11 Jun 2014

Is It Time to Break Up with Sugar??? (Part 1)

CupcakesSugar and refined carbohydrates are best known for their effects on weight gain, but these foods are frequently at the root of your worst PMS and menopause symptoms too – especially when it comes to fatigue, cravings, and mood swings.

From my own experience and that of my clients, I know that cutting out sugar can make a tremendous difference in how you feel. Hot flashes improve; energy levels soar and cravings DISAPPEAR!

How Sugar Affects Hormones

Sugar not only creates a roller coaster of highs and lows in mood and energy; it also disrupts one of the most powerful hormones in the body: insulin. And insulin is closely connected to all of the other hormones in your body, including estrogen and testosterone.

When insulin spikes, typically after a meal high in sugar or refined carbs, this can lead to lower levels of an important protein known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds excess estrogen and testosterone in the blood, but when it’s low, these hormone levels increase. Insulin also increases the production of testosterone, which is then converted into even more estrogen by fat tissue in the belly.

This leads to estrogen dominance and fun symptoms like irritability, anxiety, insomnia and more. As women reach menopause, symptoms get more intense and can include hot flashes and night sweats as well.

Do I Have to go Cold-Turkey???

Realistically, cutting all sugar out of your life is next to impossible.

Fruits, vegetables, and even legumes have some sugars in them. The trick is to lower your glycemic load. Glycemic load is an estimate of how much the carbohydrates in a certain food or meal will raise your blood sugar after you eat it.

Ideally, you want to your blood sugar and insulin levels to remain relatively level all day so that your body uses glucose (your fuel source) efficiently. You want to be a fat-burning machine!

Simple refined sugars cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin. But complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and healthy fats promote more gradual increases and decreases in blood sugar and insulin, lowering the glycemic load and lifting the burden on your hormones.

5 Ways to Lower Your Glycemic Load

Simple food swaps can make a big difference in blood sugar control. Here are 4 simple ways to lower your glycemic load:

  • Replace sweet potatoes for white
  • Try mashed avocado instead of dipping chips in salsa
  • Add an extra serving of veggies to your plate instead of the carb choice (my personal favorite-ask restaurants to do this too. Most are very accommodating.)
  • Drink mineral water with a lime or lemon instead of soda
  • Trade nuts for candy

A Quick P.S. about Alcohol and Blood Sugar

Alcohol actually lowers blood sugar and has a low glycemic load, but it gets a VIP pass to the head of the line when it comes to fuel sources for your body. When you drink, those calories are used immediately for energy…which means the food that you eat is not. The energy from food is then stored as fat. Plus, alcohol raises cortisol and estrogen levels. This is a fast-track plan for creating the dreaded muffin top.

Even if you aren’t worried about your waistline, cutting back on or eliminating sugar helps rebalance your hormones, and can dramatically ease symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. To find out more about restoring your hormone harmony, please visit https://www.drannagarrett.com/hormone-harmony-package/.


Dr. Anna Garrett

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