The first time my husband and I conceived, it was easy. A wink, a kiss - you know the rest. This second time around with breastfeeding and a toddler and a postpartum body, things have been different. And hard. My fertility journey has connected me with countless women who share similar frustrations and concerns: will I ever get pregnant?
So, we're launching our TTC (trying to conceive) series this week! Over the next few weeks we'll chat with fertility specialists, review strategies to improve chances of conception, and explore specific lifestyle changes that can help increase your chances of getting preggers!
For anyone who has tried unsuccessfully to conceive, the process can be frustrating, confusing and incredibly painful. Though fertility is a multifaceted, complex reality, for otherwise healthy individuals, there are a few common truths that can bolster both yours and your partner’s fertility.
Like gas in our cars, today we will focus on the role of NUTRITION in hormone regulation and conception.
For nearly a decade, renown dentist and researcher Dr. Weston A. Price travelled around the world seeking the secret to health and vitality. Instead of focusing on those fraught with disease and illness (as our modern medical system is forced to do), Dr. Price sought out individuals with exceptional health in hopes of identifying common threads of wellness between vastly divergent communities, cultures, and continents. After traveling to hundreds of cities and remote villages in 14 countries, Dr. Price identified a few consistent elements in each indigenous diet.
Five Essential Truths to Pre-conception and Prenatal Nutrition
1. Fat = Friend.
The right kind of fat, that is. Animal fat from cows, chickens and pigs raised in pastures, not in barns supplemented with corn, soy and other digestive irritants plays a vital role in not only facilitating fertility, but also in hormone regulation and fetal development. Diets high in healthy fats (e.g. grassfed meat, avocados, sprouted nuts and seeds, whole milk dairy products from grassfed cows, etc.) may result in increased fertility and support consistent ovulation. This study found increased rates of infertility in women who regularly ate low-fat dairy products, and a decrease in fertility issues in those who ate full-fat dairy.
2. Unprocessed, Unrefined , Organic and Non-GMO.
The technology-driven, wildly processed foods Western America are singlehandedly leaving entire generations chronically ill, nutrient-deprived and infertile. Consuming any trans fat (i.e. often goes by the name “hydrogenated”) - a modified form of saturated fat - can be devastating to fertility. Many processed foods have trans fat/hydrogenated fats in them, and should be avoided like the plague. Opting instead nutrient-dense real foods in their whole-food forms boosts the body’s natural functions, including conception. Research continues to link refined, processed and genetically modified foods to infertility and challenges conceiving.
3. Meat is a Must.
Again, the right kind of meat is key. Meat processed from animals raised with commercial farming methods are lower in nutrition and have a higher imbalance fatty acids (not to mention on the antibiotics, hormones and other general weirdness they can contain). Grassfed meat contains more omega-3’s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), both of which are vital to the health of the reproductive system, hormonal balance, consistent ovulation and fetal development. Though organic plants, vegetables and fruits play an important role in nutrition and fertility, there are a handful of vital nutrients essential to fertility that can only be obtained from animal proteins. Research continues to show a correlation between vegetarian and vegan diets with fertility challenges including significantly lower sperm count and increased risk of anovulatory syndrome. Though a vegetarian diet has some amazing health benefits (especially for those beyond their fertile years), and many well-rounded vegetarians conceive easily every year, for couples trying to conceive, the unique proteins, nutrients and fatty acids found in grassfed/pasture-raised meat play an essential role in hormone regulation and the ability to conceive.
4. The Fruit of the Sea.
We've already covered the important role of essential fatty acids in the development and maintenance of the reproductive system, so it comes as no surprise that WILD CAUGHT salmon, salmon roe (eggs), herring, sardines and other fatty fish are high on the list of fertility foods to add to your diet. Oysters, widely known as nature's Viagra, are the number one source of zinc, a necessary nutrient for fertility and conception. For landlocked cultures, indigenous tribes went to great lengths to travel and trade to gather the fruit of the sea to boost their young people's fertility.
5. Fermented Cod Liver Oil
It’s a bit scary sounding at first – Fermented. Cod. Liver. Oil. Ammiright? But it is SO worth it. This amazing supplement may be totally new to you, but it’s been a sacred food globally since ancient Roman times. Given to Roman Soldiers daily to ensure they could grow up to look like this, buckets of fermenting fish livers sat outside each Scandinavian Viking home, ensuring both warriors and mothers had access to one of the most powerful health foods available. Rich in vitamins A and D and Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), this amazing food packs a nutritious 1-2-punch. All of these vitamins are essential for not only the adult and child body, but also for the healthy growth of a fetus.
- Increases Energy
- Fermenting increases the bio-availability (the nutrients available to your body for absorption) of all said nutrients
- Increases Heart Health
- Increases Brain Health and Mental Acuity
- Fights Hormonal Imbalance
- Some studies link daily consumption of FCLO to reductions in anxiety, depression, postpartum depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder and psychosis
Green Pastures Blue Ice is the only brand I’ve found where the producers do not use high heat in the processing, thus augmenting the molecular structure and diminishing the fragile nutrients.
For those of you who have read some conflicting findings in the paper by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, I'm also posting Green Pastures' and Sally Fallon Morrell (president of the Weston A. Price foundation) response to this article:
August 25, 2015: http://www.greenpasture.org/utility/showarticle/?eid=4186&usid=d5348b9f776164425b6bbf8ebf0556bc&objectID=9336
August 28, 2015: http://www.westonaprice.org/uncategorized/questions-and-answers-about-fermented-cod-liver-oil-fclo/
Morale of the story: our body's are amazing machines, but require a healthy diet full of whole foods and traditional preparations to keep us running at our full potential. Get accustomed to surveying labels like a sleuth and thoroughly investigating anything that doesn't sound like it was around 200 years ago. Keep is simple, traditional, and if your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, you probably shouldn't be eating it.
Are you pregnant in Colorado and in search of a doula? Check out Cord Doula Collective for all the support you need throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum journeys!
We’ll continue next week in our TTC (Tying to Conceive) series next week - sex positions and gender selection!!