Slash Your Sugar Intake, Soothe Your Symptoms

It’s about time we talked about sugar. I’ve mentioned it in previous blog posts as something to avoid if you have perimenopause symptoms or PMS. But we need to talk about it in more detail. Sugar has a number of negative effects on the body.  Of course the one I want to tell you about today is the impact on the hormonal system.


Sugar wreaks havoc on your hormones. So if you have PMS, fertility issues, irregular periods, hot flashes, energy fluctuations, or any other sign of hormonal imbalance, you need to consider your sugar intake.

And I’m not just talking about the sugar you add to your coffee or the chocolate bar you had mid-afternoon. Those are obvious examples of sugar intake. I’m talking about all the hidden sugar in your store-bought salad dressing, the “healthy” bran muffin you picked up at Starbucks, juices and pop, even the BBQ chips you had on Saturday night (check the label, there’s sugar in some chips).   I’m also talking about all the white stuff you eat, such as white rice, bread, pasta, noodles, pastries, crackers and wraps. If it’s not whole grain, it pretty much turns into sugar as soon as it gets through your digestive system, and that happens relatively quickly when there is little to no fibre.

So what happens when you eat too much sugar?

This may be too scientific for some of you so if it is, you can stop here and just know that you will feel soooo much better if you cut down on sugar.   If you want to know the symptoms and why they occur? Read on!

    1. Extreme energy fluctuations: when you eat sugar, insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, is released to move the sugar out of the blood and into storage. When you eat too much sugar at once, you get the energy high with a lot of circulating blood sugar hitting your brain and then the low with the release of a lot of insulin to remove all that sugar from circulation. Eventually, your pancreas becomes overtaxed and your cells become less sensitive to insulin, which can disrupt the storage and release of sugar in the cells.
    2. Weight gain – this is an obvious one. With all that circulating blood sugar, the cells that use sugar for fuel say, “I’m full” and the excess sugar moves into storage, a.k.a. fat cells. The less obvious cause of weight gain is low thyroid function. Sugar disrupts the hormones that impact thyroid function. Low thyroid function equals low energy and weight gain (among other symptoms).
    3.  PMS – have you read my blog post on estrogen dominance? If you have, you’ll know that this can lead to all kinds of symptoms including infertility and PMS. If you eat too much sugar, your body will store it as fat, as I mentioned above. Your ovaries produce estrogen, but so do fat cells. If you have too many fat cells, you might be producing too much estrogen.
    4.  Stress: Too much dietary sugar sends insulin on a rollercoaster ride, as I mentioned already. It also starts a similar cycle with another hormone called cortisol, which is secreted by the adrenals. The adrenals also manage your response to stress using the same hormone so if it becomes overburdened having to manage your blood sugar, it loses its ability to effectively manage your stress response. The adrenals also play a role in managing your reproductive hormones so if they are under duress, your reproductive system will be too.
    5. Insomnia and irritability: Ever wake up 4 or 5 hours after you went to bed and can’t fall back to sleep? Your mind starts racing and you can’t stop thinking? That’s often caused by too much sugar before bed. It’s a result of the same waves of sugar and insulin circulating in the blood that feeds the brain. I already discussed the mechanism behind the insulin waves. The dip in the wave, when blood sugar is low, also causes some of the other symptoms you feel: headaches, irritability, and mood swings.

If I haven’t given you enough of a reason to cut back on your sugar intake, I challenge you to try cutting it out just for a day as an experiment. One day. I can guarantee you’ll feel a difference.

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