You start the day promising yourself you'll "eat healthy" today and resist the cravings.
There isn't enough time to make a filling breakfast, so you grab a coffee to keep you going through your hectic morning.
Midmorning hits. Your energy is dropping.
The hunger pangs are setting in.
The fog over your brain is real.
"I'll just grab a quick top-me-up" you think as you throw back a muffin or soda.
Within minutes, your energy soars, you feel superhuman and power through half of your to-do list.
You feel like you’ve been hit by a bus, want to curl up in bed and take a nap… oh and those sugar cravings are back again, stronger than ever.
Maybe you can relate to the above scenario, although it’s not sugar, but starchy foods like chips, bread, pasta and crackers?
Cravings for these types of food are really common, especially in the pre-menstrual phase of our cycles.
Whilst eating like this can feel really good for a few minutes, it’s usually pretty clear that riding this roller coaster of energy and mood changes throughout the day is not serving us long term.
Regularly eating large amounts of processed sugars (like white table sugar, candies/lollies, soft drinks/sodas, cakes, pastries and desserts) as well as processed carbohydrates (like white bread, pasta and biscuits) causes a very rapid spike in our blood sugar levels.
Having high blood sugar is dangerous for the body, so it responds by secreting high levels of a hormone called insulin.
Insulin works like a marshal who directs the sugar out of our blood and into our cells for energy production and storage.
This is a normal process and necessary for our survival, however in excess can lead to hormone imbalances.
The hormonal problems related to blood sugar begin with excess insulin.
Just like estrogen and progesterone, insulin is also a hormone. When it becomes imbalanced, it causes a flow on effect.
High insulin levels cause cortisol (our stress hormone) to rise as well.
Cortisol causes our body to produce less progesterone, in order to prioritise our survival rather than our reproduction.
This is a normal mechanism in times of stress and is your body’s way of trying to protect you whilst this ‘threat’ of high blood sugar ensues.
The problem is, when this scenario occurs long-term, is can manifest in symptoms like pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), mood changes, spotting before your period begins, and increased levels of anxiety.
This means they respond to changes in your blood sugar levels.
In certain people, excess insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more testosterone and lower estrogen.
This can lead to irregular ovulation, long cycles and high androgen symptoms (acne breakouts, unwanted hair growth and thinning hair on the head).
Excess insulin is a common underlying cause of the condition Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and is estimated to be the main driver in 70% of cases.
PCOS is a condition of high testosterone and irregular ovulation, which is commonly driven by blood sugar and insulin issues.