Thursday, June 12, 2014

Foods and Moves to Fertilize

So the day has come, you have finished college, gotten married to The One, globe trotted with only a backpack, toothbrush and camera, made mistakes, the same one... twice (ok 3 times but that time in Amsterdam didn't count), and you have now done enough yoga and meditation to be rinsed free from those dirty days to a more mature, healthy and wiser state of minding your body.

So why is it taking you so long to conceive?

You follow the fertility schedule posted on the fridge like Martha Stewart follows a crème Brule recipe. Your husband stopped smoking pot years ago and makes sure to steer clear from hot tubs and take the lap out of top when it comes to his Mac Pro (or thinkpad for the PC dudes). You meditate in the morning and do Yin Yoga in the evening, take your fertility multivitamin and have a bond with your friends and family that rivals with the Tanners on Full House.

So.... what. is. wrong?

You panic, after all your clock is ticking.

Breath. Just. Breath.

The world has moved towards technology in such a profound way that it is saving lives and helping people to live longer, which is amazing and great and wonderful (I never underestimate modern technology). On the other hand, neither do I underestimate common sense, nature and good ol' fashion diet and exercise. I am not talking diet in the sense of lose weight, drop those pounds, hit the pavement 7 days a week and live off celery, no way-no how. I am talking about a diet for life. What you eat influences what you are and what you will become (and in this case- what you will create).

So here is some of my own advice on food and moves to fertilize.


1. Move: I am not hear to discuss sex positions that will increase your chances of conceiving (although that literature is out there), I am here to simply discuss exercise for LIFE. In grad school while I was in a deeply committed relationship with Bobst Library we referred to anything that was not good in too little amounts and too abundant amounts as "The J-Shaped Curve." Exercise is one of those. (I know what you may be thinking, how can I exercise toooo much?, what about athletes?)- well athletes may exercise like its their job- wait it IS their job- which means they also eat like its their job as well AND have rest days. Even they can be burnt out and over-train. For the rest of us it is a bit easier to fall into a category of weekend warriors (not exercising enough) to 7 days a week, 2 training sessions a day, and "I forgot to eat lunch" warriors- (exercising too much).

It really is all about balance!

If you happen to be overweight or obese and sit most of the day at work, now is the time to start moving more.

If you are underweight, or at the cusp of being underweight per your Doc, stressed out, have a job that requires early mornings and late nights, but manage to workout early mornings and sometimes after work plus keep it up on the weekend (sleep anyone?) - now may be a time to actually move a little less (and eat a little more).

As much as our bodies require a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein they also needs to be in the right weight zone to carry on with the quality of a long, healthy life... and in order to give life with less risk of complications.

When a women is overweight/obese this can be a factor in infertility. I did some research on this in Grad school so if you are interested in learning more how the HOW part then read more here (tables not included).

When a woman is underweight this may slow or shut down the reproductive process. Women who are at risk for this happening are the following 
  • Women with eating disorders- anorexia, bulimia and disordered eating (also exercise bulimia).
  • Women on very low-calorie or restrictive diets-Restrict calories, restrict healthy fats and protein, restrict giving life- especially if the woman has irregular periods
  • Strict vegetarians mar have difficulties if they lack important nutrients, such as vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and folic acid.
  • Marathon runners, dancers, and others who exercise very intensely. ( see above- the term exercise bulimia may be appropriate here). Note- not all marathon runners and dancers are at risk for infertility, there are plenty that reproduce with absolutely not problems- the ones at risk usually are underweight and very restricting in their diet as well.

This leads me into part deux of my advice: Food

We already talked about balancing your weight- but are there foods they actually may HELP a woman to conceive??! Are there others that hinder??! Well, read on to find out.

Here are the do's and don'ts of fertility faithfulness

  • DON'T eat trans fats!
    • These are the industry developed kind. Milk actually contains natural trans fatty acids that have been shown to be do-gooders, the other kind they add to processed foods such as crackers, cookies, ice cream, peanut butter and chips just to save a buck and keep it on the shelf longer.
  • DO use more unsaturated vegetable oils!
    • The mono and polyunsaturated fats will help to improve the body's sensitivity to insulin (so sugar doesn't hang out the blood too long and build up potentially leading to damage to cells and diabetes)
  • DO think plant based meals!
    • No need to go all vegetarian (meat is a great source of iron which you definitely need) but eating more plants and basing meals of plant proteins such as with beans, peas, soybeans or tofu, or nuts is part of the fertility diet!
  • DO choose "slow carbs" not "no carbs"
    • Controlling blood sugar levels is all part of fertility as well- choose carbs higher in fiber such as whole grains and fruits and veggies (keep the skin on that apple).
  • DO drink whole milk (yes you heard me, the FULL FAT kind)
    • There has been a link between lower fat dairy and infertility- a link NOT a cause- I touch upon this is my paper noted above as well.
  • DO take a multivitamin that is geared toward mamas-to-be
    • Getting extra folic acid (400 micrograms a day) is just one of the most important vitamins you need!
  • DO amp up your iron intake
    • Extra iron from plants is important- including whole-grain cereals, spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets may help promote fertility according to Harvard. These are absorbed as well as iron from animals however so if you add some vitamin C to these foods (think strawberries, lemon juice, red pepper, oranges) this will help to absorb the iron
  • DON'T overdo it on the alcohol (and in my own personal advice if you are actively trying to become pregnant steer clear altogether)
    • I do not think this needs much explanation.

So do you feel a bit more at ease now? Of course food and moves may not be the only answers and your issue may be  much more complicated so always work closely with your Doc and see a specialist who will be able to help you and your Man look at other options- also it is equally important that the Dad-to-be is in good health as well.

You are on your way to sheer bliss!


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