Affect of Sugar on Hormonal HealthWe all love to have a little sugar – however it’s important to understand the health implications of too much sugar and refined carbohydrates. Diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and hormonal imbalance are all directly linked to excessive sugar intake. Our bodies can manage small amounts of sugar, however in large amounts sugar becomes a poison.

The entire endocrine system is interconnected. When one gland – such as the pancreas – is over stimulated then other glands are forced to compensate. In the case of the pancreas, it is the thyroid gland which is suppressed. It’s no surprise then, the current epidemic of thyroid deficiency and obesity. When the thyroid is suppressed then hormonal balance is affected, as the reproductive glands are suppressed.

 

Sugar is highly addictive. If you consume something sweet one day, then your body creates a physiological response to the sugar. If sugar is consumed regularly then the body will automatically reduce blood sugar levels in anticipation of the sugar high. This essentially is the sugar cravings people experience. Like any drug, the body requires more and more to obtain the same high. This is how a sugar addiction is created with a large percentage of society silently suffering from this addiction.

Elevated blood sugar levels then damage a range of organs and the circulatory system leading to the characteristic signs of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. This epidemic is a symptom of the food manufacturing practices, where sugar is added to almost all processed foods. The problem has become so large today, that genetic weakness has developed in the children of diabetic parents, creating a strong family history of blood sugar disorders.

Resistance to insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control the amount of sugar in the blood. It helps  move glucose from blood into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.

Insulin resistance means the body’s tissues are resistant to the effects of insulin. The body therefore has to produce extra insulin to compensate.

High levels of insulin cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone hormone, which interferes with the development of the follicles (the sacs in the ovaries where eggs develop) and prevents normal ovulation.

Insulin resistance then also leads to weight gain, which can make hormonal imbalance symptoms worse because having excess fat causes the body to produce even more insulin.

Hormone imbalance

Many women with hormonal imbalance are found to have an imbalance in certain hormones, including:

  • raised levels of testosterone – a hormone often thought of as a male hormone, although all women normally produce small amounts of it
  • raised levels of luteinising hormone (LH) – a hormone that stimulates ovulation, but may have an abnormal effect on the ovaries if levels are too high
  • low levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) – a hormone that helps reduce the effect of testosterone
  • raised levels of prolactin (only in some women with PCOS) – a hormone that stimulates the breast glands to produce milk in pregnancy

The level of refined sugars consumed in the diet has a direct effect on imbalancing hormones due to the association of the pancreas with the other glands in the body, especially the ovaries, adrenals and thyroid. Every reaction of one gland effects another in some fashion. Most women with hormonal imbalance report sugar and carbohydrate cravings and it is well known to crave sweet foods premenstrually.

Here are some tips to cut down on your sugar intake which could save your life;

  • Make sure you have well balanced healthy meals so that you will not feel hungry between meals. Missing meals and trying to ‘diet’ will cause you to crave sweet foods.
  • Choose brown cereals rather than refined white ones. Brown bread and rice take longer to digest causing the blood sugar to not rise.
  • Sleep early. Late nights are often when people snack on sweets. A good night’s sleep also prevents low energy and sugar cravings through the day.
  • Sugar is highly addictive. If you eat sugar one day, your body will crave it the next. So avoid giving into the sugar cravings and the body will adapt in a healthy way and soon the sugar craving will stop.
  • Snack on a mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruits as a way to avoid sweet cravings. Dried fruits contain sugar; however it is much less harmful than refined sugar as the body can digest it better.
  • Cut down on tea and coffee if you have too much sugar. Use a natural honey as a sweetener instead of white sugar.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise helps to reduce blood sugar levels and encourages healthy sleep and natural weight control.
  • Reduce stress. Stress causes a rise in blood sugar resulting sugar cravings.
  • If you have sugar cravings take something bitter such as lemon or lime juice in water.
  • Increase the amount of healthy fats with meals as this can help to keep you fuller for longer, hence reducing the amount of cravings.
  • Consume fermented foods and drinks regularly. Healthy GUT bacteria reduce yeasts such as candida and other bacteria which feed on sugar. This reduces your sugar cravings.

 

Treatments:

There are a range of treatments that can help with improving sugar metabolism and breaking the sugar craving cycle. Minerals magnesium, chromium and zinc are all needed to regulate insulin levels and hence these minerals help to downgrade sugar cravings.

Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet also helps to slow the transit of natural sugars into your blood system. So having psyllium husks with meals can help in this area.

Happy Hormones contains a herb called Gymnema which has shown to help regulate blood sugar levels thus reducing cravings and assisting to balance the entire glandular system. Its one of the secrets why Happy Hormones is so effective.

So managing sugar levels has a huge impact on your overall health, especially linked with weight gain and hormonal balance. Balanced blood sugar levels will assist to balance your moods and give you more energy and motivation to make the right choices.

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About Jeff Butterworth:

Jeff Butterworth B.App. Sc, N.D is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience specialising in treating hormonal disorders. Jeff developed the Happy Hormones program after discovering a unique way of treating hormonal disorders - by focusing on endocrine balance rather than hormonal levels - which gives long-lasting and dramatic results.