High sugar diets affect men and women differently

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Did you know that Australian men are far more likely to be overweight and diabetic than women? This is according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It appears that a high sugar intake may be more harmful for men’s health than women’s.

Currently approximately 70 percent of Australian men are overweight or obese, versus 59 percent of women. By the time they reach age 55, men are far more likely to have type 2 diabetes than women. This is probably because central obesity is a big risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and that’s where most men carry excess weight. Women who carry excess fat on their thighs and buttocks don’t have the same increased diabetic risk. Type 2 diabetes tends to occur with fatty liver, clogged arteries, and a higher incidence of heart attacks and strokes. Having type 2 diabetes usually significantly shortens lifespan.

Sugar is well known to adversely affect mood. High sugar diets are associated with depression and anxiety. It’s more likely to be the case in men. A recent study found that a diet high in sugar makes men more likely to experience depression. Researchers examined 5000 men and 2000 women, and found that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to experience mental illness over a five year period. This effect was not seen in women. Stereotypically women are said to prefer chocolate, biscuits and other confectionary, whereas men crave salty foods. Many salty foods like potato chips, corn chips, pretzels and pizza are full of carbohydrate which quickly gets digested into sugar. It doesn’t really matter whether you prefer your carbs sweet or salty, they’ll end up as sugar in your bloodstream.

Did you know the biggest sugar consumers in Australia are teenage boys? The World Health Organisation suggests everyone consumes a maximum of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. Australian teenage boys on average consume a massive 92 grams. That’s around 18 teaspoons of sugar each day. It’s actually not difficult to do if consuming soft drinks and energy drinks, which is where the bulk of their sugar comes from. Sugary drinks offer no satiety, so it’s easy to just keep drinking them. High carbohydrate diets suppress testosterone production in men, and we see many male patients in their 30s with below normal testosterone. Apart from low libido, this can cause symptoms like depression, fatigue and low motivation.

A high sugar diet won’t only shorten your lifespan. It can reduce your quality of life here and now by adversely affecting your mood and hormones. These are my tips for getting rid of sugar:

  • If you feel you are addicted to sugar, you may experience some detox symptoms when removing it from your diet. Magnesium helps to calm the nervous system and can help improve sleep quality. BactoClear capsules contain the essential oils of clove, oregano and thyme. They help with abdominal bloating, which is a common side effect of eating sugar.
  • Your liver is a vitally important organ, responsible for multiple functions, such as the breakdown of hormones, filtration and detoxification of harmful toxins from the blood stream, regulation of blood sugar, protein and fat metabolism and the storage of essential vitamins and minerals. It is imperative that you take care of your liver, so it can take care of you! Drink plenty of water, eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates and alcohol you consume. There are specific diet guidelines in the book Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It.
  • Try to mostly eat home cooked meals. The meals should be comprised of adequate protein and healthy fats. These are what help to keep you feeling satiated. It is important to make the time to eat and enjoy 3 meals a day. Nibbling all day or skipping meals is not the route to optimal health. You will probably end up eating too much in the end, and feel overly full by the evening. You might need to add a little more fat than usual to your meals, as healthy fats are wonderful for reducing sugar cravings. Examples of healthy fats to include in your diet are olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, oily fish, ghee, nuts and seeds and the fat from grass fed meat.
  • Most of us know what we should and shouldn’t be eating in order to improve our health. The problem is, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits that are very difficult to break. Doing a 15-Day Cleanse is an excellent springboard for getting on track with improving your health. Starting is always the hardest part. 15 days is not a long commitment, but it is long enough to start experiencing improved energy, weight loss and better sleep. Feeling good is a great motivator for continuing with healthy habits.
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