Sugar And Fertility: What Do They Have In Common?

Calling all you soda, candy, doughnut, cookie loving people.  I have a couple of questions for you. When you are feeling hungry and/or tired and in need of an energy boost at 3 or 4 pm, what do you do? Do you reach for a candy bar, soda, or sugary snack for that sudden boost of energy? That will definitely provide the instant boost of energy that you are looking for, but it will shortly be followed by a feeling of hunger, tiredness, and/or depression.  This is what we call the sugar roller coaster ride.  I am sure many of you have felt this; I know I have.

For me, the roller coaster ride on many occasions has left me feeling dizzy, headachey, and nauseous, but also left me feeling somewhat exhilarated.  Although the ride is quite fun at times, especially while you slowly creep up the big hill in anticipation of the BIG drop, the sudden plunge downwards leaves my stomach on the floor, and can make me feel yucky. The adrenaline rush felt for the 2 minutes usually leaves me feeling sick for about 2 hours. The sugar roller coaster that you are currently on is definitely something that is going to leave you feeling sick and yucky.  This ride can be the cause for many health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and infertility.

The Nurse’s Health Study, referenced in The Fertility Diet, by Jorge Chavarro, MD and Walter Willet, MD have proven that sugar, especially certain kinds of sugars, have a large impact on reproductive health.  Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition that can be brought on by insulin resistance, which is caused by the consumption of too much sugar. Insulin resistance equals hormonal imbalances. The body has to work overtime when you make the decision to have a soda for breakfast, white bread sandwich for lunch, candy bar for a snack, or white rice for dinner.

So you ask, what should I eat for my health, happiness, and reproductive health? The answer is complex - literally: complex carbohydrates/sugars (not simple ones) are the way to go.  My definition of complex carbs is fiber-filled food paired with a starch or sugar that exists naturally in nature. The less refined the carb, the better it is for you, and that goes for most foods.  For example, whole wheat and brown rice have the fiber needed for your body to digest the starch slowly so your blood sugar levels stay even. Even blood sugar levels should be your goal when making food choices everyday.  I know, after suffering from breakdowns in my own body, that complex carbs have helped me to not only resolve my dizzy spells, irregular periods, and moodiness, but I have more energy then ever!

Your body identifies simple carbs/sugars, such as white flour and white rice as sugars. There is no fiber, because it is taken out during the refinement process.  When there is no fiber medium, to help slowly digest the sugar the body goes into emergency mode and digests the sugars very quickly. The sugar provides an immediate boost in energy that your body thinks you require, because you just ate a fiberless starch.  Here is the 411 on how the sugar is processed by your body.

The body quickly breaks down the sugar into glucose and suddenly injects it into the blood stream.  Your blood sugar levels spike the pancreas releases large amounts of insulin. Each cell in your body is able to absorb the glucose, because of the insulin. Once the cells absorb the glucose, blood sugar levels suddenly drop.

Hence the roller coaster feeling described earlier. So think about this - if you fill your day with eating simple carbs, your cells over time will require more and more insulin in order to absorb the same amount of glucose, thus causing insulin resistance.

In summary, here are my top 5 picks for complex carbs (whole grains) and natural sugars to eat in order to enhance your reproductive health, along with regulating your weight, heart health, and just feeling great overall!

Top 5 Whole Grains Top 5 Natural Sugars
Brown Rice Maple Syrup
Buckwheat (Soba Noodles) Honey
Whole Wheat Pasta Brown Rice Syrup
Stoneground Whole Wheat Molasses
Quinoa Stevia (the green kind)


The Fertility Diet, by Jorge Chavarro, MD and Walter Willet, MD

Written by Kavita Jhaveri-Patel