Published November 13, 2019
Prof. Oladapo Ashiru
In the first trimester of pregnancy , your growing embryo will increase 20 million times . In the first eight weeks , your baby’ s organs , hands , fingers, legs , feet , head, eyes , nose, ears, among others , are being constructed .
To ensure that the best possible foundations are laid down during this phase , you want to make sure that there are plenty of building blocks in the form of the right nutrients in the right combinations.
What does a fertility diet contain?
An optimal fertility diet is about what to avoid as much as it is about what to include. A fertility diet should be as fresh as possible and organic wherever possible . Key elements are good quality protein sources ( vegetable sources of protein ) and good fats .
What should you eat ?
Organic meat in small quantities , game , small deep- sea fish like sardines and red snapper , organic legumes home cooked ( not canned ) .
Whole grains, nuts, seeds , vegetables that are better steamed, not raw, very small amount of fruits and not after 4 pm in the evening ( organic where possible ) .
Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats . Good fats include monounsaturated fats in olive oil , polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts and mid chain fatty acids found in coconut oil .
For cooking , use clarified butter ( ghee ) or coconut butter ( without flavour ) as they do not become unstable when heated .
For non -heated oil requirements ( salads etc .) use cold pressed olive oil , flaxseed oil and nut oils .
Avoid dangerous fats
Did you know that consuming trans fats hidden in foods such as doughnuts, biscuits , lollies , candy, chocolate , chips , pies , fries, take away and thousands of other foods may increase your risk of infertility by as much as 70 per cent ? Scientists from the Harvard University School of Public Health advise women wanting to get pregnant to avoid all trans fats .
The sole purpose of adding trans fats to food is to extend its shelf life . To minimise your consumption of trans fats , be diligent about reading the ingredients and avoid the most likely culprits altogether. Trans fats are mostly listed as ‘hydrogenated fat ’ or ‘hardened vegetable fat ’ or simply ‘vegetable fat . ’
Minimize animal -derived estrogens
Dairy products account on the average for 60 to 70 per cent of estrogens consumed . Humans consume milk from cows in the second half of pregnancy when cows ’ estrogen levels are high . We usually associate dairy and drinking milk with calcium, and never think about what else we may be consuming along with the calcium ( and dairy , by the way is not the best source of calcium) . Here is a list of hormones that have been found in cows ’ milk : Prolactin , somatostatin , melatonin , oxytocin , growth hormone , luteinizing releasing hormone , thyroid stimulating hormone , estrogens , progesterone , insulin , corticosteroids and many more.
Do you think an excess consumption of all these hormones could disrupt your own hormonal balance? You bet! Consumption of milk has been linked to certain cases of male infertility . Excess estrogen and pesticide exposure has been linked to PCOS and endometriosis . Studies have found higher concentrations of pesticides in cheese than in non- organically grown fruit and vegetables . The first line of naturopathic treatment I recommend for PCOS and endometriosis is to minimise intake of animal products . Animal products have a high content of hormones , pesticides and herbicides , which are known endocrine disruptors . They play havoc with your hormones and this can lead to anovulation .
Avoid the two most common allergens
The link between food intolerances and anti -sperm antibodies is now well established . Studies have found that women with multiple allergies and food intolerances were more likely to miscarry . An overactive immune system is more likely to attack its own body cells . From an immunological point of view ,an embryo and sperm cell are foreign bodies. But mother nature was clever ; she programmed our immune systems to distinguish between an everyday invader and a sperm cell or embryo .
A normal and healthy immune response to an embryo or sperm cell is orchestrated by Th 2 cytokines. They suppress your killer cells ( that ’s what they are called ) to leave the embryo unharmed . Because of this protection , many pregnant women are poor wound healers and can come down really badly with a cold or flu. Your natural protection has been suppressed so that your baby can develop properly .
An abnormal immune response to the implantation of the fertilised egg is orchestrated by Th1 cytokines . Rather than suppressing your killer cells , they stimulate their activity . This can lead to defects and the loss of the fetus. The two most widely spread food intolerances are gluten and dairy . I recommend to all my patients to have an IgG immunoglobulin test done to check if you are dairy and gluten intolerant . But since most people have some level of allergy to gluten and/ or dairy , it is advisable to avoid gluten and dairy altogether during the preconception and pregnancy period.
Have an STD check
Most people believe both they and their partner are STD free . However there are some STDs which can be asymptomatic , meaning that you may not be aware that you have them as there are no obvious symptoms . One such STDs is a chlamydia infection. In men , a chlamydia infection can lead to sperm abnormalities , including sperm antibodies . In women , it can lead to scarring, blocked tubes and miscarriage . In women , vaginal discharges that have fishy odor or offensive odor indicate a degree of STD.
A study found 60 per cent of asymptomatic male partners of infected females attending a fertility clinic to be infected with chlamydia . Most STDs are easy to treat ; so it pays for both partners to have an STD check . There is no point in only one partner going for a test as the other partner can re – infect them again .
To be continued …