This quote is perfect to me: It’s short but contains such a powerful message that has blown my mind over and over again. It is so simple, it may easily be overlooked, but when you really think about it, it contains the most important information we can take in. Of course I think that! I’m a nutritionist.
I think food advertisers and pharmaceutical companies have done a really good job separating us from our bodies and our food supply. They have put a seed in our brains that we do not have control over our bodies and that sickness just happens to us, and this seed is so effective and deep. I have times where I question what my body is telling me as well as certain foods being able to help me. It is a deep lie that has been implanted in us, and sometimes when you think it is gone, it shows up.
My point is not to shake my finger at anyone. I just want to let it be known that there are alternatives out there and it is possible to question what our healthcare providers are telling us if it doesn’t feel right.
After all that, where am I going with this post? I want you to know that there are things you can do to increase your fertility that don’t require drugs, needles, or even a doctor. That’s not saying these things are terrible and unnecessary, because that is not the case, but if you have been trying to conceive and your diet is not the greatest, or if you know you can use a little help getting your periods on track, this is a great place to start.
Preconception is the time to prepare your body to create the most healthy, beautiful baby you can imagine. If your periods are all over the place, if your luteal phase is short, if you are irritable throughout the day/month, if you lack energy throughout the day/month, all of these and more can be helped by getting the right nutrients.
Now is the time for you to listen to what your body is telling you and to feed it what it is asking for. There are no side effects and no additional cost. Sweet!
I have written about these before, and specifically B12, but here I am linking these directly to infertility. The two main hormones that are related to our menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone. Too much of one and too little of one will cause problems with our cycle. The most common imbalance is estrogen dominance. This happens for a ton of reasons and will be covered in a later post.
Estrogen dominance will on its own reduce progesterone levels, so the imbalance between the two is increased. To help reduce estrogen levels, the B vitamins aid the liver to inactivate this hormone so it can be expelled from the body. This is such a wonderful use of B vitamins that we don’t often hear about. Thank you, B’s!
On the inactivated estrogen’s path out of the body, they can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream and recirculated. This is not good news because the liver did all that work with no benefit. The body would now have the same amount of estrogen, but it used up valuable energy and time converting it.
To make the journey out of the body, the estrogen needs to have something attached to it so it cannot be reabsorbed. This is one of the great miracles of our bodies and its relationship to food.
The answer is fiber. We always hear that fiber is needed for intestinal health and for regularity, but it is also needed for the safe journey of inactivated estrogen out of the body.
Without enough fiber, we will be constipated as well as have too much circulating estrogen (if that is an issue to begin with.) Luckily, when you eat a plant-based, whole foods diet, everything has fiber.
Fiber is the indigestible part of whole plant foods and comes in soluble and insoluble forms. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation and adds bulk to stool and is found in the skins of fruits and vegetables as well as the bran portion of whole grains. Soluble fiber creates a gel in the gut and slows down the digestive process and can be found in some fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
If you are not currently eating a fiber-rich diet, start off slowly. Start eating a little more as your body gets used to it. When you eat too much and your body is not used to it, you will know by the frequent trips to the bathroom. It’s not comfortable!
One of the many benefits to eating an animal-free diet has to do with fats. Animal fats have been seen to, through a series of reactions in the body, decrease progesterone production. If you are already heavy on the estrogen and then add this into the mix, well, your problems are going to get worse. Luckily, we don’t need to worry about this!
We do need to think of good fats vs. bad fats though because they all come in vegan forms too. I have written a post on fats here, so I will just go through the basics. It would be good to read through the purchasing, storage, and use of fats so that you are getting the best possible.
Under the bad fat category are trans fats which are inflammatory and actually interfere with the function of essential fatty acids. They are a source of free radicals in the body and can damage cells in this way. There is nothing good or natural about them, and should be eliminated from the diet entirely. Any product with the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, shortening, margarine, or mono- or diglycerides on the label should go back on the store shelf as well as deep fried foods like donuts and fries. Your body will thank you.
Good fats are anti-inflammatory, are the base for many hormones including sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, etc.), and are needed for proper nerve function for you and your soon to be little bean.
Sources of good fats include nuts, seeds, oils like coconut, avocado, and flaxseed, as well as whole avocado and olives. Mmmm. It all sounds so delicious!
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Putting It All Together
With these three changes, you will notice a difference in your menstrual cycle, if you are having any irregularities, as well as other positive changes throughout the body. Our bodies want to be healthy. They are working hard all day just for that, so why not make it as easy as possible.
I always find the hardest part of getting information like this is how to put it all together and create yummy meals without wasting all my time thinking about it. Below I have listed some meal ideas you can add into your routine that will add good amounts of the nutrients listed above. I have intentionally not put recipes because I like to be open to add or remove things from meals, and I just want to give ideas for how to put foods together.
Massaged Kale Salad – (massaged with flaxseed oil and a pinch of Himalayan salt), chopped bell pepper, cucumber, grated beets, and millet. You can make your own dressing for this with apple cider vinegar and avocado oil (or any healthy oil); tahini, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and any combo of herbs and spices you enjoy; or try blending an avocado with your fav oil, lemon juice, and herbs.
Veggie wrap – whole grain pita or tortilla (my fav is the Ezekiel brand) with hummus, can be homemade or store bought, but make sure to read the labels if store bought to make sure there is no added sugar, trans fats, and any weird, long, chemical names. Top with a mix of chopped veggies and sprouts and maybe some seeds, if you feel so inclined.
Hummus – chickpeas, healthy oil, lemon juice, additional flavours. Some additional flavours to add are herbs like basil, cilantro, lemonbalm or lemongrass; spices – cayenne, chipotle, cumin, curry; or you can add flavourful vegetables like onion, red bell pepper, ginger. You can add any combination you like and then blend it all together. It is so great to have hummus in the fridge for a snack, salad dressing, or a sauce for a stir fry.
Green smoothie – I love these so much! You can customize them for your taste and needs, so pick and choose what you like, and add some things you may have never tried before. I start with a liquid like water, herbal tea, kombucha; you can then add some nuts or seeds – flaxseed, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews; frozen or fresh fruit – banana, berries, mango, peach; sometimes I add veggies like carrot, cucumber, avocado; I’ve also got additional powders I like to add – veggie protein powder, maca, greens powder; and then I load it up with dark green leafies like kale, lettuce, sprouts. Blend and enjoy!
Adding in more whole plant foods will help you in so many ways, and now you know a few! Whether you are planning on having a baby or not, these foods will help your body, and you will feel the difference.