How to Eat to Balance Blood Sugar Levels – the rules
Blood sugar is an important component of maintaining good fertility health. High levels of blood sugar can cause a number of issues that can impact fertility, including:
- Higher risk of diabetes and obesity, both of which contribute to infertility
- An imbalance in hormones, such as an increase in testosterone and luteinising hormone, which can lead to irregular menstrual cycles
- Reduced egg quality due to higher oxidative stress and inflammation caused by high blood glucose levels
To keep your fertility health in check and reduce the chances of developing insulin-related issues, it’s important to keep your blood sugar stable and within the normal range. The following 8 rules can help you keep your fertility health in check!
- Eat protein at every meal, especially breakfast
The way the first meal of the day impacts your blood sugar levels will dictate how your blood sugar responds for the rest of the day. If your breakfast causes blood sugar levels to rocket, which will be followed by a rapid blood sugar dip and it will be difficult to get that under control later in the day. If you start off the day with a balanced breakfast that encourages gradual release of blood glucose will set you off on the right track to achieve balanced blood sugar for the rest of the day.
The most important rule for breakfast is to incorporate a protein source at breakfast, introducing protein at breakfast time will ensure a sustained and balanced release of glucose throughout the morning.
So include protein sources such as:
- High Protein Greek Yoghurt
- Nut butter (peanut or almond)
- Milled Seeds (Linwoods milled flaxseed or hemp seeds)
- Cut out sugar and refined carbs and replace with wholegrain slow-release carbs
You will only get blood sugar levels under control by avoiding fast release carbohydrates as much as possible, so that means reducing intake of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. So cut out sugar and white carbohydrates such as white bread and crackers and replace with higher fibre, slow release carbs such as:
- Rye bread
- Brown rice
- Wholegrain pasta
- Have a source of good fats at each meal
In the same way that combining your carbohydrates with protein slows down release of blood glucose, so too does adding a source of good fats at each meal. So try and focus on including a source of good fats at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sources of good fats include
- Olive oil
- Rapeseed oil (cold-pressed)
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butters
4. Watch your fruit intake
It can be tempting to fill up on fruit throughout the day to try and hit the target of 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables daily. However, it is important to recognise that too much fruit throughout the day can add up to a significant sugar intake. Aim to eat a maximum of 2 servings of fruit a day (a serving = a handful) and fill up on vegetables instead.
Avoid processed forms of fruit such as dried fruit and fruit juices, even though these foods provide nutrients they are a concentrated source of fruit sugars and therefore can cause blood sugar to really spike.
5. Try intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating
When we are constantly eating by snacking or grazing we are constantly producing blood glucose and insulin – contributing to weight gain and insulin resistance. By avoiding snacking between meals, or even following a fasting regime we instantly reduce the amount of insulin we are producing throughout the day, Suitable fasting approaches include time-restricted eating (where you eat all meals within an 8 hour window and fast for 16 hours) or intermittent fasting (fasting on 500-600 calories 1-2 days a week). Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating have both been proven to have significant health benefits in numerous clinical trials.
6. Eat your carbs cold
When potatoes and pasta are cooked and then cooled they release resistant starch and this resistant starch takes quite a lot of effort to digest, and therefore these cold foods release glucose more slowly and gradually. So eating your pasta or potatoes in a cold salad will result in a reduced blood sugar response compared to eating them warm. Instead of dressing these foods in a mayo based dressing why not try an olive oil based dressing.
7. Eat to support gut bacteria
We are only starting to understand that the GOOD bacteria that live within our digestive system have a BIG impact on our blood sugar response after a meal. So eating in a way that supports good bacteria population is really important, so fill up on fermented foods such as Apple Cider Vinegar, Kombucha, Kefir, or Sauerkraut. If you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes or an insulin resistant condition such as PCOS you may want to consider a probiotic supplement.
8. Introduce Foods that will support blood sugar balance – certain foods deserve a special mention because they play a role in improving blood sugar balance. So try and introduce these foods into your diet on a daily basis to experience the benefits.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Green Tea
- Red Bush tea
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Check out some Fertility Boosting recipes here