Can certain foods, our environment, stress and inflammation all have an effect on fertility?
Peg’s Personal story…
Getting pregnant wasn’t easy for Tim and me in the beginning. At 23 we got married. I was still in the thick of severe panic disorder and an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder that started at 19. I was on medication for 9 months to rebalance my brain, and was beyond anxious just thinking about having a baby, getting pregnant, THE BIRTH process and then the OMG of actually being a mom.
We thought we’d get pregnant easily. At 29, when I finally felt ready to start, and my ulcerative colitis and panic disorder had healed, getting pregnant didn’t happen right away. With months of trying, we went to see if either of us had a problem. Were we compatible? Was it possible for us to conceive? I had gotten pregnant as a teen, so I knew it was possible.
Through both of our doctor visits, Tim found out he had a sperm problem called a varicocele. His sperms were not strong swimmers, and learned his father had the same problem. However, his dad went on to co-create 6 healthy kids, without surgery. Tim ended up having a varicocelectomy. An out-patient surgery to improve his sperm’s mobility. It worked. We went on to have 4 babies and 1 miscarriage.
Now that our 4 daughters have reached the age in their lives, thinking of babies, and their friends are having babies, I am amazed and befuddled at the difficulty many young women today are having with getting pregnant, staying pregnant and having a full-term pregnancy.
These situations that are happening today got me thinking… With so many unexplained fertility problems, could the environment for which we are bringing in a new born baby be at risk due to our gut health and emotional state? Could it be undiagnosed autoimmune, gluten intolerance, or Celiac disease? How can we provide the best possible and healthiest womb for baby to grow in and be nourished? And how can mom-to-be get into balance, strengthen her body, immunity and create a healthy environment both to conceive, carry, grow and deliver a healthy baby.
I started digging around and researching. As you might know, I have a vested interest. My daughters are all in their thirties, well all but 1 as I write this… And I want for my daughters, if they choose, to experience and conceive babies one day, my hope is for them to conceive naturally. I want their friends to conceive. I want to be a source of support in the most loving, knowledgeable and compassionate way for all women in our community. It’s been a rough year on our hearts. We’ve had 3 preeclampsia births, a heart wrenching terminated birth and so many women friends who’ve had enormous challenges in conceiving.
It got me thinking… How can I share my wisdom, experience, intuition and gut feelings in a way that comes from my heart to support our family, friends and our community?
Thankfully today there are options available when conceiving naturally hasn’t worked, and those options cost a ton of $$$. So, it made me get even more curious… What can a woman do to create the best-case scenario and outcome when trying to conceive, and create the healthiest environment for a baby to grow in no matter how she conceives? How can a mom-to-be best nourish herself and her fetus?
Here’s what I know for sure in helping our body and mind be strong and healthy…
- Reduce Inflammation caused by foods, emotions, toxins, allergens, and stress.
- Science shows Inflammation effects fertility.
- Eliminate highly inflammatory foods (gluten, fried foods, soy, corn) low quality vegetable oils, environmental toxins, toxic and other harmful chemicals, our emotional beliefs, chronic emotional stressors and lack of sleep.
- Feel emotionally supported with friends, mom group, life coach, or therapist.
- Having a baby is not something that is easy. It’s another relationship to prepare for and foster for the rest of your life.
- I took this responsibility to heart. My experience with severe panic disorder was still fresh in the back of my mind. Being prepared physically, emotionally and mentally was a game changer.
Questions I asked myself, hard questions I discussed with close friends and my therapist:
- How was my marriage relationship? Were we solid?
- Am I prepared for the hardest job of my life?
- What am I willing to give up to raise a child?
- Was I emotionally prepared?
- What fears and beliefs must I look at and release before taking on this responsibility and huge life commitment?
- Am I ready and prepared to nourish a family?
- How do I nourish myself?
- Do I have the foundation, support and tools in place when life gets tough?
♥️Being somewhat prepared. (life always throws us curveballs, always)
♥️Getting deeply honest.
♥️Getting body mind and spirit in a balance.
These questions, and I’m sure there are many more, were important to help me prepare for this life changing experience.
The world we live in is changing. Being Jewish and Catholic, we were told it would not work, especially raising kids. When I look back, at times it was hard and challenging. What helped was I had a partner who was present. We had good communication, talked about uncomfortable topics, especially about how we wanted to raise our children. We went into it with our eyes open. We made sacrifices that made our family a priority. And we stuck to our ways and the values we wanted in raising a family.
I never sugar coat what it took for Tim and me to raise 4 amazingly healthy, loving, confident, intelligent, kind, communicative women. It took A LOT. It still takes a lot. It was a huge commitment then and continues throughout our lives. Looking back, feeling the blessings and responsibilities that come with having children and raising a family, I am grateful.
Having experienced and witnessed how food effects our body, my hope is this information helps you prepare your body and womb for your journey in growing a family.
Steps to prepare for a healthy mommy-to-be and womb.
Set your intentions for creating a healthy body for a baby to come in.
1. Insure a healthy balanced hormone and reproductive system:
- Eat a high fiber, anti-inflammatory diet choosing foods that work best in your body.
- Have a daily movement and exercise routine that you will do daily. Not overly strenuous every day. Walking has been shown to be enough! Movement helps with testosterone in women for reproduction and libido. Too much high intensity + overdoing can cause infertility.
- Have stress reducing practices in place to keep calm. Keeping stress in check is important in conceiving and helps keep hormones balanced. Cortisol, our stress hormone, helps with our coping mechanisms. Chronic stress + insufficient sleep = an imbalance.
- Have a bed time ritual to get plenty of deep restful sleep. Sleep is critical in hormone balance. Our brain does house cleaning only during sleep. Too little sleep causes an imbalance and is important for our brain which houses the master hormone gland, our pituitary gland.
- Create a healthy home environment without chemicals and toxins in the house and garden. These are known hormone disruptors that also can cause hormone imbalances.
- Stop smoking and drinking (for fertility), they also are known to disrupt hormones.
- Be at an optimal body weight. Being overweight and or way underweight both can pose a problem with fertility and cause imbalance and contribute to lack of ovulation. Check in with your health care professional.
- Healthy gut microbiome. Critical for our health and fertility. Dr. Mark Hyman also shares in his article how insulin and inflammation are both key drivers for infertility.
- Sugar, highly processed and too much sugar affects hormone balance and insulin.
2. Yes, age can have an affect on fertility and your hormones. Doing what you can to learn about your body and having a support team to stay positive is key.
3. Cleanse and eliminate inflammatory and potential allergen foods. Learn which foods work best in your body and help you create what we call TRUE HEALTH. CGK RESET is what will help you discover your power fuels and know which foods are reactive and cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation is a major cause of infertility affecting essentially all components necessary for reproduction.
4. Can gluten affect our hormones? YES. There is a link between gluten, infertility and inflammation. Men and women diagnosed with a gluten tolerance or Celiac disease do have higher risks for fertility problems. This is why we love our Reset! You will begin to rebalance all your body’s systems, strengthen your immunity and rebuild nutritional deficiencies using our anti-inflammatory food and lifestyle program. Removing inflammatory foods such as gluten, wheat, rye, barley and some oats, have shown to get your hormones back in balance, thus helping you and your body be in a healthy place ready for pregnancy. And if curious there are great tests to find out if you have a gluten intolerance. This test is not expensive.
5. Eat foods that have the potential to boost fertility: Organic and or sustainably farmed is best.
- Essential and beneficial fats: omega 3 fatty acids found in MCT oil, flax and chia seeds, avocados, almonds macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, fatty fish (mackerel, wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, wild black cod).
- High fiber complex carbohydrates: leafy greens, vegetables, berries, whole grains, quinoa, lentils and beans if tolerated. Add greens to your morning smoothie.
- Leafy greens and green veggies are rich in iron, fiber and folate. Folate is an essential nutrient for baby’s development.
- Berries such as blueberries, pomegranates and figs to reduce free radicals and are loaded with vitamin C, folate and fiber.
- Quinoa helps maintain blood sugar balance, cravings and is high in fiber and protein. Insulin affects blood sugar spikes. Try Sunny Grains, a plant based protein with all essential amino acids from Damn Good Gluten Free cookbook It has organic short grain brown rice, quinoa and toasted sunflower seeds. Great as a side, breakfast loaded with veggies, leafy greens, mackerel or salmon. We call it our Fertility Bowl!
- Beneficial Proteins at every meal ( 20-30grams): pasture raised eggs, lentils, organic chicken, wild fish, grass fed animal proteins, nuts and seeds. Add a grass fed or marine collagen, nut butters and hempseeds in morning smoothies… Proteins and fats go hand in hand, working together for our bodies to assimilate all their nutrients.
- Greek or coconut yogurts w/o cane sugar added are good for gut health.
- Pulses, beans and lentils all great proteins as well as loaded with iron, folate and fiber!
- Nuts and seeds especially sunflower and pumpkin seeds, help with liver function, selenium and folic acid.
There are many ways to help the fertility process. One of the most important factors is to keep a healthy, positive outlook and to have the support of a Functional Medicine coach and or doctor. Yes, a healthy body is important, as I express incessantly, as are the foods that work in our bodies. Do your best to not allow yourself to become so overwhelmed, try your best to find the JOY and FUN when starting out in your growing family journey, and try to keep a positive and hopeful attitude. All that said, today it seems as women choose to create and grow their family at an older age, it can be challenging. My hope for you is the ideas I’ve shared here will help your experience, strengthen you and your body, mind and spirit, and that one day you will share with us your precious gift.
I am here always supporting you, holding you and loving you!
♥️Momma Pegs ♥️