By: Leah Churba, NBC-HWC
It would surprise most people that we can significantly improve our chances of conceiving by simply changing our diet. In fact, a growing body of scientific research supports that nutritional status can impact fertility in substantive ways.
We expect a lot from our body, and although it is strong and capable of so much, it is also delicate and complex. The way we care for it will optimize its functionality. This means we need to be active participants, working together with our body for all desired end results. Improved fertility is one of these results.
Most people do not fully appreciate the value of good nutrition. We live in a world where food is associated with function, pleasure, and unfortunately, even guilt, but what we need to realize is that FOOD IS MEDICINE. When we feed our body correctly, we are assisting it to do its job and function to its fullest potential.
A leading cause of infertility is a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. This hormonal disorder can result in ovaries developing numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) which fail to regularly release eggs. Emerging data shows that chronic low-grade inflammation is a key contributor to the development of PCOS. Inflammation is your body’s response to an irritant, to protect the body. However, inflammation can become your enemy when it persists, day in and day out, due to things your body thinks is bad, such as inflammation- causing foods.
Believe it or not, one of the most powerful tools to beat inflammation comes from the grocery store, not the pharmacy. There are foods that combat inflammation, and it’s not a coincidence that these anti-inflammatory foods also tend to be the same foods that can help keep you healthy in other ways, too. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, plant-based proteins, and herbs/spices. The best part is that enriching your diet with these foods need not be a complicated or restrictive process. There are so many to choose from!
However, although including anti-inflammatory foods in our diets is important, we must also watch out for those foods that have the opposite effect. Sugar, for example, is one of the biggest inflammation-causing foods for those struggling with PCOS. Women with PCOS are especially sensitive to simple sugar as they are already predisposed to insulin resistance, which means their bodies are already struggling with ways of breaking down sugars in a healthy way. A dietary trigger like sugar is capable of setting off oxidative stress and an inflammatory response in women with PCOS, further impacting their fertility. In addition to diet, combining a lifestyle modification programs such as behavioral management, weight management, and exercise interventions have been successful in improving reproductive and metabolic features in PCOS.
Fertility is indeed multidimensional, and we may not be able to control every aspect of our body but we can improve the fertility odds in our favor through our diets. Our body is perceptive to the care we give it and the food with which we nourish it with. We should never forget the power and control we have to make a change and help our body function optimally.
For questions or comments email Lchurba@amchealth.com
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