3 Mind Body Nutrition strategies to help you conceive a healthy baby
When it comes to fertility, diet and how you nourish yourself matters. Eating good quality food is a part of nourishment but how you and your partner nourish your whole selves is another critical ingredient of good nutrition and the ability to conceive. I recommend couples spend three months working on their own Mind Body health before trying to conceive. Why? A healthy egg and sperm create a healthy baby.
1. Food quality matters!
Eat Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are critical to your hormonal health. They provide long-term sustainable energy throughout your day. When trying to conceive, steer away from low-fat or no fat. Add in quality fats such as avocado, raw (not roasted in oils) nuts and seeds such as chia, hemp, flax, walnuts. Cook with organic cold pressed coconut oil. Dress your salads with high quality olive oil. And if you digest dairy well, choose full fat, organic pasture-raised dairy products or raw dairy.
Avoid trans fats which are chemically created fake fats that cause damage to your body. Don’t be fooled by food labels that read 0 trans fats as manufacturers aren’t required to include this toxic fat if the product contains 0.5 or less. No amount of trans fats is healthy. To ensure there are no trans fats in your food, check the ingredient list for “partially hydrogenated oils.” They’re a hidden source of trans fats. Trans fats can be found in fried foods, baked goods, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, crackers and more.
BONUS TIP: One of my favorite recommendations to balance hormones which increases your chances of fertility is Seed Cycling
Eat Healthy Carbohydrates
Low-carb is popular these days but many of us forget that vegetables and fruits are carbs. Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient because they provide us with quick energy.
Prioritize eating lots of vegetables which are packed full of nutrients (leafy greens are my favorite), as well as whole fruit (instead of juices), beans, 100% whole grains such as quinoa and amaranth. If you have difficulty digesting beans or grains, skip them or learn how to soak them to increase digestibility.
Minimize or avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour products such as breads, pastas, crackers etc. and excess poor quality sugar. For women, keep your sugars to 24 grams or less per a day; for men, 32 grams or less.
Buy the best quality produce that you can afford. To reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides found in produce, visit Enviornmental Working Group’s Clean 15, Dirty Dozen. EWG has an app that you can download on your smartphone for easy reference while grocery shopping.
Pesticides in produce can include chemicals that are xenoestrogens which mimic the functions of natural estrogens (endocrine disruptors). As a result, both women and men are dealing with excess poor quality, estrogen like substances that can lead to estrogen dominance. According to Natural Fertility Info., “estrogen dominance is a major cause of the fertility issues women face today”. What is so bad about estrogen dominance?
It is the root cause of a myriad of illnesses. Conditions associated with this include fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, endometriosis, infertility problems, endometrial polyps, PCOS, auto-immune disorders, low blood sugar problems, and menstrual pain, among many others.
- Dr. Michael Lam
- Learn more about estrogen dominance.
Xenoestrogens can also be found in commercially raised beef, chicken, pork, dairy products as well as tap water. Also be aware of toxins in your cleaning and beauty products. Environmental Working Group has excellent substitutes for these products on their website.
Eat Healthy Proteins
Quality protein is important yet many of us tend to under-eat protein in the mornings (when it’s important to begin our day with balanced blood sugar) and over-eat it at dinner.
Be sure to evenly distribute your protein throughout your day. How much protein should you get at each meal? To figure out your own needs you divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, then multiply by 0.25. This will give you an estimate of how much protein you can absorb per a meal.
If you’re a meat eater, buy organic pasture-raised meats which means that the animal was raised on grass increasing the level of healthy omega-3 fats. For fish, choose wild fish that’s low in mercury and high in selenium: http://healthybabycode.com/5-myths-about-pregnancy-nutrition-3-pregnant-women-shouldnt-eat-fish
For vegetarians/vegans, make sure you are getting complete protein by eating a variety of foods that include the 9 essential amino acids. Try quinoa, buckwheat, rice, beans, lentils and more.
Minimize or avoid conventionally raised beef, poultry and pork that contain hormones and antibiotics as well as farm-raised fish high in mercury.
Drink filtered water as your main source of hydration. Water is critical to our health. Our bodies contain 70% water. Without proper hydration, the body can’t perform tasks correctly (such as producing energy, hormones, or repair) nor can it expel toxins trapped inside the body due to lack of water.
Practice increasing your daily water intake to drink about 1⁄2 your body weight in ounces. Try drinking 16 ounces of water to start your day, before eating breakfast. It’s a wonderful way to detox.
Minimize: Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. According to this article in the New York Times, moderate drinking does not appear to affect fertility though alcohol is known to affect sperm quality. One morning cup of coffee does not appear to affect fertility though it’s probably a good idea to pass on seconds according to Verywellfamily.com.
Avoid: Drinking out of plastic water bottles even if they say BPA free. Plastic bottles can contain harmful chemicals such as xenoestrogens which I’ve mentioned previously. They can seep into your bottled water when they’ve been sitting around for a long time or exposed to heat (which is common). Instead choose glass or stainless steel bottles and fill your bottles with filtered water.
2. A Healthy Lifestyle Matters
Consider Your Current Lifestyle
Is it grounded, calm and relaxed? Or is it hectic, erratic and sorely lacking in Vitamin T = Time?
Of course lifestyle changes aren’t quick fixes. That’s why I recommend taking three months prior to trying to conceive to take a look at your lifestyle and learn to slow down and prioritize what matters most.
Put yourself into your future babies shoes. What kind of environment would you like to be introduced to? Is your current lifestyle nurturing? Is there space for self-care?
It can be difficult to add in self-care strategies such as eating well or exercise when there’s just not room for it, mentally or physically.
One side note on exercise: Movement is wonderful for our chi (energy) and enhances our vitality and overall health. Yet beware of too much exercise. Excessive exercise can actually increase the overall stress on your body.
What’s On Your Plate?
Here’s a journal exercise to explore to create room for a healthier lifestyle: Write out your daily/weekly schedule and take a long hard look at it. What needs to stay and what needs to go? If it’s not a heck yes it’s a no. Stop doing so you can start doing!
The key point of this exercise is to reduce excess stress. Stress is a normal part of our lives as the sympathetic nervous system was designed to produce cortisol in times of emergency. Unfortunately many of us are stuck in a chronic low (or high) level of stress day after day and the stress response never turns off.
Remember that stress is any real or perceived threat (yes thoughts are included here!) to the body. The brain can’t differentiate between the two and as a result will turn on the stress response even when we perceive life as stressful.
How does the stress response impact hormonal balance?
First things first. Your body will always prioritize protecting itself. This means that digestion, growth and yes, conception have to wait in line. Unfortunately, when we’re under constant stress, the hormone cortisol can take a hit. It can be difficult for the body to keep up with the demands for constant cortisol. As a result, according to Dr. Claudia Welch, author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, the body can borrow from our sex hormones, specifically progesterone. The body can make cortisol from progesterone. When progesterone stores take a hit, this creates an imbalance as one of progesterone’s jobs is to keep estrogen in check. “One of the main actions of progesterone with fertility is to help support a developing embryo,” says Hethir Rodriguez C.H., C.M.T. of Natural Fertility Info.
Want more information on the connection between stress and fertility? I highly recommend reading this article by Dr. Alice Domar of the Domar Center for mind/body health.
Slowly work on decreasing the major stresses in your life. Take the time as you prepare to conceive to pause and create physical and mental space to bring a new life into the world.
3. Let Go Of Control
While making a conscious effort to slow down and create space for healthy eating, movement and relaxation are important, consider allowing the universe to have your back. One of my mentors, Gabrielle Bernstein #1 New York Times Best Selling Author, International Speaker, and “Spirit Junkie,” did a wonderful talk on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday about spiritual surrender. Life doesn’t always go according to our plan, on our timeline. We can prepare and plan but it’s truly up to the universe to bring forth the miracle of life. Have faith and surrender to a power far greater than your own.
To your happiness and health,