Sugar – The Deadliest Drug of All (Part 1)
What effect does sugar have on our bodies? Infertility, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. They have all been linked to excess sugar consumption.
I recently spent a cold, cloudy sunday learning about these conditions and how we can help reverse and prevent them from becoming an epidemic. A fantastic seminar held in Sydney by well known naturopath Angela Hywood, respected Professor Kerry Bone (founder of mediherb herbal medicinal company), and experienced Perth clinician Chevonne Clasen.
What makes sugar so deadly?
So here is what I learnt (WARNING this may shock you)
There are 3 recurring themes that are related to these lifestyle conditions:
- Obesity (this means your BMI is over 30, a waist measurement of over 88cm for women, and 102cm in men).
- Limited exercise (less than 150 minutes per week).
- A diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and trans fats.
Part 1- PCOS
So what does it mean for someone to be infertile? Medically it means that a couple have been trying to conceive monthly, at ovulation, for 12 months without the egg being fertilised. One of the primary causes for infertility in western populations (such as Australia) is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (also known as PCOS).
How does PCOS present?
- Erratic or no period
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
- Elevated fasting glucose and or insulin levels
- Abdominal obesity
- Hormonal irregularities (increased LH to FSH ratio)
- Elevated oestrogen
- Decreased libido
- High androgens resulting in dark hair on the face, nipples, and/or the upper thigh
- Acne along the jaw line
You don’t need to have all of these symptoms to be considered to have PCOS. As little as three of them can classify you as someone with the condition. Let me clear the air in saying, just because you have PCOS doesn’t mean you are infertile. It means you are more likely to have hormonal irregularities making it more difficult for natural conception.
How does insulin resistance effect this condition?
High levels of insulin (a hormone we all produce) stimulate the follicles in the ovaries to produce androgens. These androgens inhibit FSH (a hormone needed for healthy female sexual organ function) which stop the follicles from maturing into healthy eggs- ready to be fertilised.
Elevated insulin also causes fat cells to convert testosterone into oestrogen. So not only do women have to deal with their testosterone turning into oestrogen for fat storage, but they have excessive amounts of oestrogen (in some cases), also causing them to retain fat. Hence the mid abdominal obesity. It is a vicious cycle, however it can be broken with good nutritional therapy, dietary changes, and prescription herbal medicines.
Women with PCOS are predisposed to infertility. There can be genetic factors, dietary factors, and sometimes environmental factors which contribute to the condition. Diet and exercise are two ways in which the condition can be managed. It’s amazing the two things people find so challenging to change can be the least expensive and most effective medicine. This is something I see often in my clinic. Almost 1 in 4 young women I see between the ages of 21-40 show signs and symptoms of PCOS. After further investigations they are all sufferers of Insulin resistance.
Interestingly men who have mothers with PCOS are at high risk of having metabolic syndrome (which I will discuss next). It is suggested that the genome research for PCOS shows these men are 70% more likely to inherit metabolic syndrome. Keeping their BMI under 25 and their waist measurement under 90cm reduces their risks significantly. And the best way to do this:
- Diet consisting of whole foods, good fats, low carbohydrates and sugars, plenty of leafy green vegetables.
- Exercising 150 minutes per week. With a combination of resistance and cardio combined.
In summary poly cystic ovarian syndrome is considered to be one of the main contributing factors to infertility, but it can be treated with out drugs. Exercise, diet, nutritional and herbal medicine can assist in the management of this condition.
For more information, or if you would like to look into this further for yourself contact me via Facebook, website, phone, or email and we can make an appointment to get you back on track!
See my post on Sugar – The deadliest Drug (Part 2) here: