BLOOD SUGAR ISSUES DON’T JUST APPLY TO DIABETICS…
Sugar, or more specifically Insulin, is a Tier 1 hormone disruptor which means that it has a down stream effect on all your other hormones. YEP. Sugar will impact your PMS, Cramps, Mid Cycle pain and MUCH more.
Short term blood sugar issues are connected to
- anxiety (Oh Hey Hangry!)
- energy crashes (hello that 2pm coffee!)
- upset tummy
- trouble falling and staying asleep (yep, sugar is the reason you wake up in the middle of the night)
- Acne/Ezcema and other skin issues (this one was HUGE for me to realize)
Longer term blood sugar issues are even scarier, we are talking:
- Candida (Check out my full blog post about Candida)
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- and even cancer!
What does it feel like NOT be plagued by blood sugar issues?
Well in short… it feels pretty dang good. This is what you get to look forward to:
Balanced blood sugar levels means higher energy, no need for sugar after meals, and no issues falling asleep!
How GREAT would that feel!?
- Sustained energy throughout the day
- No energy lulls
- No need for sugar after meals
- No need for stimulants or sugar to wake you up in the morning
- No issues falling or staying asleep
When is the last time you can honestly say you felt like this!?
I know, crazy right, but in some way’s it’s not our fault! Sugar is SO addictive. But here’s the dealio ladies, if you don’t get this part, your period’s will be hell.
There are three main ways blood sugar can be effecting your periods:
- Overproducing Androgens in lieu of estrogen
- Overproducing Estrogen by lowering Progesterone
But to be honest when you think about the fact that sugar and specifically blood sugar crashes causes poor sleep, anxiety and puts an enormous amount of stress on the body, not to mention weight gain and all the things we typically think of when it comes to sugar like diabetes – there are SEVERAL indirect ways sugar really can make your period hell.
Let’s dive into the main three and give you tools to course correct!
It works like this sugar causes chronic low-level inflammation – this is the bad kind of inflammation this is the kind that is the root cause of all disease. We know that inflammation can spread throughout the body and that includes in your ovaries. Inflammation creates these hormone lipids called Prostaglandins and there are anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and inflammatory ones. Sugar creates the inflammatory ones. Prostaglandins stimulate the formation of blood clots and contract the muscles around the damaged area to prevent blood loss – which is great if you cut open your finger, not so great with periods.
When we lose our endometrial lining during our period it triggers lots of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are also partially responsible for simulating the release of an egg at ovulation. So when we eat too much sugar and hike up the inflammatory prostaglandins then we can expect -Migraines, ovulation pain, painful periods, blood clots. OUCH!
2. Overproducing Androgens in lieu of estrogen
Excess insulin raises the hormone Luteinizing Hormone which causes your ovaries to overproduce Androgens in lieu of estrogen.
When your ovaries produce excess testosterone in lieu of estrogen – the entire feedback loop between your brain and ovaries is disrupted and your eggs are not able to grow as well as they would have (remember they need adequate estrogen during the first 1/2 of the cycle). This can cause irregular ovulation!
To make matters even worse, we know that high insulin also lowers Sex Hormone Binding Globulin and that is designed to bind up testosterone so that it’s not available all at once. When SHBG goes down, it allows more free Testosterone out. Making it even worse.
This can be part of the cycle that women with PCOS are experiencing high testosterone, low estrogen causing irregular cycles, hair on their chin, acne on the jaw line, thinning hair on the scalp!
3. Overproducing Estrogen by lowering Progesterone
On the flip side of # 2, High levels of insulin can also raise estrogen and pave way for estrogen dominance by raising what’s called Aromatase.
Aromatase is responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen.
This is how it works in the body:
Insulin Resistance → Raises Aromatase → Too Much Estrogen → Brain → tells ovaries to Lower FSH → Follicles stop growing → Irregular Cycles or No Progesterone = Estrogen dominance
Excess estrogen in the body tells the hypothalamus (in your brain) that there’s plenty of estrogen to go around. Which the hypothalamus then tells the pituitary (also in your brain) to slow down Follicule Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH directs your ovary to stimulate and grow follicles — so if your brain thinks there’s lots of estrogen then it will slow down FSH because it assumes the follicles in the ovaries are in full swing. This can be how an ovarian cyst forms. PLUS this whole processes raises Luteinizing Hormone so instead of giving us a big surge of LH right at ovulation, what can happen is a loss of the LH surge and then there is no “rumpture” of the egg from the follicule and no ovulation.
When you don’t ovulate you don’t have a period and you don’t create progesterone which means you get estrogen dominance even more! And in case you need a refresher estrogen dominance can be a real drag – we are talking- PMS, painful periods, painful breasts, long & heavy cycles, endometriosis, fibroids. Ouchies!
So what can you do about all this!?
Well outside of cutting out refined sugar here are my top 5 tips:
- Balance the plate with protein & fat, especially important in the morning!
- Eat enough to keep you satiated for at least 3-4 hrs.
- Don’t wait until you are hangry to eat!
- Avoid caffeinated beverages before breakfast
- Eat within 1 hour of waking
Plus here is my all time favorite recipe for when the afternoon sugar blues come to town!
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
A delish, chocolately, low-sugar version of a household fave!
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted (must be ripe)
1⁄4 cup raw cacao or cocoa powder
1⁄4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon stevia
1. Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Add more liquid if necessary to get the desired consistency.