With the festive season well and truly upon us, food and drink are aplenty at this exciting time of year. Regardless of the cold and long dark days, families and friends gather amidst a general sense of merriment for booze and comfort food. Whilst time spent on and off the treadmill is the last thing on many women’s minds, so is their diet until a barrage of New Year’s resolutions overwhelms all. Though mince pies, Christmas pudding and mulled wine and cider are a delicious treat, it’s probably for the best they only make a full-on appearance but once a year. Take a look at five ways in which too much sugar affects women’s bodies…

inflammation within the body. Especially in Western diets in which sugar is rife, our digestive systems simply aren’t designed to cope with high levels of sugar consumption and inflammation is our body’s reaction to this. The dangers of inflammation within the body can lead to long-term consequences challenging to our quality of life; diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, certain cancers and even degenerative disorders. From table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar and honey (even raw) to corn sweetener, glucose, fructose and rice syrup, our bodies simply cannot withstand the surprising levels of these we unknowingly consume every day. Each time we put as little as two sugars in a cup of tea we change our body’s chemistry and disrupt the natural balance within the body needed for maintenance and repair.

Sugar also plays a huge factor in depleting the essential vitamins and minerals we need to function at peak performance. The minerals we need in our diets work in harmony with one another and when sugar interferes and depletes one, the others either become toxic or deficient. Ever suffered from anxiety, depression irregular periods, lower immunity or even a gut health issue such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Try eating less sugar and it may help lessen the symptoms.

Women who consume a lot of sugar are likely to experience reduced fertility. If trying to conceive is on your mind, it may help to look into alternatives to sugary foods, especially refined white sugars. Too much sugar in the body can affect hormone levels through a sugar crash – caused by an increase in insulin – which in turn leaves you drained and exhausted thanks to fight or flight reaction by the body.

The hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released by the adrenal glands to replenish sugar levels but when this happens too often, our adrenal glands can become weakened and sluggish, causing a hormonal imbalance.

This also affects the levels of oestrogen, progesterone, the androgens DHEA and testosterone in your body. Insulin resistance is another serious health issue caused by too much sugar consumption. The more sugar we eat, the more insulin we release which eventually leads to insulin resistance. Since we rely on the pancreas to secrete insulin to turn the sugar in our blood into energy for our cells, too much sugary foods makes the pancreas work overtime. Insulin resistance is linked to issues with ovulation and can put women at much higher risk of miscarriage.

Finally, perhaps something most women can relate to: PMS. A time when it’s most important for hormones to work in harmony with one another and keep the body running smoothly, too much sugar actually creates unhappy hormones and causes cramps and uncontrollable cravings.