Getting Healthy While Getting Pregnant! Flax Seeds for Hypertension

One of the most important aspects of boosting your chances of becoming pregnant is to optimize blood flow to your pelvis–this is true for both men and women! For women, this is even more important since pregnancy can exacerbate blood pressure problems dramatically. Rather than resort to medications, here’s a great nutritional tip. Introduce 30 grams of ground flax seed into your daily diet–that’s about a 1/4 cup. You can add this to salads, soups, cereals, smoothies or just about anything. Studies now show that this simple intervention can reduce your blood pressure more effectively than many of the popular–and much more expensive–medications. For those of us that love the science and want to see the proof, watch this brief video with links to the supporting studies:


The kids are all right: Children with 3-way DNA are healthy

One of the emerging therapies in advanced reproductive techniques involves combining the parts of a healthy egg donor to rejuvenate or correct deficiencies in a woman’s own egg. When a sperm is then added, the resulting person can actually contain the DNA of three people rather than two. Although this technology is currently not available for use in the USA–the first babies have been born in England through this technique. Interestingly, there were 17 babies born in the USA using this technique more than a decade and a half ago. This procedure was then banned due to potential health concerns in the children that resulted. We now have a follow up report on these original children who are now teenagers. Most importantly, this update is reassuring that although caution is recommended, this procedure does seem safe and reasonable for continued investigation.

Male Fertility and Diet |

Too often the entire focus of fertility recommendations are directed towards women. It is true that egg quality is the single most important factor in determining conception. That said, a healthy egg cannot overcome sperm with damaged DNA. So, let’s provide some guidance for what men should be doing with their food choices to improve the chance of a successful conception.

Dietary Supplements; are yours making you sick?

A recent survey estimated that nearly half of the US adult population (~114 million people) regularly takes dietary supplements. In fact, last year Consumer Reports estimated that our passion for these products costs us over $15 billion; more than $150 per person and that didn’t even include the amount that we spend on vitamins. Unfortunately, emerging information shows that we’re often not getting what we’ve paid for, or worse, we can be taking in products that can actually impair our health.

In this consumer driven market, products tend to target the most popular problems or conditions including infertility and pregnancy. Unfortunately the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have identified a growing trend of tainted products. Many have been found to be contaminated with toxic plant material, poisonous heavy metals and bacteria that can create various illnesses. Worse still, the supplements that have been confirmed to be problematic are believed to be a small fraction of the growing problem. How did we get to this point? It dates back to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) under which vitamins, minerals, botanical products, amino acids and tissue extracts were all classified as “dietary supplements.” According to this regulation these products are presumed to be safe and can be marketed to consumers with no pre-release testing and very little oversight. The end result has been a growing list of consumer complaints, possible health complications, and uninvestigated claims of efficacy.

In reality, anything that promotes health can also have adverse effects. This is as true for supplements as it is for medications. That’s why as more of these products target men/women wanting to conceive or women that are already pregnant it is important to be your own advocate; both as a consumer and as a patient. Especially since a growing number of supplements are tainted with impurities and unlisted ingredients.

In 2007 the US FDA published a report titled “Survey Data on Lead in Women’s and Children’s Vitamins.” I find it disturbing that the investigators concluded that of the 324 products tested they contained levels of impurities that were considered “safe/tolerable exposures.” Yet, they all tested positive for lead! As a healthcare provider and patient advocate I’m outraged People shouldn’t unknowingly purchase and consume products that introduce toxins into their body. Fortunately there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family:

• Go organic—A growing number of studies show that organically produced products are higher in health promoting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. By choosing organic products when you can, you’ll decrease your need to supplement your healthy diet.

• Be an informed consumer—Since most supplement manufacturers don’t voluntarily hire agencies to monitor the quality of their product, investigate the quality of the ones you are using. Independent agencies like Consumer Lab test and report on the quality of many supplements.

• Notify your healthcare provider of everything that you’re taking—A growing number of products have been found to be deliberately tainted with active ingredients including prescription medications not approved for use in the United States. Therefore it is important that your doctor know about everything that you’re taking in case you develop a reaction to your supplement or experience an adverse response due to how it interacts with your other medications.

• Periodically re-evaluate your needs—Most dietary supplements have not been well tested despite the claims to the contrary. I recommend that my patients reconsider each product that they’re using at least once a year by asking themselves two questions. First, why did I start this? Second, is it meeting or exceeding my expectations? If you’re not satisfied with these answers discontinue anything that isn’t specifically recommended by your healthcare provider.

Neither “low-fat” nor “high-fat” but the “right fat” for better implantation and pregnancy: omega-3

Food is not only fuel to burn but also sometimes the source of basic chemicals to make hormones and various other necessary chemicals for healthy living. When these building materials are oils, they are called essential fatty acids. What makes them essential is that you’re not able to make them so you have to consume them as food. Of the 20 edible fats, only omega-3 and omega-6 fats are essential building blocks for our physiology.

Of the essential fatty acids, one teaspoon of corn oil can satisfy your daily needs for omega-6 needs yet most people get 10 to 20 times that amount. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of the omega-3. In fact, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 for the typical USA resident is about 25:1. By contrast, the ratio consumed by our ancient ancestors was about 1:1. The health risks associated with today’s imbalance in the dietary intake of essential fats sets us up for problems including heart disease, exacerbation of inflammation and even pregnancy implantation failure. During pregnancy, these vital omega-3 fats are needed by the developing child for healthy brain and eye development. There is even evidence that they can reduce the risk of preterm birth.

The most natural way to boost your intake of these healthy omega-3 fatty acids is to boost your consumption of the fish that naturally produce them. For vegetarian’s like myself you can increase your intake of healthy plant sources in order to get your daily recommendation 1.4 grams of omega-3 per day; for instance, flax seed oil (1/2 tsp), canola oil (1 tbsp) or soybean oil (1 tbsp + 1 tsp). At the same time, you should also consider reducing your use of oils with high levels of the omega-6 like sunflower oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil.

During pregnancy, your dietary goal for omega-3 fatty acids should be 650 mg, about half should be the specific fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In order to reach this goal, you should consider taking a supplement. I feel that in order to get your pregnancy off to the healthiest start, this should be started before you actually conceive. Here are some compelling reasons to consider in making this decision:

  • Most, but not all commercially available fish oil supplements contain less than 2 ppb of mercury. Cod liver oil has additional risk since it is a rich source of vitamin A which can be dangerous in high levels during pregnancy. So if you’re going to use fish oil supplements to boost your omega-3; choose your manufacturer and your source carefully.
  • By contrast, there are commercially available vegetarian sources of DHA made from mercury free algae. Additionally, there are no environmental contaminants since they are grown and harvested in vats.
  • The use of intralipid—an IV source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids—has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrent early pregnancy loss by normalizing the immune cells that can otherwise initiate a miscarriage. In fact, we have found it to be as effective as immuno-modulatory drugs that are 10x more expensive.