Making the decision to start a family can be an exciting one, but with so many factors to consider, it is important not to forget your eating habits and lifestyle choices. Often food and good nutrition is not the first thing that comes to mind when trying to conceive, however small changes can really help increase your chances. By addressing lifestyle and nutritional deficiencies many couples will go on to have healthy pregnancies. A study conducted by Foresight and the University of Surrey showed that couples with a previous history of infertility who made changes in their lifestyle, diet and took nutritional supplements had an 80% success rate.
At fertile ground we are passionate about bringing your body into balance. We do this by looking at your overall health and addressing any underlying issues before proceeding. Many women with ‘ unexplained infertility’ may have reproductive issues such as PCOS and endometriosis. Early investigations from a nutritional perspective invariably start with looking at your hormonal balance.
Hormones Oestrogen and Progesterone, predominately female hormones, are fed from an array of nutrients that we will talk about at a later date, however they are mainly made of fat so fat is essential to fertility and something we are very fond of at Fertile Ground! However before you stock up on the lard sandwiches - There are good fats and bad fats.
The good fats keep your hormonal system balanced and full of vitality and strength, so eat plenty of these. Foods like unheated olive oil sprinkled over any meal, unheated flaxseed oil, avocados, Omega 3 in oily fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines), raw nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and a butter. The war on ‘fat’ has had many casualties on the fertility side. One thing you won’t hear us saying at Fertile Ground is – ‘low fat’. The brain the master gland, where the signals for a lot of your endocrine system are based is made up of almost 35% fat, this fat is a vital factor in ensuring the hormonal messengers are delivered to ‘turn on’ or switch off hormones at specific times. Without fat these messages can sometimes go array.
Bad fats Block the uptake of good fats and can cause disease and will reduce fertility. Bad fats are: Trans fats, hydrogenated fats or fats that have been tampered with in any way. For example, the majority of vegetable oils found in supermarkets have been deodorised, refined and bleached, so avoid these. Hydrogenated fats are those which have their physical structure altered. Most commercially made margarines, cakes, biscuits, cereal bars, flapjacks, chocolate, crisps and pastries are bursting with these types of fats. Trans fat occur mainly when oil is heated too high, whether that be commercially or at home in the kitchen, like for example deep fried fish and chips or a packet of roasted nuts.
Good quality protein is also vital to promote fertility Insulin and thyroid hormones are made from protein, and an imbalance in these can lead to difficulty in conceiving. Protein is needed for cell growth, repair and immune function. Good quality protein includes fish, chicken, eggs, nuts and grass fed beef.
A range of carbohydrates will provide your body with a constant supply of energy Good carbohydrates, i.e carbs that will promote a balanced hormonal system as well as providing you with more sustained energy, are non-starchy vegetables and limited fruit. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice, biscuits, cakes and crisps will cause an imbalance in your hormonal system as they produce a quick insulin spike in the blood stream which in turn upset your sex hormones and over time will cause hormonal in balances. (if you have PCOS this is even more important!)
Vitamins and minerals Feed your body and hormones. If certain nutrients are missing from your diet, conceiving can become extremely hard. An example of this is the hormone LH (luteinising hormone), which causes your pituitary gland to stimulate the development of an egg (ovum). A deficiency in the mineral zinc or the vitamin B6 may cause a lower amount of LH, and can result in reduced fertility which has a knock on effect on all the other hormones. Vitamins and minerals can be obtained from a wide range of fresh whole foods, especially fruit and vegetables; aim for at least 8-10 portions of low GI vegetables (excluding the starchy ones such as potatoes) and 1-2 portions of fruit per day.
Probiotic literally means ‘pro life’. The use of them even in clinical settings is becoming more widely accepted in recent decades. Probiotics are used to replace and encourage the production of good bacteria and gut flora. At any one time we have trillions of bacteria in our gut, both good and bad. When our systems are out of kilter the bad microbial activity can create a state of disharmony and as the gut is where most of our nutrients are absorbed it is vital that a balanced microbial ecosystem is maintained. In regards to fertility a good level of probiotics will ensure nutrients are absorbed fully and that colon health is maintained. I will post about the importance of probiotics at a later date, but suffice to say, I recommended it as a staple! For more information on this for now visit: www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk
Water An average adult body is 50 to 65 percent water, so it makes sense to ensure that we are constantly topping this up. Water helps to flush out toxins from the body. The accumulation of various toxic substances and chemicals can contribute towards hormonal imbalances, or even directly affect sperm and egg cells. Dehydration can lead to blood thickening and sluggish circulation. This in turn may eventually interfere with the pelvis area and reproductive organs. Women - dehydration can hinder the production of cervical fluid/mucus also. Producing this in good quantities is a vital step to ensuring the swimmers are properly nourished and projected towards the egg.
Anti Nutrients Ensuring optimal fertility is not just about eating a fabulously rich wholesome diet, but taking care that you don’t consume any ‘anti nutrients’. When you consume these baddies they provide no nourishment, and actually use up minerals and vitamins just to process them, leaving you nutrient deficient. Anti-nutrients are sugar and anything that contains it, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, fizzy drinks/sodas and even fresh foods that have been sprayed with lots of pesticides.
A varied wholesome diet is necessary to maintain your fertility. You are made up what you eat and your body will respond positively to a healthy and holistically balanced diet. When you begin to eat healthily and drink lots of water, you’ll see changes in your body, a positive mood and fertile bedrock will develop as a result of these changes.
If you want to find about more about how I can help you towards optimum nutrition prior to conception email me at firstname.lastname@example.org