By: Elizabeth Rohe RN IFMCP
We have many of our younger clientele, both women and men, coming to us for support with fertility issues, wondering what they can do to improve their chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby. A shocking study published in 2017 revealed that sperm counts in men in Western countries including the US had dropped by over 50% in 40 years!?!
When it comes to fertility it is good to think of your body as a whole unit, all the systems working together for balance. This means your nutrition needs to optimize not just your reproductive system, including the health of your sperm and eggs, but also your digestive and immune system.
It takes approximately 120 days for an egg to grow. This means if you start changing your diet and lifestyle today, the impact will likely be most significant on the eggs that your body is maturing for release in four months.
PREPARE LIKE A MARATHON!!
It is essential to be as healthy as possible before creating and nourishing a growing human. People train and prepare for a marathon, so it would make sense to prepare our bodies to carry a baby for 40 weeks. What we do before conception can change the health of our future children and even the children that they will have.
Environmental factors such as stress, diet, physical exercise, sleep, and toxins activate chemical switches in your body that regulate whether certain genes get turned on or off, and this affects your health status. This is called epigenetics.
DIET, NUTRIENTS and DETOXIFICATION
When it comes to diet, focus on macronutrients such as protein and good fats. Protein is important for building your eggs. At least 20 g of protein per meal is best. Examples are chicken, eggs, quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina. Beneficial fats include monosaturated fats, found in avocados, olives and macadamia nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, walnuts, and flax seeds. Saturated fats are crucial for the production of cholesterol, which is the precursor to hormones, so it’s important to also include coconut oil and grass-fed butter.
The human egg has one of the highest concentrations of mitochondria compared to any other cell in the body. Mitochondria are powerhouses of energy for our cells. Antioxidants found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, vitamin C, and CoQ10 to name a few, help support our mitochondria.
The skin is our body’s largest organ as well as our most absorptive organ. Therefore, it makes sense that what we put on our bodies affects us just the same as what we put in our bodies. There are a group of chemicals present in the environment called xenoestrogens that mimic the effects of estrogen and can therefore interfere with normal hormone function. This can create an excess of estrogen which can lead to a host of problems. A few ingredients to avoid are parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, BPA, and propylene glycol. Make sure to read all the ingredients in the things you buy, if you cannot pronounce it, it might not be the best for you.
It is good to get a comprehensive blood panel done prior to conception to make sure you are not lacking in anything or have abnormal values which can interfere with fertility and pregnancy. A few labs to check are a full thyroid panel, insulin, vitamin D, etc.
An underactive thyroid can prevent pregnancy or lead to miscarriage. Higher insulin levels have been shown to be damaging to a woman’s egg supply. A deficiency in vitamin D can affect your ability to get pregnant and remain pregnant.
Here are 5 simple things you can do now to optimize your fertility:
- Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Sleep affects your fertility hormones.
- Eat protein regularly.
- Exercise 4-5 x week for at least 30 minutes
- Go outside every day for sunlight and vitamin D
- Turn off electronics 1 hour before sleep.
Unique Footprints offers Fertility, Pregnancy and New Mom programs that can improve the health of you and your baby – before, during, and after your pregnancy! The Fertility program is a 6-week guided program with weekly live virtual gatherings while the Pregnancy and New Mom programs are online and self-paced.
Through Carpathia Collaborative, a Functional Medicine clinic located in Dallas, Tx, you can now access these programs. You can continue the program on a month-to-month basis or transition to the Pregnancy program at any time: You choose the path and pace that works best for you! Click here to learn more.
For your exclusive discount use code: Carpathia
- Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis Hagai Levine, Niels Jørgensen, Anderson Martino-Andrade, Jaime Mendiola, Dan Weksler-Derri, Irina Mindlis, Rachel Pinotti, Shanna H Swan Human Reproduction Update, Volume 23, Issue 6, November-December 2017, Pages 646–659, https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmx022
- Robert A. Waterland and Randy L. Jirtle, “Transposable Elements: Targets for Early Nutritional Effects on Epigenetic Gene Regulation,” Molecular and Cellular Biology no. 15 (2003): 5293-5300, doi:10.1128
- W. Guoyao, F.W. Bazer, T.A. Cudd, C.J. Meininger, T.E. Spencer, “Maternal Nutrition and Fetal Development.” America Society for Nutritional Sciences 134, no.9 (September 1, 2004).
- Elaine Shannon, “What the Chemical Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know,” Environmental Working Group, last modified September 5, 2008
- “7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat,” Mercola.com, last modified September 22, 2009.