your daily calorie needs (more on that later) is a major health no-no. Your body uses food as fuel, Frank explains. If you’re not eating enough, your system slows down and begins to burn muscle tissue for energy, which is a large part of why you may feel weak, tired or lightheaded. Experts suggest consuming 1,800-2,400 calories a day, depending on your height, weight and activity level.
Problem: Mood Swings, Short-Term Depression, Increased Appetite
Possible cause A high-protein, low-carb diet Consuming fewer than 50 grams of carbs a day can lead to a decrease in serotonin, the brain chemical that regulates both mood and appetite, according to two studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. A dip in serotonin means that youre more vulnerable to mood swings and even a depressed mood and that you may not experience a full feeling after eating, explains Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., MIT scientist and a co-author of both studies. On the other hand, carbohydrates help stimulate serotonin production. After you eat them, your mood improves and you feel sated. If that isn’t reason enough to jump off the low-carb wagon, a study from RVA University in Copenhagen, Denmark, shows that people on low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets report more muscle cramps, weakness and diarrhea than individuals on lowfat diets.
Possible cause Trigger foods Headaches believed to be caused by swelling blood vessels in the head can be triggered by alcohol, caffeinated beverages, cheese, deli meats, chocolate, nuts, foods with MSG and even bananas, says David Buchholz, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and author of Heal Your Headache (Workman, 2002). Some people [react] to chemicals in certain foods, he explains. For example, tyramine [found in red wine and aged cheese] is a common irritant.
Problem: Digestive troubles
Possible cause Not consuming enough fiber, or eating foods you cant tolerate Women often blame gastrointestinal problems like pain, diarrhea and constipation on a sensitive stomach, says Susan Lucak, M.D., a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. More often than not, their diet lacks fiber, which cleanses the system and regulates bowel movements. Many women may not realize their stomach problems are the result of an intolerance, either to wheat or, more commonly, dairy: Twenty-three percent of Americans cant digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. When they consume dairy products, they may experience bloating, gas or diarrhea, Lucak says.
Problem: Hair loss
Possible cause A diet too low in calories, protein, iron or vitamins A and C If you’re not eating right, your locks will show it. Hair is made of protein, which your body produces when you’re healthy and following a balanced diet, says Megan Majernik, R.D., a clinical dietitian at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Chicago. But consuming too few calories or simply skimping on protein, iron and vitamins, especially A and C, which are crucial for cell growth, means your system wont have the energy and nutrients it needs to create hair.
Possible cause Too much sodium, sugar or caffeine, or too little fiber. As tempting as it is, chowing down on potato chips and espresso ice cream before your period can exacerbate and even cause PMS symptoms. Specifically, sodium can cause bloating, while caffeine and sugar may induce mood swings. Lack of fiber may also be behind your constipation or diarrhea that often occur before your period, says Diana Taylor, R.N., Ph.D., in Taking Back the Month: A Personalized Solution for Managing PMS and Enhancing Your Health (Perigee, 2003). Excessive sugar is particularly problematic, because it sends your blood sugar soaring, only to come crashing down an hour later, Frank agrees. Thats when you become ravenous and, often, cranky.
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