A new eBook released Monday takes a look at the consumption of refined sugar and the effect it has on female hormones and the menstrual cycle.
Penned by two Brisbane girls, Jessica Frank and Nicola Inger, The Unrefined Cycle was borne from the girl's personal experience with hormonal issues, mood swings, adult acne and their diets.
"Jess and I both established a link between our hormones and nutrition when we decided to eliminate refined sugar from our diets,” Inger, who studied Health Science majoring in Nutrition, said.
“We realised that as women, so much of how we feel, act, weigh and eat each month is associated with our menstrual cycle and hormones."
“For example, women who are ovulating produce higher amounts of estrogen and testosterone which translates into higher amounts of energy for exercise and better use of carbohydrates. This is a phase where women are less likely to suffer from intense sweet cravings.”
Educating women on the fact that reaching for cupcakes might momentarily make them feel better is the aim, as ultimately junk food habits can make ladies feel worse and experience stronger symptoms.
Frank and Inger spoke to The Huffington Post Australia about the book and what they hope women take away from it.
Why did you decide to write the eBook?
After both deciding to go cold turkey on refined sugar and in the same week discontinuing the contraceptive pill, we realised just how much hormones and sugar cravings were linked.
It seemed almost impossible to cut out sugar without considering the influence of hormonal fluctuations on our cravings. For instance, during your menstrual or pre-menstrual phase, your body’s metabolism actually increases and you require more tryptophan (found in cacao, turkey and pumpkin seeds) to help stabilise your mood and curb cravings.
After doing a lot of research, we put two and two together and realised we needed to spread the word and help women to understand their bodies and certain nutritional requirements at different stages of the month.
How does 'The Unrefined Cycle' work?
The Unrefined Cycle is divided into four phases. Each section represents a phase of “sugar rehab” and a phase of your menstrual cycle.
The book also comes with a tracking sheet to monitor your phase and cycle length and associated symptoms. Every woman will experience a different cycle length and symptoms and it is very important to record how you feel each week so you can use it as a reference for future months (if you generally break out at a certain time or feel down, you can prepare yourself for next month by following some of the tips).
In each phase we will provide women with:
- Fast facts about the menstrual cycle.
- Scientific explanations about what is going on in a female’s body and why some women feel the way they do.
- Nutritional do's and don’ts.
- Recipes to help curb sugar cravings.
- Exercise advice to ensure you make the most of your energy levels and metabolism at different times of the month.
What are your own experiences with sugar and the menstrual cycle?
Although we both live a 95 percent refined sugar free life, we still have days where cravings kick in. We both have a different hormonal composition but both tend to get sugar cravings during our Luteal or “Fairy” phase, as we call it in the book (this is common amongst most women).
Knowing when our cravings are about to hit is quite helpful because it allows us to prepare. We make refined sugar-free Snickers slice and keep it in our freezer when we need a quick fix, which definitely does the trick. We also always have a green apple on hand which surprisingly gives us quite a kick of energy.
What do you hope women learn from the eBook?
We hope women learn about their hormones.
Learning about your hormones is not only important for peace of mind (we usually get a sense of relief when we experience a symptom and realise it’s because we’re in a certain phase and the feeling will eventually go), it’s important because it’s also vital for women wanting to fall pregnant.
Symptoms and cycle length can provide doctors with important information about ovulation and whether or not you are fertile. We believe it is important, as females, to be aware of our hormones and their influence on our mind, body and overall health.
Rather than reaching for the Tim Tams, what do you suggest women go for when they experience hormonal sugar cravings?
The Snickers Slice recipe does wonders to help us with sugar, fat and carb cravings, but remember – just because it's “raw” or “refined sugar free”, most of these desserts or healthy snacks are high in HEALTHY calories, so still need to be eaten in moderation.
Inger has studied Health Science and states that all research conducted to back up all information and fact in the book is available in the product disclosure.