One of the things clients ask me about most is how to use food to boost fertility.
That makes me very happy, because food is a truly powerful tool for your fertility. What could be more empowering than healthfully and mindfully eating your way to optimal fertility? Food is the foundation of health, and as you’ve probably heard me say, fertility is a function of health.
I believe in the ability of your healthy body to conceive. Figuring out the right foods and eating them at the right times for you is your primary foundation to improved fertility, balanced hormones and vibrant health.
Why an Optimal Diet Eases Fertility Stress
Unlike pretty much any other aspect of life, trying harder is not going to be the secret to success with fertility. Even the most advanced and highest-cost technology can’t guarantee you a healthy pregnancy and child. This lack of reward for effort ultimately translates into the subconscious as a sense of personal failure, inherent flaw, or lack of control. The human psyche is extremely stressed by having a lack of personal control within a negative situation.
I encourage my clients to find any little piece of personal control in their lives, and in their fertility situations specifically. The first place to start is with your food, because your food choices directly relate to your health and are fully within your control. (I know. That’s a #TruthBomb, right?)
Learning how to eat for fertility is one of the most effective ways you can restore positive personal influence in your fertility journey, while also giving a most incredible gift to your future child – the gift of better health potential through your pre-conception nutrition.
“Seed Cycling” is a traditional practice of gently supporting a healthy, normal menstrual cycle with biweekly rotations of specific seeds.
The first half of your menstrual cycle is dominated by estrogen. On Day 1 of your period until Day 14 (for some women, this is when ovulation occurs), flax and/or pumpkin seed is beneficial.
The second half of your menstrual cycle is dominated by progesterone. From Day 15-28 of the cycle, sesame and/or sunflower seed is beneficial.
Women who don’t menstruate, or who don’t have regular periods, can follow the lunar calendar, using the new moon to represent Day 1 of menstruation and the full moon to represent ovulation. Each calendar year there are 13 moon cycles of 4 weeks each, and anthropologists believe that women historically menstruated in coordination with one another and the moon cycles.
I recommend to my patients that they grind their seeds and add them to a smoothie, granola, organic plain yogurt, mixed into pesto or sprinkled onto meals.
Together with other therapies, Seed Cycling is a safe and nutritional way to reinforce the natural menstrual cycle, reduce PMS and support healthy fertility.
Revolutionize Your Fertility in 21 Days
In celebration of food as the foundation for healthy fertility, I’ve created my 21- Day Fertility Cleanse just for you! It’s a 3-week experience in delicious, clean eating and learning how to revolutionize your fertility diet to decrease inflammation, restart healthy hormone balance, and easily lose a few pounds, while enjoying easy, seasonal recipes created by a whole foods chef.
The 21-Day Revolutionize Your Fertility Cleanse starts on April 4th. Register by March 30th to save $100 AND be eligible to receive a complimentary Fertility Insight Session with me! ($97 value, available to the first 10 registrants only!)
As I write this post, it’s a brisk, cold morning in Guelph and the sun is shining – for what feels like the first time in weeks! This weather has definitely called to mind the importance of the “sunshine vitamin” in your fertility. We make vitamin D from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but if you’re anywhere north of the tropics (or south of the tropics for that matter!) you’re most likely not getting enough sun exposure fall through spring to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. (It’s almost as if we were DESIGNED to live on sun-soaked tropical islands, yes??)
- Helps maintain healthy reproductive organs in males and females
- Associated with good semen quality
- Supports healthy testosterone levels
- Reduces the harmful effects of excess estrogen on uterine fibroids (and is a proposed treatment for fibroids)
- Improves frequency of menstrual cycles in women with PCOS
- Boosts the metabolism in women with PCOS
Why Vitamin D Deficiency is Under-Discussed, Under-Diagnosed and Under-Dosed
Deficiency of vitamin D is under-diagnosed because there are no obvious symptoms, and most physicians and fertility clinics don’t recognize and discuss its importance with you and refer you for the test. Not only is vitamin D deficiency widely under-diagnosed, it’s also commonly under-dosed. Most health authorities like Health Canada recommend a daily dose of 1000 IU vitamin D daily for everyone from infants to elders. Meanwhile, most adults would benefit on many levels from a dose of 1000 IU-4000 IU daily depending on their needs, sun exposure, and metabolism. Due to outdated legislation, doses of more than 1000 IU per day are technically “prescription only” in Canada. Until conventional medical practice AND legislation catch up to the research, you won’t likely hear a daily dose over 1000 IU suggested by your physician and you won’t find more than this per single capsule or tablet. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so theoretically could build up in your system to toxic levels if you take very high doses over time. Current research shows that doses of 5000 IU taken daily for several months do not result in toxic levels of vitamin D. Always talk to your health care practitioner when deciding about supplement doses. (Note that your Prenatal or general multivitamin will likely provide 1000 IU vitamin D in your full daily dose).
Spring is a lovely time to think about growth, expansiveness, sprouting seeds, starting new projects, and of course, fertility! The natural world is full of fertile inspiration this season as fresh green things emerge almost magically from the earth, birds sing out their special appeals for mates, and the increasing sunlight, mild temperatures and abundance of fresher foods helps us feel that much healthier overall.
What is “overall health”? Beyond just the absence of disease, optimal health is a total state of wellness in body, mind and spirit – giving us the freedom to experience our fullest and best lives. The same factors holding you back from experiencing your best health are often the same as those preventing you from conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy.Last night I spoke to a group at our local public library about getting back-to-basics when dealing with infertility. Rather than trying to force the body to do something that contradicts its wisdom at a given time, we want to try to work with the body-mind to hear its messages and respond to its needs. Dietary habits, environmental toxins, immune system imbalances, anatomical and hormonal issues aside, stress is a significant obstacle to healthy fertility. How many of us have known a friend who’s been trying to get pregnant for a year or more, finally “gives up”, decides to adopt, and then gets pregnant? As Dr. Verna Hunt, ND, DC puts it, “If you were being chased by a grizzly bear, would you lie down and make love?” (Resounding “of course not”!) Simply put, being in a stressed state or “fight-or-flight mode” is incompatible with “fertile mode”, and it’s all due to two different arms of the nervous system – sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) vs. parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”, a.k.a. “let’s make a baby”) and the hormones that correspond to these states. Only one of these nervous systems gets to be dominant at at time. When we’re under chronic stress, we don’t get enough of the “rest-and-digest”, healing or fertile state that our bodies need to be healthy.Consider these simple strategies for diminishing stress:-Chop your to-do list. Planning to get too many things done in one day can lead to the stressful feelings of being overwhelmed, rushed, irritable, then disappointed when we realize we didn’t get it all done. Be realistic with your to-do list. See how you feel when you cut your list of tasks for today in half, and go from there.-Just say “no” to multitasking. Despite having become a strangely revered skill in the employment marketplace, multitasking can lead to feeling scattered, accomplishing less, frustration and even burnout. Recent studies have shown that multitasking can actually be harmful, by decreasing levels of serotonin – our “happy hormone” in the brain. Instead, focus on one thing at a time to decrease stress.
-Get great sleep. Deep, restorative sleep: the ultimate “rest-and-digest” state. While we’re asleep, our bodies and minds recover, rebuild and repair. By contrast, insomnia, sleep deprivation and irregular sleep schedules increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which interferes with sex hormones. A simple way to start getting better sleep is to completely darken your room, eliminating all “light pollution” from windows and electronics. Get your sleep environment so dark that you can’t see your hand when held up in front of your face.
For more natural ways to support healthy fertility and pregnancy, visit www.apnd.org, the web site of the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND).