A lot is written about nutritional advice for the pregnant mother but really, by the time she is pregnant the DNA and quality of the embryo has already been set by the parents own genetics, lifestyle and health prior to conception.
In this light, here at the clinic we consider pregnancy a 12-month journey. This is especially true for those for those that have concerns around fertility or just want to ensure their bodies are in good condition prior to conception.
The first three months are all about preparation and the 9 months of pregnancy are growth and maintenance!
Pregnancy preparation is not just about folic acid for the would-be mother! Todays’ environment is very different from your grandparents:
- Today’s environment carries an increase in environmental stressors and toxins such as pollutants, xenoestrogens alcohol consumption and recreational drug use which toxify the body and can alter hormones in the body.
- Potential parents are dealing with insomnia, stress, sedentary jobs, inflammation and body weight extremes which cause oxidative stress, changes to hormones and lower vitamin and mineral levels in the body.
- Regular food sources are depleted of essential minerals and microbiome (gut flora) because food processing has changed to cope with increased global consumption.
- Increased sugar consumption causes changes to our gut, immune system and weight.
- Women are waiting longer to have children
- To top it off we have radiation and heat from lap tops, computers and mobiles.
ALL OF THIS IS ALTERING OUR SPERM AND EGG QUALITY
An indicator of how our fertility has changed is shown in recent statistics for male sperm viability.
In 2017 ananalysis of studies showed that sperm counts in the western population are down by 59% since 1970!!!!!
So why three months preparation?
Three months is a sufficient time to make a real difference to quality of eggs and sperm and this is why…
The sperm is continuously being produced throughout a man’s’ life. It takes about 74-100 days (two to three months) from the immature ‘spermatogonium’ to mature into fully mature and functional sperm. Three months is the optimum time to change the environment that these cells grow in.
Sperm is a single cell and carries all the DNA that is needed to combine with an egg to make a child but like every other cell in the body it can be effected by chemicals, temperature and environment.
What can a man do to kick off better male fertility?
- Avoid tight underclothes
- Keep technology away from the lower part of the body – do not put laptops on the lap and mobiles out of jean pockets!
- Keep stress under control
- Get minimum 7 hours sleep to allow the body to repair
- Use filtered water – this alkalizes the body and also filters out a lot of the toxins and hormones
- Eat organic meat
- Avoid plastic wrapping around food.
- Eat a good quality diet and avoid junk food and sugar.
- Ensure you are getting sufficient quantities of:
- Anti-oxidents which are found in leafy greens and undo free radical damage.
- Selenium (200 mg a day) (2 brazil nuts a day) – Improve sperm mobility
- Zinc 25-50 mg a day – motility and sperm count. Stabilises DNA. Get this in leafy greens / oysters
- Vitamin C – a glass of orange juice a day. Prevents spem clumping
- Eat plenty of multi-colour veg: Green for the anti-oxidants but red (such as tomatoes and red peppers) gives Lycopene which increases sperm count
- DHA this is Omega 3 . This is needed for maturing sperm and is found in seafood. Some of the best sources are tuna and salmon. Remember to eat organic!! If in doubt take this as a high quality (pure filtered) supplement as there may be toxicity and metals found in shop purchased supplements and imported seafood.
For sub-optimal sperm, men may require an extra boost via chinese herbs and /or supplements that have evidence to show improvement in sperm viability. Read more information on top 6 male supplements to increase fertility
The world has got busier, if a man is struggling with time management, stress or addiction to gaming or devices he should look at ways to deal with this – Time out for himself without devices. Perhaps walking, going for acupuncture, meditation etc
Each female is born with all the eggs she will ever have and therefore the most important aspect is not leaving it too late (late 30s women’s fertility starts to decline in most women), maintaining egg quality and procuring the best environment for egg maturation prior to ovulation.
Genetics plays a part (as it does men) but each month as the body matures the egg for release, the environment it develops in will also impact the egg quality.
So, for women three months is not the amount of time to procure ‘new eggs’ (which can’t happen) but instead procure ‘best maturation environment’.
What does a good environment look like?
- Anti-oxidants to protect the egg
- Omega 3 to build a strong membrane
- Vitamin D within the fluid to grow in.
- Co enzyme q10 to build and strengthen the powerhouse of the cell – the mitochondria
- Vitamin Bs to build the DNA and RNA.
What can a woman do to increase her fertility and quality of her eggs?
- Keep refined sugars to a minimum. It causes internal acidity and will cause oxidative stress (the reverse of anti-oxidants) and damage the mitochondria and cell environment. This means avoid cakes, chocolate, sweets, pastries, junk food.
- Look to lower stress levels. Try acupuncture, yoga, meditation.
- Avoid spirits and keep alcohol levels low. (though a small glass of red is anti-oxidant and contains resveratrol and a good option)
- Change from coffee to herbal teas. Caffeine in coffee gives you a big kick you don’t need. Often providing you with energy you don’t actually have. Herbal teas are a better option.
- Drop regular chocolate and instead replace with a small piece of dark chocolate (anti-oxidant)
- Eat organic meat
- Only use high quality fish oil supplements – not over the counter as these often contain metals and toxins. – see practitioner for these
- Lots of colour in your vegetables. Orange natural foods (not crisps or junk) such as sweet potato, carrots contain beta carotene and this helps produce progesterone and build the endometrium
- Eliminate trans fats from the diet.
Other areas to consider if you are not falling pregnant are:
- Gut health
- Stress levels
- Immune system
At Ben&Biao we have experience in helping women and men become parents using nutrition, herbs, acupuncture and lifestyle advice. If you are already on your assisted conception journey we are very happy to work with your medical team and supply adjunct support.