Although Andrew is a specialist in acupuncture, and this will form the basis of our 2014 project, he has kindly offered his advice on nine steps that can be taken to optimise fertility during these cold winter months.
Managing your fertility health in winter can be a struggle, with the cold weather and various festive celebrations all taking their toll on body and mind.
But keeping on track doesn’t need to be hard if you follow some simple steps.
Over the past 2,000 years the Chinese have been making seasonal changes to their diet, lifestyle and mindset, and have created guidelines to follow to optimise fertility throughout the seasons.
Harnessing the changes of winter will leave you fully recharged with optimised fertility for the months ahead.
You will enter the next year with better health and increased vitality, making your body more efficient and able to support conception and pregnancy.
Here are nine easy things to do in winter:
1. Keep extra warm and protect yourself from the cold wind and draughts.
Keep your feet, legs and lower back wrapped up well and if any of these areas feel cold, add more clothes or massage the area to get the blood flowing more efficiently.
When your body gets cold, it requires more energy to heat itself up and it therefore uses more nutrients, which often depletes reserves.
This is why animals fatten up for winter and then sleep, allowing their bodies to stay warm whilst using little energy.
2. Hibernate and sleep as much as you can. All life slows down in winter… so should you!
Go to bed earlier, sleep longer hours and try to get up after the sun rises wherever possible. You might feel sluggish in winter but you’ll feel totally rejuvenated in spring!
Winter is for preserving energy, a time for snuggling up and enjoying the long restful nights.
3. Eat warmer foods and avoid lighter summer foods and drinks.
Increase your protein intake to generate more energy to keep warm, and specifically eat more protein in the luteal phase of your cycle (that’s the second half – after ovulation).
4. Eat lots of winter fertility foods.
Here are some key foods to include in your diet:
Non-starchy vegetables: beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, sweet potatoes, carrots and lots of dark green vegetables such as kale.
Winter fruits: apples, pears, rhubarb and pomegranate.
Stews and broths: beef and lamb homemade stews and broths. If you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetable stews and broths and add eggs as a source of protein.
Herbs and spices: garlic, ginger, chilli, pepper, cardamom, cloves, anise and cinnamon (try to use Saigon cinnamon if possible) – but all in small warming quantities.
5. Avoid alcohol.
As much as it’s nice to have a drink during celebrations, try to keep it to an absolute minimum, and ideally, no alcohol at all.
Alcohol will deplete your nutrient base and compromise your immune system. It’s a stimulant and in winter your body is trying to rest.
6. Reduce false lighting as much as possible.
Use candles if you don’t need the light on and if you have the luxury of a real fire, then use that too. Firelight is relaxing, calms the mind and reduces stimulation, allowing you to stay in a deep relaxed state.
7. Reflect on the past year and dream of plans for the year ahead, but in a relaxed way that doesn’t overstimulate your mind.
8. Decrease stress, relax, read books and watch lots of calm and happy movies. In short, feel as if you’re indulging yourself by relaxing.
9. Enjoy time with your friends and family at home or in selected calm environments where you can talk, relax and enjoy being together.
At the end of the day, winter is a time when the forces of nature decline and everything goes to sleep until spring. Preserving energy is the key during this season, and if you can achieve it, it will help you to support and transform your fertility health for the year that follows.