In today's standard diet, refined sugar has become more prevalent than ever, lurking in many of our favourite foods and beverages. We have all heard that excessive consumption of refined sugar is linked to numerous health issues, yet the hyper-palatable taste of sugar combined with the rush that we get from indulging in our favorite sweets makes it hard to quit.
With Canadians consuming an average of 57 g of added sugar per person, per day and over 3 million diagnosed cases of Type 2 Diabetes in Canada (the prevalence of which increases at a rate of 3.3% every year), it's clear that reducing our intake of refined sugar could have major health benefits when it comes to preventing chronic illness.
Though sugar does provide a brief increase in energy when consumed – along with a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels – this is followed by a sharp crash in blood sugar. This unstable fluctuation in blood sugar results in an energy crash, and is quite taxing on your hormonal health over time.
By understanding the relationship between refined sugar and hormonal balance, we can feel empowered to take steps towards optimizing our well-being. In this post, we will cover four ways that imbalanced blood sugar can impact women's hormones before moving on to explore four ways that blood sugar dysregulation can also impact men's hormonal health.
How Imbalanced Blood Sugar Impacts Women
There are several ways that imbalanced blood sugar can impact women's hormonal health:
Chronically elevated blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can disrupt the balance of other hormones in the body. Insulin is a hormone that facilitates the uptake of circulating blood glucose – distributing glucose to insulin-dependent cells and tissues.
When the body becomes resistant to insulin, higher levels of circulating insulin in the blood can cause the production of excess androgens. As androgens are a precursor to estrogen, this can contribute to estrogen dominance and hormonal issues such as PCOS.
In addition, insulin resistance can impact progesterone, leading to menstrual cycle irregularities and infertility. Testosterone can also be elevated in women due to insulin resistance. Elevated testosterone symptoms in women can include acne, hair growth, and menstrual cycle irregularities.
Stress and Cortisol
Chronic stress can also disrupt blood sugar balance and therefore impact hormone levels. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise and affect other hormones including thyroid hormone and sex hormones. A simple hack to reduce cortisol daily? Stop drinking your coffee on an empty stomach in the morning!
Hormonal changes during menopause can also affect blood sugar balance. As women age, our bodies become less sensitive to insulin, which can lead to higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. It's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage blood sugar levels during and after menopause for optimal hormonal health!
Chronic inflammation, often associated with high blood sugar levels, can also impact estrogen levels. Inflammation alters estrogen metabolism in the body, leading to imbalances in hormone levels. This can have implications for reproductive health and overall well-being. By adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, you can support healthy blood sugar and hormone levels.
How Imbalanced Blood Sugar Impacts Men
There are several ways that imbalanced blood sugar can impact men's hormonal health:
Research studies have consistently linked high sugar consumption to lower testosterone levels in men. Excess sugar intake disrupts testosterone production by triggering insulin spikes and increasing inflammation in the body. This hormonal imbalance can have significant implications for men's overall health and well-being, leading to decreased energy levels, decreased muscle mass, and even sexual health issues.
Excessive sugar intake overloads the body with glucose, leading to insulin resistance. This condition impairs the body's ability to use insulin effectively, disrupting the delicate hormonal balance. Insulin resistance not only affects blood sugar regulation but also contributes to hormonal imbalances, such as increased estrogen levels and decreased testosterone levels.
Chronic inflammation is a significant consequence of refined sugar consumption. High sugar diets contribute to the production of inflammatory molecules in the body, leading to a state of chronic inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, disrupts hormone levels and can lead to imbalances in men's hormonal health. This imbalance may result in decreased testosterone levels, mood disturbances, and increased risk of chronic diseases.
Excess sugar consumption is closely linked to weight gain and adverse changes in body composition, particularly increased fat accumulation and decreased muscle mass. Weight gain, especially around the abdominal area, is associated with hormonal disruptions in men. Elevated insulin levels caused by high sugar intake promote fat storage and interfere with the body's ability to build and maintain lean muscle mass.
Simple Tips for Reducing Refined Sugar Intake
The Heart & Stroke Foundation as well as the World Health Organization recommend limiting daily sugar intake to 10% of your total calorie intake or below 5% for further health benefits.
But with refined sugar hiding out in store-bought salad dressing, ketchup, cereal, sweetened beverages and granola bars – it's SO easy to over-do it.
Reducing refined sugar intake is essential for promoting overall health and restoring hormonal balance for both men and women. Here are some practical tips to help reduce refined sugar consumption:
1. Read food labels carefully to identify hidden sugars in processed foods. Here are 5 ingredients to avoid in packaged snacks for some tips on reading food labels!
2. Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods - Opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead of sugary snacks and desserts. Our single ingredient organic nut butters are the perfect example of a whole food that is nutrient-dense and packed with healthy fats, protein and fiber to keep your blood sugar stable.
3. Reduce Sugar in Beverages - Gradually reduce sugar in your beverages and opt for healthier alternatives like water, herbal tea, or unsweetened drinks.
4. Natural Sweeteners in Moderation - Incorporate natural sweeteners such as whole organic medjool dates or raw honey in moderation. When it comes to sweet snacks, reach for options that include a source of healthy fats and protein such as nomz organic bites. With 14 g of fats, 4 g of protein, 2 g fiber, and just 6 g of sugar from organic medjool dates – nomz organic bites are a great way to satiate your sweet tooth without getting onto that blood sugar rollercoaster. Best of all, our bites taste like a fudgy, nutty brownie.
5. Focus on Fiber, Fat, and Protein - Focus on a balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
6. Practice mindful eating and listen to your body's hunger and satiety cues.
7. Blood Sugar Hacks - Use our blood sugar balancing hacks to reduce your sugar cravings!
By implementing these tips and being mindful of your sugar intake, you can support your hormonal health and overall well-being!