Everyone loves sugar.
America has a huge sweet tooth. Sugar and carbs are the same thing, and they are everywhere: in candy, cookies, cake, bread, pasta, crackers, chips, muffins, scones, beverages, starchy vegetables and fruit. Carbs and sugar taste so good, what’s the problem?
Once carbs are digested they become blood sugars, which are the number one cause of hormone disruption. These hormonal imbalances impact every aspect of women’s health, resulting in weight gain, PMS, abnormal periods, PCOS, infertility, menopause, depression, anxiety, and the list goes on.
Did you know that the leading cause of fertility challenges are blood sugar issues?
No matter what your age or other concerns might be, chances are good if your blood sugars aren’t managed you have hormone imbalances reducing your ability to produce healthy eggs. The most pronounced version of this is PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), where women stop ovulating altogether. Before it gets that advanced, the quality of the eggs can be severely compromised.
How do I know if I have blood sugar issues?
How do you feel? Ask yourself these questions – any of these symptoms can be due to hormone imbalances caused by abnormal blood sugars.
- Are your cycles long or do you skip periods (PCOS)?
- Are you having trouble getting pregnant?
- Have you been diagnosed with PCOS?
- Are you having moderate to severe symptoms with menopause?
- Does your energy go up and down throughout the day?
- Do you get a slump in the middle of the afternoon?
- Are you moody?
- Do you have acne?
- Are you hangry (angry when you are hungry)?
- Do you have extra weight around your waist?
Lab testing works to identify blood sugars issues
We can use lab testing to either confirm what we already suspect, or to highlight blood sugar issues that are not yet causing obvious symptoms. Theses labs are commonly done in a basic blood screening, and include a fasting glucose, Hemoglobin A1c, cholesterol levels, and lactase dehydrogenase (LDH). When screening for PCOS and infertility, additional labs would include testosterone and DHEA-S.
What’s the difference between high blood sugars and low blood sugars?
Some people are more prone towards high blood sugars, aka insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, PCOS, infertility, and diabetes. Others will be pre-disposed towards having low blood sugars, aka hypoglycemia, which can cause irritability when meals are missed, along with PCOS, infertility, anxiety, acne, and feeling both wired and tired. The average person is somewhere in the middle, and their blood sugars can swing in either direction.
How do you treat abnormal blood sugars?
By far the most important thing in managing healthy blood sugars is good nutrition and healthy eating.
There are five simple steps to successfully managing your blood sugars:
1. Start with a protein-based breakfast.
A breakfast high in protein will set you up for blood sugar success throughout the rest of the day. A typical American breakfast these days may be a stop at the local coffee shop to pick up a latte and scone. This high-carb breakfast sets the stage for lousy blood sugars all day long. Instead, choose from these high-protein options: eggs; a low-carb protein shake; cottage cheese; or Greek-style, high protein yogurt with no added sugar.
2. Eat regularly, with a meal or snack every 3 -4 hours.
The snacks don’t have to be big, just a handful of nuts will work. Keeping your blood sugars from crashing goes a long way in managing healthy blood sugars and having balanced hormones.
3. Eat a balance of the macronutrients of protein, fat, and carbs.
For most people, I recommend 40% of one’s daily calories come from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. Using an app, such as myfitnesspal.com, will help you track your macronutrient ratios with an easy to read pie chart.
4. Include protein with every meal and snack.
Our patients always ask how can they get enough protein? It seems easy to get enough fat and carbs, it’s harder to get enough protein. Include some protein with every meal and snack and by the end of the day, your protein intake adds up.
5. Enjoy a variety of foods.
Variety is truly the spice of life and eating a wide range of foods – from protein sources, to healthy fats, to different fruits and vegetables – helps your body get more complete nutrition and keeps things interesting for your taste buds.
Results are fast!
The best part about changing your eating habits to help improve your blood sugars is that results can be nearly immediate. Within the first few days your energy will improve, and you should feel less irritability and anxiety. Over a few weeks or months, you can start to see improvements in PCOS, abnormal periods, acne, PMS, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, and pregnancy outcomes.
Stable blood sugars are so important to women’s health, we address this topic with virtually every patient that comes to our clinic, whether they are coming in for fertility, PMS, weight gain, PCOS, menopause, or anything else that suggests there is some type of hormone imbalance.