Menopause symptoms can wreak havoc on your life. They may creep up on you, or come down like a ton of bricks overnight.
All of a sudden you have hot flushes, brain fog, irritability, and find yourself waking up at least twice every night.
Everybody is different and you just won’t know what your experience will be like until you are there.
No matter where you are in your menopause experience, there is one thing you can do right now to reduce your symptoms.
And that is to reduce your sugar intake.
I’m aware that this is a sentence that is easy to write, but not so easy to actually do in real life.
Most of us enjoy sugar, a treat here and there. Not to mention the hidden sugars that you find in many convenient food products.
The key to success is to first find out where the sugar can be found and then make an informed decision. Either you don't eat it, you reduce it, or you swap it for something else.
How does sugar affect menopause symptoms?
When you eat sugar, eg a biscuit, the following happens in your body:
You will digest and absorb the sugar into your bloodstream really quickly
Your body will produce insulin to move the sugar into your cells. Your cells will use the sugar as energy or store it as fat
Insulin production automatically generates cortisol production. Cortisol is your stress hormone.
Cortisol is a trigger for many menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia brain fog, poor concentration and weight gain around the middle.
Sugar ages you
If you need further convincing, you may also want to know that sugar ages you. What happens is that some of the sugar binds to a protein molecule in the blood and produces something called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). They say that the blood becomes a bit ‘sticky’. These ‘AGEs’ literally age you (pun intended). They age you inside by causing systemic inflammation, and they age you outside in the shape of wrinkles (!).
"Studies show that sugar is 5 times more addictive than certain recreational drugs."
Some simple tips for reducing your sugar intake
Cook food from scratch – many ready-made meals, sauces, and dressings contain high amounts of hidden sugar. If you can't do this every day of the week, start with one, then two...
Read the food labels properly – the earlier you find sugar on the list of ingredients the more sugar in the product
Eat fruit instead of your regular sweet treat, and add some protein to it to slow down the digestion process, eg some almonds or almond butter
When you bake, you can always reduce the sugar by a 3rd
Use very ripe bananas instead of sugar in baking recipes. You can keep them handy in the freezer for future needs. A basic guideline: 1 large very ripe banana (almost black) can replace 200g of sugar in a recipe. Purée the banana with 2 tbsp of water before adding to your cake batter.
Choose dark chocolate (70% cocoa) over milk chocolate
Swap breakfast cereal for oat porridge or eggs
Swap sugary soft drinks or cordial for water infused with a slice of fruit and herbs; a slice of blood orange and rosemary is a fab combination
Dates can be used in many recipes
Sugar is addictive
Studies show that sugar is 5 times more addictive than certain recreational drugs (!). It can be really hard to go cold turkey, so try to reduce your intake over a couple of weeks. You may feel quite poorly during this time. Your taste buds also need time to adjust. In the end, they will find sweetness where you couldn’t before you cut sugar out.
When it comes to using sweeteners, use them with moderation. If you use them regularly, you continue to encourage your taste buds, and brain, to want more sugar.
If you need inspiration for a healthier snack, why don't you download my Free Hormone Balancing Snack Collection?
I hope that you find this information useful!
Would you like to find out more about how nutrition can help you and your health?
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Consult your doctor or health care practitioner for any health problems, before embarking on any new health regimes, using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications or food programmes.