Daoshing Ni, D.O.M, L.Ac., Ph.D, Dipl.C.H.
Nutrition plays an important part in improving fertility
and in having healthy offspring. Without proper nutrition, your
fertility potential decreases and complications can occur during
pregnancy. Good healthy eating habits contribute to good nutrition and,
hence, better fertility. Below are ten good habits that can be helpful
in your pursuit of having a child.
- Never Do
Diets Many fad diet programs are geared
toward restriction of certain nutrients and tend to focus on weight
reduction. By restricting certain categories of foods, we limit some
of the nutrients that are essential to our reproductive system. Our
reproductive system is quite complex and requires different types of
nutrients in order to function properly. When we limit certain
nutrients, our bodies will alter its functions in order to adapt.
Sometimes this occurs at the expense of our fertility functions.
Regularly The human body is a very
complex system that tends to adapt to the environment constantly,
including to our intake of foods. When we do not eat regularly, our
blood sugar levels can run too low at times. This can be weakening
and/or damaging to our reproductive system, especially when it is
habitual. Do sit down and eat three meals a day (or spread them out
as mini-meals five to six times a day). Make sure that the meals are
fulfilling and avoid eating on the run so that you allow your body
to digest properly.
Balanced Meals Carbohydrates, proteins,
fats and fiber all contribute to a healthier body and a healthier
reproductive system. Every facet of the reproductive function, from
making eggs, producing sperm, forming cervical mucus, to creating
hormones require many nutrients. Eating too much or not enough of
one category of nutrients will bring imbalance and potentially
affect the reproductive function.
Variety We tend to eat what we like and
what we are used to. Most of us eat a limited variety of foods. For
example, there are more than 30 different types of vegetables in
your local supermarket. How many kinds of vegetables do you consume
weekly? Try eating different foods from time to time. This will
expand your nutrient horizon and help your body take in different
nutrients. Look at the variety: asparagus, escarole, avocado,
fennel, beet greens, green and red cabbage, bok choy, kale,
broccoli, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mustard greens,
celery, onions, chicory, parsley, Chinese cabbage, lettuces,
peppers, chives, tomatoes, collard greens, turnips, dandelion
greens, spinach, endive and zucchini they all are full of good
nutrients and are easily accessible from local markets.
- Eat and
Chew Well Eating quickly and on the run
is the best recipe for heartburn. This eating style not only reduces
the absorption rate of the nutrients, it can also create many other
problems down the road. Eating without chewing well can also harm
the esophagus and other parts of the alimentary tract. Food needs to
be properly prepared so that it is soft, chewable and easily
digestible. Eating and swallowing large pieces of raw nuts and
scorched corn can all contribute to digestive problems and sometimes
appendicitis if the food particles are dislodged in the region.
Eating Refined Sugar Most of us have an
addiction to refined sugar. We crave candies, cookies, pies, cakes
and ice cream. The problem with eating refined sugar is that the
more we eat the more we crave. Eating an excessive amount of sugar
will lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels, obesity and a
higher potential for inflammation and diseases. High sugar
consumption reduces the quality of follicles and sperm, and it
causes acidification of the cervical mucus, which can become more
hostile to sperm. Opt for natural sugars found in fruits and
Drinking Alcohol Alcohol is basically
fermented grains, potatoes, cactus or fruits. It is simply sugar.
Steady drinking over many years leads to permanent changes in the
brain. One of the permanent effects of alcohol in the brain is the
reduction in the amount of brain tissue and an increase in the size
of the ventricles, the fluid-filled cavities in the brain. Another
way that alcohol consumption affects the brain is by depriving it of
nutrients such as vitamins. This is because heavy drinkers often
neglect their diet, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
Thiamine, one of the B vitamins, is most commonly missing from the
diet and a deficiency in it can lead to serious mental disturbance.
Alcohol can also harm sexual health. Alcohol depresses nerve
impulses. In men, it can depress the nerves that cause erections. In
women, regular alcohol intake can slow metabolism and lead to a
decrease in egg production, as well as impair sexual function. Heavy
drinking during pregnancy can harm the fetus causing small birth
weight, facial deformities and reduced intelligence. This condition
is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and babies born to mothers with an
alcohol problem are at a high risk of suffering from this condition.
Excessive Intake of Caffeine In the US,
we never do things in small doses. This is the land of Plenty and
the land of Oversized portions. We enjoy coffee not by the teacup
but by the mug. Excessive intake of caffeine has been linked to many
cardiovascular problems and other health issues including symptoms
of nervousness, headache, increased heart rate,
stomach, irregular heart beat, irritability, GI irritation, elevated
blood pressure, heartburn, increased cholesterol, tremors, diarrhea,
nutritional deficiencies, insomnia, fatigue, poor concentration,
depression and dizziness. Obviously, we cannot begin to assess what
this would do to the reproductive system. Ideally, coffee should be
avoided altogether, but if you cannot part ways completely, try
drinking only occasionally and in smaller amounts. Both green and
black tea contains caffeine and the quantity of caffeine provided by
the cup depends on its strength the stronger the brew, the
greater the quantity of caffeine. A medium-strength cup of tea will
provide about one-third as much caffeine as a cup of percolated
coffee, and about two-thirds as much as a cup of instant coffee.
Caffeine intake that results from drinking four to five cups of tea
a day are not associated with any harmful effects to health in
adults. Because it is not known if caffeine is absolutely harmless
to the unborn baby, pregnant and breastfeeding women should probably
restrict caffeine intake (e.g. to that provided by three to four
cups of tea per day). To be sure, tea consumption needs to limited
to two cups a day.
Icy Cold Drinks and Soft Drinks
Scientific studies have shown how as few as one or two soft drinks a
day can increase the risk for numerous health problems. Some of
these health problems and health risks are obesity, diabetes, tooth
decay, bone fractures, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, heart
disease, liver cirrhosis, cancer and many neurological disorders.
Soft drinks mostly consist of filtered water and refined sugars.
They have literally no nutritional benefits and are considered empty
calories. By decreasing other nutrient uptake, the reproductive
system will become weakened and compromised. Icy cold drinks
stimulate and pull away close-by blood circulation of the pelvis to
the stomach. By doing so, this can adversely affect blood
circulation to the ovaries and uterus and cause a reduction in
nutrient uptake in this region.
Taking Excessive Amount of Supplements
Again, in the land of Plenty, we like to take large doses of
everything, including our supplements. We frequently encounter
patients coming in with bottles and bottles of different vitamins
and supplements. Many people often assume that mega-dosing vitamins
and antioxidants such as vitamin C, folic acid, beta-carotene and
vitamin E will increase their chances of getting pregnant. In fact,
large doses of some vitamins can be dangerous and toxic. For
example, too much vitamin C can interfere with the bodys ability to
absorb copper, a metal that is essential to body chemistry. Also,
too much phosphorous can inhibit the bodys absorption of calcium.
Furthermore, large doses of vitamins A, D and K are not eliminated
quickly by the body and can easily reach toxic levels. We have found
clinically that taking excessive amounts of supplements can actually
reduce follicular recruits during an ART cycle. Talk with your
health care practitioner before taking large doses of any vitamin.