Enhancing Your Fertility with Food from the view of a Portland, Oregon Acupuncturist
I love to eat. Real food. Delicious food. I also love to feel good. I eat a pretty healthy diet, very healthy when compared to the standard American diet, but I struggled with asthma, allergies, and fatigue. I thought these were just things I would have to deal with for the rest of my life–I am just a tired person, and grass season will always be hard. Then, about 10 years ago, I was first introduced to the idea that food is medicine. If you put the wrong foods into your body, you can get sick, and if you put the right foods into your body, you can be well. I have since studied extensively about Chinese medical nutrition and holistic nutrition, and although I use this knowledge with most of my patients, I find it particularly important with women seeking to conceive.
If you are trying to conceive, your health needs to be your number one priority. Your body is going to be the home for your baby for nine months, and the food you put in your mouth could be the deciding factor in whether or not you conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. I often incorporate Chinese herbal medicine and always use acupuncture as well to address any fertility issues, but I see quite a few women who are already taking Western fertility drugs whose doctors will not allow them to take herbs. In these cases diet is of the utmost importance. In my Portland acupuncture office, I come up with custom treatment plans for patients that incorporate all of these factors.
Although custom diet, herb and acupuncture are the strongest ways to change your health and increase your fertility, here are 3 basic things that I tell all of my patients who are trying to conceive:
1. What you are NOT eating may be hampering your fertility. Iron and zinc are key nutrients that you need in sufficient amounts in order to conceive, and they are both abundant in animal protein. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it is more important that you be vigilant about getting enough iron and zinc. Here is a link to foods that are high in iron: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iron-HealthProfessional/, and to foods that are high in zinc: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.
2. Get plenty of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are especially important to ovulation, as they help with follicular rupture and collapse. Good sources of EFAs are fish, fish oil, cold-pressed flaxseed and pumpkin seed oils, eggs, raw nuts and seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables. Because of high mercury content in many fish, most of my patients eat fish moderately and supplement with a fish oil. Do note that if you are supplementing with a fish oil, it is very important to get one of high quality (no Costco fish oils) and keep it away from light or heat.
3. Eat plenty of high quality fats. For years we have thought of fat as the enemy of good health, but in the last few years we have come to realize the benefits of fats like those found in avocados, coconut, and even dairy. A full fat diet is better for fertility than low fat diet since fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K) as well as cholesterol play an important role in hormonal balance, during implantation and pregnancy. Use butter freely and consume full fat organic dairy but completely avoid trans fats.
If you are trying to conceive, you should start by incorporating these three suggestions into your diet. If you live in the Portland area and would like to find out more about custom diet plans to help with your fertility, please contact me, or call 503-442-1205 for your free consult.