Is your sugar addiction making your reproductive organs unhappy? One of the biggest fertility fizzers in our modern diet is sugar, mostly because it sends our hormones all kinds of frazzled. Just like the big dipper at the famous Luna Park, your hormones are forced to ride the highs and lows – the aftermath leaving our bodies knackered. And let me just settle a few things before we get into it – fertility isn’t just about babies. It’s about your reproductive system being awesome. Equally important to understand is that we’re talking fructose. Fructose is found in refined sugars and many fruits, sauces, dips, processed foods – pretty much in every corner of our modern diet. But there are alternatives – and for more info on this I suggest you make your way over to Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar site where it’s all sitting pretty waiting for you.
There is a host of issues sugar may cause but there are several specific ways that it affects fertility. Here’s what’s at the top of my list:
Sugar disrupts your hormones:
Hormones are the drivers of all our body functions, but the intricacy of our sex hormones is my primary concern as a natural fertility expert. Sugar consumption will drive our insulin too high, too quickly and only momentarily. This quick peak creates a high and then we drop faster than a hot pie, leaving far more mess. This is what’s know as the fight or flight response – the response of extended stimulation to the adrenal glands. When our sugar levels drop, our adrenals release both cortisol and adrenalin to attempt to replenish sugar levels. Eventually, this can lead to hormonal imbalance since progesterone (the main hormone required for ovulation to occur) and cortisol compete for the same receptor binding sites in the body AND cortisol is the bossy hormone – it will always win over progesterone. Should this continue for a period of time, the entire endocrine system is upset and will lead to disruption of all sex hormones; oestrogen, progesterone, the androgens DHEA and testosterone for both sexes.
Sugar is Inflammatory:
Inflammation is simply our body’s response to damage, be it from infection, illness or allergies. Sugar is inflammatory – mostly because our bodies aren’t designed to consume the quantities we see in modern western diets and our gut goes into a frenzy in trying to cope. Inflammation is a normal body response toward recovery. This is especially appropriate for women who suffer from Endometriosis. Most women who cut sugar out of their diet will notice substantial changes and in some instances total recovery from Endometriosis. When it comes to fertility and conception, Endometriosis can be an issue as it affects the uterine lining and making implantation of the embryo difficult.
Sugar leads to insulin resistance
Insulin is released by the pancreas to convert sugar to energy however the more sugar we eat, the more insulin the pancreas releases eventually leading to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be to blame for issues with ovulation, maturation of the egg and implantation of the embryo into the uterine lining. What’s more, these women are at a far higher risk of miscarriage than the average. Many women who have PCOS have insulin resistance.
Sugar consumption can make PMS worse
Not only because of the inflammation already spoken of but also because of the hormone disruption also mentioned – and lets not forget, fertility isn’t just about the babies! Feeling well all month around is all part of having healthy happy hormones.
Sugar zaps your vitamin and mineral stores
This can be a massive fertility factor. Our hormones require specific amounts of vitamins and minerals to be well fueled. The pill severely depletes our vitamin and mineral stores, as does fructose. When our stores are low, our entire body is compromised which contributes to amenorrhea, irregular periods, lower immunity, increased infection (which can be a factor in miscarriage too), increased anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome… the list is big and very often the end ‘diagnosis’ is unexplained infertility. Because of this, it also ages us. Cutting out sugar could have you looking younger, sooner than you may think.
Rather than reaching for another pack of biscuits as you digest this information, perhaps think about how you can begin to lessen sugar in your diet. Our bodies aren’t designed to tolerate much – especially of the refined, processed variety. But also for many women, high sugar natural foods like fruits can too be troublesome.
I’m a huge advocate for Sarah’s I Quit Sugar program (so much so I’m one of the experts over there answering questions on her program forum). I’ve had patients who have turned their lives around simply by cutting out fructose. It’s important to be well equipped in doing so – remember fructose is highly addictive, so breaking a habit and withdrawing can be a little tricky, but having the support of the program and focusing on the foods you can eat (and believe me there is so much you can) is the key to sticking to any new regime. Most of all, I encourage you to figure out what works best for you – experiment with the idea of quitting sugar. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised, period pain free and looking younger in no time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts – have you tried to quit and failed? Do you think it’s wrong to eliminate fructose? Tell me so – you know I love feedback!