In recent years, infertility has continued to increase, with women struggling to have a baby and turning to fertility drugs, IVF treatments and even surrogates.
Struggling to have a baby can take a huge toll on the body and mind, and also on a couple’s relationship. Women often report feeling inapt when struggling to conceive, and men, who are also seeing a steady decline in their sperm count and strength, feel frustrated and less manly.
But does having a baby need to be that hard? Or can we take control of our body so that it performs the way we want it to?
In my practice, I coach a lot of women who are looking to start a family but are afraid of not being able to. A lot of them report struggling with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which makes it difficult to fall pregnant. They have tried everything possible to solve the issue: drugs or even surgery, but they never looked at their diet and lifestyle until they came to me.
Some, initially come to me for weight loss or skin problems, and it is quite interesting to see that we still think of our body as a separate entity with different parts to be fixed on their own; when in fact; everything is connected. So weight or even a bad skin is often actually related to PCOS.
It is always a relief to clients to know that our work together can actually support them in having a baby. My heart is truly into this work, because as a woman, I know we really just want to be able to do what comes natural to us, without feeling the pressure and labels society so happily places on us. There is no judgment here! We work together as a team.
There are some clear symptoms of hormonal imbalance and even PCOS that we can pay attention to if we are struggling to get pregnant:
Higher testosterone levels in women
Increased facial hair
Scalp hair loss.
Acne or generally bad skin,
Weight gain around the mid section
Heavy and painful periods
So how can nutrition and lifestyle assist?
Switch the simple for complex carbs: Our standard diets are very heavy in simple carbohydrates and sugar, which cause a chain of reactions in our bodies and make us ill. Sugar makes our insulin levels get out of control and one of the primary issues with PCOS or other hormonal imbalances is indeed sugar. What to eat? It’s time to clean out your pantry and get rid of anything that is processed and refined. Your diet should be rich in all variety of leafy green and other colorful vegetables (complex carbohydrates) and some low GI fruit (like berries). Be careful with starchy vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes etc. Wisely consume grains and try and eliminate gluten rich grains such as bread. Stick to the likes of quinoa, red and black rice or amaranth.
Increase your healthy fats intake: Fat is responsible for maintaining a healthy hormone balance. Omega 3s, in particular, is anti-inflammatory and also contributes to the production and maintenance of good cholesterol, which stimulates the creation of sex hormones. Yes, cholesterol plays a very important part in our reproductive system. Enjoy eating Avocados, Olives, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Flaxseed oil and nuts and seeds, and avoid trans-fats and heated vegetable oils. Also, make sure your levels of Omega 6 is kept in check as they are, opposite to 3’s, quite inflammatory and promote imbalance and disease. We need a little but we tend to consume way too much now, especially through animal sources.
Take your vitamins: Paying particular attention to Vitamin D and B complex can really increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Vitamin D and B are key to keeping your hormones in check and should always be monitored when working with your GP, especially if you are thinking or working towards having a baby.
Heal your gut: It is a trend for me to mention the gut; but the truth is, if our gut is unhappy and not functioning properly, then we cannot expect the rest of the body to work properly either. The body truly is an amazing connection of all its organs and if one struggles, the rest of the body will too. Our digestive system is responsible for the assimilation of nutrients and expulsion of toxins; if we do not foster a strong army of good bacteria, we will not have the tools to do either and hormone production cannot happen without the right nutrients (Vitamins and minerals cannot be absorbed and we become deficient). Add a good strain of probiotics (multi-billion acidophilus are excellent) and depending on your condition, perhaps you may need some digestive enzymes initially too. Also, check for Candidiasis, as it has been reported that people with PCOS may struggle with a yeast overgrowth into the gut. Adding probiotic rich food such as sauerkraut, as well, can help with Candidiasis and healing the gut.
Exercise: Movement is the key to health; when we are stagnant, waste is not secreted as efficiently and tends to stay within the body. We want to help toxins flush out of the system by promoting cardiovascular movement as well as stimulating the lymphatic system. I will add a caveat though; without the right diet, exercising can have a negative effect; as toxins are then secreted into the blood from the fat cells; where they are often stored, but not expelled, as our digestive tract will not be able to handle them. Toxins floating in the blood stream tend to impair hormones. Moreover, toxins love fat, and the brain is the perfect pit stop. The brain is where the pituitary gland is (responsible for controlling and balancing our hormones) and it cannot perform at its optimal level when its toxicity is so high. I am sure by now you can see the entire connection throughout the entire body.
De-stress: Stress is very dangerous to our body. Research is continuously discovering the deteriorating effects it has on us. One of the effects of stress is exhausting the adrenal glands; which are linked to our pituitary gland and control hormones levels too. When stressed we deplete our system to the point where we are unable to produce enough estrogen and/or progesterone and hence struggle to procreate. One of the best ways to tackle stress and also getting healthy exercise is yoga. Yoga is a 360 degrees solution to physical activity and stress management. It is referred to as “dynamic meditation” because the focus on the breath calms the mind and shrinks the amygdala (which bring on fear and anxiety/stress when activated) as well as allowing us to move our body and get a strong, yet gentle workout. By allowing the body to stay in a calm mindset, hormones tend to balance out and work properly.
Reduce toxins and detoxify: We live in a toxic world, so whether we like it or not, we are exposed to them daily. Toxins, like stress and bad food, cause hormonal issues. However, we can take control of how much we are taking in by following a few simple steps:
Change your cosmetics: unfortunately most products available in stores are toxic. They are manufactured to increase profit no matter the decline in quality. A lot of the deodorants, shower gels, shampoos and lotions have a good dose of heavy metals, which once applied on the skin, penetrate in our body and cause havoc. Choose natural ingredients and go back to basics with simplicity. Perhaps make your own body lotion with Shea butter, coconut oil and essential oils. Safe and cheap.
Toss your cleaning products: Standard cleaning products are severely toxic; doctors sometimes say that the most toxic environment is indeed our home! Swap all products for bicarbonate of soda (aluminum free) and apple cider vinegar. You can also add some oils to make your home smell wonderful. There are natural products available as well, but if on a budget, these solutions are wonderful; and personally find them much more natural than anything else.
Time to revaluate your dentist: I can imagine you saying: “excuse me?!? What does dentistry have to do with toxins?”. Sadly, most dentists use very toxic materials so if you had fillings or crowns, the chances are, you may have mercury floating through your body. Heavy metals toxicity in dentistry is a big issue because there are not laws that protect us so we need to really do our research and look for Biological dental products.
Heal naturally and stop taking pills.If you are comfortable taking a pill for every ailment, I need to warn you, pharmaceuticals are not better than the dental industry. Most pills are coated with some sort of heavy metal. Find natural methods for your ailment, especially if a cold or headache; drink water, boost you immune system with some roots like ginger and just let your body do its work.
Those are just a few easy ways we can get exposed to toxins; so it is essential to stay away from them as much as possible; as advised above. Also regular detoxification is necessary, so get armed with Zeolite clay or DMSA to eliminate toxins from your body safely.
Following these tips can really make a huge difference to your struggle; the way I see it, look at this as an opportunity to cleanse your “baby nest” before it arrives. Would you want to conceive in less than optimal conditions? Or would you rather know that the body holding your future baby is in perfect state that you are ready to give it all it needs to also grow into a healthy baby? There is a lot of research showing that babies born to healthy mothers have stronger immune, vascular and nervous system so clean your nest so that you can conceive easily and offer the best accommodation ever to your bundle of joy.
SERENE London Team, SERENE Social
Chantal is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Author, Yoga teacher and founder of Live Lean Health and Live Lean TV.
Her journey started 16 years ago after two years long battle with anorexia and 14 yearsdestructive relationship with food, which forced her to then turn her life around due to health issues.
She mainly works with women who seek positive change, physically, spiritually and emotionally, and other clients who want to regain their health and feel their best ever!
Find more about her and events on her website: www.liveleanhealth.com