Many couples who have been trying for a baby without success embark on medical fertility treatment without approaching their diet and correcting their nutritional deficiencies first. Yet, experience has shown me that, even couples who have had three or more unsuccessful attempts at IVF, can still go on to conceive naturally if they treat underlying nutritional deficiencies with a naturopathic approach. Indeed, my own husband was classed as infertile before we met, and yet we went on to have two healthy children!
So what is naturopathy? Basically, naturopathy is a system of alternative medicine based on the theory that diseases, conditions and other problems, such as infertility, can be successfully treated or prevented without the use of drugs, by techniques such as control of diet, exercise and massage.
As an experienced naturopath, I have noticed that most people who come to me for fertility treatment seem to have similar nutritional deficiencies. Fortunately, there are key steps that can improve hormones for both men and women and lead to a better chance of conception.
Here are some of my top suggestions:
• Increase to 4 pints of good quality water with a pH of 7 and above for hydration and blood sugar balance.
• Cut out all caffeine/ alcohol/ sugar as this has an effect on stress and creates magnesium and iron deficiency due to the diuretic and dehydrating effect of these.
• Avoid foods that are challenging to the liver such as meat, gluten and dairy products. The healthier and cleaner your liver is the greater the chance of conceiving.
• Omega 3 is essential for the hormone system and especially the ovaries. Take at least 2000mg of omega 3 per day, 500 mg of which needs to be DHA omega 3, this is essential for conception and a healthy pregnancy.
• Increase vitamin E rich foods such as avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and Quinoa. This improves the chances of conception by creating a healthy womb.
• Increase iron rich foods with green salads, green steamed vegetables, green juices and nettle tea. If iron reserves are low then it has a big effect on the health of the woman and her ability to have a successful pregnancy.
• All B vitamins need to be increased not just folic acid as the B vitamins as a complex enhance hormones and help stress levels. These are found in gluten free grains such as buckwheat, Quinoa and brown rice.
• The mineral iodine is key to resolving long term fertility/ hormonal issues. When iodine is low it has an effect on the thyroid and ovaries creating many health symptoms as well as poor egg production. Iodine is found in seaweeds, miso and pink salt. It’s recommended that an iodine supplement is taken for conception and during pregnancy of 12- 36 mg, under the guidance of a naturopath.
• The mineral magnesium regulates ovulation and therefore improves the chances of conception. It’s recommended that 200 mg of magnesium citrate is taken prior to conceiving and during the first trimester. The magnesium dosage should increases through pregnancy under the guidance of a naturopath.
• Generally, all men benefit from a reduction of caffeine and alcohol along with an increase in water, as the dehydrating nature of diuretics have a profound effect on sperm quality.
• The most important nutrients by far for men’s fertility are omega 3, selenium and zinc. These are all vital components for the production of sperm. They also regulate over 200 hormones in the body.
• Omega 3 can be taken from flax oil and algae as well as flaxseed, chia and hemp seeds.
• Zinc / selenium are found in large amounts in pumpkin seeds, avocado and the superfood Maca. These help the hormones for men and their ability to be fertile.
• A common problem for men these days and their decline in being fertile is mobile phone use. Studies have shown the effect of electromagnetic stress and radiation has a damaging effect on the reproductive organs and production of quality semen. Phones should never be kept on the body in pockets or close to the reproductive hormones.
• Iodine can also help men have a healthier sex drive and produce higher quality semen.
These tips are generalised and it’s recommended you consult a naturopathic nutritionist if you have any concerns or would like some guidance.
Emma Jones Phillips has been working as a Naturopathic Nutritionist since 1996 and has successfully helped thousands of people to become healthy and achieve optimum nutrition. She has taught her courses in the UK and abroad and currently runs The School of Naturopathic Nutrition with her husband Steve Phillips. Together they teach practitioner courses and health retreats. Emma currently teaches courses in fertility, pregnancy, breast feeding, weaning and naturopathic nutrition. For more information, visit www.lovenaturopathy.co.uk, email info@love naturopathy.co.uk or call 0333 777 4522.