What Does Candy Have To Do With My Facial Hair?

Public_domain_candy_buffet_pictureQuestion of the Day“Well cool! Then I have a couple if questions: 1, what are some foods that can help reduce insulin resistance? And 2, what is up with male hormones in females, and how can we help keep them balanced?”

Thanks for the questions!  Let’s see what I can knock out!  Question one is answered specifically at the end of this post; scroll down now if you want that answer.  To answer question two properly would require writing a book.  I’m going to use these questions as an opportunity to talk about something that gets brushed under the rug:  our dependence on excessive amounts of carbohydrates.  Endure as I bring these two questions together with carbohydrate dependence–and answer the question for females:  What Does Candy Have to Do With My Facial Hair?

Nothing on my site is intended for medical advice and treatment.  You’d be crazy to trust an internet person you’ve never met, including me, but you’re not crazy when you find something interesting and you read on all aspects of it.  Hopefully my posts pique your curiosity to learn and read more and more and more.

On hormones:  All females should have some male hormones, like testosterone.  All males should have some female hormones, like estrogen.  But too much of a good, normal thing can go bad.  Too much testosterone and women get facial hair and other problems.  Today, diet, plastics, pesticides and other chemical exposures, chronic light exposure, and busy lifestyles contribute to alteration of the natural balance of male and female hormones.  It is virtually inescapable.  The best one can do is to try to modify and minimize the best that they can.  The ways that I have personally addressed this issue (because yes, I have been evaluated by my own doctors for symptoms related to altered hormones) are minimizing any plastic food and beverage container use; eating organic for those things on the dirty dozen list; trying to eliminate computer use after 9 pm and dimming lights in the evening; learning to change my perception of stress and life; eliminating processed foods from my diet and observing my intake of starchy carbohydrates.

Here’s where I want to hone in:  How do carbohydrates tie together insulin resistance and male hormones in females?  Let’s investigate, hopefully in a step-wise fashion.

Carbohydrates increase the production of insulin.  Why?

Nearly all carbohydrates are broken down in the gut to make glucose.  (Fat and protein are not broken down to glucose; they are broken down to other important things.)  Whether it’s a fettuccini noodle or a sweet potato fry, it’s broken down to make glucose.  Glucose is what the cells of your body use to make energy and operate—glucose to cells is like gasoline is to a car.  But glucose just streaming around in your blood and blood vessels does no good.  The glucose has to get inside of your cells somehow, and this is insulin’s job.  Insulin drives the glucose into the inside of cells so they can have energy to keep doing their job.  Good so far?

Insulin Doesn’t Just Handle Blood Sugars, It Also Stimulates The Ovaries To Make Male Hormones

In some people, cells become less responsive to insulin’s role in glucose regulation.  They can still respond to insulin, but it takes more and more to get the same amount of glucose to move into the cell.  This is called insulin-resistance.  Insulin, although a very good thing, can be a detrimental thing too.  Insulin affects the secretion of hormones by other parts of the body, such as the ovaries and also fat stores.  In insulin resistance, the high insulin level needed to keep glucose normal overstimulates other parts of the body.   The ovaries response to insulin is to make more male hormones, like testosterone.  Still tracking?

How can we improve insulin resistance?

If we can lower insulin some, then we should be able to diminish the effect of insulin causing the ovaries to crank out more testosterone. Bar none, bar none, bar none, the most important change any person can make to help restore insulin balance is dietary—not a prescription like Metformin.  Lowering the load of carbohydrates on a body with insulin resistance will lower the amount of insulin circulating and potentially help the body “rediscover” its hormonal balance by lowering the workload which stimulates insulin.  Does this make sense?

A typical American eats cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner.  That, although a normal diet for today, is a carb-frenzy.  Throw a cup of juice or sugared soda pop in there with a snack of crackers or a cookie, and we’re looking at insulin at work full force all day long—banging on the cells, the fats, and the ovaries.  I am going to lay it flat.  If you don’t eat carbohydrates, you’re not likely to be bothered by insulin resistance.  So the “foods” that help most with insulin resistance are the foods you don’t eat: carbohydrates.  There is no Band-Aid food—no food that can be added in–that will help counter insulin resistance with a diet high in carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates?  Do I eat them?

White sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, candy, candy bars, potato, potato chips, Sun Chips, French fries, sweet potato, bread, toast, bagels, pizza crust, breadsticks, pretzels, crackers, soft flour tortilla shells (wraps), pita bread, pasta, muffins, pancakes, Pop Tarts, breakfast cereal, cookies, cake, fruit, applesauce, pasta, cookies, cake, corn chips, taco shells of flour or corn, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, rice cakes, rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, beans, lentils, refried beans, fruit, juice, ice cream laden with sugar, lattes laden with sugar, gluten-free bread, gluten-free cookies, gluten-free cake, gluten-free pizza crust, fruit snacks, Fruit Roll Ups, soda pop and beverages with sweetener

Read that list again.  Notice that gluten-free and natural do not equate with low carbohydrate.  A useful idea is to write down your carbohydrates each day to see how many and what kinds you are eating.  Just simply take note for awhile.

The Carbohydrate Sweet Spot

Eliminating carbohydrates altogether can be dangerous, and for some people can have dramatic effects on their body’s hormonal system too!  Too low of carbohydrates and the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, and reproductive system can falter.  Geesh.  We’re trying to help and not hinder here!

So what to do?  An important goal is to keep carbohydrates coming in the form of completely whole foods, not processed foods.  Whole food carbohydrates come along with all kinds of fibers we don’t even understand yet, which modulate blood sugars in unique ways.  Also, it is very important to make sure that the body is getting plenty of well-rounded protein and natural fats (butter, olive oil, and coconut oil are a few).  (If you are not up to speed on the new information that is coming out about fats, then this is very important to learn about.  Saturated fats are not bad for you like we were long taught.  Don’t throw your hands up in the air and say, “They change what they say every day!”  No.  Just eat as close to how something was grown or made in nature as you can, and if you eat grains, be careful because they rock a carbohydrate load—not to mention they usually have to have sweetener added to be palatable.)  I’ve noticed that I eat enough, but not as many carbohydrates, when I’m required to fix them myself instead of opening a box or bag.  Fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, and plantains make up the bulk of my family’s carbs right now.  My family doesn’t eat many grains, but when we do, it revolves around grains truly in a whole fashion–not ground up to allow oxidation and rancidity with a little sugar mixed in.

Foods Which Help Improve Glucose Regulation and Insulin Sensitivity

It is very important for a person to explore what carbohydrate sources they rely on and try to optimize their choices and intake.  For most of us, cutting down on carbohydrates will cut down on our need for insulin, and this is probably an appropriate first step.  Many foods have been studied for their role in helping insulin resistance.  It is about to the point where you roll your eyes with the new research.  But it is worthwhile to add these foods in as part of a well-rounded attack on insulin resistance and glucose metabolism—as long as a person accepts that just adding these foods in to an otherwise carbohydrate heavy diet may backfire.

  • Cinnamon
  • Blueberries
  • Vinegar
  • “Resistant starch”:  Resistant starch is found in carbohydrate-rich foods, but it can’t be broken down by us into glucose.  Bacteria in our colons break it down to make beneficial chemicals which WE absorb and use.  There are different forms or resistant starch, but incorporating foods like green bananas, cold potatoes (as in potato salad), cold rice (as in a rice salad), green plantains, lentils, and beans will increase resistant starch.  Resistant starch is also present in whole grains, but again, a person must be careful.  Eating whole grains with added sugar probably just gets you back where you started from.
  • “Beta-glucans”:  Beta-glucans are a special kind of “fiber” found in mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, oats, barley, and seaweed (I love nori and dulse).
  • Caffeine:  Stick with natural, whole food sources like coffee and green tea.
  • Nuts:  Particularly pistachios (2 ounces)
  • Garlic and onions
  • Olive oil
  • Fish

That’s enough for today!  Have a great weekend!

Terri

Sources:
Davis, P. and Yokoyama, W. (2011, September). Cinnamon Intake Lowers Fasting Blood Glucose: Meta-Analysis. Journal of Medicinal Food, 14(9): 884-889. Retrieved June 20, 2014 from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2010.0180
Stull, A. et al. (2010, October). Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. Journal of Nutrition. 140(10): 1764-1768. Retrieved June 22, 2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139238/
Johnston, C. et al. (2004, January). Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects with Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(1): 281-282. Retrieved June 22, 2014 from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.full
Bodinham, C et al.  Efficacy of increased resistant starch consumption in human type 2 diabetes.  Endocr Connect 2014 vol. 3 no. 2 75-84.
http://www.endocrineconnections.com/content/3/2/75.full
Chen, J and Raymond, K.  Beta-glucans in the treatment of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risks.  Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008 Dec; 4(6): 1265–1272.  PMCID: PMC2663451.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663451/
http://www.diabetes.org/research-and-practice/patient-access-to-research/ah-nuts-pistachios-may.html
Sher, A. et al. (2012). Effect of Garlic Extract on Blood Glucose Level and Lipid Profile in Normal and Alloxan Diabetic Rabbits. Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine. 21(6): 705-711. Retrieved June 22, 2014 from http://www.advances.am.wroc.pl/pdf/2012/21/6/705.pdf
 Saidpour A, et al.  Fish oil and olive oil can modify insulin resistance and plasma desacyl-ghrelin in rats.  Res Med Sci. 2011 Jul;16(7):862-71.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22279452

17 thoughts on “What Does Candy Have To Do With My Facial Hair?

  1. FitMomPam

    Great post! Two reasons why this made me smile:
    1. the title…I actually lol’d.
    2. “You’d be crazy to trust an internet person you’ve never met, including me” this made me giggle a bit too.

    sharing!

    Reply
  2. Jhanis

    So I haven’t been doing everything you post in here but I want you to know that I have been relaying whatever I can remember from your posts to the moms at my kids’ school. I usually listen to them talk about diet first and then I usually butt in with “You know I have a friend, she’s a doctor…” 😀

    Reply
  3. Libby at ditchthecarbs.com

    Love the title and love the post. So many are unaware how hormones are affected by sugar, chemicals, soy, plastics etc. And it makes me cringe every time I dispense metformin when what I really want to do is give them a lesson in nutrition. 🙂

    Reply
  4. rachelmeeks

    Awesome awesome awesome, and so easy to understand! When I hear “carbs” I think grains – easy to forget they’re in sugar too! Now just gotta figure out how to implement all this. 🙂

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yay! Glad you saw it. My “a-ha” doctor moment was when I realized that insulin won’t be so “wonky” if it’s not called on so much. Drop carbs—-> insulin can do its job. Load on carbs——> insulin and the cells “get confused,” “overshoot,” and just overall malfunction. Carbohydrate excess for 20-30 years (or even ten years–look at some of our poor adolescent children), especially devoid of valuable nutrients as in whole veggies and fruits and too much pizza/pasta/chips/candy, and the body’s carbohydrate/insulin/hormone pathways are shot.

      Good luck! I think PCOS may not be “curable,” but I think it’s definitely “improvable” by moderating things that we know mess with hormones. We doctors tend to focus on BIG things and then forget how much of a cumulative effect environmental factors like plastics, cans lined with BPA, pesticides, processed foods/excess carbs, long hours of light messing with the pineal gland, chronic daily stress, etc actually have on our hormonal pathways!

      Have a good week! ~~Terri

      Reply
  5. myjourneythrume

    Super post! So informative and easy to read – suitable for my slightly tired very anti science brain! The gluten free pizza crust argument is something that frustrates me constantly. Gluten free doses not mean healthy! Gluten free white flour is just as unhealthy as normal white flour! And yet people embark on gluten free not because they’re gluten intolerant or celiac but because they think they’re better for them/ lower in fat/ healthier carbs which of course you and I know is not true! Misguided marketing I think. Anyway rant over, great post 😄

    Reply
  6. Nicole

    Thank you for connecting the dots for me regarding my thyroid. I have suspected that I’ve gone too low carb and it’s time to increase the veggies for that ‘sweet spot’.

    Nicole

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      You’re welcome. I think finding the carb “sweet spot” is important! And, personally, I think it probably ebbs and flows for us. But I’m still pondering that. I hope whatever symptoms are making you think that about your carbs and thyroid resolve soon for you!

      Terri

      Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Well, haha, I didn’t know it was a craze! But now that you mention it, I am seeing it on some food logs! And I, myself, stumbled on some flavored vinegars last summer which make our sparkling mineral water taste just like soda pop for the kids! All that aside, I can definitely see some benefits in many diverse ways. I am reviewing some GI physiology with regard to the ileocecal valve/SIBO/food intolerances/etc. Stomach pH has a huge feed forward effect on the whole GI tract, and if our stomach pH is too basic from not enough stomach acid due to our eating habits/lifestyle stressors/medicines, then perhaps the vinegar helps “refresh” that process again by acidifying the stomach pH–which then will have positive effects on bile secretion/pancreatic enzyme secretion/ICV function/etc. Dunno. Just my thought. As I read more, may change my thoughts. 🙂 Warmest thoughts your way! ~~Terri

      Reply

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