“ Our Bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners” – William Shakespeare
We are all mostly aware of the impact of nutrition on the health of our bodies. Here at Natural Healing and Acupuncture, we use nutrition as the solid foundation for our reproductive vitality. The vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are extracted from the food we eat go to nourish every cell in our body. This , coupled with a strong digestive tract will serve to increase our reproductive capacity. . We can tailor the specifics based on a person’s individual goals.
Nutrition for Fertility
Chinese Medicine uses principles of food combining that optimize our health. In general , we look at the individual to access what specifics are out of balance. We come up with a Chinese diagnosis and then formulate custom suggestions for diet.
General principles for healthy eating say :
- If you can’t recognize the food you eat in nature than it probably means that it is processed and refined.
- Eat Organic if possible and especially those fruits and veggies that are grown without a lot of pesticides.
EAT THESE ORGANIC
Apples , Apricots, nectarines, peaches , Cherries
Grapes (Imported) may be fumigated with highly toxic methylbromide, buy local
Lemons, limes, oranges , Pears
Raspberries – Highly likely to contain pesticide and fungicide residue – buy local.
Strawberries – always buy organic.
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Ok to eat these non-organic
Blueberries – buy local wild is ok
Cantaloupe (Domestic) – It’s OK to eat domestically grown non-organic melons in season. However, cantaloupes imported from Mexico frequently test positive for pesticide residues and should be avoided
Bananas –have low pesticide residues and a thick skin makes non-organic an acceptable choice.
Grapefruit, Tangerines – Among citrus fruits, both rank low in pesticide residue which is mostly concentrated in peel.
Mangoes – This thick skinned tropical fruit typically has little or no pesticide residue
Watermelon – Pesticides do not work well for this crop and are used
Balancing blood sugar
When our blood sugar drops and this can happen from eating a very sugary breakfast, stress or waiting too long in between meals to eat, our adrenal glands produce more stress hormones. Glucose is always needed by the brain and body for function. Circulating epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol ( adrenal hormones) help the liver convert glycogen (stored glucose) into active blood glucose which is necessary for energy production.
When blood sugar becomes too low the condition is known as hypoglycemia. Real or perceived stress signals the body to raise blood sugar (glucose) in order to generate energy to cope with the demands the body thinks it has. This mechanism is ideal for mobilizing our physiology and having our body take action as in running away from an attacker. Unfortunately , many fertility patients are often feeling increased stress symptoms as they are waiting to find out results of many tests and/or are doing fertility treatments.
This stress combined with a refined based diet can lead to blood sugar imbalances and therefore have a negative impact on our fertility.
For many people, eating has become a coping skill to deal with difficult emotions. When under stress most people tend to be attracted to sugary foods. This compounds the problem.
Balancing blood sugar is equally important for conditions like PCOS where insulin resistance is already an issue. The pancreas secretes insulin in order to help get glucose into the cell where it is used for energy. In Insulin resistance, the pancreas must secrete more and more insulin in order to get the glucose into the cell because the cells start to not function properly. Aerobic exercise is helpful with people with insulin resistance (PCOS) because it helps get glucose into the cell without the need for insulin. Women with PCOS need to eat frequent meals throughout the day and also start breakfast with protein. One of the worst things one can do for sugar problems is to start the morning out with coffee and a pastry. The high content of sugar mixed with the caffeine can spike blood sugar with a concomitant crash hours later.
The healthiest fertility diet is to eat healthy meals and snacks with organic foods.
Recipe for Fertility Smoothie
One of the Chinese principles for healthy reproduction is to stay away from ice cold beverages and foods. When preparing this smoothie please keep this in mind. If you are using frozen berries wait awhile before consuming.
1. Non-hydrolyzed whey protein powder or vegan option of rice, pea and/or chlorella
2. Organic green powder containing veggies, wheat grass, spirulina, barley grass and or chlorella
3. Chia seeds for fiber
4. 2 cups coconut water , almond milk* or coconut milk* ( see recipe for homemade almond milk
5. 1 cup berries (organic)
6. can add ¼ teaspoon royal jelly
7. might add goji berries
8. I heaping tablespoon Maca if desired
*if using store bought almond/coconut milk please avoid the ingredient carrageenan as it has been linked to cancer.
Recipe for homemade almond milk
1. Pre-soak 1 cup of raw almonds (preferably organic) overnight. In morning take off the shells.
2. Put in blender with 3 cups of purified water
3. add 1 teaspoon vanilla
4. Can add cinnamon, dates, and honey for more sweetness .
What about Dairy?
In our ancestors time, dairy was considered a tonic to give to children and especially underweight ones to help them grow. In times when food was scarce people could live off veggies they grew and dairy products.
When dairy started to become massed produced dairy farms were not clean and disease started spreading because the dairy farms weren’t regulated. As with anything, there were no protocols set in place for health so disease took root. This is when the pasteurization process was developed which meant heating up the milk to kill bacteria. Then came the homogenization process which breaks down the big molecules of fat to tinier ones so the fat doesn’t separate at the top. Who knows how these processes affect our bodies digestion and absorption of dairy today.
There is a misconception that diary builds strong bones. In countries where dairy isn’t consumed as much there is a lower incidence of osteoporosis. Also, many animals don’t consume dairy passed being infants and have fine bone density.
In Chinese Medicine, dairy can have a dampening effect on individuals. This can manifest as excessive mucous in the body. There are cultures such as Asian-americans, African-americans, Mexican-americans and Jews where as a whole these cultures have lactose intolerance and limited dairy should be consumed . However if you are of a heritage that consumes a lot of dairy an example being a Scandinavian background, you might have a fine time digesting dairy.
It is hard to make a blanket statement about dairy but if you do choose to consume it here are some guidelines.
1. Choose organic options
2. Stay away from non-fat due to higher sugar content
3. Sheeps/goats are better sources due to the size of the animal. Many people have a higher tolerance of this type of dairy over cows dairy.
4. Pay attention to your signs and symptoms and if you have issues such as acid reflux, phlegm, allergies, irritable bowel than try taking dairy out for a week and see what happens.
5. If you are already lactose intolerant this probably means that dairy shouldn’t be consumed even if you take lactaid. Of course there are exceptions such a birthday etc.. but I find that the negative symptoms outweigh the pleasure.
Gluten Free or not?
Gluten is a protein found in grains including wheat, rye, barley and oats. If one is allergic to gluten the condition is called Celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disease where a person gets severe reactions to the gliadins ( gluten proteins). There are however, individuals who have a gluten intolerance. There are specific blood tests that one can do to figure out if they are gluten sensitive (Cyrex labs)
Gluten is the protein that causes grains to become more sticky. It is also added to other processed foods as a binder. Over the years, the wheat grain has changed. There are many varieties of wheat grown all over the world. Wheat that has a lot of gluten in it can be desirable to make bread and cakes as they will not fall apart. Wheat contains about 8-15% protein.
The wheat grain also has other ingredients within it that can be problematic. Besides gluten, it also contains a carbohydrate called fructan. This particular carb is part of the fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharide and polyols called FODMAPS. There are people who have sensitivity to these carbs as well as other products. Some of the symptoms can be gas, diarrhea, distension and other digestive problems. One study in 2013 published in Gastroenterology showed that some participants got symptom relief from a gluten free diet but more participants were helped by a low fodmap diet. This type of diet is recommended for patients with irritable bowel disease.
The wheat grain can increase inflammation in the gut. This is particularly important for people with autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, M.S., or other fertility autoantibodies.
Therefore, given the evidence against wheat, I conclude that if you are having fertility struggles it might be beneficial to stay away from the wheat grain. There are many substitutions such as rice, quinoa , and getting carbohydrates from other sources such as sweet potatoes and legumes.
I don’t , however, advocate, eating a bunch of refined “wheat free” products which seems to be the new trend. These provide empty calories that don’t serve our blood sugar and our health.
The Paleo diet
The paleo diet takes out all grains. Many people find they feel great on this type of eating plan. This is a good solution for some but the decision to eat a paleo diet should be made on a case by case basis.
Healthy Fats are a must
Omega 3 fatty acids are so important. They reduce inflammation, decrease blood clots, help with mood, decrease symptoms of PMS , and are good for autoimmune diseases. Most of us don’t eat enough foods with omega 3 such as salmon, sardines, flax and chia seeds. Therefore, we usually recommend a fish oil for women trying to conceive along with getting them from food.
Gamma Linolenic Acid – are fats in evening primrose oil and borage oils. These can be helpful before ovulation to increase cervical mucous and are good for PMS.
Other monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, coconut oil are good for you.
CHOOSE Grass fed organic meats
Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef because cows are not supposed to be fed a corn or soy based diet.
Omega 3s in beef that feed on grass is 7% of the total fat content, compared to 1% in grain-only fed beef. This is important because the typical American diet is lacking in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s in proper ratio in our bodies are anti-inflammatory
Grass-fed beef has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (3:1.)
Grass-fed beef contains minerals and vitamins, and is a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a fat that reduces the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.
Women who are menstruating benefit from eating red meat in their diet. It is important to choose the right kind. One doesn’t need to eat a whole cow at a meal but rather an appropriate amount added to the diet is beneficial.
No Refined Products ( stating the obvious)
Avoid alcohol and caffeine