Improper eating schedules and copious consumption of junk food are well established major factors for obesity among teenagers. What is however new – and worrying – is the direct relation between consumption of junk food leading to hormonal imbalance which affects reproductive health.
Hormone clinics in the city are now getting patients mainly young males complaining of diminished sperm count and female patients reporting thyroid problems and increased facial hair.
According to a study done by WHO,two decades ago,100 million sperms per milliliter was considered to be normal but the latest study in 2010 considers 15-20 million sperms per milliliter as normal,indicating a decrease of 1-2 per cent per year. Males usually do not suffer from hormonal problems at an early stage as girls do,but rate of impotency at later stages in males is increasing. A major factor could be obesity, said Dr Nirmal Bhasin,a city-based infertility specialist.
Intake of an unbalanced diet and lack of proper exercise leads to fall in testosterone level in young boys which results in fatigue and gynecomastia (growth of male breast tissue), she said while adding that consumption of alcohol,drugs and smoking habit in boys at an early age could be linked to hormonal imbalance. Display of aggression and destructive nature,mood swings,impatience are also a result of imbalance in hormones due to lack of proper nutrition, added Bhasin.
Talking to Newsline,Manisha,a dietician at the Government Hospital,Sector 16,said,Protein supplements taken by adolescents to improve muscle strength or reduce weight,contain steroids which further hamper natural secretion of hormones.
In young females hormonal problems like PCOD/PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovaries Disorder/Syndrome) and obesity have been reported due to consumption of an imbalanced diet. High cholesterol,irregular menstrual cycle,facial hair growth,thyroid,gastritis and diabetes are all linked to hormonal imbalance.
Irregular diet schedules in women usually lead to increase in progesterone (female sex hormone) resulting in fluid retention and bloating. Deficiency of Vitamin D and Calcium leads to deficiency of another sex hormone (oestrogen) in females causing bone problems.
Hormones play a vital role in about every aspect of our life. From body metabolism to weight,control in energy levels,mood and emotions.
Healthy eating,avoiding long gap in meals,binge eating,consumption of sedatives,increase in intake of water,can all help in maintaining hormonal balance in adolescents, suggested Manisha.