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Home > Newsletters > December 2005 > Ten Healthy Eating Habits for Better Fertility

Ten Healthy Eating Habits for Better Fertility

By Daoshing Ni, D.O.M, L.Ac., Ph.D, Dipl.C.H.

Nutrition plays an important part in improving fertility and in having healthy offspring. Without proper nutrition, your fertility potential decreases and complications can occur during pregnancy. Good healthy eating habits contribute to good nutrition and, hence, better fertility. Below are ten good habits that can be helpful in your pursuit of having a child.

  1. Never Do Diets – Many fad diet programs are geared toward restriction of certain nutrients and tend to focus on weight reduction. By restricting certain categories of foods, we limit some of the nutrients that are essential to our reproductive system. Our reproductive system is quite complex and requires different types of nutrients in order to function properly. When we limit certain nutrients, our bodies will alter its functions in order to adapt. Sometimes this occurs at the expense of our fertility functions.
  2. Eat Regularly – The human body is a very complex system that tends to adapt to the environment constantly, including to our intake of foods. When we do not eat regularly, our blood sugar levels can run too low at times. This can be weakening and/or damaging to our reproductive system, especially when it is habitual. Do sit down and eat three meals a day (or spread them out as mini-meals five to six times a day). Make sure that the meals are fulfilling and avoid eating on the run so that you allow your body to digest properly.
  3. Eat Balanced Meals – Carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber all contribute to a healthier body and a healthier reproductive system. Every facet of the reproductive function, from making eggs, producing sperm, forming cervical mucus, to creating hormones require many nutrients. Eating too much or not enough of one category of nutrients will bring imbalance and potentially affect the reproductive function.
  4. Eat Variety – We tend to eat what we like and what we are used to. Most of us eat a limited variety of foods. For example, there are more than 30 different types of vegetables in your local supermarket. How many kinds of vegetables do you consume weekly? Try eating different foods from time to time. This will expand your nutrient horizon and help your body take in different nutrients. Look at the variety: asparagus, escarole, avocado, fennel, beet greens, green and red cabbage, bok choy, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, onions, chicory, parsley, Chinese cabbage, lettuces, peppers, chives, tomatoes, collard greens, turnips, dandelion greens, spinach, endive and zucchini – they all are full of good nutrients and are easily accessible from local markets.
  5. Eat and Chew Well – Eating quickly and on the run is the best recipe for heartburn. This eating style not only reduces the absorption rate of the nutrients, it can also create many other problems down the road. Eating without chewing well can also harm the esophagus and other parts of the alimentary tract. Food needs to be properly prepared so that it is soft, chewable and easily digestible. Eating and swallowing large pieces of raw nuts and scorched corn can all contribute to digestive problems and sometimes appendicitis if the food particles are dislodged in the region.
  6. Avoid Eating Refined Sugar – Most of us have an addiction to refined sugar. We crave candies, cookies, pies, cakes and ice cream. The problem with eating refined sugar is that the more we eat the more we crave. Eating an excessive amount of sugar will lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels, obesity and a higher potential for inflammation and diseases. High sugar consumption reduces the quality of follicles and sperm, and it causes acidification of the cervical mucus, which can become more hostile to sperm. Opt for natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables.
  7. Avoid Drinking Alcohol – Alcohol is basically fermented grains, potatoes, cactus or fruits. It is simply sugar. Steady drinking over many years leads to permanent changes in the brain. One of the permanent effects of alcohol in the brain is the reduction in the amount of brain tissue and an increase in the size of the ventricles, the fluid-filled cavities in the brain. Another way that alcohol consumption affects the brain is by depriving it of nutrients such as vitamins. This is because heavy drinkers often neglect their diet, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Thiamine, one of the ‘B’ vitamins, is most commonly missing from the diet and a deficiency in it can lead to serious mental disturbance. Alcohol can also harm sexual health. Alcohol depresses nerve impulses. In men, it can depress the nerves that cause erections. In women, regular alcohol intake can slow metabolism and lead to a decrease in egg production, as well as impair sexual function. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can harm the fetus causing small birth weight, facial deformities and reduced intelligence. This condition is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and babies born to mothers with an alcohol problem are at a high risk of suffering from this condition.
  8. Avoid Excessive Intake of Caffeine – In the US, we never do things in small doses. This is the land of Plenty and the land of Oversized portions. We enjoy coffee not by the teacup but by the mug. Excessive intake of caffeine has been linked to many cardiovascular problems and other health issues including symptoms of nervousness, headache, increased heart rate, Anxiety, upset stomach, irregular heart beat, irritability, GI irritation, elevated blood pressure, heartburn, increased cholesterol, tremors, diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, insomnia, fatigue, poor concentration, depression and dizziness. Obviously, we cannot begin to assess what this would do to the reproductive system. Ideally, coffee should be avoided altogether, but if you cannot part ways completely, try drinking only occasionally and in smaller amounts. Both green and black tea contains caffeine and the quantity of caffeine provided by the cup depends on its strength – the stronger the ‘brew,’ the greater the quantity of caffeine. A medium-strength cup of tea will provide about one-third as much caffeine as a cup of percolated coffee, and about two-thirds as much as a cup of instant coffee. Caffeine intake that results from drinking four to five cups of tea a day are not associated with any harmful effects to health in adults. Because it is not known if caffeine is absolutely harmless to the unborn baby, pregnant and breastfeeding women should probably restrict caffeine intake (e.g. to that provided by three to four cups of tea per day). To be sure, tea consumption needs to limited to two cups a day.
  9. Avoid Icy Cold Drinks and Soft Drinks – Scientific studies have shown how as few as one or two soft drinks a day can increase the risk for numerous health problems. Some of these health problems and health risks are obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, bone fractures, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, cancer and many neurological disorders. Soft drinks mostly consist of filtered water and refined sugars. They have literally no nutritional benefits and are considered empty calories. By decreasing other nutrient uptake, the reproductive system will become weakened and compromised. Icy cold drinks stimulate and pull away close-by blood circulation of the pelvis to the stomach. By doing so, this can adversely affect blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus and cause a reduction in nutrient uptake in this region.
  10. Avoid Taking Excessive Amount of Supplements – Again, in the land of Plenty, we like to take large doses of everything, including our supplements. We frequently encounter patients coming in with bottles and bottles of different vitamins and supplements. Many people often assume that mega-dosing vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, folic acid, beta-carotene and vitamin E will increase their chances of getting pregnant. In fact, large doses of some vitamins can be dangerous and toxic. For example, too much vitamin C can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb copper, a metal that is essential to body chemistry. Also, too much phosphorous can inhibit the body’s absorption of calcium. Furthermore, large doses of vitamins A, D and K are not eliminated quickly by the body and can easily reach toxic levels. We have found clinically that taking excessive amounts of supplements can actually reduce follicular recruits during an ART cycle. Talk with your health care practitioner before taking large doses of any vitamin.

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This Month's Articles

December 2005
Volume 3, Number 12

Ten Healthy Eating Habits for Better Fertility

Acupuncture for Cancer - Integrating Eastern with Western Medicine

Acupuncture at Sea

Recent Research

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