Guest Post by Nutrition & Fitness Expert Sharon Jackson, exclusive for Baby Does NYC,
For many women with fertility problems, a past history of irregular menstrual cycles, gut issues or poly-cystic ovarian syndrome getting pregnant can be difficult. Men should be included, as their diet has a direct effect on their fertility as well.
They say that hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I knew what I do now, when I was trying to get pregnant. It took my husband and I a little over a year to conceive naturally and I think that’s pretty good, considering I was 42 and my husband 48. but maybe it would have been sooner if we ate differently. I had been physically active all my life, a fitness trainer for the last fifteen plus years and ate what I thought was a very healthy diet. Foods like oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, baked or grilled chicken breasts along with a giant green salad loaded with all sorts of colorful veggies. I made my own salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. God Forbid I used preservative laden store bought dressing! Dinner was often baked wild salmon with brown rice and more veggies. This all seemed like normal food as I used to think that fat was bad, and everything I ate was low fat. Yes, I was one of those fat phobic people. Red meat? No way! That was a heart attack on a plate. Whole eggs? Forget about it! Over the last few decades, mass media has eschewed meat and full fat dairy products as the source of heart disease and high cholesterol. A recent cover story in TIME magazine says that scientists were wrong about fat being the enemy they thought it once was: here.
What does fat have to do with getting pregnant? Everything! If you want to conceive, you need to eat fat. Plain and simple but that doesn’t mean loading up on Ben and Jerry’s and pizza with extra cheese. I’m talking about healthy fats. Cooking your own food and eating out less so you know what’s in your food. That may not be practical for everyone but do the best you can.
Ideally, it’s great if you can plan at least a year in advance to eat in such a way as to prepare your body so it can support a healthy pregnancy. Think of it like an Olympic event. A developing fetus needs many essential nutrients and it gets everything from you. Your body needs to have enough of these nutrients to give to the baby and for yourself. You wouldn’t run the New York City Marathon without training for it, so giving yourself time to prepare for conception is equally if not more important.
According to the Westin A.Price Foundation, (a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated non-industrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets), Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats. He wrote the book, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their effects.”
For those of use who live in big cities like New York where living off the land and making our own grass fed butter from grass fed cows is a completely foreign concept and not practical, there are ways around this to help you support a rich fertility diet. Fortunately, Manhattan is loaded with a variety of organic markets and butchers where you can find grass fed meat, butter, and organic produce.
First, let’s review the foods that lower your fertility:
- Soy – Modern soy foods block mineral absorption, inhibit protein digestion, depress thyroid function and contain potent carcinogens.
- Caffeine (In Coffee/Soda/Tea) – I know, I know. This is a big one for many people because it’s a habit. So many people depend on this to kick start their day, but that’s the problem. Try to consider what you’re doing to your adrenals as it can lead to adrenal fatigue, loss of calcium in your bones, it can cause muscle cramping due to magnesium depletion. When you drink coffee, your intestinal absorption of magnesium decreases. If you have to have it, stay with one cup and good quality organic like First Colony Rainforest Blend, Cafe Altura or The Organic Coffee Company.
- Table salt – Table salt is missing essential minerals that you don’t get when you have real salt like Himalyan and Celtic. Table salt is like eating poison as it’s been bleached to give it a white appearance, contains aluminum, ferrocyanide (sodium ferrocyanide is used in photography for bleaching and toning. It’s highly toxic in the lungs, blood, and mucus membranes. It’s known to cause organ damage with prolonged exposure).
- Processed foods or basically most foods that come in a box – The ingredients are too numerous to list but anything made with corn which is so cheap and toxic. Even if it says organic. This leads to grains, and corn is a grain which is laden with fungus. See the following links for more info on mycotoxins in corn and in our grain supplies:
I will say that it is possible to remove most of the anti-nutrients from grains (Lectins, enzyme inhibitors, gluten and Phytates) but it’s labor intensive. I feel you’re better off with tubers like yams and plantains. If you’re interested in trying it, check out this article and link that does a great job in explaining the process of fermenting grains and removing the anti-nutrients making it safe for consumption: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/soaked-sprouted-fermented-grains/#axzz3NwuCCqTA
- Alcohol – This is an obvious one. Some research and studies say one glass of red wine is fine but alcohol is made from grains so enough said. Watch Doug Kaufmann’s response on his site, www.knowthecause.com, to a Danish Study that okays drinking while pregnant: http://www.knowthecause.com/index.php?start=412
The Best Foods for Conscious Conception for men and women:
1) Fish roe & wild – caught oily fish
I’m not a huge fan of fish roe, but I love wild fish like salmon and cod. What you’ll get is food that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, DHA, EPA and vitamins D and B12 as well as trace minerals. Recommended amounts: Eat wild fish 2 to 4 times a week.
2) Cod Liver Oil
Some people may read this and say, “Blech!” but there are varieties that have a more pleasant taste enhanced by lemon. http://www.mynaturalmarket.com/carlson-norwegian-cod-liver-oil-lemon-flavor-500-ml.html
Fermented cod liver oil, much like, fish roe, is potentially rich in DHA, EPA, vitamin D, and in preformed Vitamin A. A poor maternal intake of vitamin A is implicated in malformation of the palate particularly around the time of conception as well as throughout pregnancy. The recommended amount according to the Weston A. Price Foundation is 20,000 IU of vitamin A from Cod Liver Oil and 2,000 IU of vitamin D.
3) Pastured Egg Yolk
Egg yolks from pasture raised hens, like fish roe, are deeply nutrient dense. They’re rich in fertility boosting omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and E as well as choline. Choline is important in preconception and as well as a pregnancy diet, as it helps with the development of the nervous system and brain. Beyond an essential role in brain development and the capacity for memory, promising studies found that maternal intake of choline might significantly decrease cognitive dysfunction in Downs Syndrome, at least in mice.
Recommended amount of eggs: two or more (yolks) daily.
As a teenager, I used to eat chicken liver and loved it. Then for some reason, years passed and I didn’t eat it. Recently, I put it back into my diet as my husband’s research and studies on human nutrition have been singing it’s praises for excellent health benefits. My favorite way to enjoy it is cooking it in grass fed beef tallow or ghee with onions. I season it with salt and pepper.
Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods a couple can eat if they’re planning to conceive. It will optimize the nutrition of a developing fetus. Liver is a rich source of folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin A (or retinol – only found in animal food sources).
Unfortunately, the national diet of most Americans has moved away from eating such rich sources of food and we choose convenience over the time it takes to make a home cooked meal with “Take Out” sources like pizza and other fast foods. It’s no wonder we’re seeing a greater number of babies being born with birth defects, autism, sensory processing disorders, malformation of the palate, neural tube defects.
Recommended amount of liver intake is 3-4 oz servings once or twice a week.
5) Butter & Full fat dairy
Not everyone can tolerate dairy and is lactose intolerant so this may not apply. However, I will say that lactose intolerance could possibly be due to gut problems that could be healed thru a GAPS diet (that’s another article- but it deals with healing intestinal disorders through a specific way of eating over time that gives the intestines a chance to function normally).
Butter and cream produced from cows grazing on green grasses were considered a fertility booster among traditional societies and held sacred. It sounds so counter intuitive to what we’ve been taught about eating rich foods but research shows that prior to industrialization, people ate these foods regularly and there was little incidence of heart disease. Butter and cream from grass fed cows are potent sources of fat soluble vitamins A and K2. Vitamin K2 is a nutrient that’s critical to reproductive health and growing babies. A recent study of over 18,000 women found that consumption of low-fat milk and skim milk products resulted in decreased fertility while consumption of full-fat dairy products saw an increase in fertility.
Recommended amounts of grass fed butter – 4 tbs daily. Raw milk is considered illegal to serve in New York State unless you own your own farm or cow. There are places where you can get it but grass fed butter can be more easily obtained from stores like whole foods. For milk, the other option may be grass fed whole milk. It’s not raw but it’s grass fed.
6) The last one is not a food so much as taking a good pro-biotic. I recommend Dr. Ohira. If you order it online it’s about $30 less. Whole Foods sells it for about $60 and www.mynaturalmarket.com sells it for about $30. If you buy 6 or more, it’s even less. A large percentage of our immune system is (70%) in our gut, so by keeping it healthy, you make a difference in your own health and that of your baby.
**Always consult your doctor before consuming these food types. The views, information contained in this article are not the opinions of Baby Does NYC.