What might be affecting your fertility?

The biggest factor keeping women from getting pregnant is the modern lifestyle and it is a big problem because already 1 in 7 women have trouble conceiving and a study out of the UK suggests that that number could rise to 1 in 3 by 2020.  I think diet is the most important aspect of infertility, stress coming in a very close second. Hormones, cell health, antioxidants ability to take on free radicals, detoxification capacity and blood sugar balance are all affected when your body is deprived of its nutrient building blocks.  All of these systems and more play a crucial role in the formation of sex hormones, egg and sperm health, ovulation and eventually implantation and pregnancy.  A Harvard study showed an 80% decrease in infertility by changing to a fertility diet.  Women who scored the highest on the fertility chart had the lowest intake of trans fat and sugar, consumed more protein from animals, ate more fiber and vegetables, consumed more iron and healthy fat and took multi vitamins. Before conception it is best to fix any nutrient deficiencies, fill up your nutrient stores and create the best health possible starting at a cellular level.  Dr. Weston A. Price a dentist who studied the lifestyles and diet of indigenous cultures observed that many traditional cultures start a specialized preconception diets for anywhere from 6 months to a year before getting pregnant.  It has been theorized that in a window of twelve months, the first 6 to 9 months should be spent on detoxification and healing the body and the last 3 months promoting maximum fertility.

What might be affecting your fertility?

Weight

Your weight plays a role in your ability to ovulate and fertilize an egg. Underweight and overweight women may experience hormone imbalance, which can lead to a stop in ovulation. You want to have at least 18% body fat in order to have regular ovulation.  The ideal body fat percentage for fertility is 29%.   Strenuous activity has the potential to delay ovulation.  It typically affects those who are athletes with a lower percentage of body fat.  The purpose of having the fat is to store estrogen as well as convert androgens to a type of estrogen needed for ovulation.  Estrogen tends to concentrate in fat cells, so if you have too many fat cells, you will have a surplus of estrogen.  This surplus of estrogen disrupts the delicate hormonal cycle, causing the production of testosterone, which can block the release of an egg.  Those who are underweight may still ovulate but may not produce enough estrogen to build the uterine lining strong enough to hold on to the fertilized egg.  Hormones contribute to obesity, and obesity creates a hormonal imbalance that slows metabolism and perpetuates itself.   You want to be at your ideal pregnancy weight at least six months before you conceive.  It is important, however, to not fluctuate in weight by too large a number or to lose or gain weight to fast.  A drastic change in weight either up or down can cause an influx of hormones causing infertility. 

Studies done by Harvard Medical School showed that if a mother is obese when she is pregnant, the child has a greater chance of being obese. (1)  The research showed that learned eating patterns did not make a difference in whether a child became obese.  A child who is born to an obese mother has a greater chance of being obese, and a child born to the same mother who lost weight before becoming pregnant and maintained a healthy pregnancy weight had a lower birth weight and a decreased chance of becoming obese.   Essentially what happens is that the child’s metabolism was made normal by their prenatal experience.  Mother’s have the opportunity to stop childhood obesity in the womb by maintaining a healthy body weight before and during pregnancy.  On the other hand a child born with a low birth weight reaches sexual maturity earlier and will have a smaller final stature. (2 p 5)

Consuming a fertility diet will help to maintain a healthy weight before, during and after pregnancy. 

PCOS

PCOS affects 1 in 15 women in the US.  Women with PCOS produce an excess of male hormones (androgens), making it difficult or impossible for the ovaries to produce an egg. Although there are many factors such as obesity, genetics and exposure to synthetic estrogens, the root cause of PCOS is insulin resistance.  Insulin is what our bodies use to regulate blood glucose, which must be kept in careful balance at all times.  Insulin is used to bring glucose (sugar from food) to the cell that is then used as energy.  If blood sugar levels stay elevated the pancreas will secrete more insulin in a failing attempt to keep it balanced.  After years of this abuse the body gives up.  Insulin resistance happens, which can eventually lead to diabetes.  For women PCOS is the first stop on the road to diabetes.   Free-floating insulin will create ciaos inside the body. It stimulates the ovaries to produce too much testosterone, which prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg, a leading cause of infertility.  The insulin also causes weight gain.  As glucose circulates in the body with nowhere to go the liver will pick it up and store it as fat.  Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in nutrients, living in a toxic environment and being exposed to synthetic chemicals can all increase your chances of becoming insulin resistant, overweight and stuck with PCOS and eventually diabetes.  Eating a fertility diet will help to stop and reverse PCOS and insulin resistance. 

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body mounts an attach against its own intestinal lining.   The little hair like villi that line the gut and absorb nutrients become paralyzed impairing the absorption of some nutrients.  Needless to say it is the nutrient deficiency that leads to infertility.  The main symptoms of celiac disease in adults are related to digestion.  Bloating, diarrhea, gas, distention and other totally embarrassing symptoms happen soon after consuming anything with gluten in it. Another condition called gluten intolerance affects many men and women.  Gluten intolerance has many of the same symptoms as celiac disease, but not to such a severe degree.  Removing the gluten and even all grain, healing the gut and following the fertility diet is key to removing the infertility related to celiac disease.

Genetically Modified Foods

There is mounting evidence that GM foods have a direct correlation to infertility.  Lab rats studies show uterine and ovary changes from eating GM soy.  When fed a GM soy diet for 2 years, rats had a high infant mortality rates, sick pups that failed to thrive and by the third generation, they were completely sterile.  The concept of feeding the world is a great concept, however big business has taken the nature out of nature and we are paying for it.  Learn more about this at The Institute for Responsible Technology

 

Male Fertility

A quick word on the importance of male fertility. As a society we tend to think it is all on the women, but the lower the sperm count and the poorer the sperm quality, the longer it will take to get pregnant. I think the omega6/omega3 balance is probably one of the biggest factors in male infertility. Omega6 promotes infertility in men and infertile men have lower concentrations of DHA and EPA in their sperm so they’re not eating enough of the long chain omega3 fats. Metabolic syndrome is also an issue in male infertility because insulin resistance up regulates something called aromatase. Aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen, which is really bad for men. Men should be testosterone dominant not estrogen dominant and estrogen dominance in men leads to hypogonadism and infertility. Oxidative stress is also a concern, caused primary by excess intake of industrial seed oils, stress and lack of physical activity, which can damage sperm quality. Another factor is obesity because accumulation of fat in the thighs increases the temperature of the scrotum, which in turn adversely impacts sperm quality. All of these factors tell us of the importance of the father’s nutritional status preconception.  Their nutritional status definitely influences sperm quality, sperm count and sperm motility, which are the main factors in conception. (11) The fertility diet applies to men as it does to women.  Focus on low toxin, low inflammatory, highly nutrient dense and clean foods, which are the foundation to male and female fertility. 

 

Next in the fertility series: The role of diet on fertility

 

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