Did you ever stop and think that what you are eating may be aging you faster and consequently lead to poor quality eggs and the diagnosis of “old eggs”? I’ve received so many emails in the last few months from distraught women who want to improve egg quality. They’ve been told their eggs are too old for conception. While some of these women are in their 40’s, quite a few are still in their mid to late 30’s.
And yet, in spite of the chronological age and poor prognostic outlook, many of these women go on to improve egg quality, conceive with their own eggs and give birth to healthy babies. Those who do often made some changes to their diet and lifestyles. They followed them religiously for a minimum of a year.
In case you’re wondering what causes poor egg quality, one particular substance has been on the research radar for a good decade. It’s been linked to tooth decay, acne, diabetes, weight gain, poor immunity, ADD (attention deficit disorder), hyperactivity and aggression, cancer proliferation and now aging! You may have guessed what I’m talking about – SUGAR.
Some of the poor egg quality symptoms are the inability to conceive and frequent miscarriages. That’s why knowing how to improve egg quality and quantity is very important, especially when you’re trying to conceive, whether you’re still young or already in your 40s. And when it comes to egg quality, you’ll be surprised that there’s a massive connection between sugar and your egg health.
Here’s how sugar affects your egg quality:
Sugar lowers your egg quality through a process called glycation. What is glycation and what’s it got to do with your cells?
From diabetic research, we have learned that when you consume sugar (glucose) – there is a chemical reaction (glycation) that takes place between sugar molecules and your fat and protein molecules. As this reaction is not controlled by the enzymes, glycation does not take place in designated areas of the cell where the sugar molecule can be put to good use. Instead, it happens all over the cell, which causes the cell to malfunction. When the cell malfunctions, it leads to poor intake of oxygen, water and nutrients and lowered ability to expel toxic substances and free radicals. Consequently, this can lead to DNA damage and death of the cell.
This glycation process, like anything in the body, creates so-called ‘end products’. Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs), the end products of glycation, affect the tissue by
is making protein fibers stiff and malformed. However, not only do AGEs make your cells become stiff and cause them to malfunction — these end products also act as free radicals speeding up the aging process.
A study published in Human Reproduction in 2011 linked the formation of AGEs to DNA damage in the eggs, lower fertilization rates, poor follicular and embryonic development and lower pregnancy rates IRRESPECTIVE of age! And this offers one explanation why many of our clients are diagnosed with “old eggs” even in their 30s! This negative effect on egg quality and age is especially pronounced in women with PCOS and diabetes.
Eggs need to be plump, with soft zona pellucida (the outer shell of the egg) so that sperm can easily penetrate it. Hardening of the zona pellucida gives the eggs a shriveled and old appearance and makes it very difficult for the sperm to penetrate it. This is when your RE will recommend ICSI or stay away from your eggs in the first place due to the high risk of chromosomal damage and poor egg division due to the DNA damage.
The good news is, old glycated collagen (which causes wrinkles and shriveled hard eggs) will eventually be eliminated. It will be recycled and reused for new collagen formation. But this time you need to make sure you are not bombarding your cells with S-u-g-a-r!
Sugar comes in many shapes and forms and is virtually unavoidable. Vegetables, fruit and whole grains all contain sugar. But there is good and bad sugar: Hi GI and Low GI variety. If you’re thinking, “how can I improve egg quality naturally?”, the answer is plain and simple — avoid eating bad sugar.
You need to stay clear of the Hi GI variety, especially:
And if you want to turn back the clock, improve egg quality, and speed up the recycling of the collagen fibers your new best friend is – Green tea!
Green tea stimulates collagen synthesis and interferes with glycation and formation of AGEs! Make sure you drink the organic variety as pesticides are villains worthy of a whole article to themselves.
Besides cutting back on “bad sugar” and drinking green tea to improve egg quality, there are other things you can do to improve your egg quality naturally.
Load up on your fruits and vegetables, whole gluten-free grains, berries, nuts and seeds — these contain vitamins and minerals that are essential in ensuring optimal egg health.
While stress may not directly cause infertility, it may negatively affect your egg health. Also, according to one study, women who are stressed take longer to get pregnant — about 29% longer than women who are less stressed out.
Plenty of studies through the years have proven that exercise can help improve egg quality. Cutting back on calories to help maintain a healthy weight can also help improve egg quality, according to a Harvard study.
Another way to help maintain good egg health is to minimize your exposure to substances that may be toxic to your egg. Some examples of what you should avoid include the following:
There are supplements that have proven benefits for egg health. You can take these supplements with the advice of your physician or your natural fertility doctor. If you’re wondering about what supplements to take to improve egg quality, here are some examples:
Consulting a natural fertility specialist can help you gain expert advice when it comes to safe non-medical alternative treatments for poor egg health. Depending on your condition, you may be encouraged to do acupuncture, take natural herbs or other natural treatments.
read the labels, avoid refined carbs, drink organic green tea and give your RE a surprise when your eggs ‘miraculously’ become younger again after at least four months on this all natural treatment.
Bye-bye sugar and old eggs and welcome healthy fertilizable eggs! But be mindful that sugar is not the sole contributor to old eggs: alcohol, coffee, EM radiation, chemicals, stress etc, also play a role, so while it’s good to be mindful of AGEs it’s vital to follow the full egg rejuvenation program.
What are your thoughts on old eggs? Do you think it’s possible to turn back the time and improve egg quality? Would love to hear from you!
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Iva Keene is co-founder and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She has been a qualified, accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 13 years, holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Science and a Masters degree in Reproductive Medicine. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva's articles, videos, guides and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments and integrative reproductive health.