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Conception Jan 9, 2020
4 Minutes

Ask the expert: how sugar can wreck your hormones

By now most of us know that too much sugar is the enemy. Particularly when it comes to those all important hormones. We get the low-down from our resident expert and Endometriosis sufferer Natalie Ferris. She talks about exactly what happens when you have too much sugar and what you need to know. Particularly important for conception, pregnancy and for small developing people!

What sugar does to your hormones: by Natalie Ferris:  

I have a seriously sweet tooth. Chocolate being my number one weakness. Women who suffer from hormonal imbalances may find that after a few days of eating sugar in abundance their hormones may be a little out of whack. Particularly those who suffer from reproductive disorders based on hormonal imbalances. We’re talking conditions such as PCOS and Endometriosis, which I suffer from. Click here for Natalie’s story of Endometriosis.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Endometriosis that I realised my love of the sweet stuff was doing serious things to my insides. What I learnt made me want to seriously cut down….

For me it wasn’t just about weight gain. It was what it was doing to my hormones: 

I’m in shape, fit and always active. So, it wasn’t obvious to me by weight gain that it was sugar, amongst other things (like dairy) that were aggravating my symptoms. Essentially causing my hormones to be pushed off balance.

Here is why sugar can play such havoc with your hormones: 

Your endocrine system perceives mismanaged blood sugar as a stressor. Your adrenal glands respond by sending out a lot of cortisol (the stress hormone – click here for more) and adrenaline. This begins the hormonal havoc and can be one of the root causes of common issues such as PMS, cramps, irregular cycles, acne. Plus PCOS, Endometriosis and infertility.

Sugar can cause Estrogen dominance?!

Fat cells (adipose tissue) in your body secrete estrogen. The more sugar you eat, the more fat cells you create and the more estrogen they then secrete.

This estrogen adds to the estrogen your endocrine system already produces. Add in the xenoestrogens (think things like plastics/too much soy etc) in our environment. At this point you’re set up for estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency and hormonal imbalance. Click here for more on estrogen dominance and how it is caused. Plus what we can do about it. 

Here’s the science behind what happens to your hormones with high sugar: 

I’ve learned this the hard way and I wanted to share some of the science behind this post:

When you eat sugar or carb based food it stimulates your insulin response. Insulin is the hormone that regulates your cells taking on this sugar for fuel.

The body is designed for ‘survival’: 

Your metabolism is designed to preserve the glucose you get from carbs or sugar because your body and brain needs it for fuel.

So, Sucrose and other sugars have to be converted into glucose for your body. The only way glucose can get into the cells that need it is with insulin. When you eat a lot of sugar and carbs there is a lot of glucose in your system. Your pancreas then sends out the insulin to deal with it.

Then comes the hormone crash…. 

Glucose then enters the cells. However, when there is too much glucose and insulin, the glucose gets packaged up into glycogen. The excess glucose saturates the cells and sends blood sugar levels crashing.

Not good for ovulation: 

This insulin spike can prevent your hormones from triggering ovulation. It can also then hinder the creation of progesterone (which comes after ovulation). This leads to estrogen dominance.

This is especially problematic for people with Polycystic Ovaries (PCOS): 

As well as Estrogen which can aggravate Endometriosis, it is particularly problematic for people with PCOS. 70% of people who suffer from this have insulin resistance which means their cells do not react as they should to the insulin hormone. Click here for more. This causes many issues, but lack of ovulation is a common and major problem for fertility. Click here and here for some tips and tricks (outside of reducing sugar intake) that can help deal with this insulin resistance.

Outside of avoiding sugar – what else can you do? 

Fibre rich foods detoxify the liver and this will help you to create the hormone FGF21 which prevents sugar cravings and get rid of excess estrogen.

Having the right level of hormones estrogen and progesterone is so important in a woman. Especially if you are trying to conceive or if you have PCOS or Endometriosis. Being aware of certain stressors in your diet that cause excess estrogen production can go a long way to achieve a good balance. It’s all about moderation and good slow burn, high quality sources of energy for the body.

For more from Natalie check out her own site here: 


This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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