How Sugar and Alcohol Mess With Your Hormones

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Twice a month, Yahoo Health’s Hormone Whisperer Alisa Vitti, HHC, is answering the most common questions about hormones and how they relate to weight, sex, acne, bad moods, low energy, and everything in between. Read her introductory column to learn more about Alisa’s approach to stopping hormonal chaos and getting into hormonal flow.

THE QUESTION: Can sugar and alcohol affect how I feel when I’m on my period? 

ALISA’S ANSWER: There’s no getting around it — sugar in the form of refined carbs or alcohol leads to vitamin deficiency, suppresses your adrenals, disrupts your blood sugar levels, and exacerbates estrogen-dominant hormonal issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, and endometriosis.

But I’m not here to make you feel bad for having a glass of wine! Really!

What I want is for you to have your period be easy, instead of getting a visit from the period monster or spending a week in cramptown because of too many cocktails, chips, and cookies! Fortunately, I’ve devised a “sugar rehab protocol” — and it only takes one day.

In the spirit of body awareness and self observation, I’m going to fill you in on how alcohol impacts your hormones, and then provide you with some useful survival strategies for cutting back and balancing out its effects on your body.

The FLO Science: How alcohol and sugar impact your hormones

Women process alcohol at a much, much slower rate than men. This means the physical impact of alcohol is much stronger for women.

When you drink alcohol, your liver has to use your store of antioxidants to break the alcohol down. Alcohol also causes you to lose hormone-balancing magnesium and B vitamins, and it also raises your estrogen levels (worsening symptoms of PCOS, fibroids, and endometriosis, as well as any other estrogen-dominant hormonal health issue).

Related: How to Stop Alcohol From Messing With Hormones

Sugar and refined carbs disrupt your blood sugar function by spiking insulin and desensitizing you to your appetite-controlling hormones ghrelin and leptin. Often, we will find ourselves making unhealthy food choices when we drink (not to mention the day after), which further exacerbates the problem. We tend to eat more of these foods when we’re experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Related: PMS Cravings Demystified

Sugar also disrupts ovulation and can make your cycles irregular. Sugar and refined carbs create inflammation in the gut and disrupt the microbiota, making you a poor absorber of vitamins and minerals. All of this makes keeping a healthy weight impossible.

Related: Gluten — Is This a Problem for You?

The FLO Fix: One-Day Hormone Sugar Rehab Plan

Try out the following meal plan for just one day to help reduce inflammation, restore lost micronutrients, and restore balance to your microbiome. (Note: During this day, avoid caffeine.)

First thing in the morning:

  • Take a B vitamin complex and have a glass of warm water with lemon.

  • Have a 16-ounce glass of my favorite liver support juice. To make it: Combine a handful of spinach, one carrot, four stalks of celery, half a cucumber, half a bunch of cilantro, one-third a bunch of parsley, half a lemon with rind, and half a green apple in a blender or juicer.

  • Have a breakfast of two poached eggs, half a cup of quinoa, half an avocado, and two tablespoons of sauerkraut.

In the middle of the day:

  • Eat a big lunch of brown rice, miso-glazed salmon, and kale or bok choy in soy sauce.

  • Drink coconut water to replenish your electrolytes and take a magnesium/calcium supplement.

  • Take a short walk outside to get vitamin D from the sun!

In the evening:

  • Drink bone broth or have chicken soup.

  • Do yoga twists.

  • Get to bed early!

DON’T try to do a long juice fast, will end up just messing with your blood sugar even more! 

Related: How I Beat Sugar Cravings With Dessert

Good things come in threes: I want to hear from you in the comments!

First, tell me what you’re going to try from my prescription above, and why.

Second, what are your top health questions for me, your trusty Hormone Whisperer? Your question could be featured in my column!

Third, everyone you know is hormonal: Spread a little good ovary karma and share this article with your friends on social media, and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Need more Hormone Help? If you’re ready to get to the root of your issues, it’s time you started dealing with your hormones. Get out of symptom chaos so you can get back into hormonal FLO. Sign up here for a free download of my 4-Day Hormone Detox from my book WomanCode.


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ABOUT ALISA: Alisa Vitti, HHC, is an integrative nutritionist, best-selling author of WomanCode, creator of the WomanCode System, and the founder of FLOLiving.com, a virtual health center that supports women’s hormonal and reproductive health. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Alisa has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, has a web series on Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for CBS, Fox, Shape, Women’s Health, MindBodyGreen, and the Huffington Post. She’s also presented at TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, Hay House, WIE Symposium, and SHE Summit.