I know that when I eat real, unprocessed, high-nutrient food, I will feel great and look great. When I work out on a regular basis, I will have muscle tone and less body fat. And when I get to sleep on time, I will feel clear-headed the following day.
These are all things that I can control. If I do A, then I’ll get B.
Well. It’s time to say goodbye to those days because we’re trying to have a baby (YAY!!!!!). Oh, and did I mention I also just got married? (double YAY!!).
For all of you out there who have experienced this (or are currently experiencing it), you know that you can never have full control over what your body decides to do, or doesn’t decide to do.
Just because I eat this, take this, and time my ovulation just right, there is no guarantee (SCARY).
That said, there are things that I can do (and anybody else out there listening) that can increase my chances dramatically. Read: I’m going to try to control it anyway :).
SO even though we are technically just beginning (now that the wedding is over), I’ve been on a mission the last few months in anticipation of this blessed moment. A mission to read everything there is to read, and try everything there is to try on fertility – the natural way. Which means through FOOD (my favorite).
Thus begins my series on fertility. Essentially, I’m self-experimenting on myself. If I eat this way, will I not only get pregnant faster, but have a healthy pregnancy, and in turn, a healthy baby?
THE FOOD & FERTILITY SERIES:
A 5 part series revealing the food and habits I am incorporating into my lifestyle – one tip at a time. And yes, it will always be accompanied by a recipe. Also, follow along on my Instagram page to see fertility recipes (and just plain ol’ Paleo goodness) posted in real time. Let’s get this party started, shall we?
Tip 1: Start Early
One of the first books I read on natural fertility was, “Beautiful Babies: Nutrition for Fertility,” by Kristen Michaelis. There is a TON of good advice in this book. Some of it’s a little out there. But a lot of it makes sense. You just have to be willing to go outside your comfort zone a bit to follow the recommendations.
I will be referring back to this book throughout this series, and I encourage you all to read it if you are also trying to conceive. But I will do my best to give you the Cliff’s Notes right here.
The best advice I got out of it was to START EARLY.
Most people start thinking about fertility WHEN they are ready to have a baby. But, if you think about it, that’s like running a marathon without training for it first. To prepare your body to accommodate and grow a healthy baby for 9 months, you should really start preparing at least 3 months ahead.
Why 3 months?
It takes nearly 90 days for an egg to fully mature before it is ovulated and 72 days for a man’s sperm to form. During that time, outside factors have influence over the quality of that egg (nutrition, oxygenation, proper blood circulation, the balance of the hormones, the mood of the mother, and stress).
Michaelis cites traditional societies that would prepare mothers 6 -12 months in advance for conception. The first half of that time was to help heal and detox the body. The second half promoted maximum fertility.
Multiple studies have linked infertility to malnourishment. And I know that when we hear ‘malnourishment,’ we think starving children in Africa. But it’s very possible for somebody following the standard American diet of 6-11 servings of carbs, a small amount of vegetables and healthy protein, and massive amounts of sugar and processed food, to be malnourished.
Traditional cultures placed a special emphasis on very nutrient-rich foods during this pre-conception phase…
- Andes Mountain Tribes: Fish eggs
- Gaelic Fisherman in Scotland: Fish heads stuffed with oats and chopped liver
- Hunter-Gatherers all around the world: Liver, glands, blood, marrow, and adrenal glands from animals
These cultures were eating 10-20-30 times more of these vitamins than we eat today. When analyzed, it shows that these foods contain high amounts of vitamins A, D, and K2, folate, B6 and B12.
I’ll get to more of the reason these nutrients are so good for pregnancy in our next Food & Fertility post. But for now, I want you to understand why preparing the body in this way is way more important than you may even imagine.
Now & Later
According to the Fetal Origins Hypothesis, foods eaten in pregnancy can significantly increase a baby’s risk of contracting chronic diseases later in life. In 2010, the culmination of these studies appeared in Time magazine with the following considerations:
What makes us the way that we are? Why are some people predisposed to anxiety, heart attacks, diabetes, or high blood pressure?
It is possible that the quality of nutrition you received in the womb (pollutants, drugs, mother’s health, stress level, state of mind) could have influence on your health as an adult.
This thought and others is the basis for a new-ish field of science called Epigenetics. Epigenetics means the nutrition or other environmental factors can influence the behavior of genes without actually altering DNA.
This means that what we eat as adults can change our health. But only so much. What we eat in the womb, however, can have a huge impact because that’s when our genetics are the most malleable.
Fact: Baby girls are born with all the eggs that they will ever have.
This means that, according to epigenetics, your health was determined by what your mother ate, what her mother ate, and what HER mother ate.
My point? WHAT YOU EAT NOW – whether it’s years, months or weeks before you have a baby – MATTERS.
WHOA. I know. Blows your mind a bit. I realize that some of these claims are controversial. And that it may cause you to freak out a bit (the last thing I want during this crucial time). But it was all based on scientific research, and I thought it was worth sharing.
The good news is WE HAVE CONTROL OVER THIS. And the control, as always, lies in our food.
Get started below with my delicious Fertile Myrtle Smoothie recipe. And while you are waiting for post number 2, check out my Instagram page to find tons of fertility recipes I've been posting.
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