I wish I had a pound for every time I’m asked, “What is my Number 1 tip for fuelling fertility”.
I think fertility is a holistic issue, but there is definitely a place I prefer to start in my practice for both women and for men. And it’s probably not what you expect. It might even surprise you.
I suggest you start with balancing blood sugar.
Say what? Let me explain why it’s important to control blood sugar.
There’s a lot more to blood sugar than hypoglycemia or diabetes.
Blood sugar balance plays a role in a lot of common conditions, like PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), thyroid issues, insulin resistance as well as diabetes.
What Is Blood Sugar Control?
Our bodies are amazing pieces of machinery. Our hormones are a beautiful and complex orchestra of triggers, signals and messages all designed to work in harmony. But one hormone out of whack can throw others off too, meaning that organs, processes and body systems don’t work as they should.
Let’s look at blood sugar
When we eat, the pancreas sends the hormone insulin to start preparing our cells to take in the sugars from food. When the pancreas detects that blood sugar levels are going down, it sends the hormone glucagon to tell the cells to stop taking in sugar. That way, blood sugar levels don’t get too low.
When that process stops working properly, sugar stays in the bloodstream rather than being taken in by cells. We use the term “insulin resistance”. It basically means there is a lot of insulin and sugar in the bloodstream.
Why Does Blood Sugar Balance Matter?
There are lots of cells in the body that respond to insulin like those found in the brain, muscles, liver and fat – these are cells that play a part in energy, in both usage and storage.
Surprised the brain is affected by blood sugar balance? There are some brain cells that respond to insulin. When they become insulin resistant, it can affect food intake, weight, learning, memory, hormone balance and fertility.
And that’s the tip of the iceberg! It can lead to diabetes (an advanced type of insulin resistance) and metabolic syndrome (a group of medical conditions associated with insulin resistance).
Conditions Associated with Insulin Resistance
Insulin Resistance is associated with other hormonal conditions, including:-
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – it’s a metabolic syndrome. Excess insulin causes the ovaries to make androgens. In turn that can decrease or stop ovulation and increase weight.
- PMS – high insulin is linked to excess oestrogen which can cause PMS symptoms, heavy periods, long cycles, endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS.
- Thyroid imbalance – blood sugar imbalances can impact thyroid hormones. Similarly, low and high thyroid can impact insulin production.
How Do I Know If I’m At Risk?
There are a few risk factors for insulin resistance. They are:-
- Body fat/Obesity.
- Poor sleep.
Our bodies were not designed to store energy without ever needing to use those stores i.e. we were not designed to carry excess fat. Body fat influences growth, blood cell production and appetite and can encourage hormone imbalances. It also increases risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s better for health and fertility to maintain healthy weight and body fat.
Over the years there has been a lot of conflicting information on how to balance blood sugar through food. No wonder people get confused! The most recent research shows that eating 3 square meals a day is actually better than “grazing”. A square meal is one with good quality protein, healthy fats and fibre from a range vegetables and fruits or moderate amounts of whole grains.
High impact interval training can help insulin resistance. Yoga and weight training are good choices too. Intense exercise like marathon running can cause the body to go into survival mode and contribute to inflammation, difficulty losing weight and hormone imbalance.
Stress is a scourge of modern life; it releases a hormone called cortisol. High cortisol impacts insulin. When insulin is high, levels of cortisol are increased. A terrible, vicious cycle. High cortisol increases appetite and inflammation in the body too.
Inflammation in the fatty tissues and inflammation in the gut can cause persistent low level inflammation. It impacts blood sugar balance and is harmful to general health and fertility.
Sleep is important to good health. Our bodies repair when we sleep. A lack of sleep can affect appetite, weight, fertility and blood sugar balance as well as increasing risk of heart disease.
Some chemicals like BPA (found in some plastics like drink bottles), pesticides, heavy metals and flame retardants affect the pancreas, the organ which produces insulin. It is possible to reduce exposure through a clean diet, filtering water, using “green” personal care and cleaning products.
How Do I Know If I am Suffering?
- Belly fat.
- Tiredness especially after meals.
- Brain fog.
- Sugar cravings.
If you have these symptoms, it’s best to discuss them with your doctor so they can make a diagnosis.
If you suffer from:
- Increased thirst.
- Increased hunger.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Frequent peeing.
- Poor healing of wounds.
Definitely get checked out by a doctor, as it could be an indication of diabetes.
How to balance blood sugar with food?
Here are my top tips for balancing blood sugar with food:
- Eat within an hour of waking up.
- Eat 3 square meals a day, spaced throughout the day.
- Make sure meals contain good quality protein, healthy fats and fibre from vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
- Eat a varied diet and include foods that support blood sugar balance like greens, avocado, broccoli/cabbage/Brussel sprouts, garlic and onion, blueberries, turmeric, or cinnamon.
- Don’t eat too late in the evening and avoid late night snacks.
- Drink filtered water (or spring water from non-plastic bottles), but not too much water with meals.
A warning however – do check with your doctor before making any major life changes!
Other steps that support blood sugar balance are:-
- Managing body fat/weight at a healthy level.
- Reducing exposure to hormone harming chemicals in personal care products, cleaning products, pesticides and plastics.
- Choosing exercise wisely such as interval training, yoga and weight training.
- Finding way to remove source of stress or manage the impacts of stress in your life – if your fertility journey is creating its own stress, find a fertility counsellor, hypnotherapist or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner.
- Getting enough quality sleep.
So, there you have it – balance your blood sugar naturally for better health and fertility!
Kathy Payne is a Booster of Fertility, Balancer of Hormones and Soother of Modern Life Madness, naturally. She is an online women’s’ health coach and offers bespoke programmes for women and couples in her home town of Norwich as well as online.
If you’d like to protect, nurture and boost your fertility naturally, sign up for her free mini online course 7 Steps to Boost Fertility at http://bit.ly/7stepstoboostfertility).