This substance in its refined form has only been present in the human diet for less than 300 years yet the average American now consumes 160 pounds of it each year! It is an anti-nutrient because it leaches nutrients needed for its digestion, from your system, damaging health and fertility in the process. What is this fertility anti-nutrient? It’s refined white sugar and even in small quantities it can put your body into hormonal and biochemical chaos for several hours.
Added to thousands of supermarket products
Many people add sugar to tea or coffee or cereal and believe it can’t be that bad, besides the brain needs sugar to function. You’ll be surprised to find out just how damaging that habit may be. However even if you go out of your way to avoid adding sugar to your cooking, if you eat processed supermarket food it’s almost impossible to avoid sugar in your diet. The good news is most people dont need to eliminate sugar completely but if you’re struggling with fertility issues you should reduce your exposure to this substance to a minimum.
Refined ‘White’ Sugar
Refined sugar is the white sugar which is the most commonly used form of sugar in processed foods such as bread, biscuits, cakes, cereal, baked products, chocolate, instant soups, sauces, ready to eat noodles, pastas, jams, ketchup, pre-made pasta sauces, soft drinks, juices, syrups, yoghurt, ice cream etc… And is the most commonly used sugar in restaurants and school canteens. In fact do your own experiment and the next time you are in a supermarket read the labels of every item you put in your basket and write down how many contain sugar. You’ll probably be shocked and may well leave the supermarket with only fresh unprocessed foods, which is what you want for optimal fertility.
Hormonal and Biochemical Chaos
The sugarcane contains nutrients and minerals needed for proper sugar metabolism. To make white sugar the sugarcane is stripped of it’s outer layers which contain nutrients. Now only sugar is left over. To make sugar white it’s often bleached with chlorine, which poses another range of health and fertility dangers.
When you ingest sugar or eat food containing white sugar, your body goes into hormonal and biochemical chaos. Why? Because it requires specific minerals to break it down (the same ones which are found in the whole sugarcane plant). As your body can’t get these nutrients from refined sugar it raids your own nutrient reserves to be able to digest sugar you just ingested. As such sugar is rightly named an anti-nutrient, robbing you of your health and fertility.
Key fertility nutrients are lost
Interestingly enough the nutrients the body leaches to digest sugar are the key fertility nutrients such as calcium, chromium, magnesium and zinc. If you think about how much sugar we ingest just by eating processed food, eating at restaurants or snacking on chocolate and biscuits you can imagine how low our reserves of these nutrients can become.
To make matters worse, when you lose minerals your body can not make enough digestive enzymes to break down everything you eat. This not only leads to further complications such as poor digestion and absorption of nutrients from food but it also increases your chances developing allergies and food intolerances as partly digested food particles can end up in your bloodstream.
Fertility is lost
Immune system imbalances have been linked to hypothyroidism, endometriosis, poor sperm quality, sperm allergy, PCOS and miscarriages.
Ingestion of sugar causes your blood sugar to skyrocket which causes your insulin to skyrocket too. Every time you ingest sugar you insulin gets released. Overtime the cell receptors become tired of being bombarded with insulin and become resistant – hence the name insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a symptom of PCOS and diabetes and can lead to infertility, immune problems and obesity.
When the cells become insulin resistant, the cell can no longer absorb sugar and the environment outside the cell becomes saturated with sugar. This makes the body acidic and invites bacteria and other pathogens to thrive which further erodes your chances of becoming pregnant. Sperm need an alkaline environment to thrive. And if you have candida (yeast overgrowth) or some other bacterial outbreak not only can these pathogens damage the sperm but they can also damage the embryo leading to a miscarriage.
When one hormone is out of tune all hormones become out of tune
The body orchestrates a symphony of hormones. When one hormone is out of tune the hormonal balance is lost. Now not only is your insulin out of control but your FSH, LH, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone follow the suit and become out of balance leading to infertility.
If you make one change in your diet let it be to eliminate refined sugar (that includes processed food) if you are struggling to get pregnant. And don’t worry, your brain will get all the sugar it needs from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Need more reasons to exclude sugar from your diet?
Read Dr. Nancy Appelton’s ‘146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health’ (and I’ll add fertility).
Here are 17 out of 146 proven reasons to leave sugar out of your diet:
For the rest of the 146 reasons visit Dr. Appelton’s site here.
Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are not the solution either. They are toxic and dangerous substances. You really need to work on changing your dietary habits by switching to unprocessed organic food to add key fertility nutrients and minimize your exposure to fertility anti-nutrients of which sugar is one.
What are your thoughts on sugar and processed food? Are you a sugar junkie? Or are you vigilant about excluding sugar from your diet? Let me know!
Iva Keene MRMed. ND. is an internationally recognized Natural Fertility specialist and accredited Naturopathic Physician who has helped thousands of couples with fertility problems through her published information and personalized coaching programs. Her Free Fertility Coaching mini-course uses her research and clinical experience to help you be more empowered, more fertile and have a healthier baby.