Most of us “see” the connection, between too much sugar and weight troubles. But too much sugar can also cause hormone hang ups. This is the finding of a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia – who describe how too much sugar, disrupts the body’s sex hormone transporting system.
The liver is probably the most under appreciated organ systems in the body – it quite literally is the cook and bottle washer of the body.
Job number one, is to process everything we consume, whether it be animal, vegetable or chemical. In addition to processing the chemicals coming in, it is also has to supply all the other cells in the body with the chemicals they need, in order to function optimally.
The job of supplying chemicals, requires a fleet of transporters (proteins) to whisk things around.
Liver a little overwhelmed
To be fair, the chemical processing capabilities of the liver make high tech science labs look like amateur operations. But even the liver finds some chemical reactions more challenging than others. One chemical that causes the liver to break out into a sweat, is fructose. Small amounts are not particularly problematic, but high levels of fructose are par for the course in the modern diet.
Chemically speaking, fructose, a component of sugar, is a hot potatoe – it is highly oxidative and the pancreas, the liver’s little helper in sugar processing, largely ignores it.
So an arrival of fructose requires the liver to step up to the plate and work extra hard to remove this potentially toxic substance out of the circulation. The liver does this by quickly, converting the fructose to fat.
The liver is pretty good at multi-tasking, but even the most efficient multi-tasker can only do so much at the same time.
The team from the University of British Columbia discovered liver cells, hepatocytes, drop a ball or two, when faced with an onslaught of fructose.
Turning fructose into fat, shuts down production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). The shut down happens at the level of the gene – but the end result is less SHBG, the sex hormone transporter, is available to move the sex hormones around the body.
NOTE : This gene is involved in glucose metabolism and is one of the 60 plus genes, associated with diabetes. If you get the “wrong” version, your risk of developing diabetes increases, while inheriting a copy of the “right” version is protective. Sipping lots of coffee can help a little, if you’ve inherited the “wrong” version.
The sex hormone transporter
SHBG protein has a rather important job in the body – it is the way testosterone and estrogen, move around the body.
Neither estrogen, nor testosterone like swimming, they prefer to be transported around the body in style. So the sex hormones hop into SHBG boats, to move from one spot in the body to another.
If they can’t find a boat, the hormones avoid swimming as far as possible – so they stay put or hang onto which ever cells they can find.
Staying put leaves the sex hormones hanging around, upsetting the delicate balance between estrogen and testosterone.
For hormone happiness cut the sugars
Whether you’re a heffa-lump or a skinny bean pole – too much sugar isn’t good for you.
For better hormone chemistry, cut out those sugars, especially fructose.
NB. Fructose is the sugar found more-or-less exclusively in fruit, it also pops up together with glucose in table sugar and high corn fructose sugar.Sex hormone-binding globulin gene expression in the liver: drugs and the metabolic syndrome. Mol Cell Endocrinol. (2010) 316(1):53-9. Pugeat M, Nader N, Hogeveen K, Raverot G, Déchaud H, Grenot C.
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