Whenever I drive past a new bakery, I have to pull over have a look. There is something about smelling freshly baked bread, don’t you agree?
Carbohydrates have an impact on our brain because when it’s broken down to its simplest form, it’s basically sugar. We are hardwired to be addicted to it, it’s really an ingenious design for humans to store up calories because we didn’t know when our next meal was going to be.
Of course, this was the time before we had agriculture, fridges and a convenience store that’s just a little too convenient.
So here’s the question again, can carbohydrates influence your fertility? The answer might surprise you.
With PCOS sufferers, anti-diabetic medication increases the rate of pregnancy but changing diet and lifestyle has been found to be more successful.
The short answer is yes!
Let’s explore carbohydrates and what you can do about it.
One of the most important things you can do is choose whole grains and other low glycemic carbohydrates over refined carbohydrates.
The one thing to remember is not all carbohydrates are the same such as white rice versus brown rice. Women who are on a higher GI diet were 50% more likely to experience ovulatory infertility. What’s GI? To find out the GI of foods you can go to www.glycemixindex.com but to keep it simple, stick to whole foods, foods with the least amount of processing as possible.
Foods such as white bread, pasta and rice when broken down to their simplest forms are essential sugar. When foods have a high GI rating, it means the food increases your insulin levels faster than foods that have a low GI. Insulin is required to help your body metabolise carbohydrates but what they have found is in a study of 400 healthy couples found that women with lower sugar levels were more likely to get pregnant, women who had higher sugar levels showed they had higher levels of testosterone and greater frequency of menstrual cycle irregularities.
So here is the kicker. Insulin increases the production of androgens produced in the ovary. It also tells the liver to produce less of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin, a protein that binds androgens in the bloodstream. With this combined, it can result in abnormal ovulation and could be a contributing factor to why 20% of the couples trying to conceive are experiencing infertility.
I shared earlier that PCOS sufferers who take anti-diabetic medication can increase the rate of pregnancy. But wouldn’t you rather change your diet and lifestyle to be healthier for you in the long term, laying the foundation of good habits during pregnancy especially when it’s been found to be far more successful.
Although I don’t like to recommend a diet as everybody is unique. However there has been a lot of study around the Mediterranean diet which adopts some of the dietary choices that support fertility health. Here are some of the basics of the diet:
- Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil
- Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt
- Eat only rarely: Red meat
- Don’t eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.