Saturday, January 26, 2008

Health & Nutrition: Infertility

I have also received some questions on infertility and diet lately. Although there are true medical conditions that prevent conception, there are also environmental factors that influence it significantly. A recent study was published by Harvard researchers and then reviewed in an article in Newsweek. On a personal note, I have observed three couples who have walked though infertility and found that by changing the mother's diet, they have successfully conceived.

Something very important to note is that in all these nutrition posts I am encouraging people to have a healthy diet, not encouraging them towards dieting. There are hundreds of fad diets. Anything I advocate is based on my motto:
"Moderation, not elimination, but not excess"
The only reason to eliminate a food from your diet is that it is harmful. There are allergies and there are intolerances. Those are genetic reasons why some people cannot eat certain foods. The rest of us need to apply what we know is wise and moderate.

Here are some thoughts on nutrition and fertility:
1) If you have been diagnosed with IBS, avoid whole wheat products. Avoiding wheat in your diet can reduce inflammation in your body and promote healthier levels of insulin and stress hormones.

2)Incorporate 2-3 whole milk dairy products into your diet. If you don't tolerate them very well plain, use chocolate syrup to sweeten milk, eat naturally sweetened yogurt and cheese which will help you to absorb it better. This is from a recent Harvard study based on the Nurses Health Study found in the newsweek article.

3)Check your BMI. If your body mass index is low or high, you have either too little or too much fat on your body which can affect hormone production. An ideal BMI for fertility is between 20 and 24. Body fat can influence your production of hormones and help to produce mature eggs during ovulation. If you do not have enough body fat it can lower your production of these hormones. If you are overweight, your body will have high levels of leptin which can suppress production of the neccessary hormones.

4)Enjoy moderate exercise.

5) Avoid all trans fats and use more unsaturated fats. As little as 4 grams of trans fat or the amount found in one donut has been shown to decrease fertility tremendously. Throw away all your salad dressings and use ones that are made only with olive oil. Eat more nuts and seeds.

Some of these recommendations are found in a very nutritionally sound book I've heard about called "The Fertility Diet". I am not surprised however by the fact that it is advocating a healthy diet. Another outstanding book on vegetarian nutrition, particularly helpful on suggestions for eating more plant proteins, is Laurel's Kitchen. The latter is quite old but it does have some of the best information I've read on vegetarian nutrition. Oddly enough, this was the book that taught my mother about nutrition and the majority of the information that was printed in the late 1970s STILL applies. Just goes to show you that a healthy diet doesn't change. It isn't a fad.

A good idea of what one day would look like that would be healthy (depending on your BMI goal)
Breakfast: a large bowl of Oatmeal with brown sugar, ground flaxseed and some whole milk
Snack: an apple
Lunch: egg salad on rye wasa crackers with carrots/veggies
Dinner: Lentil casserole with cheddar cheese (for the recipe you can check out my mom's blog)
Green salad with Olive oil based dressing
A glass of whole milk with chocolate syrup or full fat all natural ice cream (Breyers)

1 comment:

tessa said...
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