Menopause Tiredness: Hormones and Blood Sugar

Expert's Name: Susan Joyce Proctor

The Estrogen/Insulin Connection

In this article, I am going to share with you one of the most important things that I have ever learned about the relationship between nutrition and hormone balance. And I am really thrilled to make this information available, because despite its importance, very few people (even practitioners) seem to know about it.

Here it is: estrogen and insulin have a synergistic relationship, so it's virtually impossible for a woman to balance her hormones if her blood sugar is not also balanced. But when she does balance her blood sugar, then her other hormones often become balanced on their own.

Balancing Your Blood Sugar

I have been counseling woman about nutrition, weight management and women's health for many years, but learning about the estrogen/insulin connection a few years ago was in many ways the missing piece of the puzzle. If you are at all familiar with my Gourmet Wellness program, you already know that I offer a very personalized nutrition and lifestyle approach that is largely based on Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo's "blood type diet." It was in Dr. D'Adamo's book about menopause that I learned about this critical relationship.

What does this mean for you? Let's start with a very quick explanation about insulin and blood sugar. Insulin is an important hormone that is released by the pancreas, and its job is to make the energy from sugar in your blood available to your cells in the form of glucose. The balancing act is a very delicate one, and many factors can interfere with it.

In fact, eating too much of the wrong processed foods can tax the pancreas so much that it stops producing insulin properly, and this is a serious disease called diabetes.

There are three key things you can do to help balance your blood sugar:

Eat?

While this may seem obvious, my work with women over the past twenty years has taught me that many women have a deeply-ingrained adversarial relationship with food. This often shows up as either overweight or underweight, but even women of normal weight can have a concern (if not an obsession) with their weight, and habitually skip meals, snack on now-quality food, or just under eat. Or many women are so busy taking care of others that they just don't stop to feed themselves.

I myself lived that way for many years, so I understand the conditioning all too well. But I am grateful that I was able to transform my relationship with food and became free to make healthier choices. Although it may seem paradoxical, my weight didn't stabilize until I developed a joyful relationship with food and learned how to really eat.

So eating regular meals of real food is a very important foundation for blood sugar and hormone balance.

Pay Attention to the "Glycemic Index"

Without getting too technical here, just know that processed, simple carbohydrate foods have a high glycemic index (GI), and these cause your blood sugar to spike, which tells the pancreas to produce lots of insulin, which then causes your blood sugar to sharply drop. Not only does this feel lousy, but all that insulin interferes with your estrogen production and also contributes to weight gain.

In fact, many "low fat" food and snacks that women eat because they think those are "healthy" may in fact be causing their blood sugar and insulin to jump around, having quite the opposite of a healthy effect.

On the other hand, foods with a low GI (in general, foods containing protein and healthy fats) promote a much slower, more stable release of blood sugar and insulin. These are actually much better choices for both hormone balance and weight management.

Finally, Avoid the Lectin Foods for Your Blood Type

This last key is very powerful. I have both experienced and witnessed its power for balancing hormones and addressing all types of women's health issues, as well as improving many other conditions.

As I learned from Dr. D'Adamo, there are problem proteins in some foods called lectins, and these have harmful effects on the body. Lectins cause things to stick together, and they literally make the blood more sticky, increasing the risks for stroke and other health concerns. They also contribute to inflammation, impair immunity, promote weight gain, and mimic insulin.

For each blood type, there are a handful of foods that contain these harmful lectins. In my experience, when people stop eating the foods with lectins for their blood types, everything tends to improve. And specifically, not only do women tend to lose bloat and body fat, but their hormone balance dramatically improves.

Here are the foods that contain lectins for each of the blood types:

• O: wheat, corn, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, peanuts, potatoes

• A: kidney beans, lima beans, potatoes, cabbage, eggplant, bananas, tomatoes

• B: chicken, corn, buckwheat, lentils, peanuts, sesame seeds, tomatoes, tofu

• AB: chicken, certain white fish, corn, buckwheat, lima beans, kidney beans

As I have shared many times about my own experience, I spent most of my adult life in "hormone hell," with irregular periods, chronic PMS, and other common female complaints. But after cutting out my lectin foods in my mid-forties, and following the other recommendations that I've made in this article, I suddenly had a regular cycle with no menstrual symptoms. Even better, I was fortunate to have a really easy menopause with almost no symptoms or other physical changes.

So I hope you will explore the steps I've suggested here for balancing your blood sugar. You may be amazed at the improvements.

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