What is a bigger addiction than alcohol or cigarettes? Carbs. Many Americans are, in fact, ‘carbaholics’. Dr. Jerome Block, who hosts the well-known radio show ‘All Things Medical’ that I often co-host with him, refers to this phenomenon as ‘A nation of craphaholics’. Dr. Block considers many of the carbs that we overeat—bread, cookies, cakes, bagels, pizza, and white pasta—as ‘crap’. Why? These are dangerous foods.

At a recent lipid symposium in Philadelphia where 40 top heart and internal physicians gathered, the number one killer food that the convention agreed hurt heart health the most, was not fatty foods. No. The agreed upon dangerous food was carbs, especially refined carbohydrates.

Well, here is yet one more health issue to add to the carnage of nasty effects of overeating carbs. You will be shocked to find out what it is.

Researchers from the Delaware Institute for Reproductive Medicine noticed young, healthy women coming into their infertility clinic with unhealthy eggs. These women didn’t have diabetes and they weren’t obese, but their eggs weren’t healthy.

So a study was initiated to figure out why.

The 120 women in the study completed a 3-day dietary log. Much to everyone’s surprise, was that it turned out that the women with unresponsive eggs to IVF fertility treatments, were the ones eating the most carbs. These women were eating daily diets containing 60% to 70% carbohydrates. For example, they were eating oatmeal for breakfast, a bagel for lunch, pasta for dinner, and very little protein.

The women with high normal blood sugar levels, not in the diabetic range, but in the high normal range, had damaged eggs. Further investigation showed that the elevated blood sugar, but remember, in normal ranges, was toxic to the developing eggs.

The researchers were in fact able to keep eggs healthy, or damage them, depending on what the wanna-be mothers ate.  And, according to the scientists, these effects occurred “at the egg level.”

Patients were categorized into two groups, one whose average diet was more than 25% protein and those whose average diet was less than 25% protein.

The women eating more carbs weren’t heavier, didn’t have diabetes, and were basically healthy. But their eggs had significantly poor responses to the in vitro methods.  High blood sugar, not in diabetic range but in the high normal range, was found to be toxic to developing eggs, especially eggs that are 5-6 days old and are called blastocysts.

Blastocyst viability is critical in going on to make a successful baby. Blastocyst development was more successful in the high-protein group than in the low-protein group. This is very significant. Decreasing carbs and increasing protein foods, actually bathed eggs in a healthy, nutritious environment and kept them ‘safe’.

In fact, when protein intake was more than 25% of the diet and carbohydrate intake was less than 40%, the clinical pregnancy rate shot up to 80%! This is very significant.

A carbohydrate-rich diet was found to actually architect a hostile-egg environment. And this negative effect was not just with the eggs in the IVF program, but even, according to the researchers, before conception or implantation. In other words, diet; affects egg health prior to conception, during implantation, and probably throughout gestation. The effect of diet is a broad influential stroke.

Presented at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 61st Annual Clinical Meeting: May 6, 2013

I remember robust research that showed that pregnancy induced diabetes can be avoided by eating more protein and less carbs. Apparently the triad, moms, eggs, and embryos all don’t do well in a higher sugary environment, even if the level is within normal limits!

The take home is very compelling. If you are having trouble conceiving, if you are an IVF patient, if you have had recurrent miscarriages, of course check your progesterone levels, and your mineral levels (especially manganese which helps make hormones like progesterone). But, be vigilant to cut down on carbs and increase healthy protein foods.

Even polycystic ovarian syndrome patients, who are notorious for having infertility issues, have improved pregnancy rates after eating less carbs and increasing healthy proteins.

The effect of what we eat has a more and more appreciated role on various aspects of reproduction and sex hormone health.

Hormones, nutrients and food, all lean on each other… for good or bad.

Who would have thought that eating closer to a Paleo approach (less grains and carbs), at least eating less crapaholically, would make fertility more possible than improbable?

What we eat matters. And it’s as above, so below. Too much sugar isn’t good for grandma, it’s not good for the folks, and it isn’t good even for the unborn generation. What’s not good crosses all generations and permutations. Diet counts, on all accounts. This is yet one more example of the power of food.