The Harmful Impact Of Sugar On The Female Body

It’s that time of year — we’re eating more sugar than ever and having fun. It’s tradition. But repeatedly giving in to junk food cravings can lead to serious issues.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner3 min read

Both my mother and her mother developed diabetes mid-life, and both developed serious hormonal issues, as well as bladder problems. 

Oftentimes we’re told that these are genetic issues, but, in hoping to break the cycle, I found plenty of research that points otherwise. Women who consume high amounts of processed sugar suffer from stronger period pains, heavier flows, and long-term side-effects that directly cause the female body agony. 

Women who consume high amounts of processed sugar suffer from stronger period pains, heavier flows, and long-term side-effects.

Learning this gives me hope. I wish to lead a healthier life and encourage all women to do so as well, which leads to the question: How can we find balance?

The Side-Effects of Eating Processed Sugar

Understanding the issues is a main ingredient. Processed sugar is an inflammatory. It makes the body swell, which heightens aches and pains. Processed sugars are also linked to increased risks for hormonal imbalance. When the body is young, the system is more equipped to bounce back from these highs and lows, but as women age, it takes a major toll.

Insulin imbalances are caused by over-consumption of processed sugar. These lead to health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can cause weight issues, irregular periods, fertility problems, and depression.

Even if POCS doesn’t develop, other hormonal imbalances are known to develop in women who consume processed sugar regularly. These imbalances create sleep disorders, fatigue, concentration issues, irritability, moodiness, and depression.

Processed sugar throws the female body into disarray.

These specific issues are more likely to develop later in life, but large amounts of added sugars have now been proven to cause premature puberty in girls. Basically, processed sugar throws the female body into disarray. It pushes through hormonal imbalances that overdevelop young, immature bodies, and then after years of chemical issues, the system revolts.

Limiting Your Sugar Intake Will Be a Life-Long Struggle

Accepting that there’s a threshold for sugar consumption allows us to be more conscious of the fact that what we eat today creates the blueprints for our health later in life. Even menopause symptoms are worsened by processed sugar. What could be manageable symptoms become unbearable hot flashes and emotional repercussions due to changing progesterone levels. As these hormones shift, so does blood sugar.

It raises the question, can a woman in menopause consume the same amount of processed sugar as a woman at the height of her reproductive cycle? 

What we eat today creates the blueprints for our health later in life.

Unfortunately the risk of diabetes increases during menopause, as does the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There have been many new developments linking Alzheimer’s disease to over-consumption of processed sugars, to the point that many scientists have rebranded it as Type 3 Diabetes. My mother is terrified of this information because her grandmother suffered from a severe case of Alzheimer’s. Knowing that processed sugar is linked to it is invaluable to her and countless other women who suffer from hormonal imbalances and extreme symptoms. 

What Are the Alternatives?

There are ways to balance a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy an occasional treat. Fruits and vegetables better regulate the body. The sugar in fruit is offset by the high fiber content and digests more easily. Snacks like unsweetened applesauce and trail mix with dried fruits are my favorite, as they fulfill cravings much better and offer more nutrition so I’m not hungry as often.    

When enjoying a party, or celebrating birthdays, naked cakes have become increasingly popular. They are lightly iced, or not iced at all, and enhanced with fruit toppings to provide a colorful array of nutrients that offset the sugars baked into the cake. Once you start reducing sugar intake, heavy frostings and icing-coated sweets are off-putting. I have preferred naked cakes for years. 

A woman doesn’t have to take on crash diets and swear off all sweets to stay healthy.

Women don’t have to take on crash diets and swear off all sweets to stay healthy, they just need to set limits. In my experience, realistic goals are always more successful than extreme changes.

Balanced Health  

Cutting down on processed sugar reduces the risk of other health issues, including bladder problems that plague many women during menopause. The bladder can only handle so much sugar and overloading it may lead to embarrassing situations.

If it is possible to completely cut processed sugar from your diet, the effects are immediate — within days the body will offer rewards. But we’re all human, and not everyone can quit cold turkey. Just like quitting smoking or detoxing from drug use, quitting processed sugar is difficult. This is mainly because processed sugar is highly addictive, potentially as much as, if not more so than, heroin. 

Processed sugar is highly addictive, as much as, if not more so than, heroin.

No one should ever feel bad for the amount of sugar in their diets. It’s hard to avoid in a society where sugar (often in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is a common additive.

How Did We Start Eating So Much Sugar?

When the health industry started a push against fats back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the food industry had to add something to offset the removal of fats in processed products. Guess what they started adding to make their foods “healthier”? Sugar.

Added sugars went up and so did the average American’s weight. Obesity became an epidemic in part because of a health trend that took hold too fast. Before enough research could be compiled to determine that fat doesn’t really make you fat, people tried to get healthy by cutting it out, and in turn, harmed themselves unknowingly. Now we know the truth.

Closing Thoughts

Quitting or cutting down on an addictive chemical like sugar is a struggle, but so are diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, obesity, extreme menopause symptoms, heavy periods, excessive cramping, cysts in the ovaries, and hormone imbalances. We all owe it to ourselves to step away from stereotypes and reach for an apple (instead of chocolate) more often.