How alternative medicine can help you conceive
Seed cycling is becoming more popular to help balance hormones and regulate your cycle. Seed cycling is all about eating certain seeds (yes, food) in your daily diet at specific times throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s being recommended for everything from hormone related acne, to PMS, menstrual cramps, irregular cycles and infertility, but how does it work? Can seed cycling really benefit fertility?
It’s important to keep in mind that natural therapies like seed cycling are nutritionally supportive choices take time to see rewards but are easy to do and enhances your essential fatty acids.. which promotes health and longevity.
Seed Cycling Basics
The basic concept of seed cycling is simply to consume flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds at specific times during the menstrual cycle to promote hormone balance and support the phases of the menstrual cycle.
Here’s why it works:
1) Lignans in seeds have gentle phytohormone activity, which help to eliminate excess estrogen, a common concern linked to genetics, excess body fat and chemicals in the environment.
2) By balancing estrogen levels, seed lignans help to encourage healthy hormone balance.
3) Seeds are an excellent source of essential fats, which your body utilizes in its own natural hormone production.
- During the follicular phase (the first half of the menstrual cycle), flax and pumpkin seeds are used to balance excess estrogen and encourage progesterone production for normal ovulation. Flax seeds are an especially rich source of lignans that bind to excess estrogen to help the body eliminate it. Pumpkin seeds are used for their essential fats and zinc content, important for progesterone production.
- During the luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle), switch to sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Sesame seed lignans help balance excess estrogen, but are not as potent as the flax seeds used in the first phase. Sunflower seeds offer natural selenium content for liver support and hormone regulation as the menstrual cycle comes to a close.
How To Use Seed Cycling To Fit Your Cycle
We know there are many varying cycle lengths and each woman may ovulate on a different cycle day.
- For women with 28-30 day cycles, start your follicular seeds from cycle day 1 (the first day of your period) to around day 14 (or whenever you know you ovulate). Switch to luteal phase seeds after ovulation (around day 15 to day 28 or 30).
- If a 20-24 day cycle is normal for you, chart your cycle and follow the seed cycle recommendations for your specific follicular and luteal phase patterns.
- For women with irregular cycles, experts from Laura’s Natural Life suggest beginning your follicular seeds at the next full moon and switching to the luteal seeds 14 days later. Click the following link for our guide to BioRhythmic Lunar Fertility Chartingif interested.
Tips for Seed Cycling
1. Invest in a good grinder (a coffee grinder used only for seeds/nuts works great).
2. In order to benefit from the oils and lignans, buy organic, raw, whole seeds and grind them immediately before adding them to your favorite foods choices. Otherwise, your seeds may pass through your digestive system completely undigested.
3. Aim to consume 2 tbsp of ground seeds daily, using equal amounts of the suggested seeds for each phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in.
4. Fresh ground seeds can be added to many delicious foods!
5. If you’re using raw seeds, you can soak them overnight for easier digestion. After soaking, rinse them and drain well, then dry roast them in the oven for 10 minutes at a heat no higher than 300o fahrenheit.
6. Seed oils become rancid over time. To preserve the freshness of your seeds, store them in the refrigerator or freezer, especially if you’re grinding more than one serving of each seed at a time, and use them as needed.
Seed cycling round-up
Be consistent and give it time. Experts suggest it takes at least three complete menstrual cycles to experience changes and benefits from seed cycling. It’s a good idea to note your symptoms in a journal.
Seed cycling is a convenient, affordable and nutritious choice to encourage healthy hormonal balance.
– Hall, A. (2014, April). Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance. Retrieved from: http://theherbalacademy.com/seed-cycling-for-hormonal-balance/
Trying to get pregnant? Remember your fish oil !!
Recent studies have shown that the consumption of fish oil (or, more specifically, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) can improve fertility in both men and women. DHA, which is a byproduct of omega-3 fatty acids, plays a key role in the mobility of sperm and health of sperm in men. Low blood levels of DHA have been linked to decreased fertility. Animal studies have found that the DHA in fish is vital to changing dysfunctional round-headed sperm into strong swimmers with cone-shaped heads packed with egg-opening proteins. (29)
Fish oil has also been shown to increase fertility in women by reducing inflammation, balancing hormones and regulating their cycles. Also, fish oil has been found effective in treating conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis, which can cause infertility.
Fish oil is also extremely beneficial for pregnant women and their children. Throughout pregnancy and also while breastfeeding, a woman’s omega-3 needs are even higher than usual. According to the American Pregnancy Association, most U.S. women are deficient in EPA and especially DHA going into pregnancy and get even more depleted during pregnancy, as the placenta supplies the fetus with DHA from the mother’s tissue. Omega-3 DHA is a critical building block of the fetal brain, eyes and nervous system. Once the baby is born, omega-3s continue to be vital to healthy brain development and immune function. (30)
Omega-3 fatty acids also seem to reduce the chance of premature delivery. (31) EPA and DHA intake can help support healthy labor and delivery outcomes. This omega-3 duo also helps normalize mood and overall well-being in the mother after giving birth.
You are unique and so are your health needs, so you have your own choices of superfoods to add to this list. Instead of just eating healthy the trick to hormonal balance is to eat right for your body’s individual healing needs. Once you do, your diet can work like powerful medicine to nourish and heal.
Here’s a quick lowdown on the list:
SuperFoods To Balance Your Hormones
1. Thyroid: Brazil Nuts:
These are rich in selenium, a mineral that protects thyroid cells from oxidative damage. The selenium helps form seleno-proteins that bring down the TPO antibodies. Three organic Brazil nuts each day will give you the daily-recommended dose of 200mg of selenium. If you don’t tolerate nuts, you can take a selenium supplement (200 mg/day).
2. Adrenals: Camu Camu
You may already have many symptoms of adrenal burnout and not know it, such as: exhaustion in the morning, craving salt and sugar, crying spells, feeling tired but wired at night, and black circles under your eyes. Camu camu can help stabilize your adrenals by boosting vitamin C, which is found in the highest concentrations in your adrenal gland. In fact, the Peruvian berry has more powerful anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties than vitamin C supplements.
3. Menopause: Maca
This potent root from the Andes has traditionally been used to boost energy, vitality and sexual desire. It is a true herbal adaptogen, which means it adjusts to your individual hormone imbalance whether that is due to menopause, estrogen dominance or your menstrual cycle. As maca can cause digestive upset in some women, start with a small dose. Read more about maca here: https://www.hormonesbalance.com/articles/the-10-hormone-balancing-wonders-of-maca/
4. Estrogen dominance: Broccoli Sprouts
Most women who have this hormonal imbalance don’t even realize the signs, which include PMS, endometriosis, water retention, cellulite, weight gain, moodiness and infertility. How do broccoli sprouts help? They contain di-indolyl-methane, which detoxifies a form of estrogen called estradiol, helping ensure you don’t have too much. Read more here (including recipes): https://www.hormonesbalance.com/articles/5-hormone-balancing-superfoods-recipes
5. PCOS: Flaxseed
Polycystic Ovarian syndrome is a hormonal condition that causes issues like too much testosterone and insulin. It can lead to ovarian cysts, stubborn belly fat, high blood sugars (increasing risk of diabetes Type 2), acne, facial hair and oily skin. Women with PCOS usually also have erratic or absent periods and fertility issues.
Flaxseeds contain a form of fiber called lignans, which can help lower your blood glucose and insulin and also address imbalances in estrogen levels.
Many individuals nowadays are trying to get pregnant after 40 and having children later than their parents and grandparents.
This is due to many reasons of course such as the need for more schooling, the importance of establishing careers, getting some financial stability, and meeting the right person. With advancing age, fertility does decline and end eventually for all women and for some individuals, getting pregnant after forty can become challenging. This is due to many factors, one of which is sugar consumption!
In this article we’re going to explore the connection between infertility and sugar consumption. We’ll look at how sugar can lower your chances of getting pregnant in your 40s. And you’ll learn about how it impacts your hormone levels and what you can do about it.
Does Sugar Cause Infertility?
In addition to having children later in life, what is also much more common nowadays is that individuals are eating WAY more processed sugars than previous generations.
In fact, the average American eats approximately 66 lbs of added sugars yearly and nearly 150 pounds of sugar in total. This is at least two to four times as much as the maximum recommendation given by the American Heart Association and even more so than that given by the WHO. For many individuals, that is their body weight in sugar!
Why Is This Important For Pregnancy After 40?
Well, sugar accelerates a process known as glycation in the body which is a process involving sugar combining proteins in the body and damaging them. Whenever we accelerate damaging processes in the body, it is obviously a bad thing. It gives the body more work to do. It also leaves us with a bunch of ‘junk’ called advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) which gum up our body and cells. The process of glycation points to the link between sugar consumption, age and fertility.
The Process of Glycation
When it comes to sugar, it also stresses something called the HPA axis.
The Sugar and Hormone Connection
The HPA axis is a feedback loop that involves the hypothalamus gland (part of the brain), the pituitary (another part of the brain), and the adrenals. This axis also involves the ovaries and the thyroid in women, which form another feedback loop called the OAT axis (ovarian, adrenal, thyroid axis). Sugar, when consumed in excess which is the ‘norm’ nowadays, increases cortisol production in the adrenal glands and insulin production in the pancreas. These trends can lead to things such as adrenal fatigue, prediabetes/diabetes, and you guessed it—increased infertility.
This is because this excess of sugar actually is a ‘stressor’!
HPA AXIS DIAGRAM
This extra cortisol, when repeatedly produced, eventually can lead to a tiring of what we call the HPA and OAT axes, and we then see gradually lowering functionality of these respective axes. Since the ovaries are involved in the OAT axis, this can subsequently affect key ovarian hormone production. In fact, the body will produce cortisol at the expense of other hormones such as progesterone especially for women. We term this the ‘pregnenolone steal.’
This is an especially salient point because progesterone is needed for successful implantation and maintenance of a pregnancy. This is one of the key issues that many women over 35 face that figures into declining fertility.
Because the norm is to be routinely stressed out due to many factors and it’s common to be excessively consuming sugar, we routinely negatively impact the preservation of good hormone balance crucial for preserving fertility. Many people don’t think that drinking their Coca-Cola or having their sweetened Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is potentially affecting their fertility but in reality, it very well may be!
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A Key to Getting Pregnant After 40: Preserving Youthful Hormone Levels
Fertility is of course multi-dimensional and infertility problems are as well. But for many women, too low progesterone can be a major factor as to why they may get pregnant but miscarry repeatedly. Thus in minimizing risk for this potential complicating factor, a couple may wish to take a careful look at not just the diet in general, but specifically sugar content with added and total sugars.
The more you can minimize damaging and depleting processes such as glycation and the pregnenolone steal, the better your odds will be in preserving fertility and getting pregnant after forty.
There are several general eating plans that a woman may want to consider to inherently lower her sugar consumption and thus encourage better fertility from this standpoint. One is the Paleo diet and if wanting to go even more diligent, the Ketogenic diet.
For those unfamiliar, let me explain each of these in greater detail.
The Paleo Diet vs. the Ketogenic Diet for Preserving Fertility
The Paleo dietary approach focuses on what is believed to be how humans largely ate before the dawn of modern agriculture (around 10,000 years ago). In this approach, grains and dairy foods are eschewed for: nuts and seeds, quality animal meats, vegetables, fruits, and some tubers (such as sweet potatoes, squashes, etc).
The diet is focused on providing lower glycemic load foods (i.e. the total amount of carbs that turn into sugar in the body) while increasing nutrient dense foods (which are typically veggies, fruits, meats, nuts and seeds as noted). This inherently tends to lower the volume of carbohydrates consumed, thereby reducing the level of glycation inherently caused from eating.
The ketogenic diet is in some ways, a more strict version of the paleo dietary approach. Within the ketogenic diet approach, there are also degrees of restriction to carbohydrates as well. Some individuals trying to control diabetes or lose lots of weight may be limiting their carbohydrates down to 20-30 grams for the entire day.
This means essentially they will only be eating items such as:
- good quality fats (such as olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, butter, etc.),
- animal meats
- non-starchy vegetables AND
- (In contrast to the paleo diet): full-fat, low carbohydrate dairy foods
This is because the carbohydrate content is paramount in the ketogenic dietary approach most of all. Even foods such as squashes, sweet potatoes, almost all fruits, rutabagas, turnips and more may be off of this diet.
On less strict versions of this approach, one may eat up to 100 grams of carbohydrates which again will focus on vegetables, low glycemic load fruits such as berries, nuts and seeds, perhaps limited amounts of root vegetables and again the animal based foods.
One’s overall health needs and goals may suggest one plan or the other but from a sugar perspective, one could try either approach with likely getting benefit.
Both of these dietary approaches inherently reduce sugar’s presence in the body, minimizing the possibility of glycation, easing the stress on the pancreas and adrenal glands to stimulate cortisol and insulin production to stimulate the pregnenolone steal which can ultimately cause HPA axis dysfunction.
So while your obstetrician or gynecologist may not mention this, you can now truly understand the connection between what you eat and increasing your odds of getting pregnant after forty! The connection between sugar, stress and infertility is more direct, as you now understand, than many people realize. If you didn’t have a good reason before, you should now to get serious about cutting the sugar. Your fertility may just depend on it!
If you are over 40 and are trying to get pregnant, take these steps to help reduce the impact of sugar on your chance of a healthy pregnancy.
What are your thoughts on sugar and infertility? Have you tried any of these dietary approaches to reduce your sugar consumption? What was your experience and which one(s) did you use? Would love to learn more about you and your experiences.
You’re young enough, healthy enough, and can’t understand why you have “fertility issues.”
…its been months of trying…still no baby.. why ?
It seems to be a modern-day burden all too many couples face, and conventional medicine has answers but…cannot explain WHY.
Doctors are usually to quick to label couples “infertile” and recommend drastic measures, rather than ask WHY and dig deep to uncover causative factors.
The good news is, many “infertility issues” have very little to do with your fertility.
Rather, they are symptoms of common health deficiencies that can be quickly corrected through natural remedies, nutrition, acupuncture and lifestyle changes.
Here are 3 safe and natural fertility remedies you can use to prepare for a healthy pregnancy:
#1: Balance your blood sugar
This seems like such simple advice, but very few people understand the blood-sugar-hormone connection and how it can inhibit fertility.
When your blood sugar is out of whack—which happens if you’re not getting enough sleep, are too stressed, eating too much sugar and refined carbs, aren’t eating the right balance of nutrients, or aren’t eating enough—it affects your insulin levels.
This, in turn, causes an imbalance in other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Remember, insulin is a hormone and all hormones are interconnected.
So, what’s the best way to keep your blood sugar balanced and help increase fertility?
- Eat small frequent meals every 2-4 hours
- Have a little protein with every small meal, like nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes, or meat
- Eat plenty of healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil, nut butters, pastured butter, hemp seeds, fish oil, etc.
- Sleep 7.5-9 hours per night. If you don’t get enough sleep it affects the hormone, leptin, which is responsible for controlling your appetite and satiety
- Replace refined sugar with natural sweeteners like stevia and limited amounts of raw honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup
- Cut back on refined carbs like white flour, white rice, pastas, etc.
- Exercise 15-30 minutes a day
- Cut out alcohol. It’s full of sugar, messes with your hormones, and has been linked to lower sperm quality in men
- If you need a relaxing beverage, try Kombucha
#2: Give Extra Love & Support to your Detoxification Pathways
Infertility is often a symptom of toxicity.
It’s your body’s way of saying: “Hey! We have to clean house before we host a new life in here.
You can work with a practitioner on a specific detoxification program, and/or support your detox pathways through nutrition and lifestyle changes.
- Liver: Eat plenty of green vegetables and have a green drink every day.
Vegetables from the Brassica family, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, turnips, are particularly helpful for supporting Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detoxification.
- Kidneys: Proper hydration is key for healthy kidney function…but water quality matters as much as quantity.
For quality: choose either spring water or filtered water, and avoid water in plastic bottles—they’re loaded with endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
For quantity: aim to drink half your body’s weight in ounces or 8 glasses per day.
- Lympathic System: Your lymphatic system is one of the most important, largest, and most overlooked detoxification pathway.
Think of it like a river running from your neck to your ankles, sweeping away toxins and unwanted debris from your vital organs and systems.
To keep your lymphatic system flowing you need to stimulate it. You can do this through exercise (rebounding, walking, running), body brushing with a dry brush, massage, and deep breathing exercises.
Pick two methods and practice them daily.
- Gall Bladder: The best and most gentle way to cleanse your gall bladder is to drink fresh lemon tea 1-3 times per day.
Just squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a cup of hot water, drink it, and watch your skin, digestion, and elimination improve.
- Colon: Your bowels should be moving 1-3 times per day and producing well-formed stool that is easy to pass with no overly offensive odor…if they’re not, you need to address that.
My favorite gentle remedies for colon health are probiotics, drinking enough water, exercise, green drinks, cultured foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and a simple fiber supplement like psyllium, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.
- Skin: Also known as your “third kidney”, the skin is your largest detox organ. Help it by dry brushing daily, sweating, and sticking to all-natural skin care products.
#3: Key Nutrients for Men and Women
Women still tend to shoulder the infertility burden…even though over 35% of fertility cases are a guy thing!
With that understanding, try working together as a couple to help optimize these key nutrients in your diets:
Key Nutrients for Healthy Fertility in Women:
- Vitamin B12: Found in animal products like meats, fish, eggs, liver, etc.
- Iron: The most absorbable iron comes from red meats like grassfed beef, bison, lamb, and liver (you can also take a desiccated liver supplement if you prefer)
- Folate: Lentils, dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, pinto, garbanzo, navy, black and kidney beans
- Vitamin D: Often supplementation is needed, so I recommend having your levels checked. Good food sources include: mushrooms, salmon, grass-fed beef liver (or supplement), pasture-raised eggs, sustainably caught, low-mercury canned tuna (I like Safe Catch® brand)
- Magnesium: Crucial for maintaining over 500 biochemical processes. Since it’s tough to get enough from food, you can take a supplement or use a topical product safely. Food sources include leafy greens, legumes, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, dark chocolate, figs, black beans, and bananas
- Vitamin A: In traditional cultures, women in their child-bearing years were encouraged to eat plenty of Vitamin A-rich foods like fatty fish, cod liver oil, paprika, dark leafy greens, and liver
Key Nutrients for Healthy Fertility in Men:
- Zinc: oysters, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and peanuts
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, meat, seafood, mushrooms and cereals
- Vitamin C: strawberries, broccoli and kiwi fruit
- Lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit
- Vitamin A: paprika, carrots, dark leafy greens, and liver
- B vitamins: dark leafy greens, legumes, nutritional yeast, pomegranates, and lean meats
Nutrition is key! Take time and prepare for pregnancy!
Let food be our medicine!
High inflammatory foods cause hormonal to become imbalances, they can also spike your insulting and good sugar, as well as lower immunity.
Are You Ready?
#1 – Sugar. It spikes your insulin levels and is the reason behind your cravings, irritability and mood swings. This is processed foods such as baked goods, candy & fruit juices
#2 – Wheat. The problem with our wheat today is that it is hybridized. It is NOT produced in a traditional way. it also contains pesticides. Wheat is an inflammatory food.
#3 – Dairy. Dairy is a common food sensitivity. Aside from the antibiotics and hormones which you are eating and drinking, dairy contains a protein called A1 casein. This protein is inflammatory & over stimulates your immune system..
#4 – Vegetable Oils. Soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, safflower and sunflower oils are inexpensive and contain toxic trans fats and are highly inflammatory. They also increase your Omega 6 fatty acids which are important but too many Omega 6’s will throw off the balance to Omega 3’s which are anti-inflammatory. You need Omega 3's for healthy hormones. Replace these oils with avocado oil, grass fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil.
You are what you east- A diet in whole foods, organic protein, and vegetables will create an healthy environment for your to become pregnant
Acupuncture plays an important role when trying to conceive in a busy world.
Experience Matters :
We have helped 1000s of women and couples get pregnant.
Our experience, as well as research, suggest that the effect of acupuncture treatments are typically cumulative. We usually recommend a minimum of eight -twelve sessions.
Your Practitioner Will Get to Know You Well
Your care will be entrusted to a highly experienced Licensed Acupuncturist who will take the time to learn about your medical history and lifestyle. Your Practitioner will then make observational diagnoses and help you create a Plan of Action.
How Everything Proceeds
- Besides weekly visit at least a month or two prior, we also recommend at least two months after insemination and possibly throughout pregnancy.
- Also recommended treatments are Pre- and post-embryo transfer
- Reduces stress & anxiety Stress can caue infertility
- enhances circulation to the uterus and cervix
- regulates menstrual cycles and balance hormonal levels
- FOR MEN aids increasing sperm count, sperm quality and health
- improves success rate of IVF from 40-60%