Infertility and what you can do to improve it
I like to respond to the needs of my audience and I have had quite a few women messaging me about infertility, so thought it would be useful to write a blog post about it.
I understand that this is a sensitive issue for many, and my intention is not to assert that I have the solution. The nutritional and lifestyle advice in this blog can help whether you take the natural route or are preparing for fertility treatment.
There are many reasons a couple may find it difficult to conceive. Traditionally, infertility was seen as a female problem, but it’s now estimated that 1 in 5 men in the UK have a very low sperm count or are infertile.
There are many things that can cause infertility in men or women such as stress, food intolerances, urinary tract infections, blockages in the fallopian tubes, low thyroid function, problems and ovulation because of hormonal imbalances, polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis.
Modern day contributing factors are poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, smoking, alcohol consumption, and not eating enough fruit and vegetables. Environmental factors are also responsible, such as hormones in our water and meats, plastic, chemicals and electromagnetic radiation.
If you are having trouble conceiving, it is important to go see your GP and have all the tests to rule out any medical problem. Remember, both men and women need to test, as in most cases it is because of the man having a low sperm count!
In this post I will mention foods and nutrients needed for fertility and offer some other useful tips. I fully understand that it is a very delicate topic for some individuals. Especially for men and women who have been trying for a baby for years. I hope this post will help.
Foods to limit or cut out
Looking at what you eat and taking steps to eliminate certain foods and introduce more nutrient rich foods will go a long way to improving your health all round.
Reduce caffeine intake
Try not to consume too much caffeine, limit it to 1-2 small coffees a day. If you are looking to cut out coffee, the excellent alternatives are dandelion tea or dandelion root coffee, both of which are good for the liver.
Alcohol can reduce the ability to conceive in both men and women. If you enjoy your vino, try to stick to only 1-2 glasses with your meal. Avoid excessive and binge drinking and drink a glass of water per every alcoholic beverage you consume.
Junk and processed foods
Avoid junk food, ready-made meals and processed foods. They have zero nutritional value and are high in salt, sugar and trans fats, all of which are known to affect fertility.
Limit your sugar intake. It is perfectly ok to enjoy the occasional treat, you just want to make sure you’re not living off of your treats. Cut down on biscuits, cakes, sweets, pastries and fizzy drinks like cola. A great alternative to fizzy drinks is kombucha, which is good for gut health.
Be mindful that non organic fruit and vegetables will have high levels of pesticides that can disrupt hormones. If you can’t buy organic please make sure you wash your produce carefully with bicarbonate of soda or white vinegar.
Foods you need to include more of in your diet
For hormone health and a sperm synthesis, you need to consume good quality protein. Go for lean meats like chicken, turkey, eggs, fish and vegetable sources like lentils, chickpeas, all beans and nuts and seeds.
You want to balance your hormones. Eat more grains like millet, quinoa, brown rice, oats and barley which all help to reduce excess oestrogen in the body.
Men need to consume foods high in zinc like brown rice, lentils, beans, organic nuts and seeds.
Good fats provide key building blocks for every cell in our body and are vital for fertility. It is thought that a high fat low carbohydrate diet can help improve fertility by reducing inflammation and balancing hormones. Introduce good fats omega 3 by eating more oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, nuts and seeds like chia, flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin.
For the ultimate in nutrition, include a variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables in your diet, try to get a variety of colour on your plate at every meal.
Other useful tips which can help improve fertility
Both men and women should take a good multivitamin. Men will need at least 30mg of zinc in theirs. Vitamin C and an omega 3 supplements are also good. When choosing supplements, choose a good quality one from a health store than the high street chains or supermarkets.
Maintain a healthy weight, women who are over or underweight have overall lower rates of fertility than women who maintain a healthy weight. The reason is that being on either end of the spectrum can cause irregular periods and interfere with ovulation. Keep and eye on your weight , exercise and eating a balanced diet is always better than fad diets.
Deal with stress. This is often the number one reason why couples have trouble conceiving. If you are far too stressed or anxious, you wont’t be absorbing all the nutrients you need to from your diet. Address the root cause of your stress and try to eliminate it. Exercise, yoga and meditation are great ways to destress.
Choose organic and natural
If you are able to then eat as much organic as possible, trying to get all the necessary nutrients out of your food. Organic meat is more expensive, try reducing your intake and buying less but good quality meat.
Be mindful of the products you use around the home and on your body. Phthalates found in plastics and household and beauty products can cause disruption to our hormones, therefore leading to infertility problems. Do your research and choose natural beauty products which are phthalates free and limit plastic use – store food in glass if you can.
Whether trying to conceive naturally or preparing for fertility treatment, there are a number of therapies that can help. Acupuncture has been known to help as well as hypnosis, reflexology and stress reducing therapies such as massage.
I hope you have found this useful. If you are trying to conceive and would like more advice or help, then please do get in touch.