Sugar and endometriosis diet: how to beat the addiction
⏰ READING TIME: 3 minutes
Hi, welcome back to the blog!
This time I decided to pull together some information about sugar. It is quite well known that sugar “is bad”, whether one is on a diet or not, in the case of diseases or perfect health. However, I wanted to precisely explain why it would be better to strongly reduce its daily consumption and recommend some strategies to help you doing it.
What is sugar?
Sugar (saccharose) is a molecule consisting of glucose and fructose, which are both harmful for health when consumed in excess.
Careful, though: sugar supposedly provides energy and, thus, one cannot practically live without it. This is absolutely true since the fuel of our body (especially the brain!) cells is glucose, which is therefore essential for our survival. Nonetheless, our organism can produce it starting from the ingested foods, which makes unnecessary and useless the consumption of additional sugar.
Sweeteners are widespread and used in large quantities in modern nutrition. If you’d like to learn more about them and understand their differences in terms of glycaemic index and composition, I strongly recommend the article by Emanuela Caorsi  which is very well written and linked in the bibliography. This is, in summary, what reported by Emanuela: yacon syrup and erythritol seem to be the best sweeteners available (their glycaemic index is zero), while the agave syrup, in contrast with what commonly believed, is definitely not a healthy alternative (steer clear of it!).
As regards all the other natural sweeteners (white sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup and rice syrup), they present some differences, which leads to preferring the less refined ones or those with a lower glycaemic index. However, they are still based on sugars, none of which “is good”; it is pointless to say otherwise.
Can I use artificial sweeteners?
Recent studies have demonstrated that artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, cyclamate, acesulphame potassium and sucralose) can alter the glycaemia levels, glucose tolerance and gut flora (the so-called intestinal microbiota), promoting the growth of bacterial species responsible for obesity and the metabolic syndrome while reducing the population of “good” bacteria. The microbiota apparently plays a key role in the sugar balance and a complex series of endocrine and metabolic processes, influencing the insulin sensitivity level of various organs (liver, muscles and brain) .
Besides, there is evidence also about the potential DNA damages that can be caused by these substances (if regularly consumed in higher doses than the recommended ones), which can therefore be carcinogenic .
On top of that, artificial sweeteners have a curious but alarming characteristic: in the long term, they can induce serious changes in hunger. As if, in response to the sweet taste perception generated without an actual caloric intake, the body asks for more food to “balance” this deficiency. Therefore, especially in the case of weight issues, replacing sugar with zero-calorie sweeteners is not the solution!
Why should I reduce the sugar intake?
Sugar controls a hormone you surely heard about, insulin.
Insulin takes part in the regulation of the blood sugar level, preventing it from being too high (hyperglycaemia) or low (hypoglycaemia).
When the glucose level rises (i.e., every time we eat desserts, pasta, bread or any other high-glycaemic-index food), the pancreas secretes more insulin.
Higher insulin levels are associated with lower levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein produced by the liver that can bind testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estradiol (an estrogen). In general, when the SHBG level is low, the organism has more hormones ready for use.
- If we ingest too many sugars, the insulin level increases.
- If the insulin level is high, the SHBG level decreases, resulting in a higher amount of circulating hormones.
- For the women suffering from endometriosis, this corresponds to a higher estrogen level in the blood. Our objective (through the diet, dietary supplements like Endoplus and by limiting the sugar consumption) should be the achievement of a hormonal balance, avoiding an excess of circulating estrogens.
There is more. Sugar, similarly to alcohol, is also an anti-nutrient, that is, it depletes the organism of precious vitamins and minerals; in particular, it hinders the absorption of calcium, chromium and magnesium, which are necessary for a perfectly functioning hormonal system and energy production . Chromium and magnesium are also essential to balance the glucose level in our body, which means that the lack of these nutrients increases the risk of hypoglycaemia (that, in turn, can lead to diabetes).
Furthermore, sugar impedes the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, actively enhancing the inflammatory nature of endometriosis.
👉 Did you know that Endoplus – a natural dietary supplement for endometriosis – reduces abdominal swelling, inflammation and tiredness? –> Learn more about how it works and the related scientific studies.
How do I detox from sugar? Where to start? 
Sugar is an addictive drug. Upon the ingestion of sugar, opioids and dopamine are released in the brain. This explains why the more the sugar consumed, the more one would eat. IT IS PHYSIOLOGICAL! If you do not consume further sugar, the sensation of “well-being” vanishes and the body starts asking for something sweet again.
This alternating effect caused by the blood sugar level is associated also with sudden hunger, fatigue, muscle ache, trouble concentrating, sweaty hands, dizziness, rage, irritability and craving for more sweets. It is an actual vicious circle. Why not trying to stop it?
- Let’s start today!
- Avoid beverages: 99% of them contain sugars, synthetic sweeteners and/or natural substitutes of sugar. You can live without them, right?
- Read the labels! I will never get tired of repeating this. The awareness about the foods we consume is paramount: check their ingredients and nutritional values and, if possible, choose the best alternative available. Many products above suspicion contain high quantities of sugars (or syrups or malts).
- Reduce the consumption of refined flours (read my article Flours and cereals: which to choose, and why, if you have endometriosis ): they also have a high glycaemic index. Opt for their wholewheat versions, without exaggerating the portions.
- At every meal, include good-quality sources of proteins and vegetables: this slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, helping you to manage the hunger sensation and stabilize the blood sugar level.
- Fight the stress: easier said than done! From the metabolic viewpoint, you could benefit greatly from a balanced breakfast (read my article What to eat for breakfast? Some ideas compatible with the endometriosis diet ), sleeping regularly for at least 7 hours per night and not skipping meals.
- Plan and be prepared: when you go out, bring along some healthy snacks to avoid hunger pangs and “useless” temptations. Valid alternatives include fruit, a handful of dried fruits, various seeds, sliced carrots or cucumbers, and homemade bars.
- Buy only essential foods: if possible, do the grocery shopping regularly and avoid buying snacks or processed foods, which you already know are recommended against. If you surround yourself only with “healthy” foods, it will be easier to follow the established nutrition path.
🥝 🍎 Endometriosis diet: read the COMPLETE list of the recommended foods and those to avoid 🍍🥑
Disaccustom yourself from sweet flavours…
As long as I recall, I have always been fond of sweet things. My mother is an exceptional cook; when I was little, I spent the afternoons sitting before the oven, waiting to take out a tray of biscuits or some new cake experiment. My passion for cooking (and for the good things in general!) surely comes from her.
However, besides homemade desserts, I have always been used to “grant” something after meals (especially after lunch!): a chocolate praline, a biscuit, a snack or a piece of cake. Whatever it was, I had to conclude the meal with a dessert. And I was really addicted to Nutella, especially in the last years, before starting to follow an anti-inflammatory diet; just to be clear, I am talking about spooning Nutella directly from the jar.
I experienced it first-hand and I don’t deny it: the first week without daily sweets was tough, really. I think it’s a bit like when you decide to stop smoking, since we are talking about addictions. Nonetheless, after the first moment of difficulty, it’s doable! If I made it, you can certainly reduce its consumption as well. Your taste can be gradually accustomed again to the authentic flavours, the sweetness of fruit, almonds and pumpkins, as well as the bitterness of pure cocoa. Don’t force yourself, and if you can’t stop immediately, try step by step. Eliminate packaged snacks and desserts from the beginning and start preparing something simple at home so as to be able to adjust the ingredients’ doses and get used, with time, to gradually lower amounts of sweeteners.
A healthy lifestyle
Moderation is the key to success, and there is no need for alarmism. An occasional piece of cake cannot obviously cause a serious unbalance, nor should we feel guilty whenever we happen to eat less healthy than planned. The real danger for the health (of everybody!!) is the systematic consumption of sugar since it would constantly keep the organism in an inflammatory state.
One should aim for a healthy and balanced life style that, in the long term, can mitigate the small exceptions that will inevitably occur.
PS: If you liked the article, please, leave a comment and share it on social media.
🥝 🍎 Endometriosis diet: read the COMPLETE list of the recommended foods and those to avoid 🍍🥑
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 Perché lo zucchero fa male? Che dolcificante usare? Come eliminare la dipendenza. https://www.emanuelacaorsi.com/perche-lo-zucchero-fa-male-che-dolcificante-usare-come-eliminare-la-dipendenza/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 I dolcificanti artificiali possono alterare la glicemia? https://www.diabete.com/i-dolcificanti-artificiali-possono-alterare-la-glicemia/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 Sostituti artificiali dello zucchero. https://www.diabete.com/sostituti-artificiali-dello-zucchero/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 How Blood Sugar Imbalance Can Affect Endometriosis. https://endometriosisnews.com/2018/07/05/endometriosis-imbalance-blood-sugar/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 Endometriosis Part 2: The link between sugar and the immune system. https://www.wildnutrition.com/blogs/our-blog/endometriosis-part-2-the-link-between-sugar-and-the-immune-system. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 “Disintossicarsi” dal consumo eccessivo di zucchero: vademecum pratico per diabetici e non solo. https://www.diabete.com/disintossicarsi-dal-consumo-eccessivo-di-zucchero-vademecum-pratico-per-diabetici-e-non-solo/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 Flours and cereals: which to choose, and why, if you have endometriosis. https://endo-plus.com/farine-e-cereali-quali-scegliere-e-perche/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.
 What to eat for breakfast? Some ideas compatible with the endometriosis diet. https://endo-plus.com/cosa-mangio-a-colazione-qualche-spunto-secondo-la-dieta-endometriosi/. URL consultato il 20 gennaio 2020.