Healthy diet and proper proportions of macronutrients are essential to healthy eggs and sperm, which is why it’s so important for couples to look after their nutrition when trying to conceive. Unfortunately, if you do not cook from scratch it can be difficult to understand and keep track of exactly what is in your food – particularly with high volumes of added salt and sugar in processed foods.
The Link Between Sugar Intake and Infertility
Sugar can be a major hormone disruptor, and increasing research is pointing to links between sugar and inhibited fertility.
For example, a study presented by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) showed that IVF patients who switched to a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet before undergoing another cycle of IVF increased their blastocyst formation rate from 19% to 45%. This had a huge impact on their clinical pregnancy rate, which went from 17% to 83%. Whilst this study was based on a sample insufficiently large to “prove” the connection, it ties in with assumptions about healthy eating.
While scientists and clinicians have known for some times that diabetes can impact fertility, blood glucose can be toxic to developing blastocysts well before it reaches diabetic ranges.
Blood glucose levels affect fertility in a number of ways:
- Low blood glucose levels (often found after a spike) stimulate the release of adrenaline and cortisol
- Stress hormones then affect the way the body responds to progesterone, which in turn affects the menstrual cycle
- High blood glucose levels stimulate the release of insulin, which can increase the risk of PCOS if insulin resistance is triggered and can even damage eggs
- When sugar causes weight gain, it can prematurely harm sperm and egg cells
The majority of conception/fertility diet guides will recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and sugar as much as possible to maintain a healthy weight and hormone levels. While there is no ‘magic bullet’ to fertility, maintaining a healthy body and eliminating risk factors can have an impact on your ability to conceive and deliver a healthy baby.