How can your diet and lifestyle affect your chances of getting pregnant and the health of your future baby?
Something that we are passionate about here at DuPage Family Wellness is the health of the whole family. One specific aspect that has been near and dear to our hearts of late is creating and raising healthy babies and children. As we are both currently pregnant, we are going to take the next several weeks to do a series specifically on tips to achieving and having a healthy pregnancy. We realize that this might not directly impact all of you but you probably know of a close friend or family member that it would, so please pass along this information.
Even if you aren’t trying to get pregnant, these six tips are important for everyone!
Like many others out there, my personal journey to getting pregnant wasn’t a one and done sort of thing. You can read more about my story here. There were three years and lots of tears, sadness, and pain along the way. However, I also learned more than I could have imagined, grew more than I knew possible, and have been completely changed as a result. My hope in this post is to share what I learned along the way that I believe played a huge part in allowing me to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.
1. Eat the RIGHT Fat…and lots of it!
This is definitely number one because fat in the diet is critical for rebuilding cells and making hormones. However, not any fat will do. Our bodies were not created to consume the fats that man created in the vegetable oils that we have been told are healthy. These processed vegetable oils are not stable and oxidize easily, leading to inflammation and cell mutation. “When these oils are incorporated into cells in reproductive tissue, some evidence suggests that this can spur problems like endometriosis and PCOS” (From this article). What our bodies WERE created to consume are the healthful, unprocessed saturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats are stable and can be used by the body to create healthy cells and hormones.
Man Made Unhealthy Fats to Avoid- vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine, shortening, or anything with the words "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" on the label
Healthy Naturally occurring Fats to Enjoy in Abundance- coconut oil, real butter, olive oil (unheated), omega-3 containing fish, and healthy sources of animal fats (beef tallow, pork lard, duck fat, bacon grease, etc).
2. Eat Real, Unprocessed Food.
I love NY Times Best Selling Author, Michael Pollan’s quote, “Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.” This is what I mean by eating real, unprocessed food. If it didn’t exist when your great-grandmother was alive, don’t eat it. The processed food industry boomed with the industrial revolution in the early 1900’s. Along with it, boomed the modern diseases so common today (infertility, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc). If it comes in a package and has more than a few of ingredients, it’s not worth eating. These foods are often devoid of nutrients that the body is able to recognize and absorb and often have ingredients that are actually toxic to the body. We cannot expect our body to work optimally if we are not giving it the necessary building blocks from high quality proteins, beneficial fats, and nutrient rich vegetables.
3. Ditch the Sugar
This goes hand in hand with eating real foods. Too much sugar has been known to cause infertility in both men and women because it causes insulin resistance and changes to estrogen and testosterone levels. You can read more about the detrimental effects of sugar here and here.
The topic of sleep deserves an entire post in itself but especially when trying to restore hormone levels and build healthy babies, sleep is so important. When we sleep, this is the time the body has to work on all of the repairing, rebuilding, and detoxifying that needs to happen from the stresses of the day. If we don’t give our body the optimal quality and quantity of sleep, we can’t expect it to be running on all cylinders. Being in bed by 10 pm and getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep is crucial.
5. Remove the Stress.
Nowadays, stress comes at us from every which way. Whether from our morning commute, a fight with a friend or family member, a stressful job, or experiencing some sort grief or loss (ahem, infertility), stress is everywhere. Our body was not created to handle the constant stress whether from physical, emotional, or environmental causes that we are throwing at it today. This especially can throw off the hormonal system as the body will prioritize addressing these stresses over reproductive function. I know stress can be a difficult thing to avoid but working to remove stress by taking 20-30 minutes every day to relax and do something that is restful and enjoyable to you can make a big difference. As a side note, I do not find in coincidental that my baby was conceived shortly after leaving a stressful work environment.
6. Move your Body, Healthily.
Exercise can be a great thing; however, it can also be a stress on the body if it is done too intensely for too long while not being supported nutritionally (you can read about that in my story). Moving your body in a way that is fun and stress relieving like walking, swimming, or even playing can greatly support systems of the body, including the reproductive system.
I am confident that following those 6 principals were paramount to my success in conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. However, I want to stress that depending on where you are coming from, incorporating these things will not guarantee getting pregnant over night. In fact, I would recommend committing to them (both male and female) for at least 6 months to a year before even beginning to try to conceive to ensure that your body is in the best possible position to support you and a healthy baby. Have more questions or want to learn more about increasing your fertility and having a healthy baby? Call or email us today!