FERTILITY PROBLEMS: RULES TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR

To balance your blood sugar, you need to follow three golden rules:

1. Eat complex carbohydrates regularly.

2. Avoid refined foods, especially sugar.

3. Reduce foods and drinks that are stimulants.

1. Eat Complex Carbohydrates Regularly

You need to eat foods that give a slow rise in blood sugar and keep a constant level for about three hours. Then you need to eat again, to prevent the level from dropping. Spacing food at three-hourly intervals in this way maintains a good balance.

And the best foods for this are complex carbohydrates. They give a slow release of energy because it takes time for the digestive tract to break them down into simpler substances that the body can use.

To help maintain a steady blood sugar level, aim to eat complex carbohydrates as part of your main meals and also regularly during the day. You do not necessarily need to eat large amounts. Sometimes just an oatcake between meals can be enough to keep eating urges at bay.

If you find the symptoms associated with low blood sugar level are greatest first thing in the morning or you wake during the night, heart pounding, and cannot get back to sleep, then it is very likely that your blood sugar level has dropped overnight and adrenalin has been released. Eating a small, starchy snack, like an oatcake, one hour before going to bed and, if possible, one hour after getting up, will help to alleviate these symptoms.

2. Avoid Refined Foods, Especially Sugar

Simple carbohydrates, with the exception of fruit, are all refined foods and should be avoided. Although fruit contains fructose (fruit sugar), which is a simple sugar, the fibre content of the fruit is a complex carbohydrate which slows the digestion rate. So fructose is acceptable when taken in the whole fruit, like an apple, but not when used in the refined form of powdered white fructose bought in boxes.

Pure fruit juice can also cause a rapid change in blood sugar level because it is not buffered by the fibre that is normally present in the fruit. It is therefore better to dilute fruit juice in water to make it less concentrated.

Sugar seems to be everywhere, even in unexpected places. And, by the way, the ‘brown-is-best rule’ doesn’t apply to sugar. All colours do the same damage to your blood sugar balance!

A can of cola may contain up to eight teaspoons of sugar, as may a pot of fruit yogurt. Most of the convenience foods and drinks we buy are laden with it. Sugar is also in savoury foods, such as baked beans and mayonnaise. Did you know that tomato ketchup has just 8 per cent less sugar, weight for weight, than ice cream, and that the cream substitute used for coffee is 65 per cent sugar (compared to 51 per cent for a chocolate bar)?

Indeed, sugar is added to practically everything, as it is an inexpensive bulking agent. Even some toothpastes contain sugar but, as toothpaste is not a food, sugar does not have to be included on the ingredients list.

This means that it contains no nutritional value so you can happily cut it out and lose nothing but weight. You may be tempted to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners – don’t. You are simply substituting an alien chemical which your body then has to deal with, giving it extra work, to do. Nobody really knows what havoc these chemicals may cause when introduced into our own bodies’ delicately balanced biochemistry.

If a food or drink is described as ‘low sugar’ or ‘diet’ it will usually contain an artificial chemical sweetener such as saccharin or aspartame. They are also found in some non-diet crisps, ice lollies, sauces, pot noodles and some over-the-counter medicines so it’s worth checking labels carefully.

3. Reduce Foods and Drinks That are Stimulants

Sugar, smoking and caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate and caffeinated soft drinks, are all stimulants and cause a fast rise in blood sugar level, followed by a quick drop. Avoid them whenever possible. Or, even better, cut them out of your diet completely. Replace with herbal teas and grain coffee, spring water and diluted pure fruit juices.

Do:

• Eat plenty of unrefined complex carbohydrates, including whole-wheat bread, whole meal pasta, potatoes, brown rice, millet, oats and rye.

• Eat fruit and drink diluted pure fruit juice.

• Always eat breakfast – porridge oats are good.

• Eat small, frequent meals no more than three hours apart.

• Reduce, and preferably avoid, stimulants including tea, coffee, chocolate, smoking and canned drinks that contain caffeine.

Don’t:

• Eat refined carbohydrates. Avoid ‘white’ in general. Remember that white flour is in many foods, like cakes, biscuits, pastries and white bread.

• Eat sugar or foods containing it, including chocolate, sweets, biscuits, pastries and soft drinks.

• Replace coffee with decaffeinated coffee (as it contains two other stimulants, even when the caffeine is removed).

• Eat convenience foods, as they are likely to contain refined carbohydrates, sugar and high levels of fat and salt.

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