By Page Wyatt
What do I eat if I’m trying to conceive?
Real talk for a minute.
Diet. Ugh! I hate that word. Diet is defined as the action of restricting oneself of certain foods to lose weight. The word definitely takes on a negative connotation for me. Instead I’d like to look at the body in a different way.
Food = Fuel
If we think of food in this way, we can deduce that the food we eat gives our body and cells the energy that it needs to physiologically function. That’s essentially why we as a species needs to eat. Eating nutritiously doesn’t just help us to conceive and grow a healthy baby, it also helps keep us alive and optimally functioning.
Ever heard that old saying “you are what you eat”? Well this is without a doubt, absolutely true! The food we eat provides energy to our cells so that they can carry out their physiological functions in the body.
So, imagine with me for one second the cells in our bodies. Now imagine a pizza pop. Although delicious, it’s not very nutrient dense, high in unhealthy fats, and minimal vitamins and minerals. Now imagine feeding those cells with those said pizza pops for every meal. Think of how you feel after a pizza pop; lethargic, foggy minded, maybe a stomach ache? Think of how your cells may feel. Possibly the same? Now imagine you’re eating a giant bowl of steamed organic veggies, sweet potato, and a perfectly cooked moist free-run, hormone free chicken breast (anyone else hungry?).
Now think of the sperm and egg cell that is relying on this nutrition and Qi to create an embryo and eventually a baby!
Have I gotten your attention?
The Role of Food in Chinese Medicine
Food plays a big part in our digestion, the ‘center’ and one of the main Energy Pathways and Organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. All our ‘Qi’ or ‘energy’ is made from the foods that we eat in our Spleen and Stomach. The Stomach contains the food and rottens and ripens it to make Qi. This Qi is then sent to the Spleen where it is transforms and transports the Qi to the organs in our bodies so they can carry out their physiological function. The energy our lungs need to breath is created by these nutrients. Our immune system, our heart, and even our reproductive organs rely on this Qi too. Food consumption and what we put IN to our bodies is essential to make adequate good quality Qi for these organs to function properly and optimaly. Nutrition is essential in Traditional Chinese Medicine and can be used to treat conditions therapeutically as well. Although certain fertility nutrition and lifestyle is recommended not one suggestion may apply to everyone.
Okay, we get it! So, what do we eat?
Here at Whole Family Health nutrition recommendations are generally made on a case by case basis. A practitioner will go over and sometimes recommend to fill out a food diary to see what you consume in a day, and offer therapeutic suggestions in regards to your overall health and Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis. Foods will be chosen and recommendations made to optimize fertility, and balance hormones.
Haven’t booked in for an Initial Consultation yet?
Below are general nutrition guidelines and recommendations you can incorporate into your life to optimize fertility.
Recommendation #1: Eat Alkaline rather than Acidic
Did you know Acidic Cervical Mucous may become hostile to sperm?
Food sources: Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, limit red meat, and unhealthy oils.
Recommendation #2: Get Plenty of Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) linoleic (omega 6) and alpha-linoleic (Omega 3s – EPA and DHA) are essential to every cell in the body.
Omega 3s encourages blood flow to tissues including the uterus, boosts immunity and reduces immune cells (killer cells) which prevent implantation as well as fights inflammation. Omega 3s are also key in the releasing of the egg during ovulation. EPA and DHA are essential to fetal brain development.
Good sources: Fish, fish oil, non-hydrogenated cold-pressed oils (flaxseed oil, pumpkin seed), eggs, soy products, raw nuts and seeds, dark green veggies, kale, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cabbage, turnips, rutabaga, brussels sprouts.
Recommendation #3: Eat Organic and Hormone Free whenever possible
Conventional meats and animal products contain synthetic estrogen which can have a negative effect on our endocrine systems. Processed food eliminates most of it its natural vitamins and minerals.
Recommendation #4: Add more Cruciferous Vegetables
These vegetables contain DIM (diindolylmethane) which is a plant-based chemical that stimulates more efficient use of estrogen in the body by increasing the metabolism of estradiol- a form of estrogen. These are great for estrogen dominant conditions including weight gain, breast & uterine cancer, low libido, PMS, Endometriosis and fibroids.
Increase your bioflavonoids found in many organic fruits and vegetables which help the formation of healthy blood vessels. This can help the uterus prep for implantation and prevent miscarriage.
Good sources: Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radish, turnip.
Recommendation #5: Eliminate Caffeine and Alcohol
Keep caffeine intake below 200 mg each day. This is equal to about 12 fluid oz of coffee.
Alcohol should be avoided altogether when trying to conceive. Even modest amounts can delay conception.
Remember everyone is different and it is always best to come for an Initial Consultation with one of our Registered Acupuncturists in order to find out what health plan and nutrition guideline works best for you!