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The Fertility Diet

By Paige 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!

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Tips For Getting A Better Sleep

Sleep, everybody needs it, but not everyone can seem to get enough of it. People often fill their day with too many tasks and don’t leave enough time for quality shut-eye. But then there are people who have the time to sleep, but still wake up feeling tired and not well rested. This can happen for a number of reasons and it can be frustrating, but the good news is there are steps you can take to provide yourself with a better sleep every night.

Sleep vs.Good Sleep

You might be sleeping, but are you getting a good sleep? Sometimes we don’t sleep as well as we should, for a variety of reasons. A common problem that many people experience is that they are not sleeping deeply enough or are wakeful throughout the night.

There are a number of reasons why a person might not be getting the deep rest they need. Sometimes those problems are biological. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may interrupt normal sleep cycles, reducing the quality of sleep and causing the person to still be tired in the morning. Often sleep is restless because of environmental factors. Things such as excess lights and sounds or uncomfortable temperatures can cause wakefulness throughout the night. Anxiety and stress can also reduce sleep quality. If your mind is not relaxed, you may become restless and wakeful throughout the night, which reduces your quality of sleep.

Setting Up a Good Sleep Environment

If your sleep issues are environmental, there are steps you can take to improve your environment for sleeping. For instance, if light bothers you, you might want to consider a blackout shade in your bedroom. The light from a streetlight might seem fairly dim and distant, but it can be enough to compromise your sleep quality.

If noise is the issue, you might want to consider getting heavier curtains to filter out outdoor sounds. A white noise machine may also be effective in covering disruptive noises, providing for a more peaceful sleep.

Dealing with Health Issues

If your inability to get a good night’s sleep is related to physical or mental health, don’t assume those problems will just go away or that you can fix them on your own. Any health issue requires attention from a doctor. By avoiding the doctor, you might actually be worsening the problem as your lack of sleep will be making matters worse.

A Good Sleep Routine

If the problem is that you’re having a hard time getting to sleep, get yourself in a sleep routine. Try turning off the TV or any other screens an hour or two before bed time to let your mind de-stimulate. Try to relax yourself further with mediation or a warm bath. Make sure your bedroom is a clean and peaceful environment that you enjoy being in.

It may take time, but by establishing good sleep habits and taking care of any health issues inhibiting your sleep, you will improve your sleep quality and your overall quality of life.

Meditation, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapy Can Help

If you are having trouble sleeping, meditation is an effective and easy way to set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep. Some techniques for meditation that are proven to be effective in helping people fall asleep include deep breathing, guided visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness exercises.

Further, acupuncture and massage therapy are successful treatment options for many types of sleep disorders and promotes relaxation. Click here to learn more about how acupuncture, massage therapy, and meditation can improve your sleep!

If you have any questions on our mind body medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy and how to improve sleep quality, please do not hesitate to contact us today!

Natural Methods to Relieve PMS Symptoms and Cramping

The female body is a marvelous thing; however, despite its wonder and beauty, once a month, it goes through absolute…well, let’s just say it isn’t very fun.  And it isn’t really a once-a-month thing, either.  In actuality, the female body is continuously changing over the course of a month.  Hormone levels are in constant flux.  From day one of her cycle, estrogen levels begin to increase, the uterine walls thicken, and hormone levels increase to prepare for ovulation.  Once ovulation has occurred, and provided no fertilization has occurred, hormone levels drop, the egg breaks apart, and the thickened uterus lining is shed.  Then it starts all over again.  Repeat until menopause, barring any pregnancy-related disruptions.

PMS Symptoms

The fact that our bodies are on this perpetual hormone-related roller coaster means there really is no “normal”. When not experiencing the painful effects of our periods themselves, there is always the pre- and post-hormonal flux to hit us right in the psychoses.

For many, “normal” can include tension, anxiety, depression, crying spells, mood swings, irritability, anger, cravings or loss of appetite, insomnia, social withdrawal, inability to concentrate, joint or muscle pain, headaches, fatigue, wait gain, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, acne, and even constipation or diarrhea.

Everyone’s body reacts a bit differently and because our hormone levels, physical and mental states are continuously changing, our symptoms can vary from month-to-month.

One thing is certain: PMS and period symptoms can be extremely disruptive and extremely unpleasant, if not physically or mentally painful.

Natural Methods to Manage Symptoms

Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help you manage your symptoms without having to cram a bunch of chemicals into your body that may also cause a fluctuation of effects.

  1. Acupuncture, Naturopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, and Herbs Seeking care from complementary health treatments such as acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and  massage therapy is a highly effective way to help regulate menstrual cycles, reduce stress, influence hormone regulation, and improve blood flow in the reproductive areas. Traditional Chinese Medicine provides an excellent means to manage your health and relieve symptoms of PMS gently and naturally.
  2. Improve your Diet- Your period takes a lot out of your body.  Literally, your body needs extra vitamins and nutrients to get through, which means it can leave you more than a little deficient at the end.  Do you ever wonder why you seem to get sick right around your period?  Ensuring your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs can go a long way towards calming and regulating the monthly horror.  A lot of the time, the most unpleasant of symptoms can actually occur because our bodies are missing key vitamins or nutrients.  A few to watch out for: iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and the Omega oils.  As always, it is best to check with your doctor to find out what your iron levels (etc.) are in case you need to incorporate a supplement into your diet.
    Cutting back on sodium can help a lot, too.  Sodium leads to bloating, which means it can make the monthly bloat a lot more uncomfortable.
  3. Drink Tea- There are a lot of herbal formulations that can help with the symptoms—and even the pain—of PMS and menstruation.  Plus, drinking tea keeps you hydrated and having extra fluids in your body can help ease bloating and replenish your body as it fights to regulate those hormones.
  4. Exercise- Exercise can help balance out some of the mood-altering effects of PMS, but keeping it low-impact is best, especially for bodies that are having a rough time with all those hormone fluctuations.  Go for a walk, boosting vitamin D while exercising to balance blood sugar, etc. can be the best medicine and it can help you sleep at night.  There are also a number of yoga poses and stretches that can help ease your cramps.
  5. Sleep- Finding a way to get regular sleep goes a long way towards regulating your fluctuating hormones.  Take a nice long bath with Epsom salts, drink     a cup of caffeine-free lemon tea, grab a hot water bottle, and catch a few extra hours of sleep until it’s over.

If you have any questions on natural methods to reduce PMS symptoms and are interested in learning more about how acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and massage therapy can help please do not hesitate to contact us today!

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