Adolescence and entering reproductive age are accompanied by a multitude of changes in a woman's body. Menarche, alterations in body composition and a variety of hormonal changes, quite often, at the level of disorder, are the main features of adolescence. Very frequently, the transition from childhood to the reproductive stage is followed by intense stress and anxiety concerning body image, as well as the subsequent course of changes in the body. Therefore, arises whether eating habits play a role in these alterations and how the individual can benefit from the diet.
Normally, early adolescence begins at 10 years of age, occasionally even earlier, and lasts up to 17-20 years. During this period, a girl's body evolves, the breast develops, menstruation begins and changes in the ratio of muscle / fat body mass occur. Specifically, concerning the latter, starting from ~ 19% before puberty, the percentage of fat mass is expected to reach ~ 23% by the end of adolescence, within normal processes. Many girls, receiving stimuli either from their environment, or from the media and social networking, start to worry about their weight and, as a result, turn to restrictive diets. Under these conditions, there is a risk of deficiency of certain nutrients, as well as delayed menstruation onset and hormonal changes. In other cases, adolescence is accompanied by a change in eating habits, mainly moving away from home-cooked meals, and choosing more processed foods, snacks and soft drinks, in the context of socializing with people of the same age, which also affects both weight and body development. Finally, acne, an inflammatory condition with obvious effects, especially on the face, is one of the difficulties that adolescents may have to cope with, which is likely affected by diet.
A key factor in avoiding the aforementioned situations is to create a safe environment at home, showing understanding for the changes and stress of the teenage girl. Once this is achieved, thorough information from parents and health professionals is what will reassure the individual and help them to calmly accept the changes that are coming. In this context, nutritional education is considered necessary so that alterations in body weight are as expected based on physiology, but also in order, adequate intake of nutrients that will enhance growth. Additionally, adequate energy intake, through foods that promote good health, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, ensure normal development and controlled increment of body fat. Moreover, adopting a healthy dietary pattern and avoiding restrictive actions, protects the even onset of menstruation. It is important for the teenager to know what foods will protect her body and not to be led astray by false role models. Still, even though various foods are sometimes blamed for exacerbating acne (e.g. chocolate or sugar), the scientific community has not formally incriminated any, but supports the view that people benefit more from non-processed foods. The reason for this is that it is possible that through better hydration and intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components of the diet, the intensity of acne is reduced, thus improving the mood of the person.
Entering reproductive age, certain hormonal disorders are likely to occur. With polycystic ovary syndrome being the main representative, due to its prevalence of 20%, and similar disorders to a lesser degree, it is not at all surprising that many women seek a solution even through diet. To a large extent it seems that these disorders have a rather genetic basis, however the area of nutrition is not completely uninvolved in their development. Such disorders have been observed to be associated with obesity and insulin resistance. The latter is a pre-diabetic stage, as it concerns the increased production of insulin, which however is not used properly by the cells, resulting in further inhibition of metabolism. And while it is not mandatory for a woman with a pathological condition to develop insulin resistance or have an increased body weight, experts emphasize that achieving and maintaining a normal weight will achieve easier remission of symptoms. By discrediting western standards and adopting a diet model with more vegetables, fruits, nuts and other sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, less red meat and animal products and more water than soft drinks, we offer multiple benefits to the body, reproductive system and the regulation of hormones.
Therefore, we observe that diet is one of the modifiable factors that can affect the development during adolescence, as well as hormonal regulation, especially in the field of hormonal disease. High quality nutrition is a prerequisite for good health. And if the above dietary pattern seems familiar to you, it is because the Ikarian diet provides all those ingredients that will take care of our body, without being difficult to adopt. Let us teach the young girls to love their body and offer it the best building materials, so that they can come out victorious in the course of the alterations they will experience.