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Five Things You Should Stop Drinking If Your Are Trying To Conceive?

Most people know that it’s important to eat and live well when you’re pregnant. The mantra is ‘act pregnant to get pregnant’ or ‘preconception care’, as it’s also known.

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Trying To Conceive
  • Caffeine can affect fertility in women and men
  • Sorry Guys: booze affects sperm quality
  • Tap water can have added extras to avoid – like metals and impurities
  • Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a raft of health issues from headaches to weight gain, including hormone problems

Most people know that it’s important to eat and live well when you’re pregnant. The mantra is ‘act pregnant to get pregnant’ or ‘preconception care’, as it’s also known.

We all start with the basics: quitting smoking, cutting down on the booze. But it’s not just about the demon drink. Alcohol isn’t the only thing to stop drinking if you’re trying to conceive. Here are some things to watch out for, plus some easy swaps to make, whether you’re trying for a child naturally or using assisted means.

trying to conceive

Coffee and tea
Caffeine can affect fertility in women and men. It’s found in coffee, tea, green tea, cola drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and some medication, like headache pills.

Tea also contains tannins, which block absorption of some nutrients. So that’s a double whammy!

If you’re struggling to get pregnant or carry a baby full term, giving up caffeine is a good idea. Drinking two or three cups of regular coffee has been linked to miscarriage and higher rates of stillbirth in some studies.

For the guys, there seems to be a correlation between caffeine intake and sperm health. But before you rush to stock up on decaf, buyer beware! Many decaf products are processed with chemicals and it’s best to reduce them when you’re planning to have a baby. Look for tea and coffee that has been naturally decaffeinated or find other alternatives, like fruit or herbal beverages.

Alcohol

Alcohol
Most women give up their tipple when they find out they are pregnant, because the danger of alcohol to unborn babies is well known. Even exposure to small
amounts is risky.

If you’re planning for a baby, I suggest quitting the booze altogether, or drinking only on very special occasions. Alcohol depletes vitamins and minerals and we need good levels of nutrition to make a healthy baby.

Heavy drinking in women can affect your cycle and ovulation and, ultimately, ability to fall pregnant.

Guys: booze affects sperm quality.

Tap & Bottled Water

Tap and water from plastic bottles
Drinking plenty of water is key for general and hormonal health, but not all water is created equal – or at least, doesn’t end up that way.

Tap water can have added extras to avoid – like metals and impurities. Buy a water filter and filter those nasties out. Drink, wash food and cook with filtered water. Mineral water is great but avoid plastic bottles, which are likely to contain hormone-harming chemicals.

Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy drinks and flavoured waters
Fizzy drinks and flavoured waters can be sugar-laden or brimming with artificial sweeteners. Sugar is high in calories, low in nutrients. It can rob your body of nutrients including B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and chromium, all vital for your reproductive health.

Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a raft of health issues from headaches to weight gain, including hormone problems.

Fizzy drinks sometimes contain phosphorus, which can upset calcium stores and balance in the body.

Fruit Juices

Fruit ‘juice drinks’
Just because it says ‘juice’ on the label doesn’t mean it’s actually juice.

It could be a ‘juice drink’; laced with sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Some shop-bought smoothies can be sugary or full of unwanted extras too. Only drink real juice or real juice diluted with water or smoothies made from natural ingredients.

What to drink instead?

Stay healthily hydrated by choosing:

  • Filtered or mineral water from glass bottles. Six to eight large glasses per day – more if you exercise, if it’s hot, if you haven’t managed to give up caffeine yet and if you’re travelling on a plane. • Herbal and fruit teas – there are so many available, you’re bound to find
    one you like. Remember, green tea still has caffeine. Rooibos is naturally decaffeinated.
  • Fresh juices, either plain or diluted. Try to have more veggies than fruits in your juice to keep the sugar content low.
  • Eat plenty of veggies and fruit – they are mostly water!
    Make healthy drinking part of your preconception care plan, as well as healthy eating.

Remember Kathy has lots more information and advice on her blog kathypayne.co.uk

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Can A Vegan Diet Improve Your Chances Of Trying to Conceive?

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Trying to conceive
Trying To Conceive With A Plan Based Diet

There has been a recent surge of people adopting veganism as the #cleaneating movement sweeps social media. Juliet Gellately, nutritional therapist and founder of vegan charity Viva! Health explains why a plant-based diet could hold the key to trying to conceive.

Fertility problems affect one in seven couples in the UK. There are many causes – certainly not diet alone, but its effect is often underplayed. How we eat particularly impacts on the baby in the womb but a calorie intake that is too low or too high, along with vitamin deficiencies, can be a root cause of infertility. Lifestyle choices such as alcohol and drug use may also have an impact. Tobacco smokers are 60% more likely to be infertile than non-smokers.

Diet and lifestyle choices are important for men and women who want to make a baby, and one route to consider is a plant-based, vegan diet. Ideally, a highly nutritious vegan diet that maximises the ideal intake of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein, omega 3 and 6 ‘good’ fats, vitamins and minerals.

A balanced vegetarian, or better still, a vegan diet is packed with disease-busting, body and brain nurturing nutrients and is ideal for boosting fertility and for a healthy pregnancy. Just as importantly, a vegan diet particularly lacks the nasties you need to avoid – saturated animal fats, cholesterol, concentrated pesticides, cancer promoters, dioxins and mercury. The latter two are in practically all fish.

And few people realise that cows’ milk contains 35 hormones and 11 growth factors, including those linked to breast and prostate cancers.

The secret of healthy eating for men and women before and during pregnancy is variety but focusing on whole grains (three servings daily), pulses (peas, beans and lentils) of all types plus unsalted mixed nuts if not from an allergy-prone family and seeds (two to three portions daily), and fresh fruit and vegetables (seven to 10 servings daily), as well as some healthy essential fats and vitamin B12 fortified foods. Viva!’s new colourful laminated wallchart, What I Need Each Day (£2) is a friendly food reminder and will help maximise your fertility.

Can you conceive by switching to vegan diet?

Trying to conceive

As two-thirds of Brits are overweight or obese, diet has become a central issue for fertility babies’ health. The biggest study of European vegans to date compared over 1,000 of them to tens of thousands of meat eaters and vegetarians. The meat eaters, on average, were significantly heavier than the vegans. Even allowing for differences in exercise, smoking and other lifestyle factors, vegans came out slimmer in every age group and are usually their ideal healthy weight, or close to it. Less than 2% of vegans are obese, in stark contrast to the rest of the population.

Recent research has shown that mums who eat a high fat and/or high sugar diet during pregnancy can have babies who are predisposed to obesity and when children, to having metabolic syndrome (the precursor to type 2 diabetes).

It’s equally important not to undereat. Many studies show that mums who do so increase their child’s risk of developing obesity and related diseases (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, cancer). It is believed that the baby in the womb makes adaptations to the ‘famine’ to prepare him or herself for life after birth. Far from being protective, these changes make the child more vulnerable to obesity and disease.

Count down
Men who are obese are three times more likely to have a low sperm count than men of the same background and age who are of a healthy weight. Obese men are also more likely to have sperm that has problems swimming and are misshaped. This can reduce fertility or cause infertility. What’s more, obese men have lower levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, and higher levels of the female hormone oestrogen. This is because fat cells make oestrogen in men and women and is why overweight men often develop breasts.

If a man is obese, the amount of oestrogen subsequently produced may reduce his sperm production. Obese men also tend to have more erectile problems and impotence and may have a lower sex drive. New research has also shown that red meat slows sperm. Meat is not so macho after all, it seems!

Weight is an important issue for women too. A study on almost 50,000 couples in 2007 showed that obese women have almost an 80% greater risk of being subfertile than normal-weight women. For those in need of some dietary guidance, Viva!Health’s V Plan Diet helps men and women regain their mojo by giving tips on a healthy, sustained weight loss.

Vegan diet,  and Fertility foods

All nutrients play a vital part in fertility, so it is important to know which foods are rich sources of the vitamins and minerals you need.

Zinc probably plays the biggest role in reproduction. A deficiency in a man reduces the volume of semen and so fertilisation may be compromised. In a woman, zinc is needed for the right hormone balance, development of the egg, successful fertilisation and for the enzymes of egg implantation. In pregnant women, zinc deficiency increases the chances of miscarriage, low birth weight, labour and delivery problems.

(Rich sources of zinc include avocados, blackberries, raspberries, asparagus French beans, Brussel sprouts, pulses, wholegrains (eg brown rice, wholegrain bread, oats, rye), green leafy veg, nuts (e.g. peanuts), seeds (especially pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds used to make hummus), basil, thyme.)

Folic acid is vital for the prevention of spina bifida and other neural tube defects in babies and is needed in the first 28 days of pregnancy – so should be taken from preconception. It also supports the placenta. Folic acid deficiency can also lead to miscarriage.

(Rich sources of folic acid include berries, mangoes, pineapples, avocados, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, asparagus, parsnips, pulses (e.g. peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, black eyed peas, edamame and soya products such as tofu, lentils), brown rice, seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds.)

For Him

Ground flax seed or flax seed oil bursting with omega-3, the good fat that is vital for sperm health and for making male sex hormones.

Pumpkin seeds
A great source of zinc, which is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and to make testosterone.

Garlic
This is a great source of selenium, an antioxidant which helps maintain strong and healthy sperm. It is also high in the B vitamins needed for sex hormones and helps protect blood vessels and heart – both needed for a good blood supply to you know where!

Mangoes
Rich in folic acid to boost sperm health. Low levels of folate increase the risk of sperm that contain too little or too many chromosomes, which may result in birth defects or increase the risk of miscarriage.

Avocados
Fabulous source of vitamin E, which improves sperm quality; good fats crucial for sex hormones; and vitamin C which protects sperm from free radicals, helps improve sperm quality in smokers and helps stop sperm clumping together.

For Her

Mixed unsalted nuts and seeds rich in good fats, which are crucial for healthy ovulation; protein which is needed for egg production and to make sex hormones. Inadequate protein intake can decrease the frequency of periods and may also contribute to early miscarriage.

Prunes, figs and apricots Brimming with iron, essential for normal ovulation, as well as carrying oxygen to your reproductive parts (and everywhere else!) – and to your baby when pregnant. One third of pregnant women in the UK have mild anaemia.

Oats
Wholegrains such as oats, brown rice and whole wheat contain complex carbohydrates to give you energy for baby-making. They’re also brimming with B vitamins, vital for making sex hormones and healthy eggs.

Broccoli
Superfood packed with folic acid, essential to stop spina bifida in your future baby; beta carotene, which is crucial for the enzymes needed for implantation of your fertilised egg but also helps produce female sex hormones, important for ovulation; and vitamin C, which also improves fertility.

Raspberries
Contain zinc needed for sex hormones, healthy eggs and egg implantation; manganese which helps make energy and metabolise good fats essential for fertility and are full of antioxidants, which promote general as well as reproductive health.

For more information you can contact Juliet Gellately who is a Nutritional Therapist and founder of vegan charity Viva! Health.

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What You Need to Know About Tea and Your Fertility

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Cup of tea for fertility

Tea has a long, storied history. It has been used medicinally, as a part of ceremonies, and as a simple way to slow down and enjoy the day. As the second most consumed beverage in the world, there’s a pretty good chance a cuppa regularly graces your lips.

If you’re trying to conceive, you’ve no doubt heard conflicting information about whether or not you should continue sipping tea. Some say tea should be avoided altogether, others say it can actually play a key role in boosting your fertility. Who’s right?

Once and for all, I hope to answer the often asked question, “does tea help or harm my fertility?” Read on for the information you need to know about tea and your fertility.

What is tea?

Typically when we refer to tea, we’re talking about any beverage made by infusing water with any number of leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, or roots. But technically, only Camellia sinensis and beverages made from its leaves are true teas. All other botanical infusions are just that, infusions or if you’re feeling especially fancy, tisanes.

What does the research say about tea and conception?

Not surprisingly, the research literature is full of conflicting information.

A 2012 prospective study of over 3600 women not taking any fertility drugs or birth control found time to pregnancy was shorter for the women who drank two or more cups of tea a day, while soda increased the time it took for women to become pregnant. There’s a chance there were other lifestyle habits the tea drinkers had that improved their fertility[1].

In 1998 researchers set out to determine how different caffeine-containing drinks affect women’s fertility. They found women who reported drinking at least 1/2 cup of tea a day were more likely to become pregnant than other women in the cohort[2].

One study found coffee and tea (the study results clumped coffee and tea together) only negatively affected fertility rates of women who were also smokers [3].

Conversely, a 2015 study of women undergoing fertility treatment found women who drank tea had a lower of conceiving compared to women who didn’t. However, the information about the study subjects diet was collected prior to the initiation of fertility treatments. There’s no way of knowing whether the study participant started or stopped drinking tea during treatment[4].

Another study, published in 2004, suggested tea can negatively impact how long it takes to get pregnant, but only when cups of tea exceeded 6 cups per day. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to really determine tea’s true effect of tea on fertility since coffee and tea were lumped together, once again, in the analysis[5].

Overall the data suggests tea, in moderate amounts doesn’t lower fertility (and may even positively influence it.) Stick with less than 300 mg of caffeine, about … cups of black tea, … cups of white tea, and … cups of green tea.

  • Fertility and Health Benefits of Tea
  • Antioxidants
  • Stress Reduction
  • Balance Blood Sugar
  • Improve Fertility
  • Which teas and tisanes should I avoid if I’m trying to conceive?
  • Too much tea…

Medicinal herbs if not under the advisement of a healthcare practitioner

How to Sip Tea Safely While Trying to Conceive-Tea takeaways- sipping to boost your wellness and reproductive health.

Tea, the right kind, in the right amounts, can be a valuable ally in your journey to conception.

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Back to Basics – Simple, Tasty Fertility Boosting Foods You Can Find at Your Local Grocery Store

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Simple Fertility Boosting Foods

Whether you’re trying to conceive on your own or with the use of assisted reproductive technology, getting back to the basics of healthy eating may increase your chances of conceiving and help you stay energised through the process.

Exotic super foods are all the rage. Trendy foods from far away lands have captured our interest and taste buds. While I love trying fun new foods as much as the next person, I don’t love how difficult they can be to find and the hefty price tag that often accompanies them.

If you’ve searched the internet for fertility friendly recipes and foods, you may be under the impression you need fancy foods from countries you haven’t visited to boost your fertility. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the familiar foods in you local grocery store are some of the best foods you can eat to optimise your fertility.

They’re easy to find, affordable, and packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to fuel your fertility.

Keep reading for 10 simple foods bursting at the seams with flavor and fertility supporting nutrients.

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon Fertility Benefits

As if being delicious and readily available weren’t enough, cinnamon also boasts antioxidant properties and the ability to lower blood sugar. It can be especially beneficial for women with PCOS. If you’re looking to reduce inflammation and balance your blood sugar, add cinnamon to your meals.

How to Eat More Cinnamon

• Make an herbal tisane by boiling a cinnamon stick in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes
• Make an herbal tisane by boiling a cinnamon stick in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes
• Sprinkle cinnamon on your favorite cereals or yogurt
• Add cinnamon to baked beans or curry dishes

2. Wild Caught Salmon

Salmon Fertility Benefits

Salmon is one of the most nourishing foods you can eat. It’s packed with protein, the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, and omega 3 fatty acids. Bonus, it’s also one of the safest seafood options when you’re trying to conceive or pregnant since it’s low in mercury.

How to Eat More Salmon

• Use canned salmon to make salmon burgers
• Use canned salmon to make salmon burgers
• Opt for a serving of salmon at least once a week (aim to eat at least 2 servings of low-mercury fish per week)
• Top your lunch or dinner salad with a grilled or baked salmon in place of the usual chicken breast

3. Olive Oil

Olive Oil Fertility Benefits

Olive Oil Fertility Benefits

As a major source of monounsaturated fatty acids and a defining feature of the Mediterranean Diet, there are plenty of reasons to make olive oil your oil of choice. One very good reason: research has linked both the Mediterranean Diet and monounsaturated fatty acids to a decreased risk of infertility.

How to Eat More Olive Oil

• Top your toast with olive oil in place of butter
• Make your own salad dressing using a combo of vinegar, olive oil, and your favorite herbs
• Drizzle a bit of olive oil on vegetable side dishes

4. Spearmint Tisane

Spearmint Tisane Fertility Benefits

Spearmint Tisane Fertility Benefits

Spearmint tisane (aka spearmint tea) is tasty, contains no caffeine (for those of you avoiding caffeine right now), and has been shown to reduce androgens. If you have PCOS this is a drink you should rotate into your beverage options.

How to Drink More Spearmint Tisane

• Sip a cup of spearmint tisane in the morning in place of coffee for a caffeine-free pick me up
• Use a cup of brewed spearmint tisane in your morning smoothie in place of plain water
• Enjoy a glass of cold spearmint tea when the weather gets warm

5. Brown Rice

Brown Rice Fertility Benefits

Brown Rice Fertility Benefits

Full of fiber and B vitamins, brown rice is a blood sugar and fertility friendly alternative to processed grains. Since they’re jam-packed with fiber, they’re digested more slowly than white rice, earning them a place among other slow carbs which have been linked to a decreased risk of anovulatory infertility.

How to Eat More Brown Rice

• Choose brown rice when it’s available at your favorite restaurants
• Tired of oats for breakfast? Try brown rice as a hot breakfast cereal. Top it with your favorite sweet or savory toppings and enjoy.
• Add brown rice to your go-to noodle soup recipe in place of noodles

6. Blueberries

Blueberries Fertility Benefits

Blueberries Fertility Benefits

Potent antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients are just a few of the fertility optimizing nutrients these tasty berries boast. As a low sugar fruit, they’re also a great choice for women with PCOS.

How to Eat More Blueberries

• Top full-fat greek yogurt with blueberries for a quick and satisfying breakfast
• Add blueberries to your morning smoothie
• Sprinkle blueberries over a salad for a pop of color and juicy sweetness

7. Chickpeas

Chickpeas Fertility Benefits

Chickpeas Fertility Benefits

Chickpeas are a great source of naturally occurring folate, a very important B vitamin to make sure you’re getting enough of when you’re trying to conceive.

How to Eat More Chickpeas

• Spread hummus on toast or wraps as an alternative to mayonnaise
• Try a chickpea chili recipe
• Snack on roasted chickpeas for a crunchy, savory, and healthy midday snack

8. Garlic

Garlic Fertility Benefits

Garlic Fertility Benefits

One of the best things we can do to support fertility is to support proper detoxification. The good news is you don’t have to go on a juice cleanse or fast to detox. Fortunately, foods like garlic enhance your body’s innate ability to detoxify.

How to Eat More Garlic

• Mince fresh garlic to add to salads, soup, and other savory meals
• Enjoy pesto, packed with garlic and other herbs

9. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt Fertility Benefits

Full Fat Greek Yogurt Fertility Benefits

When it comes to fertility, full-fat dairy is the way to go. Greek yogurt has the added benefit of probiotics for healthier digestion and extra protein to balance blood sugar levels.

How to Eat More Full Fat Greek Yogurt

• Switch out regular reduced fat yogurt in favor of full-fat greek yogurt
• Blend full-fat greek yogurt into your morning smoothie
• Make a yummy fertility boosting parfait by layering greek yogurt, seeds, nuts, cinnamon, and blueberries

10. Watercress

Watercress Fertility Benefits

Watercress Fertility Benefits

This spicy leafy green is a great source of fiber, folate, and phytonutrients. Those phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that protect our reproductive organs, eggs, and sperm from oxidative damage.

How to Eat More Watercress

• Blend watercress into your pesto
• Use a blend of spinach and watercress for your next salad
• Add watercress to veggie soups

Whether you’re trying to conceive on your own or with the use of assisted reproductive technology, getting back to the basics of healthy eating may increase your chances of conceiving and help you stay energised through the process. Consider adding these 10 foods to your meals and snacks to fuel your fertility simply.

Kendra Tolbert MS, RDN, CDN, CLC is a registered dietitian and certified aromatherapist specializing in women’s health nutrition. You can find more nutrition and wellness fertility information from Kendra at Live Fertile.

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