Carbohydrates. They are a hotly debated topic in the diet and weight loss industry. When included as part of a balanced diet they are essential for our bodies to function properly. However it is often the type of carbohydrate that decides our health, and the same is true for fertility.
Carbohydrates can be classified into two main groups: complex and simple. Simple carbohydrates are those which the body breaks down fast to be used for energy. They are found naturally in fruit and milk products, and in refined products like sugar, white bread and soft drinks. These types of carbohydrates significantly impact the insulin (or blood-sugar) levels of the body, which in turn affects the hormones. This can then impact the ovulation process in women by either reducing the number and quality of eggs or interrupting the menstrual cycle. Studies have shown, however, that quantity is a large factor here, too. The more simple carbohydrates that you eat, the worse the impact may be on your fertility.
Complex carbohydrates are broken down much more slowly by the body, and the blood-sugar levels rise at a pace that the body can handle more efficiently, which means the sugar gets to the places it needs to go more efficiently. These carbohydrates also provide the body with vitamins and minerals required for ideal health, as well as promoting the healthy function of reproductive organs and cells. Complex carbohydrates are found in beans, peas, whole grain bread, pasta, rice, lentils and starchy vegetables.
Studies have shown that complex carbohydrates can help to regulate and stimulate ovulation in women, and the minimal effect on the insulin levels keeps hormones balanced and functioning properly, helping to reduce ovulatory dysfunction. They also make you feel fuller for longer, which means maintaining a healthy weight is more achievable. Whole grains, a part of the complex carbohydrate group, have also been identified as a source of folic acid, which is essential for growing a healthy baby and producing both quality eggs and sperm.
The health benefits of complex carbohydrates far outweigh those of simple carbohydrates and when trying to conceive you want your body in the best shape it can be. Choosing foods with complex carbohydrates will ensure you are giving your body every chance of success in the fertility process, and will more than likely make you feel better in the process!