For decades I have studied how to help patients make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but primarily to treat infertility. I have found that the role of diet and nutrition is very important not only in helping couples conceive, but also in helping them achieve a healthy pregnancy and birth.

As director of DVIF&G’s Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Early Detection and Treatment Program, I work with a team of medical nutrition therapists to help patients achieve a healthy weight to enhance their fertility. One of the tools that we use in nutrition counseling is the Glycemic Index (GI). The GI is a tool used to rank different types of carbohydrates, such as white rice, pasta, or cereal, according to their effect on blood sugar levels, also known as glucose levels. The higher the GI rating, the faster that carbohydrate turns to sugar in your blood. The lower the GI rating, the slower it turns to sugar in your blood. It’s important to remember that the GI measures not only how much the blood sugar level rises, but also how quickly.

A very important sugar of which most carbohydrates are comprised, glucose provides energy to the body’s cells after it has been carried to them in the bloodstream. It can be used immediately or stored for later use. When there’s too much glucose in the blood, high blood sugar occurs known as hyperglycemia. When there’s too little glucose in the blood, low blood sugar occurs known as hypoglycemia. Neither condition is recommended. The body works to keep these levels in balance. Use of the GI can help achieve a glucose balance that’s right for a particular individual.

The higher the number on the GI, the faster the carbohydrates are released. When carbohydrates are released quickly into the body, they cause sudden surges in insulin followed by a rapid decline in blood sugar. Over time, those accelerated surges of insulin can cause the body to become insulin resistant. This cycle also can cause you to overeat and gain weight.

The DVIF&G team recommends choosing foods with a low GI, 55 or lower, for several reasons:

• When you eat carbohydrates that rate low on the GI scale, you’ll have more energy.

• When you eat carbohydrates that rate low on the GI scale, you’ll feel more satisfied with less food.

• When you eat carbohydrates that rate low on the GI scale, you’ll experience no cravings.

• When you eat carbohydrates that rate low on the GI scale, you’ll be less likely to overeat.

For a complete listing of your favorite foods, visit www.glycemicindex.com.

Dr. Chung H. Wu is a leading expert on detecting and treating PCOS. To schedule an appointment with him at the DVIF&G office in Lawrenceville, please call 609-895-0088. For more information on the Delaware Valley Institute of Fertility & Genetics (DVIF&G), visit www.dvifg.com

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