A Crucial Component in a Preconception Diet
What you eat, how you eat, and when you eat different foods have an immense effect on blood sugar and resulting insulin levels. A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars (even fruit) can cause blood sugar and insulin levels to skyrocket, and then ultimately crash. This extreme flux can wreak havoc on hormone balance causing unhealthily increased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), aggravate the ovaries causing them to produce excess testosterone in women and decreased levels of testosterone levels in men, prevent ovulation, increase the risk of miscarriage, and result in infertility in both men and women. Poor blood sugar control can also interfere with the healthy production of hormones from the thyroid, an important endocrine gland in fertility.
If you aren’t aware of it yet, healthy and thriving mitochondria is key to good egg quality. It is why many practitioners and fertility doctors recommend the consumption of CoQ10, which drives ATP production in the mitochondria of these egg cells. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance create more mitochondria damage, which means less cell replication and ATP production, crucial factors in good quality eggs that will eventually turn into embryos and healthy babies.
In studies measuring the amounts of advanced glycosylation end products (proteins or lipids that become glycated through high blood sugar levels and are factors in the causation of aging and chronic disease) in women undergoing IVF. Those with higher levels of these products at the time of egg retrieval had a reduction in the number of eggs retrieved, fertilized, and good quality embryos. There was also an increase in miscarriage rates and increased rates of aneuploidy (abnormal) embryos.
So how exactly do you balance your blood sugar levels? A breakfast with healthy fats and proteins is a good way to start (this means avoiding instant oatmeal and toast!). Making sure you are eating every 2-3 hours and avoiding simple carbohydrates (pasta, bread, white rice) and sugars (soda, candy, fruit juice). Becoming educated in what is a high glycemic food and low glycemic food is also important. You can also mitigate carbohydrate and sugar consumption by pairing it with high fiber, high protein, or high-fat foods (adding olive oil to salads, nuts to oatmeal, coconut butter on toast, etc.). Download the Acubalance Fertility Diet for more advice and recipes.
There are also supplements to help. Myoinositol (available at Acubalance Vancouver location) has been shown in studies to improve oocyte (egg) maturation, fertilization, and embryo development. It can also upregulate the response to FSH in poor responders (helpful for IVF). For those suffering from PCOS, it can have a very positive effect on insulin resistance. With regular supplementation, the study shows that these women can increase the number of oocytes retrieved during an IVF cycle, increase the number of good quality embryos, decrease the number of immature eggs, and lower the amount of FSH required during stimulation.
Although blood sugar can be debated on whether or not it is the most important factor in a preconception diet (because high nutrient, warmly cooked, high protein, fat, and plant-based foods are crucial too!), it is definitely more important for women with insulin resistance or PCOS. Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally, waiting between IVF or IUI cycles, or planning on conceiving in the future, it is never too early or too late to be optimizing your diet for peak fertility.
For more information on blood sugar and hormones, check out my other blog post here.
For any questions about how to individualize your preconception care to reach your peak fertility potential, give us a call at 604-678-8600 to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our experienced practitioners.