Marilyn Shannon, author of Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition, has a vast knowledge of nutrition and its mighty impact on fertility. And, as a mother of nine, who last conceived when she was 47, she is an expert on what it takes to improves chances of conception.
Many of the recommendations below have not been proven to be helpful by rigorous scientific standards. Nevertheless, none have been shown to be harmful and there is some anecdotal evidence in support of them.
The Power of Flax
Adding flax oil to your diet is a simple way to give fertility a boost and improve overall health at the same time. Shannon explains that every hormone has to hit a receptor in a cell in a precise way in order to work properly. Flaxseed oil helps this process run smoothly, because it makes the membranes on receptor cells more flexible and easier for the hormones to bind with. “The cells in the uterus and ovaries have a high percentage of membrane to volume,” Shannon says. “This binding amounts to improved fertility and better healing in the uterus. There are virtually no parts of the reproductive organs that flax is not helpful for.”
The benefits of this powerful oil are many. “Flax oil is the richest source of omega fatty acids and is the easiest and most concentrated source of essential fats,” Shannon says. Because the average person does not enjoy the flavor of flaxseed oil, she recommends that women who are trying to conceive take five capsules a day. Flax is also a very safe supplement, and unlike vitamin supplements, there is no risk of overdose.
Trans fats interfere with cell functions for every cell in the body, reproductive cells included, so it is vital to eliminate them from your diet and replace them with healthier oils. “Practically speaking, that means in your own home it is best to use canola oil or olive oil for cooking,” Shannon says. “Switching to these oils is important because they provide good fats that are otherwise really hard to get in the American diet.
The 12 Nutrition Rules
In addition to keeping trans fats to a minimum and adding flaxseed oil, Shannon recommends living by 12 rules in order to increases chances of conception:
- Eat plenty of whole plant foods such as beans, grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits.
- Get enough protein to meet your needs.
- Chose healthful oils and fats. Avoid trans fats.
- Substitute more nutritious ingredients instead of less nutritious ingredients in your recipes.
- Eat more raw foods and cook other foods gently.
- Eat a greater variety of foods.
- Sharply limit your sugar intake.
- Drink plenty of pure water instead of soft drinks or caffeinated beverages.
- Make your meals tasty and simple.
- Make good choices when you eat away from home.
- Enlist your family’s cooperation in preparing meals.
- Use the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80 percent of the time. Don’t try to be perfect, because you can’t do it perfectly!
Fertility Yin and Yang
Traditional Chinese medicine states that yin and yang are a balancing system that represents health. These bipolar forces symbolize natural elements, and because of that, one force must be present in order for the other to exist. Even when the human body is at its peak health, the yin and the yang might not be harmonically balanced, because the relationship between the yin and the yang are in constant flux from the external and internal environments.
Dr. Marshall Ding, an Oriental medicine doctor and an acupuncturist practicing in Park City, Utah, believes ancient Chinese wisdom can turn back the biological clock for women who are trying to conceive. “Chinese medicine works great for increasing fertility, because a lot of times when women are having difficulty conceiving, it is a problem of blocked energy in the body and unbalanced yin and yang.”
Acupuncture can reroute blocked energy and help restore the proper balance of the yin and the yang, but because a lot of women do not have access to an acupuncturist who specializes in Chinese medicine, there are other ways to make adjustments to the energy flow by changing fitness activities.
In our fitness-crazed society, women may be working out too hard and limiting their chances to conceive. According to Ding, yin activities add energy to the body and yang take energy away. Ding believes that intense physical exercise, such as mountain biking, aerobics, jogging, and weight-lifting, can become yang activities that spend too much of the valuable energy in the body and steal much-needed power away from reproductive organs. “These activities draw too much energy away from the body,” Ding says. “It is better for women to take a brisk walk or swim laps.”
Pilates, yoga, and swimming are all activities that can add yin energy to the body and will not tax the system and take any energy away from the meridian energy systems that course through the reproductive organs.
Keeping the yin and the yang properly balanced through gentle exercise, adding flax oil to the diet, and finding ways to reduce trans fats on the daily menu are all keys to boosting fertility in women. By introducing these simple changes into your life, you may find it possible to turn back the biological clock.