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Do Carbohydrates affect my Fertility?

February 01, 2013

Do Carbohydrates affect my Fertility?

I often get asked how long will it take for couples to fall pregnant using Chinese medicine?

The answer varies amongst each couple depending on their reproductive health, their weight, the type of diet they enjoy, various lifestyle factors and stress levels.

Chinese medicine is beneficial to assist couples with fertility through promoting better reproductive health. The treatment provided which includes acupuncture and/or herbal medicine is usually coupled with informing couples on what they can do at home to improve their chances of conceiving through fertility acupuncture.

Having a healthy weight range is essential for both men and women. The reason for this is that a diet high in carbohydrates will initiate high spikes of insulin in the body. The high levels of insulin may affect fertility as insulin is a hormone which may affect normal levels of other hormones in the body that influence fertility.

This is particularly worse in women that suffer poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Clinically I have observed quick results in couples affected by infertility due to the woman having PCOS when the diet is slightly adjusted and exercise is incorporated into a daily routine. Often there isn't significant weight loss however the change in diet and exercise regimen positively improves ovulation and so assisting with fertility.

For others not affected by any reproductive illness, excess weight around the abdomen can negatively affect fertility as the fat around the middle affects regulation of hormones. In both men and women estrogen levels can be abnormally elevated and some people may also have insulin resistance which would generate inflammation in the body. This inflammation will be seen by the body to be harmful and then reduce fertility as the body isn't in a healthy state to conceive.

It’s important to note that diabetes takes 7 years to develop, so no one wakes up with type-2 diabetes. I understand many people are confused by carbohydrates and are they good or are they evil? It’s quite simple, they are essential to be included in our diet however it’s the type of carbohydrates you eat and the amount per meal that will positively or negatively impact your health.

  • Low GI foods such as these listed below are great to be included in your diet on a daily basis:
    • Rice: Basmati, Brown and Wild
    • Legumes: Kidney, Adzuki, Green Beans, Borlotti Beans, Mung Beans, Lentils, Split Peas, Chick Peas, Green Peas
    • Vegetables: Broccoli, Spinach, All Green Leafy Vegetables, Asparagus, Avocado, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cauliflower
    • Dairy: Fruit-Free Yoghurt
    • Grains: Quinoa, Buckwheat, Oats, Sugar-Free Muesli (note gluten free muesli is often high GI)
    • Fruits: Stone Fruits, Apples, Pears,Orangesand Berries (always have what’s in season as allergies develop when fruits are eaten out of season)
    • Breads: Multi-grain, Soy and Linseed, Sourdough and Pumpernickel

The way you should consume carbohydrates to reduce the spike of insulin is combining them with protein. These two nutrients combined will help regulate your insulin levels and promote healthier regulation of hormones in your body.

A common mistake people make is with portion control. When you are eating a large quantity of low GI foods the reaction is similar as if you were eating high GI foods.

The important factor is to eat protein as big as your palm and half a plate of vegetables. The high protein gives you a sense of being full and the low GI foods make the sensation of fullness to last longer.

What your plate should look like:

Half the plate should be vegetables, a quarter of the plate animal protein (i.e.: fish, chicken, lean meats), an eighth should be low GI foods i.e.: rice, bread and another eighth is legumes

Combining regular exercise with these dietary changes will positively improve your fertility. A couple that exercises together and enjoys feeling fit will improve their relationship due to the positivity gained through the release of endorphins during exercise lifting their mood. The response of a happier mood is generally happier relationships around you as you want to surround yourself with like minded people.

It’s important to note that women under weight may also experience fertility issues. Our cells are made of fat and when a woman is trying to conceive but BMI is considered to be under weight it can result in irregular cycles, and ovulation irregularity making it difficult to track ovulation and enhance fertility. With regards to men it isn’t as detrimental however anyone minimising nutritional intake will affect maximal health and this can impact various areas of the body including the reproductive system.

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