Today on TGD, we're talking diet (and therefore lifestyle) - for fertility! A necessary, albeit brief, download.
Me, when I hear the mentioning of someone trying to make a baby...
"There is talk about inoculating the womb space with new life. A course of action for nourishment is required.
One must learn about one's body; and some 'fertile' foods to feed it."
1. Learning about the body requires a little homework - a little food journal/elimination diet kind of gig.
2. The body should be fed nourishing meals, seeds, and fertility boosting foods.
A simple way to get to know your body, is to see what foods it likes. + MINI MEDITATION PROMPT + We can do this by sitting down....taking a deep breathe...and asking our bodies or the individual organ systems, what foods best nourish; and listen for a response. Asking 'Womb Space' directly, what they prefer for nourishment; and listening to the answer. Think about what it would feel like to be well nourished, energized, and fertile; see what arises.
+ Another way we can see what kind of foods our bodies and wombs want; is by cutting out all major known allergens in our diet; and then reintroducing them, one by one. The second step is crucial, to catch the culprit. They call this approach, an elimination diet.
Here is a lovely little article by The Elderberry, my former employer - on whether or not a 'detox' is in order for you; She is in mention of a 'spring detox' but the basics are baseline.
If you have been trying to conceive without 'luck' thus far- The elimination diet is a key tool in understanding the body. Last week we talked about how stress can render the body 'infertile' and here I'll note, inflammation from the diet isn't much different. By figuring out what foods cause the body inflammation - and then taking these foods out of the diet; many women have had success in conceiving. Cutting gluten and dairy out alone can have remarkable outcomes in terms of conception. There are many reasons that a diet change is effective; the short and simple- is that, by minimizing inflammation levels, we send signals to the body that we are prioritizing our health, wealth, and fertility.
An elimination diet can be one week, it can be 6 weeks.
60 days is optimal for cleansing the system in a big way.
Phase 1 is 'cutting things out', cleaning up the diet, eating simple.
Some foods to consider removing: dairy, gluten, corn, coffee/caffeine, soy, chocolate, eggs, wheat & other grains, nightshades, pork/red meat, seafood, nuts, etc.
Alcohol and other substances, such as smoking tobacco and cannabis - should also be avoided as they will throw off the study...
Take it all out, and maintain yourself on vegetables and quinoa; (not rlly, I'm being sarcastic)
or use muscle testing to see what specifically you should remove.
when we reintroduce things back into the diet, this is phase 2;
and we're looking for symptoms of inflammation: headaches, mood swings, fatigue, insomnia, gas, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, constipating, acne/breakouts, eczema, itching, poor mental health, depression, low energy, low libido, etc.
There are several ways to begin an elimination diet.
Start with a food journal. Simply write down everything you ate/drank for breakfast - and how you felt afterward. Lunch, dinner, etc. write it all down.
Notes have always served me more in the reintroduction phase; but keep notes on how you are feeling, your bowel movements, etc.
When you begin to take things out of your diet, you might notice things like 'free floating anger', etc. write these down. As foods are taken out of the diet, certain emotions and inflammatory markers manifest; we call this a "healing crisis"- when the healing looks like the illness, this can give you a head start on what food is feeding what imbalance - before your reintroduction phase. Sometimes you know something is not doing you any good; and if that's the case- you simply don't reintroduce it.
The reintroduction phase is simply reintrodcuing the foods you took out, one by one - and documenting the effects you feel after eating the food, in your food journal. This step is pretty self explanatory; the key is to take some time here. Put at least 3 -6 days in between foods, so you can really get a feel for how one specific food is acting in your body. After reintroducing each food, one by one, you will notice nuances in how they make you feel. For example; I noticed a little throat clearing after dairy, some anxiety after meat and caffeine. Some side effects are uncomfortable, but bearable - when compared to the effects of other foods (like gluten for me); so you just listen to your body.
If you are experiencing 'infertilty' - and notice inflammatory symptoms with certain foods, you're going to want to keep these foods out of your diet. As mentioned before, so many women have had positive conception results just by removing things like dairy, gluten, and eggs from their diet. Less inflammation, more energy for other things; like ovulation/conception, etc.
I myself, have done many an elimination diet; and because my body continues to change and have different requirements, it is a practice I return to when I am feeling imbalanced or ungrounded.
Every day I am learning new things about myself and my environment.
The things I realize about myself - My body, my brain; what miracles!
It's been nearly 6 years since cleaning up my diet that first time; of sugar, caffeine, dairy, meat, gluten and grains; Most days I feel like the best version of myself, I feel genuine joy and gratitude for life. My body feels energetic, calm, strong; I feel nourished. My energy is sustainable. I wasn’t allowed to feel this deep well of joy before, when I was constantly exposing my body to inflammatory foods. My body was just trying to survive, let alone thrive in higher states of consciousness…Eventually I went back to occasionally eating grains and meat, sugar and dairy; and I am human. Some things I have kept out of my diet forever; like gluten. I minimize those foods that have negative side effects, load up on vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds, superfoods, and water. Last year I went totally vegan and had yet another major shift in my mindbody. The saying is true, you are what you eat. You are literally made up of the vitamins, minerals, and hormones in the food that you eat.
A personal note on gluten/inflammatory foods & why they cause infertility:
Ok, so symptoms of non celiac gluten intolerance, can manifest as anxiety and depression, even psychosis; but it can also look like, malnourishment. Our reproductive system is the last in line for nourishment, so its important that we are absorbing all the nutrients from food that we can; if we are to focus on this system.
Gluten containing foods - wheat, barley, rye & some forms of oats - As it turns out - can lead to gut imbalances - which can lead to cerebral brain imbalances. For as we know - the gut and the brain are intimately linked to one another. This is the depression/anxiety/stress bit. Then there is the secondary mal nourishment...
Gluten intolerance is synonymous with 'leaky gut' - which functions kind of like an autoimmune disorder, but is technically a microbiome mediated response. Leaky gut refers to a condition in which the gut has experienced prolonged inflammation. If gluten containing foods are present in the diet, a hormone, Zonulin; within gluten - renders the epithelial cells, lining your gut, more permeable - by opening up the little slits in them. This is also referred to as 'tight junction dysfunction' - and can be remedied with abstinence from inflammatory foods as well as supplementing with Vitamin D- as the D can heal the cell walls and 'close the doors'.
The body can feel discomfort system wide, if leaky gut is present, as it leaks chemicals/pesticides/etc. from food - into your bloodstream, which is then circulated throughout your whole body, and the organs - reads as 'inflammation'. In terms of fertility and growing a baby; you can imagine - that any inorganic material/processed foods in the diet, will be given directly to the placenta/womb. This also means that secondary malnutrition can effect the nutrients your womb/baby are getting; and you - yourself, are unable to absorb the nutrients from your food, because they are being 'leaked' out of your Gi tract; This is a no brainer for a femme who is growing a baby.
If something like ‘leaky gut’ is preventing you from getting the nutrients you need, you can bet - it is also starving nutrients from your womb space…We nourish our guts, we nourish our wombs, we nourish our fertility.
After this bit of homework, experimenting with your diet, and having done a little self study- hopefully we know what NOT to eat;
ok; let's talk about what we SHOULD eat...
FOODS TO BOOST FERTILITY:
If you want to become fertile soil for a seedling to grow; you must ingest foods with high 'fertile potential' - foods which, in themselves, contain the energetics of life:
Seeds, nuts, fruit; and unprocessed grains with fertile germ cells in tact.
We also want to focus on building foods, like bone broth and kitchiri, Dahl, mushroom veggie soups, etc.
When we eat foods that have 'fertile potential' we increase that potential in ourselves.
Eating seeds is a good way to do it! There is a practice called 'seed cycling'. Seeds are little micro pockets of life, they contain all of the vitality and energy to grow new life; once put into soil - they become something else entirely. I like this little blog post specifically on seed cycling - for fertility.
Essentially; the practice asks that; you eat seeds that help regulate estrogen during the first phase of your cycle (pumpkin & flax) or during a new moon, and then switch to seeds that help regulate progesterone for the second half of your cycle (sesame & sunflower), or during the full moon.
Seeds for fertility:: 1-2 Tbsp/day ::
Pumpkin Seeds - antioxidant! high in zinc, aids in progesterone production
Flax Seeds - rich in omega 3 fatty acids - help blood flow to the uterus; and contain lignans which contribute to balancing your hormones- lignans bind excess estrogen. containing: phytoestrogens and manganese.
Sunflower seeds- zinc, folic acid, vitamin E - boosts sperm motility and sperm count, stimulates progesterone - selenium containing (Selenium not only helps optimize thyroid function, its improves the livers ability to process and removes excess estrogen)
Sesame seeds - high in calcium, highest level of protein, contains phytoestrogens, and high in iron - so a good supplement for women experiencing iron deficiency/anemia related infertilty.
- chia seeds!
- maca root
- goji berries
- brown rice
- fruits like pomegranate, figs, and berries!
- dark leafy greens
- mung beans & lentils
- beets, fennel, sweet potatoes, veggies galore.
- congees, well cooked gf oats, and porridge, loaded up with spurlina, seeds, and berries.
Bone broth is an amazing source of nourishment; the staple food in Sally Fallon's 'Nourishing Traditions' and used worldwide, across cultures- in the childbearing years. This is because a properly made bone broth can heal our bodies of inflammation, decrease Vata, and restore us back to baseline. The collagen in the bones, broken down by the long cooking process; helps to heal the lining of the gut, as well as our tissues. A gelatinous and amber colored broth; is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. You can make bone broth with the bones of nearly any animal; and extra goodness if they are local.
Food sources that have Vitamin C, calcium - supplementing with Calmag - and drinking the herbal teas mentioned in Week 1 (hello nettles, red raspberry, and rose)! We are specifically looking at food as medicine here, so I am doing my best not to mention herbs too much - and keeping it simple with foods.
This article mentions why some of they boost fertility and is a nice little list with simple details. So many good resources out there...I like to keep it simple.
If you have a history of alcohol, smoking etc. - you have a build up of free radicals in your body. For optimal health, we want to ingest lots of antioxidants which gobble up those free radicals and help to alkalize your body. Antioxidants also help protect our organs, our ovaries, our eggs, and our wombs.
There is an abundance of information out there on what to eat to heal yourself, to boost fertility, to feel your best. This is just a starting point - a reference page - a little pocket organizer of things to grab the next time you're at the grocery store. There is no need to overthink things too much; if an elimination diet sounds like too much too soon; just start by introducing the fertility boosting foods, teas & broths/ keep a simple food journal - try for the things that light your heart up when you read about them; and see what arises in you.
If nothing else sticks; attempt to sit with yourself and practice the mini meditation prompt.
Check out my 'DOULA' Pinterest page - for resources and blog posts on fertility, pregnancy, post partum etc.
and stay tuned! NEXT WEEK: we are talking about getting in touch with Mother Nature, and giving back the blood...
Who you want to become, is dependent, on what you put in, around, and on - your body. If you want to be a mother, you eat from the Mother herself; whole foods and clean water, breathing clean air; loving your body, as Earth. It is all connected.
If you can't do this, you do your best.
You prioritize fresh air and clean water, and do your best.
I would recommend every person who is able, go on an Elimination Diet at least once in their lifetime; as it is so beneficial to learn about yourself.
To learn what foods truly resonate with your body, and which ones cause inflammation. Inflammation in the body is treated similarly to stress, it motivates the body to prioritize getting a handle on the inflammation, over other things, like creating a new human.
Keeping a food journal, now, is imperative. To understand how the flow of your energy, mental health, libido, etc. is effected by certain foods.
Fertility experts and midwives alike; will tell you, that lifestyle changes work.
Changing the things you eat, being present with your diet; it requires lifestyle changes.
Cutting inflammatory foods out of your diet, like gluten and dairy, can render someone previous ‘infertile’, ‘fertile’. These are just English terms to express the hormonal state of your body, they don’t really mean anything in the big picture. Life is fluid - our bodies, changing. We can set an intention towards fertility by setting an intention towards healing our body, improving our diet, and balancing our hormones.
There is no shame in this game.
Knowing your body is a choice, we make it if we want to.
Give consent to yourself to go deeper and get to know and love yourself on a new level.
Sometimes that involves changing up what you put into yourself, what you consume.
Getting to know your body, giving it what it asks for and minimizing exposure to things that can harm; is a process.
Fertility isn’t a small thing, and it isn’t a set thing.
It is a high and holy honor to bring new life in this world, we take it seriously.
Some people choose not to when it is not divine, and surrender to the moment, when it is.
Some folks have the high and holy honor to witness and go deep within our own bodies, without the distractions of family. It will all be, as it is meant to be.
An ever changing state of being, fertilty; a mindset; a practice, a great mystery of Nature.
This is some truth, the more we love ourselves and our bodies, the more we love ourselves and our bodies.
We tell ourselves that our bodies are temple, they become temple; a holy shrine.
Water the seeds of your intentions to becoming a fertile landscape, with positive affirmations and healthy lifestyle choices.
Nothing is ever perfect; I always say “we do what we can, and we call it our best” and if we give it our best, is it perfect - in its own divine way.