Trying for a baby? You might want to rethink that slice of cake 10 months ago

Trying for a baby? You might want to rethink that slice of cake

Despite the vast amount of research and studies over the last few years telling us how bad sugar really is for our health and bodies, the majority of us still consume far too much of it.

But while we all know sugar makes you gain weight and can give you bad skin and cause conditions like diabetes, not that many are aware that is can also cause major problems for your fertility.

Yup, that's right. Your little three o'clock vending machine habit could be what is standing between you and a baby – at least if this expert is to be believed.

According to Australian natural fertility expert, author and acupuncturist Nat Kringoudis, sugar (most importantly fructose) is the absolute biggest fertility fizzers in our modern diet – mainly because it is playing complete havoc with our hormones.

Which becomes an issue when you realise that your endocrine system is in charge of your monthly cycle, as in; making sure you ovulate regularly and that your baby-making organs are doing their job properly.

Yep, having hormones that are out of whack can play a major part in conditions such as Endometriosis, PCOS and thyroid troubles, all of which can make getting pregnant all that much harder.

Kringoudis explains that the real problem here is that even trying to avoid fructose is no easy feat, as it is found in refined sugars and many fruits, sauces, dips, processed foods – pretty much in every corner of our modern diet.

"There is a host of issues sugar may cause but there are several specific ways that it affects fertility," she explains.

Party food and drink on coffee table, muffins and orange juice in a glass bottle with drinking straws. Woman sitting on sofa in the background.

Here are the biggest problems, according to the fertility expert:

Sugar disrupts your hormones:

Hormones are the drivers of all our body functions, but the intricacy of our sex hormones is my primary concern as a natural fertility expert.  Sugar consumption will drive our insulin too high, too quickly and only momentarily.  This quick peak creates a high and then we drop faster than a hot pie, leaving far more mess.  This is what’s know as the fight or flight response – the response of extended stimulation to the adrenal glands.  When our sugar levels drop, our adrenals release both cortisol and adrenalin to attempt to replenish sugar levels.  Eventually, this can lead to hormonal imbalance since progesterone (the main hormone required for ovulation to occur) and cortisol compete for the same receptor binding sites in the body AND cortisol is the bossy hormone – it will always win over progesterone.  Should this continue for a period of time, the entire endocrine system is upset and will lead to disruption of all sex hormones; oestrogen, progesterone, the androgens DHEA and testosterone for both sexes.

Sugar is Inflammatory:

Inflammation is simply our body’s response to damage, be it from infection, illness or allergies.  Sugar is inflammatory – mostly because our bodies aren’t designed to consume the quantities we see in modern western diets and our gut goes into a frenzy in trying to cope.  Inflammation is a normal body response toward recovery.  This is especially appropriate for women who suffer from Endometriosis.  Most women who cut sugar out of their diet will notice substantial changes and in some instances total recovery from Endometriosis.  When it comes to fertility and conception, Endometriosis can be an issue as it affects the uterine lining and making implantation of the embryo difficult.

Sugar leads to insulin resistance

Insulin is released by the pancreas to convert sugar to energy however the more sugar we eat, the more insulin the pancreas releases eventually leading to insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance can be to blame for issues with ovulation, maturation of the egg and implantation of the embryo into the uterine lining.  What’s more, these women are at a far higher risk of miscarriage than the average.  Many women who have PCOS have insulin resistance.

Sugar consumption can make PMS worse

Not only because of the inflammation already spoken of but also because of the hormone disruption also mentioned – and lets not forget, fertility isn’t just about the babies!  Feeling well all month around is all part of having healthy happy hormones.

Sugar zaps your vitamin and mineral stores

This can be a massive fertility factor.  Our hormones require specific amounts of vitamins and minerals to be well fueled.  The pill severely depletes our vitamin and mineral stores, as does fructose.  When our stores are low, our entire body is compromised which contributes to amenorrhea, irregular periods, lower immunity, increased infection (which can be a factor in miscarriage too), increased anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome… the list is big and very often the end ‘diagnosis’ is unexplained infertility.