Many people know that it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet when they’re trying to conceive. But they might not know why. Keeping blood sugar reasonably even, without major spikes (or dips), can help keep the rest of the body, and especially the reproductive system, in order. Blood sugar spikes and dips can wreck havoc on a number of the body’s systems. In the long run, it can interfere with the nervous system, kidneys, eyes, heart, and the reproductive system.
When you eat sugary foods and your blood glucose spikes, your body responds by releasing insulin, which is a hormone that helps move glucose out of the blood stream into the cells for storage. This is all well and good and how the body is supposed to work. The problem is that insulin resembles another hormone whose job is to help eggs and sperm mature. When the body has too much insulin and confuses it with reproductive hormones, it produces less of the reproductive hormones. That’s bad news for fertility because it can cause issues with the production of eggs and sperm, and can cause miscarriages.
How do you avoid blood sugar spikes?
- Try to eat protein with every meal and snack – your digestive system breaks down protein more slowly than carbohydrates, providing energy over a longer time period of time.
- Eat lots of fiber – fiber helps slow the absorption of glucose from food so the body has more time to handle it. Look for fiber in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Opt for complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables) rather than simple carbohydrates (processed foods).
- Exercise moderately several times per week – this helps improve insulin sensitivity in the long term. CAUTION: High intensity exercise can cause blood sugar spikes, so keep it moderate at the gym or on the trail.
- Get plenty of good-quality sleep – this also improves insulin sensitivity.
- Reduce stress – stress causes your body to release cortisol and adrenaline, which causes the body to put more glucose into the blood stream to deal with the “emergency.”
Causes of Blood Sugar Spikes
There are also some surprising causes of blood sugar spikes:
- Artificial sweeteners – some research shows that artificial sweeteners can raise blood sugar.
- Caffeine – some people are extra sensitive to caffeine’s impact on blood sugar
- Skipping breakfast – this can cause spikes in blood sugar after lunch and dinner, and is just not a good idea all around
- Dehydration – this increases the concentration of glucose in the blood
- Gum disease – actually, any inflammation in the body can lead to higher blood sugar levels.
- Time of day – some people have a blood sugar spike first thing in the morning, others find they have more spikes toward the end of the day.
- Smoking cigarettes – nicotine changes cells so they don’t respond to insulin, which leaves more glucose in the bloodstream.
- Menstrual cycle – some people have more blood sugar spikes the around ovulation and just before their period as hormones fluctuate.
To sum up, keep your blood sugar levels from spiking or dipping too much by eating more protein and fiber, getting good sleep and exercise, and reducing stress. There are some other factors that can influence blood sugar, but if you stick to these habits, you will be doing yourself a favor – and you will have better fertility to show for it. Remember: Eat well and you may get pregnant sooner!