Fertility: Your Body, Your Journey, Your Choice - Nutrition

Hey guys!  This month we are going to talk all about diet. 

When I first started into my fertility journey everyone was asking me about my diet.  Diet is crucial for fertility (which is why it is our first post).  In order for you to be at your most fertile, your body needs to have the necessary nutrients. Pregnancy is less likely to occur if your body doesn’t have the basic nutrients that it needs. Many women will try a low-fat, high fiber diet in order to increase their health and lose weight.  While losing weight (if needed) has been shown to increase fertility, doing it in that manner hardly ever works for fertility because your body is not getting the necessary proteins and fats that it needs for hormone production.   
 
So, what do you do to increase fertility when it comes to diet, you ask? 

Well, I wondered the same thing.  I knew absolutely nothing about diet or nutrition so I decided (as recommended) to see a Naturopath.  Here are some recommendations that she told me:  

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• Remove processed foods, sugars and starches from your diet. o Get more nutrient dense carbs from veggies, fruits and starchy sources like sweet potatoes or squash. • Increase (or introduce) healthy fats in your diet.  o Coconuts, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs, avocado and nuts. • Ensure your getting enough protein. • Eat lots of leafy greens. o If you hate leafy greens try blending them into a smoothie. • Stay hydrated! o My Naturopath recommended that I have one glass of room temp lemon water every morning before I ate breakfast.  This will help flush your digestive system and will rehydrate your body.


Certain nutrients or vitamins are important for fertility.  Here is a breakdown of these vitamins and nutrients and why they are important for fertility with more details about each below:  

Vitamin A: promotes healthier cervical fluid and helps ensure follicles develop properly.
Vitamin D: aids in the production of estrogen which is needed to produce insulin, and helps regulate cell growth.
Vitamin E: promotes sperm production, helps to normalize hormone production, increases cervical mucus, increases egg health and is needed to absorb fat soluble vitamins.
Vitamin K2: helps the body utilize proteins
Iodine: for thyroid function and the production of sex hormones (the utilization of iodine requires vitamin A).
Omega-3 fats: helps regulate hormones, increases cervical fluid, promotes ovulation, and increases blood flow to the reproductive organs (so, super important for fertility!)
 

Vitamin A  
There are two types or groups of Vitamin A.  There is Retinol which is from animal sources and there is beta carotene which is from plant sources.  Your body can easily convert retinol based foods to a usable form of Vitamin A; however, it takes a significant amount of beta carotene to convert the same amount of usable Vitamin A as retinol.  
The following are retinol food choices:
• Liver from any animal • Butter and Heavy Cream• Fermented Cod Liver Oil (higher in vitamins) • Regular Cod Liver Oil • Eggs Yolks  
The following are beta carotene food choices:
• Carrots • Sweet Potatoes • Dark Leafy Greens • Cantaloupe • Bell Peppers

Vitamin D  
Vitamin D is actually considered a pro-hormone despite its name. This is because your body can actually produce Vitamin D on its own when it is exposed to sunlight, whereas vitamins are nutrients that you need to get through your diet or by taking supplements.   
Incorporate the following into your diet in order to increase your Vitamin D:
• Cod Liver Oil – (which also has Vitamin A!) • Mushrooms • Egg Yolks • Fish• Butter• Organ Meats  

You will get more nutrients from animals that are put out in the pasture since they are exposed to sunlight which will allow the animal’s body to produce more Vitamin D which in turn means that you get more Vitamin D.  

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and an antioxidant, which prevents damage by the oxidation of nutrients and other chemicals that are in your body which is important for hormone balance.  
Vitamin E has been shown to increase sperm health and mobility which is obviously great for fertility.  It has also been known to reduce sperm defects.   
Another interesting fact about Vitamin E is that if you have Fibrocystic Breast Disease (painful breasts, sometimes with benign lumps or swelling, before your period) Vitamin E has been known to offer relief from the pain.
Incorporate the following into your diet in order to increase your Vitamin E:
• Dark Leafy Greens • Nuts • Seeds • Avocados • Shellfish and Fish • Plant oils (olive and sunflower oil) • Squash and Pumpkin • Organ Meats • Grains (whole grains are even better)

Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 assists vitamins A & D. You can find it in certain fatty parts of animals that eat growing green plants. The growing green plants that the animal eats are high in Vitamin K1, part of that K1 is converted into K2 by the animals tissues. The amount of K2 in the animal is dependent on what the animal eats and when they eat it.

Incorporate the following into your diet in order to increase your Vitamin K2:
• Liver • Egg Yolks • Butter • Fish Eggs

Iodine
Our bodies require iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones; if you do not have enough iodine in your body then you cannot make enough thyroid hormones. When our bodies are iodine deficient it affects our thyroid, adrenals, and our whole endocrine system.  

Since our bodies cannot make iodine we have to include iodine rich foods like the following into our diet:

• Seaweed or Kelp • Coconuts • Blackstrap molasses • Saltwater fish • Spinach • Eggs
Since iodine directly affects your thyroid and hormones you may want to talk to a healthcare provider about how to check your iodine levels or possible prescriptions since Iodine deficiency is quite common.  

Omega 3 fatty acids

There are 3 different types of omega 3 fats; ALA which is plant based) and EPA & DHA which are animal based.  
ALA can be found in:
• walnuts • flaxseed • hemp
EPA and DHA can be found in:
• Egg• Oily Coldwater Fish (salmon, herring, tuna, cod, and trout)

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase fertility in women by regulating their hormones and ovulation, increasing cervical mucus and increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs. Omega 3 fatty acids are also supposed to help women who have endometriosis. Omega 3 fatty acids are also helpful for men as it helps with sperm production since DHA help protect the sperm from free radicals and damage.


Based on the information contained in this blog post, what can you change about your diet?  Where can you improve? Over the next month change your diet to include these options and see how you feel and how your body changes.