Managing blood sugar isn’t just the job of someone with diabetes. In fact, research shows that blood sugar levels can directly impact fertility, even in those without a diabetes diagnosis. Luckily, this is something we can improve with simple lifestyle upgrades. Let’s dive in!
What is glucose and insulin resistance?
Glucose comes from the foods you eat. It moves through your blood to your cells (blood sugar) and provides your body with energy. Insulin is the hormone that moves the glucose out of your blood and into your cells so it can be used for energy or stored in the liver for later use. Blood sugar will always rise after a meal, but if you consume food or drinks that are particularly high in sugar or carbohydrates, your glucose levels will spike, causing a variety of side effects, including fatigue (sugar crash), headaches, and cravings.
Over time, the cycle of spiking and crashing causes the cells to become resistant to insulin. If you have insulin resistance (up to 70% or more women with PCOS do!), then your body is unable to effectively use the glucose from your blood. Essentially, the insulin cannot “unlock” the doors of the cells, so blood sugar levels stay elevated.
How does blood sugar impact fertility & hormone health?
Even slightly elevated blood sugars over a few months can cause hormonal changes and decreased chances of conception. Insulin resistance is correlated with ovulation disorders, poor egg quality, lower IVF success rates, and increased risk of miscarriage. Excess insulin also leads to increased levels of testosterone - another main driver of PCOS symptoms.
Tips for regulating blood sugar
Even if your diet is “healthy” and you’re mindful about the foods you eat, your blood sugar levels could still be dysregulated. This study showed that 80% of non-diabetics experienced an unhealthy glucose spike after eating cereal for breakfast. So you’re likely experiencing these spikes in your own life, even if you don’t have PCOS or diabetes. So how can we balance our blood sugar and improve our health and fertility?
Build a Balanced Plate: Healthy fats are your new BFF! Incorporate wild caught seafood, organic olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, walnuts, flax seeds, and almonds into your diet. Ensure you’re pairing complex carbohydrates with plenty of fat, fiber, and protein to keep your blood sugar stable. Pro Tip: When it makes sense to do so - eat your veggies (fiber) first, followed by protein, then carbs. This helps to curb the glucose spike.
Go for a Walk: Research shows that going for a walk (even a short one!) after meals can dramatically reduce glucose levels.
Other tips for managing blood sugar include drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (diluted in water) right before a meal, eating a savory breakfast (you can find some ideas here), and avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrates on an empty stomach (no “naked” carbs!).