Eating for Reproductive Health

I’d like to introduce Ms. Cindy Bailey—a woman that successfully overcame infertility as a result of her insight that her diet could impact her chances of conception.

Empowered by her own success, she has gone on to assist other women/couples apply what she has learned into their own pathway to parenthood. I have long counseled my patients on what nutritional steps to take in order to boost their chances of conception but Cindy and her husband have actually created a series of tasty and easy-to-prepare recipes to apply their advice. I encourage you to check it out for yourself

~Robert

Fertility Diet: Eating for

Reproductive Health

By Cindy Bailey, co-author of The Fertile Kitchen® Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Optimizing Your Fertility

It’s no secret that what we eat plays a critical role in our health. Just as a healthy diet can support your heart and fight against cancer, it can also have a huge impact on your reproductive health.

When eating for fertility, the goal is to increase the availability of nutrients that support your reproduction, as well as your overall health. You’ll also want to eat to support your hormonal health – because those finely tuned balance of hormones is so important to fertility and conception.

To do this, you’re going to want to get rid of the “bad” foods, those which overly tax or stress your body, and keep or add in the “good” foods, those which provide wonderful nutrients and are good for the health.

I believe it’s more critical to get rid of the “bad,” so let’s look at what you should take out of your diet. The main foods (or substances) you’ll want to eliminate include alcohol, caffeine, trans fats, processed sugar, artificial sweeteners and overly processed foods (including all those bottled sodas and beverages!).

These foods have a negative impact on our fertility. Processed sugar, for example, negatively affects blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to hormonal imbalance. It also causes inflammation in the body and suppresses our immune system. Another example: Alcohol disrupts the absorption of nutrients, weakens your immune system and raises prolactin levels, which in turn inhibits ovulation. So you’ll definitely want to eliminate these.

You’ll also want to avoid, or eliminate, wheat and dairy, both because not only are they especially hard for your body to digest, but they are also highly allergenic foods. Many have a sensitivity to wheat, for example, and may not even know it because the symptoms are so mild. This makes wheat especially tough on your body to digest. While trying to conceive, you want to ease the energy used for digestion—the most labor-intensive function in the body—so there is more available to nourish and heal other systems in your body, such as your reproductive system.

As for the “good” foods, you’ll want to eat an all-organic diet that includes plenty of vegetables (at least 5 servings a day!), lean protein, beans, good carbs, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Low-mercury seafood is also a great choice, in moderation, as are fresh, whole fruits instead of fruit juice, which contains too much concentrated amounts of sugar. Also, natural forms of sugar, such as raw, organic or all-natural honey, maple syrup and brown rice syrup are OK in moderation.

If you eat meat, I emphasize eating it only in organic and lean forms. By eating meat that’s organic you avoid added growth hormones that affect our own hormones negatively, and you avoid any antibiotics used on the animals. By eating meat lean, you avoid much of the dioxins—which are industrial chemicals ingested by animals regardless of organic farming practices that often settle into the fat of those animals.

People always ask, what are the top fertility-boosting foods? Although I emphasize the importance of eating an all-around healthy, organic diet, these are what I consider to be the top three fertility-boosting foods:

  • Beans –  Not only are they packed with protein, fiber and nutrients important for fertility and pregnancy, such as calcium, iron and potassium, but they also contain a high percentage of folate (a B vitamin), which boosts fertility in both men and women and helps prevent neural tube defects at birth. Beans are also low in fat, good for digestion and a great source of antioxidants.
  • Nuts and seeds – They are high in protein and healthy fats, which help stabilize blood sugar levels, ease inflammation and boost fertility. Estrogen is made and stored in fat, so you definitely need fat, you just want to be sure to eat the healthy kind. Nuts and seeds also contain essential minerals and fiber, which is important for the health of the digestive system and lowering cholesterol. Good choices for seeds are pumpkin and sesame, which also contain zinc, and for nuts, almonds and walnuts.
  • Avocados – This fruit is great for fertility! Not only is it packed with folate, it’s also high in monounsaturated fat. That’s the good, healthy kind of fat, which helps to lower cholesterol and plays such an important role in our endocrine system, which regulates the hormones involved in reproduction. Finally, avocados contain good enzymes which aid digestion and when you’re trying to conceive, anything you do to lessen the impact on digestion helps!  Avocados are also high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, and are filled with other great nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.

Eating this way not only optimizes fertility and chances of conception, but is great for overall health too. Give yourself time to adjust to the diet, though, and don’t skip visiting your doctor to assess your particular needs.

______________

Special Note: SIRM is hosting the book launch party for authors Cindy Bailey and Pierre Giauque on June 24, 2010, 6:30 to 9:00 pm to celebrate their fertility cookbook. This exciting event includes plenty of healthy food, wine, music, a cooking demo and a free raffle drawing for fertility medication, a copy of the book, wine and much more. Dr. Robert Greene will also give a brief talk and be available, along with the authors, to answer questions.

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