25 to 30 grams of sugar a day is the suggested amount, depending on what association or organisation you ask. The World Health Organisation backs this up and recommends that adults get less than 10 per cent of their daily calories from not only added sugar, but also natural sugars in honey, syrup, or fruit juice. Ideally, that works to 25 grams for a 2,000 calorie diet.
That's six to seven teaspoons of sugar a day- not a lot when you start to add it up. Many of us are unaware of the dangers of sugar on our fertility and have little or no true facts. This post isn't here to tell you to stop eating all things sugar. It's here to get you thinking about sugar in more ways than one and to recognise how much sugar you're actually eating. So let's look into some nuggets of knowledge and interesting facts about all things sugar - remember knowledge is power!
2. Every time you eat foods high in sugar, your pancreas must secrete insulin to convert the sugar in your blood into energy. Repeated frequently, you may develop insulin resistance, leading to high levels of insulin, which can inhibit ovulation, autoimmune issues and can cause metabolic disorders, including PCOS.
3. All carbs are not created equal and the carbs you find in bread, pasta and breakfast cereals will make your blood sugar levels skyrocket (this is called a high glycemic effect) and then you'll come down with a crash. Repeated blood sugar level spikes from eating these types of foods, put stress on your internal organs. This effect causes a fight or flight reaction with your adrenal glands, and they begin to produce more cortisol and adrenaline to try and replenish sugar levels. Repeated consumption of these poor carbs signals this effect over and over, weakening the adrenal glands and slowing hormone production, also increasing your chances of insulin resistance leading to higher risks of developing chronic issues that affect your fertility. So you may think you're not eating sugar when you eat these types of carbs, but your body does, and that's all that matters. On top of that, sugar is put into a lot packaged bread, including "whole grain" kinds and cereals. A beloved blow of Weetabix comes in at 4.4g of sugar per 100g, and Special K has 12g of sugar per 100g; and you haven't even added fruit, honey, low-fat yoghurt or skimmed milk yet - we'll talk about those later.
4. Sugar can have negative affects your immune system. Eating just a tablespoon can lower your immunity for up to four hours, so imagine what eating processed carbs for every meal or just one sugary snack daily is doing to your body - something to really think about if you have autoimmune issues.
6. Obviously, there’s sugar in alcoholic drinks and I’m sure you can google what drinks have the lowest amount of sugar in them. But alcohol itself has a confusing effect on blood sugar levels, as it prevents the liver from producing glucose. One consequence of this is that hypoglycemia can occur after a night of drinking - in sort your blood sugar levels drop, meaning your adrenals will have to go into overdrive to make up for this (we talked all about the adrenals in number nugget of knowledge.) Now, a glass or two every once in a while I’m sure is not going to have a big overall impact on your blood sugar levels. But if red wine is your best friend (she’s one of mine) then a friendship break might be needed for a little while.
8. It's not all about you either. Your male partner has a significant role to play in creating life - like 50%!! And surprise, surprise the effect of sugar on male fertility can be just as damaging. Men who eat too much sugar can suffer from insulin resistance, which can have an impact on their hormone disruption due to the overstimulation of the adrenal glands. Sugar can also have a big effect on their immunity, leaving them open to illnesses which may have an impact on sperm count.
9. There are at least 61 different names the food producers have come up with to try and trick us on the nutrient labels. Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup, Dextrose or crystal dextrose, Fructose, Maltose, Lactose, Sucrose, Glucose, Evaporated cane juice or fruit juice, Caramel, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Raw sugar, Dextrin and maltodextrin, Rice Syrup, Molasses, Evaporated corn sweetener, Confectioner’s powdered sugar, Agave nectar, Other fruit nectars (for example, pear nectar), Cane crystal, Cane sugar, Corn Sweetener, Crystalline Fructose, Dextrose, Fruit juice concentrates, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltose, Malt syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Sucrose and Syrup. Using a name for sugar that the consumer might not be aware of, makes it easier to skim over a long ingredient name in a hurry during a rushed shop and inadvertently take in more sugar than you want to.
And there they are - I hope you have learnt something new or have been reminded of a little nugget of knowledge you've forgotten. I know how it feels to watch your friends get pregnant on a “normal” diet and you’ll see others around you be able to get pregnant easily on frankly a sh*t diet, including alcohol and drugs. It’s unfair, but it’s life.
The sooner you accept that’s not going to be you the less struggle and heartache you’ll have. We all have different genetics, and yours is what has lead you here. Don't compare yourself to others - it's a waste of time.
Be mindful of what you're eating. Find a diet that works for you - start with (as much as you can) organic, real food. By doing this, you’re giving your body the nutrient-dense natural building blocks you need to rebuild and support the necessary functions of your reproductive system.
Through a clean diet, you can take control of your fertility and promote the natural production and balance of your hormones, a healthy menstrual cycle, egg development (which starts three months before ovulation), embryo development, implantation, and gestation.
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Anything written or said about health and diet are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. What worked for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. Product recommendations are based on what I used during my infertility journey or wish I had.