The Impact of Sugar on Stress Hormones

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Sugar cubes, impact of sugar on stress hormones

I just listened to the video series by Dr. Christiane Northrup called, “Unlock the Magic of Your Female Body.” Many great takeaways from the series, but I wanted to share with you some key points in her deep dive into the connection between sugar and the impact it has on our stress hormones.

1.What are stress hormones? Cortisol and epinephrine. When they are elevated they increase the insulin levels in our bloodstream. Elevated levels lead to inflammation on a cellular level. We’re talking about inflammation on the lining of every blood vessel in your body. This is the root cause of all chronic and degenerative diseases.

2.Food is the number one defense against increased stress hormones. Ideally, your food would be locally sourced, organic, and plant-based except for meats that are grass-fed and hormone free. Fish (preferably wild) is also great. The number one plea is to cut the sugar or keep the amount low in your diet. In particular, stay away from white flour and white sugar. White bread has a higher glycemic index than white sugar. And, stay away from the cereal aisle as most sugary cereals are as addictive as heroin.

3.How does sugar work in our bodies? We are programmed through evolution to seek out sugar. Sweet foods were seen as non-poisonous, thereby contributing to our survival. And pleasure! When you eat a lot of sugar, your pancreas is constantly pushing out insulin to get the sugar out of your bloodstream. It is pushed straight into your fat cells for storage.

Insulin is a storage hormone. This type of fat storage was great for cavewomen.  It helped them make it through long periods when food was scarce. Things have changed. Now, when there’s too much sugar in the bloodstream, the pancreas can’t keep up with enough insulin production, which leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the root cause for heart disease, diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Sugar increases natural feel-good chemicals in your brain called beta-endorphins. This is just like taking an opiate. Sugar will dull the pain, but eventually, you will need more for the same results.

4.You can make changes to get back on track. First, cut down on your sugar intake. Four to six teaspoons should be your limit per day. Less is more. Check labels. Sneaky areas are “natural” beverages like juices and pre-made smoothies, sodas, salad dressings, and highly processed foods. I go over this a lot  in my 7-Day Detox, as sugar addiction is typically the toughest obstacle for my clients.

Become more aware of how glycemic stress is causing cellular inflammation in your body. The best way to understand is to take a blood test. Your blood sugar should not be over 120ml after you eat a meal. Your fasting blood sugar should be 80ml or less. Dr. Northrup is very clear that the conventional lab values for blood sugar numbers are too high. Getting clear on your numbers is a great step to start understanding where you stand.

Bring the “sweetness” into your life through self-care, gratitude, and changing your thoughts, or as Dr. Northrup explains, “… bringing in deliberate rituals of pleasure in our lives.” One of the easiest is how you approach your morning tea or coffee ritual. Be present. Don’t just go through the motions. Take a deep breath through your nose. This one action goes a long way. When you focus on breathing in and out through your nose, you engage your parasympathetic nervous system, i.e., your “rest and restore” nervous system. This trigger also helps to metabolize cortisol and epinephrine.

I hope this information is helpful. When you understand the impact of sugar on the body and how it can deprive you of your vitality, you’re able to make changes.

For those of you interested in Dr. Northrup’s online class “Unlcok the Magic of Your Female Body,” you can find out more here.



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