For years, I dreamed of kicking ass with my health, but something continued to get in the way – my sugar addiction! I have always blamed my mom for taking sugar out of our house when I was a kid (I’ve sort of stopped blaming her now). This only made me want it more…I know you can relate!
I didn’t really get my addiction under control until I became a nutritionist. I learned very quickly that I wasn’t being able to balance my hormones with eating sugar and it didn’t help that I went into full-on menopause at an early age.
One of the best things you can do to stay young, lose weight and live a full and energized life is to mind your hormones. Think of them like the programing behind all of your bodily functions, from how you digest your foods to how you store/burn fat. Most people I first see have some pretty stressed out, confused and out of balance hormones.
One of the biggest reasons I advocate for zero processed sugar diet is because of the damage it does to hormonal balance. Here are a few ways sugar negatively impacts your hormones.
Testosterone is the hormone vital for sex drive and function, in both men and women. It also helps build muscle and prevent fat accumulation around the middle, especially in men.
Studies have shown that an increase in sugar decreases overall free testosterone levels. This can throw estrogen into overdrive, causing symptoms of estrogen dominance like reduced desire, increase in body fat, lower muscle mass, and memory problems.
Creates leptin resistance
Leptin is the hormone responsible for signaling your brain that you’re full. Without it, your brain is able to trick your body into continuing eating, even when you’re physically full.
When you eat a lot of sugar via processed foods, your brain stops responding to leptin, aka leptin resistance. Often time insulin resistance goes hand in hand with leptin resistance. This enables the body to consume far more than it is capable of dealing with. When this happens, your body turns excess calories into fat. As BMI goes up, testosterone continues to plummet, pushing sex hormones further off scale.
Slows growth hormone production
When you eat sugar, insulin levels rise. High levels of insulin are linked to a slowing of growth hormone production.
Growth hormone is basically the hormone that keeps your cells renewing efficiently. In short, it’s the hormone responsible for keeping you young! Produced during sleep, growth hormone helps increase muscle mass, burn fat, and maintain a healthy libido.
When you eat a sugar-containing food, the sugar quickly enters your bloodstream and increases your blood sugar. In turn, insulin comes in to remove that sugar and utilize it in the cells.
When overloaded with sugar from processed carbs, insulin tends to overcompensate. It can pull your blood sugar too low and leading to hunger, cravings, and fatigue.
Sugar can also create fatigue by its impact on the neurotransmitter Orexin. Orexin regulates appetite, arousal and alertness. Studies have shown that proteins tend to increase this neurotransmitter while sugars decrease it leading to drowsiness.
Triggers anxiety and stress response
Sugar has a very bipolar effect on the system. It wires it up quickly only to crash fast when there is no longer that sugar-supply. Anything that works through the body in this tends to create the perfect atmosphere for anxiety to take hold. Your body craves homeostatic balance and excess sugar creates the exact opposite. Your subconscious mind can sense this physiological dis-ease and creates a feeling of anxiety to clue in your conscious mind that something is out of whack.
Higher than normal insulin can also cause a chronic high cortisol, the stress hormone. This worsens the situation even further because now you’re body is receiving a physiological stress response. Elevated cortisol can lead to low libido, excess fat and muscle breakdown.
How to fix your hormones
Rebalancing your hormones doesn’t have to involve fancy lab tests and hormone replacement drugs. It’s sometimes as simple as what you put on your plate, or better yet, what you choose to leave off your plate.
One of the easiest ways to give yourself a hormone reset is to do a cleanse. Ridding yourself of all the toxic, sugar-filled junk and replacing it with nutrient-rich food will quickly put your hormones at ease. Start with wherever you can! For some people, this may mean simply cutting out sugary drinks. For others, it may mean going all in and purchasing one of my online or in-person soup cleanses. At the very least, look to fill your plate with low glycemic, whole foods and tons of veggies.