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Yael AcuWellness

Balancing Mind Body & Soul

What’s standing in your way of optimal fertility?

Pregnant Woman

Infertility affects so many women today. 50% are attributed to female factor infertility and 20–30% to male factor infertility, while 20–30% is due to a combination of both male and female factors. The high costs of IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have made these options prohibitively expensive for many couples who wish to conceive. So, what other options do you have to support your health when trying to conceive?

Lifestyle-related risk factors, including stress, obesity, and suboptimal diet, have been shown to exacerbate infertility. These risk factors are modifiable (meaning you can change them!), non-intrusive and affordable, with the potential to improve fertility outcomes and overall health. Diet is especially important during the preconception phase. Diet, as a complementary treatment along with regular acupuncture, can improve fertility. Preconception nutrition has been linked to fertility, and in particular to ART success, with limited but promising evidence suggesting that preconception dietary behaviors may improve IVF outcomes, including oocyte and embryo quality, implantation, and successfully maintaining a pregnancy to term. Sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet as low-risk complementary fertility treatment may improve fertility partially or fully and reduce the need for prolonged or intensive pharmacological or surgical interventions.

An anti-inflammatory diet primarily consists of nutrient-dense, whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds. This type of diet definitely limits your sugar intake – sugar is evil when dealing with fertility. In addition, it’s vital to increase your protein intake. Inflammation plays a key role in your fertility journey.

Inflammation is a normal bodily process in response to infection or injury. However, prolonged chronic low-grade inflammation can have adverse effects on fertility, including disrupting the menstrual cycle, implantation failure, endometriosis, and recurrent miscarriage. In men, inflammation has been shown to have a negative impact on sperm quality.

I personally believe that eating a simple diet of whole foods consisting of high quality meats, wild fish, and limiting the amount of processed foods and sugar is best for fertility outcomes. Also, be very careful with additives in your food such as seed oils, natural flavors, and at all costs avoid anything sugar-free or fat-free. To be honest, the traditional hunter gatherer diet is probably the most ideal diet for fertility: eggs, meat, fish, berries, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Research has demonstrated the benefits of preconception diets in improving inflammation and fertility outcomes. While there are several different dietary patterns associated with positive fertility outcomes, a key link between them is managing inflammation through the diet.

So, what anti-inflammatory foods can you eat to support fertility?

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables: Eat the rainbow! Many anti-inflammatory powers. Dark leafy greens — low carb and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that protect against cellular damage. Green veggies contain natural plant compounds called isoflavonoids that can help your liver quickly excrete harmful, excess estrogen. Cruciferous veggies potent antioxidant activity for fighting inflammation. Berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C (which is an overall inflammation fighter), and can help the body produce more serotonin. Mushrooms, especially shiitake, contain substances that boost immunity and discourage inflammation.

Whole Grains: Certain whole grains are considered anti-inflammatory because they reduce levels of C-reactive protein in the blood (a marker for inflammation). It’s best to choose gluten free varieties such as brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, tiff, sorghum, and certified gluten free oats. Just be sure to eat in small quantities as the body does not process grains well as we age. Source non-GMO, organic when possible. Grains are fine to include in your diet, although due to the reasons mentioned above, I try to limit the amount of grains especially when trying to conceive.

Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are essential to proper cellular function and vitamin absorption. Can be found in nuts, oils like olive oil (organic cold pressed extra virgin), coconut oil, and avocado oil, avocados, fish, grass fed butter, ghee, among other healthy foods.

Fatty Fish and Seafood: Eating Omega 3 rich wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel several times a week yields heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory benefits. Ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids should be 1:1 if looking at traditional hunter gatherers. Most Americans consume way too much omega 6 fatty acids at a ratio of 20:1 (Omega 6/Omega 3). Including more Omega 3 fatty acids in diet will help keep Omega 6 in check. You’ll want to focus on protein, nuts and berries, and limit grains.

What foods, that create inflammation, should you avoid?

Gluten: A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, gluten can mount an immune attack against the body’s own cells, aka autoimmunity. This can cause small intestine hyperpermeability, or leaky gut, in which gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream, triggering further autoimmune cascade in the body.

Refined Sugar: This refers to sugar that has been stripped from planet sources and therefore devious of the context of the plant nutrients. Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup (in soft drinks and other processed foods are two examples. These sugars raise blood glucose levels, which in turn, spikes an insulin response, and can be stored as fat if your body has exceeded storage sites for excessive sugar in your liver and skeletal muscles. The more sugar you take in, the more of it your body must process, which requires more insulin — possibly leading to insulin resistance. Problems with insulin resistance and blood-sugar regulation can cause imbalances of key reproductive hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH. Sugar is highly inflammatory.

Dairy: Cow dairy is highly inflammatory for most people. The processing it goes through does not make it more nutritious, only more inflammatory. Many dairy foods contain a protein called the A1 casein protein, now thought to create a range of digestive and health issues. Individual dairy foods often vary in nutritional composition, which may lead to different effects on overall inflammation. If you choose to eat dairy, buy organic and grass fed, or from a trusted local farmer.

Seed Oils: This includes canola, corn, cottonseed, grape seed, rice bran, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils, etc. All of these oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids that break down into toxins when you cook with them. Maintaining the proper omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is important to balance inflammation. Too much omega 6 fatty acids relative to omega 3 fatty acids contributes to chronic inflammation, which damages the lining of blood vessels, affecting overall circulation, blood flow to the brain, and risks for heart disease and diabetes. The fatty acids in seed oils also generate a tremendous amount of free radicals (molecules that damage cells). Seeds oils are ingredients in many processed foods — watch out!

Chemical Food Additives: Most processed foods are laced with chemical additives designed to preserve shelf life, add color or artificial flavor, thicken the food, manipulate the taste, or otherwise tinker with the food in some way. Many of these additives alter gut microbes, creating an environment favorable for serious illness and spreading widespread damage to the body. Avoid “natural flavors”, which are 90% chemical junk allowed into our food system designed to be addictive. They’re not natural and they’re basically perfumes for your mouth.

Always read labels!!! Here are some examples of what to watch out for when buying milk alternatives:

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A post shared by Vani Hari | Food Babe (@thefoodbabe)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Vani Hari | Food Babe (@thefoodbabe)

If you love milk alternatives, here’s a guide to picking out the best brands for your health, along with recipes to make your own!

At the end of the day, eating more fresh, nutrient-dense, whole foods that come from nature and packaged foods with limited, identifiable ingredients is the easiest way to avoid the types of ingredients you don’t want to be eating.

– Anti-Inflammatory Diets in Fertility: An Evidence Review
– The Shocking Truth About Natural Flavors
– Intermittent Fasting Transformation
– The Food Babe

This article was posted in Acupuncture, Diet, Nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Women's Health and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.
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