What is Fertility Diet
An optimal fertility diet is about what to avoid, as much as it is about what to include. A fertility diet should be as fresh as possible and organic wherever possible. Key elements are good quality protein sources and good fats.
What should you eat?
You may eat organic meat in small quantities, game, small deep-sea fish such as sardines and red snapper, and organic legumes that are home cooked (not canned). Others are whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit in season, organic where possible.
Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats. Good fats include monounsaturated fats in olive oil, polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts and midchain fatty acids found in coconut oil.
For cooking, use clarified butter (ghee) or coconut butter (without flavour), as they do not become unstable when heated. For non-heated oil requirements (salads, etc), use cold pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil and nut oils.
Avoid dangerous fats
Did you know that consuming trans fats hidden in processed foods such as doughnuts, biscuits, lollies, candies, chocolate, chips, pies and fries and thousands of other unhealthy foods may increase your risk of infertility by as much as 70 per cent?
Scientists from the Harvard University School of Public Health advise women wanting to get pregnant to avoid all trans fats. The sole purpose of adding trans fats to food is to extend the shelf life. To minimise your consumption of trans fats, be diligent about reading the ingredients and avoid the most likely culprits altogether.
Trans fats are mostly listed as ‘hydrogenated fat’ or ‘hardened vegetable fat’ or simply ‘vegetable fat.’
Minimize animal-derived estrogen
Dairy products account, on the average, for 60-70 percent of estrogen consumed. Humans consume milk from cows in the second half of pregnancy when cow’s estrogen levels are high. We usually associate dairy and drinking milk with calcium, and never think about what else we may be consuming along with the calcium. Dairy, by the way, is not the best source of calcium. Here is a list of hormones that have been found in cows’ milk: Prolactin, somatostatin, melatonin, oxytocin, growth hormone, lutenizing releasing hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, estrogens, progesterone, insulin, corticosteroids and many more.
Did you know that an excess consumption of all these hormones could disrupt your own hormonal balance? You bet! Consumption of milk has been linked to certain cases of male infertility. Excess estrogen and pesticide exposure has been linked to Polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis.
Studies have found higher concentrations of pesticides in cheese than in non-organically grown fruit and vegetables. The first line of naturopathic treatment I recommend for PCOS and endometriosis is to minimise intake of animal products. Animal products have a high content of hormones, pesticides and herbicides, which are known endocrine disruptors. They play havoc with your hormones and this can lead to anovulation (failure of the ovary to release ova over a period of time generally exceeding three months).
Avoid two most common allergens
The link between food intolerance and anti-sperm antibodies is now well established. Studies have found that women with multiple allergies and food intolerance were more likely to miscarry. An overactive immune system is more likely to attack its own body cells.
From an immunological point of view, an embryo and sperm cell are foreign bodies. But Mother Nature was clever; she programmed our immune systems to distinguish between an everyday invader and a sperm cell or embryo. A normal and healthy immune response to an embryo or sperm cell is orchestrated by Th2 cytokines. They suppress your killer cells (that’s what they are called) to leave the embryo unharmed. Because of this protection, many pregnant women are poor wound healers and can come down really badly with a cold or flu. Your natural protection has been suppressed so that your baby can develop properly.
An abnormal immune response to the implantation of the fertilised egg is orchestrated by Th1 cytokines. Rather than suppressing your killer cells, they stimulate their activity. This can lead to defects and loss of the foetus. The two most widely spread food intolerance are gluten and dairy. I advise my patients to have an IgG immunoglobulin test done to check if they are dairy and gluten intolerant. But since most people have some level of allergy to gluten and/or dairy, it’s advisable to avoid gluten and dairy altogether during the preconception and pregnancy period.
Have an STIs check
Most people believe both they and their partner are free from sexually transmitted diseases. However, there are some STDs which can be asymptomatic, meaning that you may not be aware you have them, as there are no obvious symptoms. One such STD is Chlamydia.
In men, a Chlamydia infection can lead to sperm abnormalities, including sperm antibodies. In women, it can lead to scarri