Natural Pregnancy: Infertility and the Healing Power of Food

The standard American diet is characterized by fast food that’s ultra-convenient, but nutrient poor. Unless someone makes a conscious effort, they are likely eating a diet that is not beneficial for health because it contains too much sugar, hydrogenated oils, too few vegetables and overly processed flour-based foods. These food choices cause unnecessary weight gain while leaving your body starving for nutrients. Nutrient deficiency is a common issue, not only in third world countries, right here in the US.

 

Until I became pregnant with my first son I never really gave thought to how “wholesome” my diet was and I was more concerned with it being low-fat than anything else. I was never exposed to the idea that we should question our current food supply or the governments dietary recommendations. With the explosion of the internet and easy access to information I slowly started to question what I believed. What were the chemicals that were placed in foods to make them last longer, be low-fat and sugar-free? What was I trading in health for these labels? I didn’t have any health issues at this time, I was just curious. This curiosity continued as I chose what to feed my growing son and how labels on boxed foods contained so many ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce let alone understand.

 

Several months after having my first son we decided to try for another child, now I was suddenly infertile and there were no explanations as to why (see my story here). This is when I dove in deep to uncover my root cause to infertility. I overhauled my diet taking gluten out completely and introduced many more vegetables. Salads every day are a far cry from having adequate vegetable intake, lol. Pasture raised chickens, beef and wild caught fish were also now a necessity, not just an occasional indulgence. Also eliminating inflammatory foods like dairy and soy were part of my protocol.

 

What happened next was amazing, about 16 months after implementing the dietary changes I was able to conceive! How could these simple changes have such profound results? Each person is unique in their needs. For some it may be as simple as eating more nutrient dense foods. For others a complete overhaul and strict adherence may be necessary. There’s testing to help determine one’s needs along with a good history and intake to understand the challenges at hand. Food can’t cure everything and lead to a successful pregnancy all the time, but if you haven’t tried a healing diet to improve your chances of conception now is the time to start!

 

Another great example of this is in women who have the MTHFR mutation. Often times these women are susceptible to having miscarriages, difficulty conceiving and/or children with neural tube defects. Guess what corrects this issue? Folate, a simple compound found naturally in nutrient dense green veggies like kale, collards, avocado and broccoli among others. Behold the healing power of food, just another fine example. Our bodies are beautifully and wonderfully made to be able to convert this natural folate to a useable form whereas MTHFR carriers may not properly convert folic acid, Vit B9, found in many supplements and fortified (aka processed foods). The time is here to start questioning how you eat and how you can improve your nutrition to reap the benefits in health, conception and pregnancy. We must do so we can teach and continue to promote health.

Could Food Contribute to Infertility

 

Eating “healthy” is relative in 2019. In 1980 “healthy” was avoiding fat and focusing on low fat higher carbohydrate foods, fast forward to 2019 and you’ll find several different diets that people swear by for health. Vegan, Keto, Paleo, Gluten Free just to name a few.

 

Can a woman’s diet impact her fertility? When a woman wants to start trying to conceive there’s not a real definitive diet that she’s told to follow. To complicate matters, when there’s infertility, the guidance doesn’t get any better surrounding diet. One of my most recent clients was told to “eat healthy.” Healthy to her was staying away from fried food, eating low-fat yogurt every day and pasta with red sauce several times a week.

 

She came to me seeking nutritional guidance because she was positive for the MTHFR gene and sought to manage the condition with dietary changes. We changed a few things with her diet, emphasized real, minimally processed foods, limited sugar and insisted on lots of veggies. One of the unintended results was weight loss, which was welcome and she received a “good job, keep it up” from her medical team.

 

Every infertility client I work with gets a diet overhaul. Research on special diets and their impact on infertility is an area that isn’t well researched yet. There’s no need to wait for the data to come in before we implement some important changes. Diet can be so critical in people suffering from autoimmune disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease so why would we ignore it in the infertility patient?

 

The key things I look for when helping an infertility client conceive:

 

-Food Allergies – causing internal inflammation

-MTHFR status – why wait to find this out, it could be too late, can be helped significantly with food

-Removing and then reintroducing foods that are commonly allergenic

-Organic produce, meats, nuts and seeds whenever possible – limiting exposure to toxins

 

 

Food and the nutrients they provide are crucial to health and life. Some foods are problematic for some while they are helpful and nurturing to others. Uncovering these issues and providing the body what it needs to be healthy and sustain life is not a one-size-fits-all approach. If you are struggling with infertility please start to seek out how individual nutrition plans can help you on your journey to conception.

Is your stress bucket overflowing?

Stress reduction tips

 

Stress can be one of the biggest offenders that contributes to poor health, in fact, every major diagnosed disease has stress as a common denominator*. One of the main mechanisms that’s currently understood when it comes to stress and poor health has to do with the effects stress has on the immune system. Our immune systems are essential to maintaining health and fighting off or modulating disease. When stress, emotional, physical or biochemical in nature, is poorly managed it will begin to down regulate or over stimulate the immune system. These are two ends of the spectrum that will result in health symptoms and conditions. Finding a way to manage stress that resinates for you is one of the best things you can do for improving your current health as well as your future well-being, easier said than done:)

 

Quick tips to reduce stress:

 

  • Walking - Can help balance your circadian rhythm. This can translate into better cortisol (stress hormone) regulation.
  • Eating - Eat at the right times of day, not all day and not all night**. This too helps set your circadian rhythm keeping cortisol in its happy place and keeping your waistline in check.
  • Sleep - Getting “adequate” sleep is key and this might look different for everyone. Some people need 7.5 hours and others do better with 9 hours or somewhere in-between. Guess what, sleep is also connected to your circadian rhythm, are you starting to see a commonality here:)
  • Meditation or reflection time - Call it what you will, you need to take a few minutes every day to breathe deeply and focus on nothing. This can help get you into a parasympathetic, rest and digest state. We need to be intentional about getting out of the fight or flight sympathetic dominant patterns that so many of us gravitate towards, this is the pattern that allows stress to precipitate.
  • Removing overly processed foods - Eating is complicated and it can make or break someones health. Become more aware of how your body feels/reacts when you feed it good wholesome minimally processed foods compared to fast foods and overly processed items like breads, pastries and snack foods. If the foods aren’t agreeing with you, they are causing a stress on the digestive system and body as a whole.

 

 

These should offer a great starting place for most people, jump in and see what benefits you notice:)

 

 


    
    

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

** http://caloriesproper.com/