“Sorry folks, this is probably the least you are going to weigh for the rest of the year,” said Alex Gil, a friend of mine on Facebook and well known personal trainer. Ah yes, I said to myself, she must be referring to the upcoming holiday season. While I consume significant amounts of sugar all year long, I probably double my normal intake during the holidays. Of course I would like to cut back on sugar to look awesome in a swimsuit and be uber healthy. The thing is, however, I love cookies.
The first time I read an article nearly 10 years ago, about sugar being dangerous, I got angry. Why are nutritionist always taking away the things I love to eat?! Bread, coffee, beer, cheese and now sugar. Sugar is fine! Leave my sugar alone. I was speaking like a true addict.
As we continue to get heavier and sicker we can not escape the truth about sugar any longer. This is not like other fads we've gone through, for example, the ‘fat is unhealthy, oh never mind, it actually is healthy' fad. This is like how our grandparents generation had to face the hard reality that their favorite habit, smoking, is not at all healthy.
We simply are not made to consume the amount of sugar we put into our bodies each day. We are consuming 40% more sugar than we did in the 1950s (source). Studies find that on average we eat 22.2 teaspoons of sugar per day when we should be consuming 6 or less teaspoons per day (source). For some perspective: one 20oz bottle of Gatorade has 34 grams of sugar or 8.5 teaspoons of sugar and Mott's® Plus for Kids' Health Juice Apple Grape has 48 grams of sugar or 11 teaspoons of sugar.
We know and understand that other animals have dietary restrictions - you don’t feed a dog chocolate and you don’t feed your fish cookies. While we humans can eat quite a variety of food, the types of food we eat can make us gravely ill and yes, sugar is making us very sick.
“Farmers, ranchers and animal scientists know more about how nutrition affects fertility in cows, pigs and other commercially important animals than fertility experts know about how it affects reproduction in humans. There are small hints scattered across medical journals, but few systematic studies of this crucial connection in people” (source).
Too much sugar can cause a whole host of problems including insulin resistance, weight gain, yeast infections, lowered immunity and hormone disruption. Since too much sugar can cause hormone disruption, it can interfere with our fertility. In fact, it can make us infertile.
While cutting out sugar won’t help fix physical impediments such as cervical abnormalities, or tubal blockages, it will help with ovulatory dysfunction and a healthier you, pregnancy and baby. When it comes to trying to conceive, eating too much sugar can interfere with hormones that are involved with ovulation. A landmark study, the Nurses Study, which followed more than 18,000 women over 8 years, showed that women who ate a high-glycemic diet had a 92% (yes 92%!) more chance to have ovulatory infertility.
When there is an increase in insulin our bodies have a hard time breaking down previously stored fat and increase the amount of food converted to fat. This increases the overall fat in our body releases oestrogen which creates hormone imbalances that affect ovulation. It also can cause endometriosis.
The key here is that it’s not just overweight and unhealthy women. Eating diets high in sugar affects all women. Foods to avoid include more than simply dessert and sodas. Other foods that convert to sugar quickly include include foods such as white bread, white pastas, ketchup, and drinks (ice tea, sports drinks, sodas).
Eating a low sugar diet does not mean eating less carbohydrates. In the Nurses Study women who ate a lot of carbohydrates, but high fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrates, were perfectly healthy. In other words, it’s not carbohydrates that cause ovulation issues, it’s the type of carbohydrates.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are: Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons). Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).
Instead of telling myself, “you can’t have that cookie,” I’m going to tell myself, “I can have that cookie, but I chose to have this tasty hummus and carrots.” I’m choosing to take care of my body, my fertility and let's be honest here, also fitting into my skinny jeans.
Here is an article on the Fertility Diet which was born out of the results from the Nurses Study and has great eating recommendations. There absolutely will be times that I eat significantly over the recommended sugar intake, but I'm going to limit those times. I'm going to make a conservative effort to eat whole grains in place of unrefined simple carbs and save dessert for special occasions. Will you join me? Let’s do this together.