If you’ve been reading my website even modestly, you know that I speak about blood sugar regulation as one of the most important aspects of health and wellness. The reason for this is because the deleterious, systemic effects that ensue from unbalanced blood sugar, both directly and indirectly, are enormous. If you’re interested in reading my articles on the topic, click here. This article will focus on the basics of blood sugar imbalances and “male” and “female” hormones.
There is certainly a difference between hypo- and hyperglycemia. But regardless of which end of the spectrum a person lies, surges of insulin can accompany both. Insulin is the hormone that helps transport sugar (or glucose) out of the bloodstream and into the cells of the body. Because of insulin’s action, it is generally more elevated in those with chronically high blood sugar, but can also surge if a person is hypoglycemic and experiences wide fluctuations in blood sugar.
The complications regarding insulin and the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone can be seen very straightforward. As you know, both males and females have estrogen and testosterone although women have higher levels of the former, whereas men have high higher levels of the latter. It’s important for this hormonal balance to be maintained for a number of reasons beyond the scope of this article.
Essentially, when females experience elevated insulin levels, there is an enzyme known as 17,20 lyase that gets up-regulated and then converts (some of) their estrogen into testosterone. In males, elevated insulin levels will increase the enzyme aromatase which will cause (some of) their testosterone to be converted into estrogen. This scenario may not sound terrible, but it’s important to realize that it’s a serious problem. Estrogen and testosterone are in certain amounts in males and females for a reason. And there’s even evidence that shows the two hormones can actually work differently males and females. Estrogen (when balanced properly) is protective and beneficial for women, as testosterone is for men. However, an excessive of testosterone in women and an excess of estrogen in men is harmful. Again, the mechanisms are beyond the scope of this article although I will share some of the signs and symptomatology when this occurs.
When women have an excess of testosterone they can experience the following: acne; hair growth on the face, chest or back; male-pattern hair loss; aggressiveness; a deepening of the voice; loss of breast tissue; menstrual irregularities; infertility; hypothyroidism and more.
Men with an excess of estrogen can experience the following: gynecomastia (or the growth of breasts); infertility; erectile dysfunction; increased risk of heart disease and stroke; increased risk of prostate cancer; low libido; loss of muscle tone; excess belly fat; depression and more.
This type of situation can sometimes be seen in lab work, with low estrogen and high testosterone in females and the opposite in males. And all too often the doctor (and/or patient) goes straight for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to “correct” the situation. Unfortunately, this may help raise the lowered hormone levels, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem and the complications that accompany the elevated hormone levels. The scenario I’ve outlined here needs to be dealt with via regulating blood sugar levels. This can be done through diet, exercise, stress management, and supplements in mild to moderate cases of blood sugar imbalance.
Please keep in mind that even though you may not be experiencing these signs or symptoms outright, it’s still possible that this phenomenon is occurring and causing health problems that you are unaware of.
Dr. Rob D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology