Guide to Sugar #2: Sugar and your Hormones
It’s safe to say the docs here at Acubalance are pretty obsessed with hormones. The endocrine system (all of the glands in the body that produce hormones) is crucial for a plethora of functions in the body including metabolism, growth and development, fertility and sexual function, sleep, mood and emotions, respiration, digestion, and more. It’s no wonder we preach hormone balance as a crucial aspect of every one of our patient’s treatment plans. The hormonal system in the body requires delicate balance for these various actions to take place. One off hormone can send a cascade of imbalances affecting nearly every aspect of health.
Many people don’t realize that insulin is actually a hormone (released by the pancreas). And when insulin levels spike as a result of excessive consumption of sugary foods or carbohydrates, it undoubtedly has a negative effect on the other hormones in the body.
High insulin levels have a huge effect on fertility and reproductive health. Unhealthily increased levels of insulin can aggravate the ovaries causing them to produce more androgens such as testosterone. Abnormally high levels of testosterone can inhibit ovulation (which can cause estrogen dominance in the body as a result of lack of ovulation and consequential necessary production of progesterone), cause acne and hair loss, and increase hirsutism (excessive body hair in men or women in areas where hair is normally absent or minimal). This hormonal reaction may be familiar with many women suffering from PCOS, where insulin resistance and sensitivity to blood sugar is fairly common. Pre-diabetes can cause impotence in men (since insulin resistance decreases testosterone levels and impairs sperm motility) and infertility in women. There is also a link of elevated insulin levels and miscarriage. High insulin levels increase the risk of blood clotting, which can make delivering blood through the placenta to the fetus difficult. These hormonal imbalances as a result of high blood sugar also exasperates PMS symptoms such as irritability, acne, hot flashes, anxiety, food cravings, and insomnia.
Your blood sugar also impacts thyroid function. Chronically high blood sugar and insulin levels affect thyroid function, and vice versa (poor thyroid function also negatively impacts insulin levels). Diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of metabolic disturbances including high blood sugar) impairs the necessarily conversions of thyroid hormones causing hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or autoimmune related thyroid disorders.
The body perceives high and uncontrolled blood sugar levels as a sign of stress and therefore increases the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline. Chronically elevated cortisol worsens blood sugar regulation and increases cholesterol levels, accumulation of belly fat, interferes with thyroid function, negatively impacts sleep, and stimulates sugar cravings. When blood sugar levels and therefore cortisol levels are chronically high, it can result in imbalances within the body such as mid-afternoon dip in energy, difficulty waking up in the morning, trouble falling asleep, brain fog, lowered immunity, elevated inflammatory levels in the body, decreased bone density, decreased lean muscle mass, and increased belly fat.
The entire body is connected, perpetuating the idea of wholism, a concept supported by the ancient and holistic theory of traditional Chinese medicine. There’s a lot we can do to help regulate blood sugar and hormone levels here at Acubalance. Call 604-678-8600 to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to see how our holistic toolbox of acupuncture, laser therapy, supplements, nutrient IV therapy, dietary instructions, and lifestyle advice can help you reach the level of balance you desire.
Take a look at my first blog post in this series: Guide to Sugar #1: Why Quit Sugar?