We’ve accepted that what you put into your mouth will eventually come to affect your waistline.
But we don’t often think about what it could be doing beneath it.
The hormones in your body are all interconnected, working in harmony and interdependently to regulate every single process and function that takes place in there. The status of your insulin hormone, which is regulated by blood sugar levels and diet, is deeply intertwined with an entire network of other hormones, including your sex hormones.
That’s why one of the biggest triggers of unbalanced sex hormones and a deflated libido is sugar, in all its forms (this also includes other refined and processed foods that quickly break down into sugar once inside your body, like high-glycemic carbohydrates, white flour, white rice, etc.).
Eating too much sugar really gums up the works in your body, causing your appetite control, your waist line, your energy levels and your sex life to all take a serious nose dive. Here’s why.
1. Sugar lowers testosterone.
Testosterone, a hormone responsible for several functions, including sexual well-being, isn’t just a guy’s hormone. Women have it to, and studies have shown that imbalances in testosterone can cause members of both sexes to experience reduced sexual desire, increased body fat, lower muscle mass and fuzzy memory.
A study published in Clinical Endocrinology found that male subjects who were given sugar experienced a significant drop in their total and free testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels in men leads to decreased muscle mass and increased belly fat. More body fat can increase levels of the hormone estrogen, which can lead to men experiencing lower sex drives and more difficulty getting erections.
2. Sugar causes leptin resistance.
Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to stop eating. However, when you eat a lot of sugar, refined flour products or processed foods, your brain stops responding to leptin, even though it continues to be released into the body. So you feel like you can keep eating and eating, unaware that you’re already full. This is called leptin resistance.
In turn, leptin levels affect sex hormones and sexual libido. A study in Clinical Endocrinology found that people with higher leptin levels also had significantly higher percentages of body fat, lower levels of testosterone and lower sex drive.
3. Sugar reduces growth hormone.
Growth hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland, improves muscle mass, helps your body burn fat for energy, and helps to strengthen libido.
Researchers have found that increased insulin levels reduce your body’s ability to make growth hormone, which reduces muscle mass, increases abdominal fat, alters testosterone levels and minces sex drive.
4. Sugar lowers your energy levels.
When you eat sugary or processed foods, it causes your blood sugar levels to rise, causing insulin to rush in to pull your blood sugar levels back down. The problem is that an insulin rush that’s triggered by a lot of sugar in a meal tends to pull blood sugar levels very low in the opposite direction, stimulating hunger, cravings, brain fog and intense energy crashes.
On top of that, excessive sugar was found to decrease levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates eating behaviours, wakefulness and alertness.
The combination of spiked insulin levels and low orexin levels causes fatigue, drowsiness, low mood and deflated libido.
5. Sugar causes stress, anxiety and mood swings.
Research has shown that rapidly spiking and diving blood sugar levels lead to hunger, cravings, fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, anxiety and depression.
High insulin levels have also been shown to aggravate high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. When a person chronically experiences high insulin levels with high cortisol levels, the two hormones team up and start to break down muscle, increase fat storage, and dowse sex drive.
It’s important to recognize that food is actually information, that instructs your hormones, your metabolism and your genes about what to do. This is why the essential process of rebalancing your hormones most often starts with what you put in to your mouth.
Staying away from high sugar, refined, processed foods and choosing whole, natural, low-glycemic foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and high quality proteins instead, is the first step to feeling better about yourself, both between the sheets and beyond.