Day: November 16, 2021

How sugar really impacts your hormones as you age

Beautiful Afro American woman eating vegetable salad at home

Does sugar impact your hormones in midlife? The short answer? Yes. There is a direct relationship between blood sugar regulation and hormonal health. Different types of sugar and carbohydrates send different messages to your body. These messages can cause dysregulation of your hormonal balance and menstrual cycles, especially through midlife. So it’s important to understand the dysregulation to be able to then address exactly how much sugar messes with your hormones as you age.

Is sugar really that bad for hormones?

Sugar in and of itself is not bad, especially when it comes packaged inside of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, when it is consumed as high fructose, as simple sugars or in highly processed states it is a significant driver of insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction. Think processed sweets, baked goods, desserts, and white table sugar.

When we consume high sugar carbohydrates, they convert readily into glucose, which is then released into our bloodstream. Our body identifies that our blood sugar levels have increased and releases some insulin to help move the sugar from the blood and into the tissues. This process works amazingly well until we force the body to do it many times every single day. Thank you modern diet high in sugar and processed food!

All cells in the body have super-sensitive glucose and insulin receptors. In turn, insulin is super sensitive to diet. Insulin resistance occurs when there is so much glucose in the blood that our cells can no longer absorb it. Over time our liver, muscles, and fat cells that store glucose become resistant and don’t respond appropriately to insulin’s signals to take up the excess glucose. It is left in the blood, and insulin resistance is the result.

At worst, insulin resistance can lead to the development of prediabetes and eventually Type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and many other health concerns.

Sugar and women’s hormonal health

Women’s hormonal health is also directly affected by insulin resistance. When the body is struggling with a high sugar load, it can produce more of certain hormones, and less of others. In women, this can lead to vicious cycles of excess or deficiencies in oestrogen and progesterone, which can drive things like abdominal weight gain, visceral fat deposition, the development of polycystic ovarian syndrome, heavy, clotty or painful periods, systemic inflammation, and more.

Luckily, there is a proven way to combat insulin resistance: consume a small number of complex carbohydrates within a balanced diet, along with supportive specific herbs and nutrients. A low inflammatory calorie-controlled diet with low consumption of carbohydrates (mostly in the form of complex carbohydrates) provides sugar to the body in an easy to digest, slowly-released way that does not contribute to insulin resistance.

Complex carbohydrates are packaged up with a heavy dose of nutrients and fibre, which actually helps to balance your gut health and hormonal health. When you consume these types of carbohydrates, you are sending a message to your body that the world is a safe place to be.

The Mediterranean diet is a great guideline to follow as it is more of a healthy lifestyle than a ‘diet’ as we have come to understand diets.

Best (and worst) foods for healthy hormones

You can find complex carbs in the following types of food:

  • Legumes, chickpeas, black beans, etc
  • Pulses, lentils of all types
  • Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes
  • Berries, green apples
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, rolled oats

In contrast, simple carbohydrates provide mostly sugar/glucose and no or low fibre content and cause significant spikes in blood sugar levels, promoting insulin resistance and the mood disturbances associated with these steep sugar spikes and crashes. They are best in small amounts for special occasions.

The following foods are examples of simple carbohydrates:

  • Table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • High fructose fruits
  • Fruit juice
  • White bread, pasta and rice
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Sweets and desserts
  • Soft drinks, alcohol drinks and cordial

As women, we need small amounts of these nourishing complex carbohydrates in our diets to maintain hormonal balance; they’re an essential energy source for our cells. They help to prevent us from experiencing high stress and contain soluble fibre that helps our digestive system to effectively metabolise and detoxify estrogen and other hormones.

Having complex carbs in our diet is especially important at the last meal of the day because they calm and soothe the nervous system. Carbs are satiating and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

Here is what a day’s worth of complex carbohydrates could look like:

  • 2 to 3 servings of whole fruit – berries, apples, pears etc
  • 1 serving of root vegetables – roasted veggies, pumpkin or mashed sweet potato
  • 1 serving of leafy greens – such as in a salad or as a steamed/sauteed side
  • 1 serving of wholegrains – 1/3 cup brown rice, brown pasta or quinoa at dinner

Different strokes for different folks

Each woman is different. Some women experience reproductive system and hormonal issues related to endometriosis, poor gut health, perimenopause/menopause transition, menstrual cycle irregularities and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome or dysfunction). These need to be taken into account with personalised nutritional plans and may present alongside issues with blood sugar regulation, weight management, inflammation and insulin resistance.

When it comes to women’s health, it’s vital to take a case-by-case approach, looking at the person as a whole and targeting the cause or source of their issues in relation to one’s health and wellbeing.

What’s the most important message in considering how sugar impacts your hormones as you age? There is no such thing as ‘bad’ carbohydrates. Both types have their place in a happy and healthy life. What would a special occasion be without a special cake or treat to go with it? However, to maintain healthy and balanced hormonal health, keep the overall focus of your carbohydrate intake on healthy complex carbs found primarily in fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

It’s not what you do that really matters, it’s what you do most days.

Top 5 ways to fail in your new business (and how to avoid them)

Mature business colleagues discussing work together in an office

In today’s entrepreneurship model, women who start companies in their fifties are a fast-growing group. By the time we’ve reached 50, if we’ve had kids they’re either fully or at least partially grown. We’ve led full and complex lives. Then we reach a certain age and often discover we have all this pent-up creative energy that we can put toward creating – whether it’s a passion project or the next big thing. It’s our time.

More and more, we are seeing platforms such as Midlife Slices giving much-needed space to these remarkable women who are making their biggest impact yet. I’m passionate about inspiring and helping women overcome some of the unique challenges of being an older woman entrepreneur, and blow others’ expectations of them out of the water in their second act.

It’s understandable, even admirable, how new business owners, drunk on big dreams and dulled by the daily grind, can sometimes be blind to business risk. But starting a business is a lot harder than most people think.

Rarely is a business so in tune with its niche that it can float along with minimal effort. But why do so many new businesses fail? Below is a list of some obvious (and some not so obvious) reasons that startups fail, and how to avoid them.

1. Not doing your homework

Possibly the biggest and most risky mistake you could make is launching headlong into your business without doing any research, testing, or planning. Researching your market, learning about your potential customers’ purchasing behaviours, analysing your competitors, reviewing current trends in your industry and so on are all vitally important. Record it all!

Write a business plan – even a 1-page plan is better than none.

2. Your company culture’s not right

A company culture in which your team is truly committed to the company is the culture that gives you the most chance of success. And that commitment culture starts with you.

You need to foster this inclusive culture every step of the way. Every new person you add to the company either reinforces or risks damaging the culture you’ve worked so hard to foster. So be careful with who you bring into the company.

3. You have the wrong team

Don’t settle! You need everything to be right between yourself and your team if you’re going to succeed. This doesn’t mean you can’t have differences between each other. It does mean that you need to maintain mutual respect despite your differences.

You’re going to want your team members to have integrity, be smart, be passionate, and be a good cultural fit for the company. Not all of these traits will be obvious when you bring on someone new, so make a concerted effort during your recruitment, interview, and on-boarding processes to find someone who meets all your needs. Again, start with cultural fit and go from there.

4. You don’t have a good market strategy

It’s not enough to have a great product. The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are long gone. Having a website is not enough. Having a dedicated sales team is not enough. Having an advertising budget is not enough.

You really need to think about and properly consider how your customers are going to find you, how to ensure they really engage with your brand, buy your products or services, and how to maintain a meaningful relationship with them. And then, you’re going to need to figure out how much it’s going to cost you!

5. You don’t have a solid financial plan

Be honest. How many of you don’t know exactly how much money you are making or losing in your business? I’ve seen the lack of a well thought out financial plan sink a lot of startups, so here are some basics to think about:

  • You should know how much money you are spending every month
  • You should know how much money your product or services costs to produce
  • You should know when your company will hit cash-flow break-even
  • You should know the revenue level at cash-flow break-even

Develop a financial plan today if you haven’t already. It doesn’t have to be complex. There are lots of free templates online, such as this downloadable Cash Flow Forecast template from NAB.

The new business bottom line

It’s often reported that anywhere from three quarters up to a staggering 90% of Australian startups are likely to fail. That’s a very high number, indicating that many things need to go right for your business to succeed. Fortunately, you can be one of the 10% that do succeed by bearing in mind the tips outlined above, starting with your groundwork before jumping in with both feet. Good luck!