You are what you eat, and your baby will be too. Eating right will not only help ensure a healthy little one—it can actually help you get pregnant. If you’re thinking about a family, make the dietary changes now to give your body a head start. Fathers-to-be aren’t off the hook here—diet & lifestyle can have a huge impact on male fertility.
B6. This vital nutrient regulates hormones, and a deficiency can lead to poor egg and sperm development. Oral contraceptives can do a number on B6 levels, so if you’ve been on the pill, supplementing is a good idea. What to eat: zucchini, cauliflower, bell peppers, dark, leafy greens (kale, collards, spinach), bananas.
Folic acid. Folate isn’t just important once you’re pregnant. Though your developing baby needs a ton of it to develop, adding it to your pre-pregnancy plan means healthy ovulatory cycles. What to eat: spinach, lentils, beans, avocado, asparagus, oranges.
Omega-3s. In addition to keeping your cells healthy and happy, omega 3s are key to balancing hormones and battling inflammation. Even with a diet high in fish it’s tough to get enough, so consider taking fish oil—high quality fish oils will also be free of contaminants. What to eat: salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies.
Iron. Popeye had the right idea, even if he didn’t have fertility in mind. Low iron levels can mean poor egg health and lack of ovulation—plus, once you do conceive your baby is going to suck you dry, so build up your stores now! What to eat: spinach, organic tofu, organic grass-fed red meat.
Vitamin C. While it helps improve hormone balance in women, studies show that the nutrient improves sperm motility—good news on both fronts. What to eat: kiwi fruit, citrus, bell peppers.
Selenium. This antioxidant mineral protects eggs and sperm from free radicals. It’s also reputed to improve sperm quality. What to eat: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, salmon.
Zinc. This one is especially important for men—it boosts sperm levels and improves sperm quality. For women, zinc deficiencies can throw off the balance between estrogen and progesterone. Oral contraceptives deplete zinc, but even without the pill many of us aren’t getting enough. What to eat: pumpkin seeds, green peas, spinach, sesame seeds.
When in doubt, add a multivitamin. Your doctor will want you on one once you conceive, but you’ll get more benefits if you start supplementing before you get pregnant. Look for one with Folic acid and B12 as well as a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. t. Between your relaxed attitude, healthy diet, and happy body, you’ll be well on the road to fertility—just make sure you get your sleep in now, before it’s too late!
Written by: Darcy Smith, RNCP
Even though Father’s Day was a couple of weeks ago, our Dads might still be on our minds, so I thought that I would bring up the discussion of testosterone. It’s quite often that I see many of my male patients (as well as female) suffering from low testosterone. The shocker is that it is happening in a much younger population too! In this article, I will be referring mostly to testosterone for men’s health.
Studies have shown that the average man’s testosterone in today’s society is nearly 25 percent lower than in the 1980s. In fact, men with low testosterone are 52.4 percent more likely to be obese; 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes; 42.4 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure and 40.4 percent more likely to have high cholesterol.
Testosterone, a hormone produced primarily by the testicles, plays a large role in male sexuality and reproduction, impacting such factors as sexual and reproductive function, muscle mass, and hair growth. Testosterone is also important for maintaining bone density, levels of red blood cells and an overall sense of well-being and vitality.
Unfortunately, around the age of 30 a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline, and continue to do so as he ages.
There is a wide range of factors that contribute to this decline in testosterone including prescribed drugs (statins), and many environmental pollutants such as estrogen-mimicking compounds found in food, water, personal hygiene products, plastics, and much more.
Tips to Naturally Boost Testosterone Levels
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing the excess pounds may help to increase your testosterone levels, according to the research. Overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels to begin with due to the fact that the adipose tissue (fat tissue) contains an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into estrogen. So, if you want healthy testosterone levels, drop the body fat.
Minimize the BPA and other environmental pollutants. BPA may be a large culprit to the declining levels of testosterone. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a synthetic chemical often found in various plastic containers that leach out as it is heated. Studies have shown that when exposed to BPA, the results were lower levels of testosterone in men. The bottom line is that you should avoid drinking from plastic bottles or storing food in plastic, and use glass or stainless steel whenever possible.
Reduce your stress. When you are under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone actually blocks the effects of testosterone, which suppresses libido and healthy competitive drive. Stress supportive nutrients such as B vitamins, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng and Ashwagandha are essential for maintaining healthy adrenal function during fluctuating hormone levels.
Eat healthy fats. Research shows that a diet with less than 40 percent of energy as fat lead to a decrease in testosterone levels. Healthy fats include: olive, coconut, butter made from grass-fed organic milk, nuts, avocados, organic eggs, grass-fed meats and unheated organic nut oils.
Watch those sugars. Testosterone levels decline after you eat sugar, probably due to the increase in insulin leading to low testosterone. Based on USDA estimates, the average American consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, which equals to about TWO TONS of sugar during a lifetime. So kick that sugar habit!
Optimize Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study, overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.
Zinc. The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production. Research shows that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it. Foods rich in zinc include: beans, organic, grass-fed yogurt, cheese, beef and lamb, sesame and pumpkin seeds.
Other helpful supplements to consider:
Tongkat Ali, also known as Malaysian ginseng, has well documented aphrodisiac and testosterone enhancing effects. Studies in humans have supported these findings. In one study, supplementation with 200mg per day of Tongkat ali significantly increased testosterone levels and improved various symptoms of male aging including libido, sexual performance and general fatigue. It has also shown potential for improving male fertility.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is the fat-soluble extract of the fruit of the saw palmetto ...
Infertility is becoming much too familiar in today’s society. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear stories from close friends or family members that are undergoing the barrage of tests and alternative pregnancy methods such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). In many cases, these costly procedures end up being the last resort for couples. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be done before (or even during!) this process.In cases where male infertility is suspected or it has been confirmed that the male partner is contributing to unsuccessful pregnancy outcomes, there may be hope. If physical and anatomical obstructions are ruled out as causes, sperm disorders are the most common problem. Sperm disorders refer to one of the following:
Low sperm count: not enough sperm are being produced or maturedImpaired motility: the sperm are not moving properlyImproper morphology: the sperm are abnormally shaped
If we know we are dealing with one of these problems, or any combination of the 3, there are many interventions to consider. A plethora of research has found that lifestyle and dietary factors contribute to sperm disorders and male infertility. For example, higher levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium have been correlated with lower sperm motility and sperm counts. Here is a more comprehensive list of factors that have been linked to male infertility through impaired sperm quality and quantity:
– smoking– alcohol– psychological stress– heavy metal toxicity– pesticide exposure and environmental pollutants– obesity or being underweight– nutrient-poor diets (ie. high in sugary drinks and processed foods)
What is the common thread among all of these factors? For starters, they all contribute to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and diminish the mitochondrial function of sperm. By quitting smoking, reducing alcohol, removing processed foods and by exercising, we improve mitochondrial function, prevent damage to sperm and ultimately increase the sperm parameters. Lifestyle and dietary changes are clearly paramount for optimal outcomes and timely results. However, research has found that additional nutrients may be helpful for male infertility. Here are some of the most promising:
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that has been shown to protect the sperm cell membrane from damage. Studies have found that vitamin E helps to improve sperm motility and lead to better fertilization in those with a reduced number of sperm cells. A full blend of tocopherols and, ideally, tocotrienols should be supplemented as opposed to the sole synthetic form dl-alpha-tocopherol. Moreover, vitamin E in combination with other nutrients such as selenium, zinc, copper and vitamin C has been found beneficial in cases of oxidative stress (ie. smoking or environmental pollutants).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Compared with infertile men, fertile men tend to have higher blood levels and sperm levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The ratio of omega-6 fats (such as those found in corn) to omega-3 fats (such as those found in fish) also tends to be much lower in fertile males, indicating a healthier balance of fatty acids in the body – a ratio that has been correlated to much more than fertility measures. For men with the worst sperm parameters, one study found that supplementation with omega-3s significantly increased sperm count and sperm concentration. Considering the widespread health benefits associated with optimal omega-3 status, in addition to fertility implications, supplementation should be considered.
L-Carnitine: L-Carnitine is perhaps the best-recognized nutrient therapy for male infertility. In fact, a 2010 study found that L-carnitine should be considered a first step treatment in cases of male infertility with no known cause, either in combination with, or instead of, the pharmaceutical drug most often used to treat male infertility, clomiphene citrate. Within the body, carnitine is known for transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, thereby helping to create cellular energy. L-Carnitine directly supports the mitochondrial function of sperm, leading to better motility and quality sperm. However, one study found L-carnitine had less of a benefit on sperm parameters in smokers when compared to non-smokers, confirming the necessity of smoking cessation in infertility cases.
Ashwagandha: Also known as Withania somnifera, this adaptogenic herb is best known for its ability to treat stress and reduce anxiety. But it has also been described in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac capable of treating male sexual dysfunction and infertility. A 2013 placebo-controlled study confirmed this ancient wisdom by showing significant improvements in sperm parameters after 3 months of treatment intervention. Specifically, a 167% increase in sperm co ...