(How sugar affects hormone health)

Did you know that the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar per year? That's roughly the weight of an adult male kangaroo! This shocking statistic highlights the prevalence of refined sugar in our diets and the potential health consequences that come with excessive consumption. From insulin resistance to neurodegenerative diseases, the effects of refined sugar on our bodies are serious and far-reaching. Let's dig a little deeper into why this sweet culprit could be wreaking havoc on your hormonal balance.

Refined sugar, also known as processed sugar, is a type of sugar that has been stripped of its natural nutrients and f through an industrial process. This process not only makes the sugar more appealing to our taste buds, but it also affects our hormonal balance.

When we consume refined sugar, our blood sugar levels spike tremendously, triggering the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels by allowing glucose to enter our cells to be used for energy. However, overconsumption of refined sugar over time can cause insulin resistance, which means that the body becomes less responsive to insulin. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of insulin in the bloodstream, which can have a range of negative effects on our hormones and body overall.

One of the primary ways in which refined sugar affects hormonal balance is by disrupting the delicate balance between the hormones insulin and glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that is released by the pancreas when blood sugar levels are low. Its role is to stimulate the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream. This helps to maintain a stable blood sugar level.

When we consume refined sugar, our blood sugar levels spike rapidly, leading to an overproduction of insulin. This, in turn, causes a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, triggering the release of glucagon. The problem is that this hormonal seesaw can become dysregulated over time due to chronic consumption of refined sugar, leading to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance impairs the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels and can result in the overproduction of certain hormones, such as testosterone. This hormonal imbalance can lead to a variety of health problems, including weight gain, acne, mood swings, and even infertility.

In contrast, unrefined sugars, such as those found in fruits, are more slowly absorbed by the body, which means that they have a less dramatic impact on our blood sugar levels. These types of sugars also contain more natural nutrients and fibre, which can help to regulate hormonal balance and support overall health.

One of the most significant hormonal imbalances associated with refined sugar consumption is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Studies have shown that women with PCOS often consume a high amount of carbs and refined sugar, which leads to consistent spikes in blood sugar, insulin resistance and inflammation – all leading to hormonal imbalance.

In addition to its physical effects, sugar consumption also has social and psychological aspects. Many people turn to sugar as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or boredom. Over time, this can lead to sugar addiction, which is characterized by a compulsive craving for sugar that is difficult to control. Sugar addiction can have a range of negative effects on mental health, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

One way to reduce refined sugar consumption is to opt for whole foods that are naturally sweet, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Another option is to use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia in moderation. It's also important to avoid ultra-processed foods which are often high in sugar content and harmful to the gut microbiome. By making these small changes, it's possible to significantly improve your overall health and restore hormonal balance.




  1. Asemi, Z., Esmaillzadeh, A., & Daryani, N. E. (2013). Metabolic Response to Sucrose Consumption in Healthy Women is Associated with the CYP19A1 Polymorphism. Nutrition Research and Practice, 7(5), 364–368.
  2. Barbieri, R. L., Ehrmann, D. A., (2003). Polycystic ovary syndrome: a multifaceted disease from adolescence to adult age. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 997, 101–106.
  3. Gearhardt, A. N., Grilo, C. M., DiLeone, R. J., Brownell, K. D., & Potenza, M. N. (2011). Can Food be Addictive? Public Health and Policy Implications. Addiction, 106(7), 1208–1212.
  4. Gower, B. A., Nagy, T. R., Trowbridge, C. A., Dezenberg, C., & Shewchuk, R. (2003). The Synergistic Influence of Diet and Exercise on Serum Adiponectin and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α in Overweight Adolescents. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 88(7), 2941–2948.
  5. Havel, P. J. (2005). Dietary Fructose: Implications for Dysregulation of Energy Homeostasis and Lipid/Carbohydrate Metabolism. Nutrition Reviews, 63(5), 133–157.
  6. Yilmaz, M., Bukan, N., Ayvaz, G., Karakoc, A., Cakir, N., Arslan, M., Erdem, F., & Saglam, K. (2009). The Effects of Rosiglitazone and Metformin on Inflammatory Markers and Insulin Resistance in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 32(12), 1003–1008.




Previous post
(Reduced fertility in PCOS and how to address it)
Next post
(Smooth and natural menopause: why you should not be afraid of it and how to fight ageism)