6 Ways Sugar Can Sabotage Hormones and Fertility

6 Ways Sugar Can Sabotage Hormones and Fertility.

 

Sugar can sabotage hormones and fertility in a lot of ways.

Now, I am a warm, fuzzy, caring person. And I know how women with hormonal health issues AND woman and couples on a tough path to parenthood appreciate empathy and support.  I have empathy. Supportive is my middle name.

But I think it’s important to be honest with people. To help teach them and empower them to take control of their own health to balance hormones and cycles and also to max their natural fertility. With no guilt, shame or blame. Because if you don’t know something, you can’t choose how to respond. So sometimes, I’m a bit more direct and lay it on the line. Then it’s up to you to choose what to do armed with that info.

Please don’t feel that your scoffing sweeties or quaffing cupcakes is your fault. Or that you’re somehow contributing to your own issues. PLEASE.  That’s NOT what I mean.

Sugar is addictive and I don’t see many programmes teaching us about the dangers of sugar to hormone balance or baby-making either.

Trust me, I’m really here to help.  With empathy and support.

 

Sugar Is Addictive

Yes, sugar is an additive substance. And hurrah! No need to shoot it up, smoke it or snort it.

It makes us feel soooooo gooooodddd.  We feel satisfied, soothed, energised…it’s soooooooo pleasurable.

And no unpleasant side effects short term – no staggering, slurring, palpitations, blacking out.   We’re more socially acceptable after a cupcake than a draw on a crack pipe.

We use it to celebrate – think cake and chocolates for birthdays. Mince pies and cakes at Christmas. Chocolate Eggs at Easter. And as a reward –  sweeties, chocolates, ice cream.

Let’s not underestimate its power though: once a hit wears off, we crave another and another. The dark side of sugar.  And it’s not just adults: our children are also hooked.

But this blog is about hormones and fertility, so let’s look at how sugar messes up our delicate hormone balance…

 

How Sugar Sabotages Hormones and Fertility

#1 The Hormone Rollercoaster

Sugary foods are broken down quickly by our bodies giving us a blood sugar spike, oh and a glorious high. Followed by a crashing low. Insulin (The Fat Storing Hormone) levels peak and trough. I call it riding the rollercoaster of blood sugar, energy, hormones and mood.

The insulin spike and crash stimulates our adrenal glands on top of our kidneys.  Our adrenals pump out Cortisol (The Stress Hormone) and Adrenalin to boost blood sugar back up.

So could that be okay after one snarf of a cupcake washed down with a sugary, flavoured coffee? Maybe.

But if that pattern continues. Sugar – insulin spike – insulin crash – adrenals working hard ….well we can burn out our adrenal glands.  Leading to hormone imbalances, because the delicate balance of chemical triggers and messages that make up the hormone system are kaput.

Trust me I know. I had adrenal fatigue caused by stress, not by sugar.  Although I did crave it to boost my flagging energy at the time. Tired adrenals lead to craving yet more sugar and the risk of eating binges.

Adrenal stress impacts levels of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and the hormones. In women and men.

That hormone imbalance can harm ovulation, cycles and fertility.

Eating a hormone friendly and fertility friendly diet avoids this rollercoaster.  Some studies show IVF outcomes are higher with a lower carb (not no carb) diet.

#2 Weight Issues

For a long time we were told that fat makes us fat and so everyone went on a low fat diet .

Now we know that it’s sugar that’s more likely to make us fat. With it’s 50 plus different “disguises” on food labels. Added to everything, even savoury foods like baked beans

When we eat carbs and sugary foods,  blood sugar rises and insulin spikes, as already mentioned. This drives all our body’s fuel into fat cells, especially around the belly.  And this can trigger more hunger, food cravings and overeating.

Weight is a hormonal issue and a fertility issue.

Fat cells – as well as ovaries – produce oestrogen.  Overweight and obese women are at risk of too much oestrogen, causing hormones imbalances and conditions like endometriosis and fibroids.

Being overweight is a risk factor for fertility issues too.

 

#3 Insulin Resistance, PCOS, Obesity and More

The overproduction of insulin we described in #1 can lead to a condition called “insulin resistance”.

And insulin resistance is associated with obesity, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and even diabetes.  All of those have pretty unpleasant symptoms. All of those can impact fertility. Insulin resistance has been linked with implantation issues and a higher risk of miscarriage as well as ovulation issues.

 

#4 Low Nutrition

The White Stuff depletes us of nutrients … indirectly.  When the body goes into insulin and adrenal overdrive, we use up vital vitamins and minerals. And we need vitamins and minerals for hormone health, fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

 

#5 Thrush

Okay, so it’s not a hormone imbalance, but eating a lot of sugary foods is a risk factor for yeast overgrowth in the body… candida and thrush.

Thrush is a white, cottage cheesey discharge from the vagina, which is itching and burning. It’s horrible.

Thrush makes the vagina sperm UNfriendly and can make sex uncomfortable.

If you have thrush and have a baby, the baby can catch it when he/she passes through the birth canal. In turn that can cause nappy rash and oral thrush in the baby, making feeding more difficult.

 

#6 Low Immune System

Busted. Again it’s not strictly hormonal but sugar lowers our immune systems. Leaving us susceptible to all kinds of bugs, lurgies, coughs and colds … plus yeast infections (see #5) and any sexually transmitted diseases too.

 

So What’s A Sweet Toothed Girl To Do?

Decisions, decisions.

As I see it, the main choices are:-

  • Quit sugar. Go “cold turkey”. A good place to start is Sarah Wilson’s website and book I Quit Sugar.
  • Reduce it over time by not adding sugar to drinks, avoiding sweet treats, being label savvy and so on. And/or…
  • … choose alternative sweeteners. The ones with the least impact on blood sugar are xylitol, stevia and agave.  All are processed foods.
  • Choose natural sweeteners like fruit, dried fruits, raw honey and maple syrup – they are more nutrient dense, but still impact blood sugar levels. They still contain sugars.

In my view, a hormone and fertility friendly diet is one low in sugar for all the points raised.   It’s a piece of fruit a day. Avoiding added sugars.  Eating healthy carbs in moderation only.

My experience is that having a sweet tooth is a habit and one which can be broken in time. Women who quit sugar often report that eating a sugary snack some time after they quit tastes revolting and makes them feel sick. Imagine that.

 

 

Menopause Mood Swings – How To Stop Being A Menopausal Moody Mare

Menopause Mood Swings

How To Stop Being A Menopausal Moody Mare.

Menopause mood swings. Hands up if this is you?

Menopause Moody Mare.  You can go from quiet to riot in under 30 seconds?

If you’re not sure, ask a friend or relative? Or ask your partner, if they dare speak out. *winks*

I’m joking, but it’s often no laughing matter. I know, I have been a bit of a Mardy Bum myself occasionally. Hard to believe, I know.

 

Menopause Mood Swings, Menopause Hormone Swings

Menopause is all about changing hormone levels. Levels of oestrogen decline, generally. Yada yada yada.

Changeable hormones equals changeable moods.  Which kinda sucks.

Even even-tempered women can get emotional swings from teary to leery, from angsty to angry and from lover to “run for cover”.  It’s a pretty common menopause symptom too.

Clever scientists think it’s all to do with the decline in oestrogen and and it’s affect on The Feel Good Hormone, serotonin.  They believe that when oestrogen rises and falls, serotonin somehow goes up and down with it.

The good news – if there is any – is that when our hormones settle down after menopause, so will moods. Phew.

 

Menopause Mood Swings – The Double Whammy

I’d like to throw in other possible reasons for menopause mood swings.

Blood sugar imbalance, for starters.

Yes, if you’re riding the rollercoaster of blood sugar, you’re pretty likely to be riding the energy rollercoaster. AND the mood rollercoaster. That’s some terrible theme park.

Plus, if you’re not sleeping well, due to night sweats or stress, then your tiredness might make you tetchy.

 

So if you’re not up for HRT or antidepressants, what can you do to manage the signs and symptoms naturally. Read on …

 

#1 I sound like a broken record! Eat a hormone friendly diet and make sure you’re balancing blood sugars by eating little and often and choosing good quality protein with each meal and snack.  This will stabilise blood sugar, energy and mood – don’t snarf carbs and sugar or drink coffee to wake you up!   And don’t comfort eat – its no comfort when your clothes don’t fit and your health suffers.

 

#2 Look at supplements.  I’m a great believer in individualised programmes based on hair testing. But if you want to know which supplements are good generally for menopause mood swings, look at Omega 3 fatty acids (for brain health), Magnesium (a natural calmer and pain reliever) and Vitamin B Complex (for the nervous system).  Buy the very best you can afford to avoid cheap fillers and ingredients your body can’t absorb easily.

Check with your doctor before starting any supplement programme.

 

#3 Drink plenty of filtered water. Dehydration is a strange thing and can affect how we feel and think. Keep yourself well topped up.

 

#4 Move your butt. Exercise releases chemicals that help improve our mood. No need to join the gym unless you want to. Walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, dancing, gardening and much more, can really help.

 

#5 If you choose herbs, be careful and check they are suited to you and your circumstances. St Johns Wort is popular, but interferes with the contraceptive pill and other hormonal contraceptives. Valerian is also indicated for mood swings. And, of course, Agnus Castus is used for female balancing. Personally, I make up a gentle combination to my private clients, which contains a number of hormone and mood balancing herbs.

 

#6 Think essential oils. Clary Sage and Geranium are good for balancing out moods. Add a few drops of each to your bath or burn in a burner. Rose, Chamomile, Lavender and Bergamot are good for uplifting.   If you use oils for massage, use a carrier oil to dilute them to make them safe to use.

 

#7 Consider holistic therapies to support you through menopause, like homeopathy or acupuncture. Therapies like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) a.k.a. tapping can help influence moods and behaviours.  I know a fab one.  Always find a registered and insured therapist.

 

If you’re suffering menopause mood swings, try making some changes and see what difference you can make naturally. You’ll have the added benefit of balancing hormones and improving overall health too.

What’s not to like?

Love, Kathy x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistletoe & Mood Swings – Beat Holiday Stress

Mistletoe and Moodswings Blog Thumbnail

Holiday Stress.

*Sings …It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. tra la la *

IS IT? I hear some of you cry.

It’s December.  We’re women. We’ve spun plates, juggled and multi-tasked all year already.  Now the pressure is REALLY on.

ADD to our exhausting list of roles,  Event Planner, Home Decorator, Chef, Family Mediation, Socialite, Personal Shopper, Party Girl, Gift Wrapper, Hostess, Scribe, Santa and all the elves as well!

If you’re already tired, stressed and hormonal, it’s the final straw that broke the Reindeer’s back. It’s tough to stay calm, collected and Christmas-sy.

But gorgeous girls, stress is bad for our hormones.  Holiday stress is seriously bad for our hormones.

And if we can manage stress, we are more likely to be able to manage our moods and weight.  AND the terrible tantrum when someone forgot the batteries for the Jedi Master Lightsabre.

Not to mention the massive family row that rages when Competitive Uncle Colin is caught cheating at Cluedo AGAIN.

This year the murderer might be YOU … Archduchess Ash-Grey, curled up in the foetal position in the living room with a bottle of Baileys.  If you’re/they’re not careful.

Cortisol – The (Holiday) Stress Hormone

Cortisol is the stress hormone and is produced in your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys.

It’s the “fight or flight” hormone, so can be pumping out like crazy when we’re stressed out and strung out. Over time, high cortisol can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, digestive issues, low sex drive and anxiety.

Pah Humbug to that.  And to holiday stress.

Modern life is stressful.  This time of year can be especially stressful.  Let’s look at some ways to Keep Your Cool This Yule and balance those crazy cortisol levels.

Holiday stress

1. Ration the Alcohol

I know, I know.  Easier said than done.  Especially if you’re feeling festively frazzled.  It can be tempting to reach for the bottle … and then keep pouring.

But please don’t. You may feel slightly better initially but alcohol actually raises cortisol levels.  You’ll end up stressing out an already stressed-out body. Bad for holiday stress.

If you’re struggling to quit or reduce your alcohol intake take a look at this free e guide to Hangover Free Happy Holidays .  It’s by ace blogger and former Wine Bitch (her words, not mine), Sober Sassy Life.

There are some great alternatives to booze which won’t make you look or feel like a killjoy.  Have you tried making your own mulled apple juice for example?  Or get inspiration from the internet for mocktails and interesting non-alcoholic drinks like these.

It doesn’t just have to be plain, fizzy water.

2. Cut out the Caffeine

Jeez, I’m a buzzkill, right? Ezmerelda Scrooge herself.

Nah, I’m a broken record… caffeine raises cortisol levels too.

Try to limit the tea/coffee or try to substitute it with a coffee substitute like Barley Cup or some herbal tea.   Avoid those fizzy drinks.

3. Balance Your Blood Sugar

Don’t face-palm. It’s quite easy really.

Basically, eat good quality protein with each meal or snack. Lean turkey not Turkey Twizzlers.

And avoid refined sugar and carbs (including the alcohol), where you can. That way you’ll avoid insulin spikes, rollercoaster energy levels and potentially, mood swings.  Yep, eating well can reduce the risk of you getting bat shizzle crazy by the time the Queens Speech comes on.

So fill up on the smoked salmon, the lean meat, the veggies (hopefully not laden in fat), fruit and nuts.

Try to limit the potatoes, fatty meat, rich sauces, bread, cheese, cakes, pastries, chocolates, sweets, decadent desserts, crisps and other salty snacks.

4. Breathe

Breathe.  Slow, deep breathing.  The kind that pokes your belly right out with you INHALE and sucks it back to your ribcage when you EXHALE.

It’s good to relax for 10 minute or more, but even if you only count to 10 or 20, you will feel calmer. Holiday stress relieved temporarily. Cortisol levels reduced.

Or you could try meditation, relaxation techniques or yoga.  Ask Santa for a relaxation CD or a yoga DVD?

As a bonus for being such a good girl this year, here’s a FREE relaxation download from my good friend Hypno Sarah at No Longer a Problem.  Give it a go when the stress levels rise.  Or ideally BEFORE.

AND FINALLY…when it all gets too much.

5.  Get the hell out of there

Get yourself some “me time” away from stressful situations and *ahem* people.

Even if it’s a short strut around the block with the mutt, it will help you count to ten, clear your head and reduce your holiday stress levels.

Getting away might give you a fresh perspective on situations. Remember Uncle Colin the cheating, conniving *^3_^!/ ? Maybe he’s a good lesson for the kids in the consequences of cheating?

Even better still for holiday stress, really pamper yourself – a massage would be most excellent.  Some studies show that they actually reduce cortisol and support the immune system.  Heck, prescribe yourself a massage! Or reflexology.  Or anything that really makes you bliss out and forget the stress.

 

So there you have it it.

It can be the most wonderful time of the year.  All you need is a plan, a fresh perspective, a relaxation download and an escape route.  Oh and ask Cousin Fran to invite Uncle Colin this year.  It’s soooooooo her turn.

Happy holidays.

Love, Kathy x

 

Hot Flushes – 5 things to give up to reduce them

Hot Flushes Thumbnail

Hot Flushes?

You’ve probably seen that cartoon on Social Media?  The one that says ” I’m still hot, only now it comes in flushes!”?  Ha bloomin’ ha. If you’re a sufferer, you know hot flushes are no laughing matter. They can be uncomfortable, incovenient and embarrassing.

You know? That sudden feeling of heat, which seems to come from nowhere and spreads through your body. Not to mention the sweating, scarlet face and palpitations. Lovely.

Hot flushes are a common symptom in perimenopause and menopause, but there are lots of simple steps to take to reduce them.

HONEST! Mine lasted about 2-3 months, until I got them under control.

And I’m about to let you into a few of my secrets…

There are things you can reduce or give up to help you stop the perimenopausal power surges. It’s isn’t always easy, but you have to ask yourself…

HOW MUCH DO I WANT TO STOP THE HOT FLUSHES?

HOW HARD AM I PREPARED TO WORK TO STOP THEM?

So if you’re truly sick and tired of your broken thermostat, read on.

Yes, here’s my short guide …

5 things to give up to reduce hot flushes

#1  Kick Cigarettes.

Yes, stop smoking the ciggies or vastly reduce the amount you smoke. I’ve never been a smoker so this wasn’t my issue. BUT cigarettes are associated with a bigger risk of horrid hot flushes.

#2  Stop Skipping Meals

Low blood sugar can be a cause of hot flushes, so don’t rush out of the house without brekkie, ladies. Eat regularly and choose a balanced, hormone-and-flush-friendly diet.

#3 Quit Caffeine

Normal coffee and tea. Many fizzy drinks. Chocolate. ALL contain caffeine. Cut the Cappuccino and ditch the Dairy Milk to calm down the hot flushes.

office-620823_1280

#4 Wean Yourself Off Wine…

…beer…spirits. Alcohol is known to make hot flushes worse for many PeriMenopausal Princesses, so reduce or quit alcohol to see how much difference it makes.

#5 Curb the Curries

This was toughie for me! I love curries. I gave up spicy food for a little while on my journey to No Flush Nirvana. Spicy food can trigger hot flushes for some gorgeous girls. Phew! That wasn’t the sound of me flushing: that was recognition that spicy food didn’t trigger mine!

My own hot flushes started in November 2104 and were GONE by the end of January 2015.

I achieved that with a winning combination of food and lifestyle choices, reducing exposure to toxins in my environment and some superb self-care. It can be done.

So what are you waiting for?

You could decide to go cold turkey and quit all at once.  Or you could remove one at a time for 1-2 weeks and see what difference it makes.  It’s up to you, lovely ladies.

Let me know how you get on and ask for guidance on my social media pages.

Love, Kathy x