Can you really eat your way to a positive pregnancy test? Good nutrition can certainly get your body – and hormones – perfectly primed to conceive easy the experts. Here’s how..
BY HELEN CLEMSON
Motherhood isn’t a practice. It’s a daily learning experience.” This quote, posted on Instagram account @peanut – a social media space dedicated to connecting women across the fertility and motherhood journey, exemplifies the trials of conception and parenting. CEO and co-founder of the Peanut app Michelle Kennedy explains that her mission was to recognise a pain point that millions of women encounter and find a solution. As she so rightly unpacks on her website, motherhood can be challenging. But for so many women, the first – and seemingly unsurmountable challenge – is just to get pregnant. As far back as 2004, a global study was published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), reporting that 186 million women of reproductive age (in 2002) were infertile. Fast forward 16 years and it’s believed that over 6.5 million births are made possible via in vitro fertilisation (IVF). But what if a natural conception still feels right for you?
Look to your food for guidance. The first step is understanding that in terms of holistic wellness, you really are what you eat. “It’s important to note that entire body functioning depends largely on what we eat, and with foods we’re eating, we’re either nourishing our body’s fertility or exasperating its infertility,” explains Elenia Kolokotronis, a clinical nutritionist, who specialises in nutritional fertility.
THE PREGNANCY PLAN
When broodiness turns to an urgent desperation to have a child, the need to fall pregnant may seem overwhelming. Dr Maurits Kruger, homeopath and iridologist at Health Renewal suggests straight-forward adjustments to your eating plan that could reap the largest of life’s rewards. “The dietary no-no with the biggest negative impact on fertility is sugar and refined carbohydrates,” he cautions. Simply put: A diet that contains too much of these will lead to high blood sugar and insulin levels, he adds. “High insulin levels have a very negative impact on ovulation and may cause abnormal ovulation and cysts on the ovaries, leading to infertility.” Dr. Kruger reports that you should shun sugar – in any form – and that means sweets, chocolates, soft drinks and “low-fat” foods. Also be cautious of carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, bread, cakes, cookies, maize and any product containing refined carbohydrates. Fried foods, junk food, and foods high in trans fats will also raise insulin and disrupt hormone balance. This may cause problems with ovulation, so cut these out too.
How should you be nourishing you? Balanced nutrition, rich in fresh vegetables, lean protein and omega-3 fats will promote hormone balance and fertility. “The Mediterranean diet is a very good example of a healthy diet for fertility and pregnancy,” he says.
In the run-up to two blue lines appearing on that magic stick, exercise for sheer enjoyment, rather than with a punishing regime in mind. Kolokotronis’ best workout advice for women really focusing on falling pregnant – apart from staying hydrated with good quality water – is being active but not obsessively so. Too much exercise is “more detrimental to fertility health for some cases,” she explains and suggests that you rather keep fit by means of swimming, walking, dancing or any movement that you find enjoyable. And only a few minutes a day is all you need to start the way forward in sound health and fitness, she says. Now might be a good time to start practicing yoga. According to yogajournal.com certain abdominal poses help energise your belly and womb, rebuilding broken connections to this area. They will also move out any lingering numbness and debris, including physical debris (think badly digested food that leads to constipation as well as old menstrual blood) and emotional gunk (like sexual trauma, anger, betrayal, or resentment). The site recommends Frog Lifting Through, an especially good pose for conceiving as it opens up the pelvis and inner legs while activating your abdominals.