Did you know that the starvation diet you are on can lead to serious complications? Starvation is dangerous to deal with and leads to all sorts of problems, both mental and physical. Want to know what they are? Read this post and find out about the harmful and potentially dangerous side effects of starving yourself.
Starvation is a condition that is often accompanied by severe deficiency in your calorie intake. Starvation can be self-inflicted (hardcore dieters) or due to the presence of other conditions like anorexia or bulimia. Starvation can also lead to severe malnutrition and may permanently damage your internal organs (1).
Starvation isn’t something pleasant, and you should try and refrain from starving yourself, especially under the pretext of following a diet regime.
To discourage you further, let’s look at some of the adverse effects of starvation in detail:
This is perhaps the most damaging effect of voluntary or forced starvation. Malnutrition is a terrible condition, and it affects most children in developing countries. Starvation usually means that you don’t eat much at all. This leads to many essential nutrients and vitamins being excluded from your diet. Malnutrition can lead to various mineral and nutrient deficiencies like Night blindness (vitamin A deficiency), Scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency) and even Anemia (Iron deficiency) (2).
The second most obvious result of starvation; just like a lack of food induces malnutrition, a lack of water can induce dehydration. This dehydration may in turn aggravate other problems and lead to cracked and exceedingly dry skin, along with other conditions like constipation, among others. Thus, it is important to remember to drink enough water, even if you are on a starvation diet. Starvation and dehydration depletes glycogen levels and disturbs electrolyte balance (3).
3. Decreased Resting Metabolic Rate:
Starvation can lead to a reduced resting metabolic rate. Your Basal metabolic rate or BMR is defined as the minimal rate of energy expenditure per time unit while you rest. Tests found that fasting prior to rest can lead to an increase in white adipose tissue (WAT) and decrease in flow to the brain. Other studies determine that starvation can induce a decrease in your basal metabolic rate.
4. Loss Of Monthly Menstrual Periods:
Starvation leads to many problems. One of these problems is it upsets how your periods are regulated. So, for those of you thinking about starvation diets, you might want to consider this before you begin. In some cases, if you are too underweight your body may simply cease to produce estrogen. A lack of fat can restrict your cells from converting cholesterol to extra estrogen. As starvation can lead to organ damage, body processes tend to slow down, which usually causes menstruation to stop (4).
Starvation can also induce constipation in many individuals. Studies on many anorexic individuals conclude that people who suffer from the disorder may suffer from severe starvation, which can lead to many disorders and requires the use of regular laxatives to be treated wholly. A case study on three severely anorexic women found that these women needed regular laxatives or enemas to help flush their colon. These women also ran a higher risk of suffering from rectal prolapse due to the overuse of laxatives (5).
[ Read: Benefits Of 7 Day Water Fast ]
6. Bone Loss:
A starved or starving individual may continue to lose weight at an alarming rate. Although the changes in your skin and musculature are quite obvious, but what about the changes in your bone structure! Did you know that starvation may lead to bone density loss? Well, usually when you consume a calorie-restricted diet, your bones are remodeled. The older bone breaks down and new bones form rapidly. However, your bone density reduces, which can lead to fragility (6).
One of the most common side effects of starvation is fatigue. You have all heard about ‘eating to keep your strengths up,’ this idiom cannot ring any truer as eating a balanced diet helps provide energy for the body primarily, while helping keep diseases and infections at bay. Starvation upsets the balance of essential vitamins in your body and slows down physiological processes, which can also lead to fatigue and a feeling of faintness. Starvation is often associated with a feeling of lightheadedness (7).
8. High Blood Pressure:
Malnutrition and starvation can subject your body to many conditions, including high blood pressure. When you starve, essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin D aren’t consumed, which leads to a spike in blood pressure and many other deficiencies. All these factors ensure that starvation inevitably raises your blood pressure. In a study conducted on three groups of children, it was found that two groups: one malnourished and one recovering from malnourishment had significantly higher blood pressure readings than the children who weren’t malnourished at all.
9. Electrolyte Imbalance:
Starvation leads to a loss of nutrients, which results in the consumption of fewer electrolytes with each passing day. Heart-healthy Minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium that promote proper heart function and heart health aren’t consumed when you don’t have enough food. Starving not only results in lesser nutrients, but also promotes electrolyte imbalance. Thus, remember to have mineral supplements if you are on a starvation diet.
[ Read: ABC Diet and Benefits ]
10. Affects The Brain:
There have been many studies on how starvation can affect cognitive abilities and make you feel depressed. Try and recall how your friend snaps at you when she’s on a starvation diet. When we miss a meal, we often find ourselves dwelling on food and how it would feel to be properly fed.
You know that starvation can lead to many other physical symptoms like dehydration and fatigue that can impair your thinking abilities and also make you aggressive and jumpy. Starvation can also affect how you react to stress and can induce feelings of anxiety, irritability and even lead to chronic or clinical depression in some cases.
Now that you know how starvation can adversely affect your body, we hope that you will rethink about those starvation diets. They are just a quick fix and offer little long term benefit. Opt for a balanced regimen to lose weight.
Tell us about your own experiences with starvation or malnutrition. Have you ever gone through with a starvation diet? If you have, tell our readers about your experiences here. Leave a comment below.
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