The Sugar and Infertility Affect
As the song goes, just a spoonful of sugar helps… Well not when it comes to your fertility or your health for that matter. Studies have shown that excess sugar can suppress the immune system and repeated use of excess sugar can lead to a host of fertility problems, including hormone disruption, insulin resistance, PCOS, yeast infections, vitamin and mineral deficiency and the list goes on. Whether you’re eating sugar dense carbohydrates like cookies and cakes or your favorite pasta or rice dish, that excess sugar may be affecting your ability to get pregnant. No, that doesn’t mean you have to give up all carbohydrates, but there is an important correlation between sugar and infertility and if addressed with a fertility friendly diet can help put you back on track with your pregnancy goals. So, let’s take a closer look at just how bad sugar is for your fertility and what you can do about it.
Good carb vs. bad carb
I know you’ve heard it before; carbs are bad for you, no wait, carbs are good for you, no wait! So, which one is it? The truth is there are healthy carbohydrates and there are unhealthy carbohydrates. Healthy carbohydrates are what you get from plant-based foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. These foods have a low glycemic effect on blood sugar levels as they are full of the fiber, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients slowly and avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. The bad carbohydrates are what you find in processed foods, including sugar, cereal, white bread (not whole grain bread), white rice, white flour pasta, snack foods, sodas or sugary drinks, and meat foods (chicken nuggets, sausage). These foods all pack a wallop when it comes to sending your blood sugar levels rising (high glycemic effect). Repeated blood sugar level spikes from eating them can stress your internal organs as well as increase your chances of insulin resistance leading to higher risks of developing chronic issues that affect your overall health as well as your fertility, including PCOS and diabetes.
You are also a unique individual, which means certain healthy carbohydrates may even be better for you than others depending on your current health and body type, which is how Conceivable can help you with planning a fertility diet that best meets your individual needs, which I’ll talk more about.
The havoc sugar wreaks on your fertility
While I’m not going to tell you have to kiss that slice of chocolate cake or pizza goodbye forever, I do want you to understand that sugar and your fertility are not a recipe for success. Picture that skull and crossbones on the bottle of poison under the sink. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar is quite literally toxic to your fertility and exacerbating fertility issues you may already be experiencing, including hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance.
First let’s talk about hormones. When you eat bad carbs your body experiences a brief 15-30 minute high from the blood sugar level spike, and then your blood sugar levels come crashing down leaving your organs exhausted. This effect causes a fight or flight reaction with your adrenal glands and they begin to produce more cortisol and adrenalin to try and replenish sugar levels. Repeated consumption of poor carbohydrates signals this effect over and over, weakening the adrenal glands and slowing hormone production. When the adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, the rest of the endocrine system begins to break down, causing a hormonal imbalance that also affects the balance and production of estrogen, progesterone and the androgens DHEA and testosterone – your important sex hormones for a healthy reproductive system. Your pancreas is also telling you to ditch the sweets if you want to keep it happy and healthy. Every time you eat foods high in sugar, your pancreas must secrete insulin to convert the sugar in your blood into energy. And if this is repeated frequently, you may develop insulin resistance. High levels of insulin inhibit ovulation and cause metabolic disorders, including PCOS, which 1/3 of women contribute to infertility issues.
Sugar also negatively effects your immune system. Eating just a tablespoon can lower your immunity for up to four hours. Imagine what eating processed carbohydrates for every meal could do. Lowered immunity impacts your entire body, from maintaining a healthy reproductive system to its ability to fight infections that can also impact fertility, including yeast infections.
While a yeast infection may not cause infertility, it certainly impedes your desire to have sex with your partner, which means zero chances of making that precious baby!
I know we are mainly addressing women’s health and the effects of sugar and fertility in this article, but ladies, your partner or spouse doesn’t get off easy either. The effect of sugar on male fertility can be damaging as well. Men suffering from insulin resistance may also experience a hormone disruption due to the overstimulation of the adrenal glands. Sugar negatively impacts his immunity as well. Lowered immunity can cause men to experience reduced fertility as illness impacts the healthy production of sperm. What’s truly amazing though is this is all totally correctable. And one way to make a big impact on reversing the effects of sugar is with a healthy fertility friendly diet.
Why a fertility friendly diet can make a difference
You know the old saying, you are what you eat and that holds true for your fertility as well. Nutrition plays a significant role in your reproductive health. A Harvard research study (“The Fertility Diet,” McGraw-Hill; Walter Willett, M.D and Jorge Chavarro, M.D.) conducted with over 17,000 women over eight years found women with the highest glycemic load in their diets (foods eaten in the bad carbs category) were 92 percent more likely to have ovulatory infertility than those with the lowest glycemic load (foods with good carbs).
By eating an organic, whole foods, plant-based diet you are giving your body the nutrient dense natural building blocks you need to support the necessary functions of your reproductive system, including production and balance of your hormones, healthy menstrual cycle, ovulation, egg development, implantation, and gestation. These fertility friendly foods also give your immunity an added boost with plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help to eliminate the free radicals that you are exposed to and protect the health of your egg and improve your ability to get and stay pregnant.
How Conceivable can help
Our research and continuous clinical work over the past 15 years at Conceivable has helped thousands of women take control of their sugar intake and reverse the negative effects of a high sugar diet with a personalized fertility friendly diet along with introducing other lifestyle changes that improve menstrual health and reduce stress. And trust me, I know making changes to your diet isn’t something that you can do overnight, which is why we are here to help you every step of the way. Our Conceivable program is designed to help you move as quickly along as you are comfortable doing. You’ll be pleasantly surprised what a big impact just making one change like eliminating sodas from your diet can have on your Conceivability score. And what better reward is there then improving your chances of getting pregnant with the baby you’ve so looked forward to.
Schedule a consultation today to learn how whole-foods plant-based diet chalked full of the good carbs can help you improve your fertility.