Globally we are seeing a decline in fertility rates in all species, from amphibians to mammals. The average American has somewhere between 300-500 known toxins in his/her tissues that were not in existence before 1940. Biologist are concerned about the numbers of zenoestrogens found in frogs, fish and wild fowl. One study in 1994 showed 100% of the fish tested in the Great Lakes had some form of thyroid abnormality. There has been a statistically significant increase in the numbers of male birds that due to their altered sex hormones from zenoestrogens act as though they are pregnant and preparing nests. Many female birds ended up pairing off because the availability of sexually developed male birds was so limited. According to Klaus Toepfer, of the United Nations Environment Program, these persistent organic pollutants (POP) damage the nervous and immune system, cause cancer and reproductive disorders, and interfere with normal infant and child development. The biology statistics are frightening but there are steps to take to create a cleaner and healthier body so that your sperm, ovaries, womb and children are as healthy as possible in today’s modern world of mass food production.
- Avoid Alcohol. Just one to two drinks per week can elevate prolactin levels and thus inhibit ovulation. A 1998 study in Fetility and Sterilty showed a 50% reduction in conception rates in women who drank compared to the abstainers.
- Eliminate caffeine, particularly coffee which constricts blood vessels. Ironically, black tea opens them and has an anti-oxidant effect. But all caffeine has been shown to increase the risks of miscarriages.
- Avoid all over the counter drugs. This includes Asprin, NSAIDS such as Aleve or Advil as they can negatively effect ovulation. Anti-histamins and decongestants dry up cervical fluid and cause micro vessel constriction which can impede blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Oral antibiotics destroy vitamins B and K which are important for a healthy placenta. And some antidepressants can elevate prolactin levels which inhibits ovulation.
- Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stress can delay ovulation and by switching on your fight or flight nervous system it will reduce the amount of blood flow to non essential organs like the ovaries, uterus and intestines.
- Exercise. Here moderation is the key. Too much vigorous exercise is associated with poor ovulation and lower sperm counts. While too little leads to elevated estrogen levels which again prevent ovulation and inhibit the corpus luteum’s functions. Women who are 25% over weight have a dramatic increase in risk of miscarriage.
- Stop Smoking. Even second hand smoke can have a negative mpact on bth male and female conception rate. Especially in women smoking has been linked to increased risk of miscarriage and impaired fertility rates.
- Heat and Sperm Count. A 2004 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Enviromental Health showed that a rise in scrotal temperature of just 1 degree(C) can reduce sperm counts by 40%.Men who worked with their laptop computers balanced on their lap for one hour had an average scrotal temoerature increase of 2.7 degrees (C). Other know causes for increase in scrotal temperature is hot baths or showers, bicycling, and the use of saunas or steamrooms.
- There have been few scientific studies examining foods and their ability to improve fertility. The one exception is zinc. Several studies have shown that zinc deficiencies can impair both male and female fertility. Maintaining the recommended daily allowance of zinc (15 mg per day) can help keep your reproductive system working properly. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, sardines, steak and chicken. Vegetarians can look to legumes (dried beans, black/eyed peas, lentils, peas, soy products and whole grains) as sources of zinc. Your doctor can best advise you on your specific nutritional needs during treatment.
While these guidelines do not insure pregnancy they will help you take more control on what often seems like a uncontrollable situation. You will reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes in the process, and step yourself to a healthier life and potentially healthier pregnancy. What is for certain is you will feel better and having joy in your life is probably one of the most important factors when trying to conceive. Don’t lose sight of happiness. Everyday be thankful for the wealth that life has offered us in this country. Enjoy today. Everyday.
Foods that Care for Your Body and Future
If you don’t put gas in the tank your car won’t work. Likewise, if you don’t nourish the body with the right foods and liquids it doesn’t work well either. We know that certain dietary habits can easily lead one to diabetes or heart disease. It is less commonly thought that dietary habits outside of Folic Acid and a prenatal vitamins can have an effect on fertility or ovarian health in general. But if the foods we take in can have an effect on the insulin levels, part of our endocrine system, is it too far off to conclude that it might also have an effect on other parts of our endocrine system as well? Currently there is not much funding going into this discourse and I question, does it make a difference whether it is science certified or not? What do you have to lose, by creating better eating habits and choices?
- First off eat organic food and hormone, antibiotic free meats or don’t eat meat. The path of pregnancy is a delicate balance of hormones such as follicle stimulation hormone, estrogen, progesterone and luteinizing hormone. Meats that are treated with growth hormone and many pesticides act as estrogen mimicking hormones blocking the receptor sites of our natural hormones and can negatively effect our endocrine system.
- Have a daily intake of essential fatty acids (EFA), which are associated with the releasing of the egg and the development of the corpus luteum. For the average size female you will need 18-20 grams of EFA per day. They are found in fish, fish oil, non-hydrogenated cold-pressed oils such as flaxseed, eggs, soy products (consume these in small quantities) raw nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetable. If you choose to take your EFA in a pill make sure that your brand is purity certified by a third party for heavy metals and pollutants. And while flaxseed can be less expensive and organic you have to take almost three times as much to get the same amount absorbed as in fish oil. Don’t increase you intake of fish to more than 2-3 times per week as our seafood holds a number of heavy metals that if over ingested can make getting pregnant more difficult. Check out www.oceansalive.org for an extensive list of fish and the toxins associated with them. Be aware that the guide lines given would be slightly more conservative for someone who is trying to conceive or is pregnant.
- Increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables. This group also helps improve the body’s use of estrogen. An excess of estrogen is often associated with the symptoms of PMS such as breast tenderness, moodiness, abnormal uterine growths and weight gain. If you body cannot process your excess estrogen out of the body it will continue to circulate in your blood stream causing cellular damage through oxidative stress until it can be processed out. Cruciferous vegetable will aid in that process. Additionally the bioflavonoids in them seem to promote a healthy uterine lining.
- Try to limit all processed foods. This means if it’s in a bag, box or package it probably has chemicals that don’t work in favor of conception. Instead try to increase your intake to fruits, vegetables, whole grains. In general these are alkalizing foods which can help keep your pH hospitable to sperm. While a strict vegetarian diet is not advisable having a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetable that provide plenty of bioflavonoids for a healthy uterus is ideal.
- Reduce you intake of sugars. Replace refined sugar with stevia, honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup. Limit your intake of breads and pasta all of which convert to sugar in your blood stream, particularily white bread products. Reduce your intake of fruit juice. An 8oz glass has the same effect on your blood sugar as a snickers bar.
- Make sure you have a high-quality pre natal vitamin and mineral complex. Look for those that have the bio-available ingredients, such as calcium from a citrate or glycinate and not from carbonate, zinc from glycinate, selenium from aspartate forms.
Not All Water is Created Equal
You drink bottled water so your not at risk for an excessive environmental chemical burden, right? Well, according to a National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) four year study on the bottled water industry you might be wrong. There study showed 60-70% of all the bottled water is exempt for FDA standards because the FDA states that “its rules do not apply to water package and sold within the same state”. This applies to all selzer water as well. But even if the FDA standards are applied they are still much lower than the EPA city water, for example:
- City water standards require all samples be free of any trace of ecoli or fecal bacteria while the FDA standards for bottled water has no such requirement.
- City water is required to be tested one hundered times per month while the FDA mandates only four times per month with bottled water.
- City water systems must be tested for Cryptospridium or Giardia again not true for bottled water.
- City tap must meet standards which limit toxic carcinogin and endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phthalantes while the FDA had been persuaded to exempt bottled water from these standards.
The NRDC sampled 1000 bottles of water from 103 brands and tested them at three independent labs. While much of the bottled water was of good quality there were some that were consistently questionable. Nearly one out of four of the brands tested had at least one sample that violated California limits on synthetic compounds. And one out of five brands tested had at lest one sample that contained more bacteria that allowed under microbiological purity guidelines. Overall 33%of the brands tested violated an enforceable state standard or exceeded microbiological purity guidelines or both.
Unfortunately, tap water by comparison doesn’t offer a much better alternative. A 1996 EPA report noted that about 1 in 10 tap water systems ( that equals about one tenth of the U.S. population) violated EPA standards. Additionally, tap water in about 10% of American homes exceeded the levels of arsenic by 2 parts per billion (ppb). It should be noted that other academic and governmental water surveys have been consistent with NRDC’s findings.
Ways to Reduce Your Exposure
- If using unfiltered tap water use only cold water for drinking and cooking. Let it run for a few minutes before using.
- If you are purchasing new faucets check with plumbing supplier about the products that are certified by NSF and comply with California Proposition 65 requirements.
- Request a consumer confidence report (CCR) from your water district, which will tell you about the water that is piped to your home though it won’t contain information about your own pipes and any contaminants they release.
- Check you tap water by running it in a clear glass. Is it clear or discolored? Does it have sediment in it? Does it smell bad? If is smells bad and/or has sediment in it that is a good indication that you should have your water tested. You can buy a home test at your local hardware store. Overall they are less accurate than having a professional company come out and test but it is a less expensive alternative and will at lest give you a basic reading of your home’s water.
- Storing your water is also important. Try to use glass containers or the least non reactive plastic bottles (#7). They can be found at health food stores or local sports stores like REI.
Water is the most essential element in our daily health. Left without food we can go weeks, with out water mere days. Our bodies, like the earth, are roughly 70% water. It aids in digestion, helps regulated body temperature, keeps the skin healthy, lubricates the joints, transports nutrients to the bodies tissues and removes cellular wastes. It is life itself. If your feeling sluggish drink two glasses of water and see what happens. Like the catus flowers after a rain, life sprouts from the most surprising corners. Drink enough water. Most people should be drinking a minimum of 8- 8oz glasses of purified water per day.