Sugar itself is not a food group, although it is naturally present in certain foods such as fruits. The importance of balancing your blood sugar levels is because excess sugar consumption can lead to inflammation, hormone disruption (which can affect fertility), continued stimulation of the adrenal glands, yeast infections, lowered immunity, which may contribute to leptin resistance, along with increasing bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.
Blood sugar level means the amount of sugar in the blood, also known as serum glucose, it is usually written in mmol/l which means millimoles per litre.
Excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates erratically throughout the day will cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall, therefore insulin levels will peak and trough, which eventually may lead to insulin resistance. Insulin excess can affect ovulation. This may affect fertility in a number of ways, an example of which is in the case of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Some of the symptoms of poor blood sugar control (also known as poor glucose tolerance) are:
- Shaky after a few hours of not eating
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain – especially around the middle
Ideal blood sugar levels are:
- 4-7 mmol/l before eating
- Less than 10mmol/l one and a half hours after eating
- Around 8 mmol/l when going to bed
Your GP can check your serum glucose if you are concerned and a simple dipstick urine test can tell you whether you should follow this up.
Some of the reasons for poor control of blood sugar levels are:
- Diet high in refined carbohydrates and insufficient nutrients
- Lack of exercise
- Excess alcohol intake
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
- Being overweight
- May also be associated with hormonal imbalances due to polycystic ovaries
Top tips to help control blood sugar levels:
Try to consume more of the following:
- Nuts and seeds
- Foods with a low glycemic load
- Complex carbohydrates – porridge, wholemeal bread
- Oily fish
- Chromium rich foods – romaine lettuce, onions, raw tomatoes, oysters, whole grains, potatoes, broccoli, turkey, green beans
- Most vegetables especially root vegetables/leafy green vegetables
- Legumes e.g beans, peas, lentils, kidney beans
- Nuts, seeds, apples and pears
- Try to eat three distinct meals per day, and if you need to have a snack try a handful of nuts/seeds or a banana rather than chocolate or crisps
Try to avoid:
- Saturated fats (butter, cream, fatty meat, pork)
- Hydrogenated fats (found in cakes, biscuits and pastries)
- Potato crisps
- Simple carbohydrates such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, chocolate (unless high cocoa low sugar), sweets, refined breakfast cereals
Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise, four times a week.
Why not try these breakfast ideas to start your day in the right way!
Create your own delicious granola with walnuts, almonds, pecans, raisins and oats or try adding your own healthy favourites.
- 3 cups porridge oats
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup halves pecans
Pre-heat oven to 350 °F (175 °C).
Lightly coat a baking sheet with a low fat cooking spray.
Combine all the ingredients.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
Refrigerate. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks
Organic free range eggs on granary toast
Poach or boil the eggs and eat on top of wholegrain granary toast.
Organic porridge oats with organic semi-skimmed milk
Try sprinkling some blueberries and raspberries on top with some local honey.
You can contact Herts & Essex Fertility on 01992 78 50 60 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book onto one of our Open Evenings or Open Days . You will be able to meet the staff and view the clinic which will help you to decide if fertility treatment is the right option for you.