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Why fertility is the greatest measure of your overall health, and how to bolster it.

How much thought do you give to your fertility outside of wanting to have a baby? Whether becoming a mother is something you plan to do soon, in the future, or not at all, your fertility is one of the absolute best ways to judge your overall health. Reproduction is sort of a luxury function of the body. If times are hard, provisions scarce, nutrients lacking, if the body or mind is over stressed, it will not prioritize reproduction. Survival will always take precedence, at the expense of any secondary function.

It is clear then that fertility implies expansiveness. It creates from a place of abundance. It is the overflowing cup that you can generously pour from. Whether you hope to use your fertility to create a healthy family, or to lean into it metaphorically to enhance your creative expression, being in touch with it is a key component to tapping into your innate wisdom, and has the capacity to bestow valuable tools upon you that will be forever useful as a woman, friend, wife, mother, grandmother, and integral part of a whole.

Are you ovulating regularly? Does your body feel safe and nourished enough to take a leap of faith and release an egg, ready and willing to start a new life? In the current state of the world, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of us have been or are currently on a journey to get to this point of function. We live in a time where we have to fight for the right to our health, to take it back into our own hands and deeply consider what will and will not nourish us. For the sake of convenience, we have outsourced a lot of this consideration, and it’s done us entirely more harm than good.

So many of the convenience foods and products that have become normal to us are extremely detrimental to our endocrine systems, interfering with the intricate choreography of our hormones. In fact, the most common cause of female infertility in the United States is ovulatory dysfunction, in which a variety of factors interfere with the complex sequence of hormonal events required to trigger ovulation.

Let's go over some things in your life and home that might be exposing you to xenoestrogens, or synthetic chemicals which mimic estrogen in the body, causing confused endocrine signaling, upsetting the communication necessary for healthy ovulation in women and development in babies and children.

You’ve probably heard of Phthalates, which are an additive found in plastics to increase their flexibility and lifespan. They are extremely hormonally active, interfering with sexual development in infants and sexual behavior in adults. They impede the follicular development during the first part of the menstrual cycle, and  inhibit testosterone production in men. There are possible connections between phthalate exposure and ADHD, Autism, and lowered motor and cognitive development. Phthalates are found in most plastics. (Plastics themselves are dangerous. Did you know that certain plastics were actually an accidental invention of chemists trying to create birth control? While experimenting with synthetic estrogens, they realized that a particular set of polymers they had created was strong and flexible when linked in chains, and could be used as containers, right around the time that the market for plastic was booming.)

Thus, the first thing I would recommend to cut out of your life as significantly as possible is plastic. Use glass, stainless steel, and wood in the kitchen. Get rid of the PVC lining of your shower curtain, which releases phthalates upon contact with hot steam. Try your best to cut polyester (a petroleum derived plastic) from your wardrobe, and if not possible everywhere, at least from your underwear and bedding. Opt for 100% cotton instead. Trade plastic wrap and plastic bags for reusable glass containers or jars. Phthalates are also found in dishwashing fluid and commercial detergents, but there are plenty of natural alternatives.

Secondly, your razor is exposing you to of harmful chemicals. The moisture strip in most razors contains polyethylene glycol, a known human carcinogen, aluminum, linked to breast cancer and Alzheimers, and soy (weirdly) which, like phthalates, mimics estrogen in the body. Shaving causes micro abrasions and lets these additives into our blood stream. You can find a stainless steel razor for under $20,  they’ll last you forever if you take care of them. Buying the blades is significantly cheaper than purchasing any other kind of razor.

Avoiding industrialized seed oils is one of the greatest things you can do when it comes to your fertility. By quitting them, you can improve your’s and your children’s health both immediately and in the long run.

Here’s why:

Not only do these oils oxidize easily and promote inflammation, they are often contaminated with mold, and almost always from genetically modified crops that have been sprayed with glyphosate, they are heated to oxidation in the refining process, forming toxins, and then they are bleached and deodorized. They have been found to suppress folliculogenisis and inhibit implantation of the embryo. If you do manage to conceive while ingesting vegetable oils, they may block signaling in the womb, disrupting a complex sequence of developmental events and stifling your baby’s full developmental potential.

Let's move into a more hopeful place, and discuss how you can fortify your diet with some incredibly nutrient dense foods and start to replenish your likely depleted mineral stores, and get back to enjoy the body’s luxury functions! Getting your vitamins and minerals is from real food is infinitely superior to getting them from a synthetic supplement. For example, there are over 100 isomers of Vitamin E, but only 16 of these are ever put into tablets. Foods from nature represent entire families of vitamins and present them with their necessary cofactors, in order for them to be properly absorbed and utilized. Your developing baby will take at least 20% of your mineral stores when in utero. And they’ll take what they need whether or not you have it in abundance, meaning that if you’re diet is deficient, your baby will take precedence, stripping minerals from your bones, teeth and muscle tissue. But you can avoid this by preparing with a nutrient dense diet, and getting ample fuel so that you and your baby may thrive. In short, think of real food as your prenatal, and start that prenatal long before becoming pregnant.

Foods and choices to ADD IN to bolster your fertility

Heap on the nutrients with wild abandon, because our modern diet is so bereft of vitamins and minerals due to soil depletion and low standards of care in commercial agriculture. I recommend getting as many of your foods as possible from local sources, and seasonally if possible. There are some foods however that are so nutrient dense you can use them to make up for what’s lacking, and get your biome closer to what it would have been like 100 years ago, when many of the deficiencies and their cooccurring diseases were unheard of.

The staples I recommend to my clients as whole food pre-conception “supplements” that help your body tap into it’s full functional potential are as follows:

  • Bone Broths and Organ Meats

  • Ferments

  • Sardines & Oysters

  • Eggs

  • Trace Minerals and/or Celtic Sea Salt

  • Nettle Tea

  • Wheat Germ

The main goal with all of these foods is to supply a wealth of fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K, which allow your body to absorb and utilize all other vitamins and minerals. Without these “activators”, you could be eating a diet rich in nutrients, but starve for them anyway. Many of them also supply the full breadth of complex minerals needed for optimal cellular communication, thus allowing the processes of folliculogenisis, ovulation, conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum to unfold in their divinely created perfection.

BONE BROTH: Builds blood and bone marrow, two resources drawn heavily upon during pregnancy. Abundant in collagen and glycine, it's very beneficial for building a rich and healthy uterine lining, not to mention a whole new person.

An abundant source of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc and potassium, in far more bioavailable and beneficial forms than in a synthetic supplements.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Bone Broth is thought to improve “Jing”, or reproductive potential- genetics, libido, fertility, life force, and brain function. By nourishing Jing, you improve egg quality in women and semen quality in men.

ORGAN MEATS: Prized by ancient cultures as a food for pregnancy preparation by both parents. Organ meats nourish the blood and vascular system, an important component of building a healthy placenta to transfer nutrients to your growing baby. Organ meat, liver in particular, is an excellent source of vitamin B12. Most synthetic B12 supplements are never even absorbed by the body. These meats are also rich in vitamin A, Iron and it’s necessary cofactor copper. If you don’t like the idea of eating straight up liver, you could make a delicious pate. Chicken liver is an easier flavor to get accustomed to than beef. Another great reason to start taking your natural “prenatal” before pregnancy- you have a chance to get used to these new flavors before experiencing any possible aversions.

EGGS: Egg yolks are an easy and delicious source of choline, essential to healthy cognition. Choline is one of the cellular building blocks for the expression of baby’s genes, brain development, and tissue expansion.

Two eggs will provide you with 50% of your daily needed choline, but be sure not to over cook them. Enjoy the yolks nicely runny and golden- if you over cook them the choline will oxidize and not be as abundant or available. In traditional “like for like” wisdom, it’s eggs for eggs. Choline supports healthful oocyte (egg) maturation and ovulation.

OYSTERS: An abundant source of zinc, iodine and selenium, oysters are a wonderful addition to nature’s whole food prenatal. Ever hear that oysters are an aphrodisiac? The fertility boosting minerals they brim with are very powerful, it’s no wonder they heighten your libido!

SARDINES: Sardines are an excellent source of Omega-3 Fatty acids. The polyunsaturated fats that I mentioned earlier are Omega-6 fats, and the balance in our bodies of these two tends to be off balance, favoring Omgea-6, which leads to inflammation. Eating small fish like sardines can help to swing your body in the right direction. They are also extremely high in protein, which most women don’t get enough of on a daily basis, and is particularly important when hoping to conceive. And don’t worry, sardines are low in mercury, they simply can’t accumulate very much of it because they are so small. If you’ve never tried them, they taste like a slightly richer tuna, and are delicious with lemon and olive oil, spread on a slice of sourdough.

FERMENTS: Not only does fermenting a food cause it’s nutrients to become more bioavailable through the “predigestion” of beneficial bacteria, consuming ferments leads to better absorption and digestion of all the food you eat! Vegetables are made healthier and more nutritious by enzymes breaking down phytates and protective barriers to nutrients, allowing your body to utilize them. The beneficial bacteria, probiotics, populate your digestive system, helping to balance gut flora and fight infection. You may have heard of the gut brain axis, or that the gut is like a second brain, and it’s true- when your digestive system is functioning optimally, it aids in brain function. The brain is at the helm of reproduction, orchestrating the complex signaling of hormones needed to operate each event. Fermented foods are extremely supportive to this process by helping your brain to function optimally.

There is a specific strain of bacteria that I am particularly excited about right now, called Lactobacillus Reuteri. 100 years ago, nearly everyone had it in their systems. Today, only 5% of the population does. L. Reuteri helps to trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone which yields empathy and a desire for human connectedness. It also accelerates healing and improves immunity, increases collagen production, and increases testosterone in men! I learned about this cool strain from my friends at Thunder Cultures. Check them out and try their delicious yogurt, available at the Point Loma Farmers Market!

WHEAT GERM: Ever think about the fact that wheat was traditionally a symbol of prosperity, fertility and abundance? Nowadays, it's conflated with bloating, gastrointestinal disorders, skin issues, brain fog, fatigue- the whole gamut of discomfort. I could ramble on about the fact that none of this is wheat’s fault per say, but the nitty gritty of said ramble would be that when you have the entire plant, with the germ or embryo intact, you have a food which contains one of the greatest sources of vitamin E! Vitamin E promotes healthy blood flow and supports the thickening of the uterine lining.

TRACE MINERALS, CELTIC SEA SALT and NETTLE TEA: Every glass of water you drink is an opportunity to get more minerals into your diet. A few drops of trace minerals or even a pinch of sea salt will make a basic glass of water more hydrating and better for your cells. Teas are great for this too, infusing vitamins and minerals into a comforting warm drink. My favorite is nettle, rich in A, E, D and K

Introducing these nutrient dense whole foods into your daily life will not only make you feel like you could lift a car after eating, but will start to subtly adapt your appetites and cravings to a point where you can lean heavily on your intuition to guide you when it comes to eating the exact nutrients you need at any given moment. I think this concept is echoed in the idea of cravings during pregnancy. Your body’s maternal wisdom is overwhelming and will speak loudly to get what it requires. (Some of these cravings may be misguided if your diet is filled with processed foods that interrupt complex signaling. But for the most part, cravings serve a purpose nutritionally, and in traditional cultures, the specific cravings of pregnant women were observed, remembered and utilized in the future when they proved to have positive outcomes during pregnancy, labor, and subsequent infant health.)

I believe that if you are eating real foods in line with ancestral wisdom, you can tap into your body’s intuition at any time in your life. Once, I had a strong craving for tomatoes cooked in butter and garlic. It wasn’t until after I’d happily eaten them up that I wondered if they had any specific benefits. Lo and behold, I learned that tomatoes are extremely rich in lycopene, a free radical fighting antioxidant, and cooking them nearly doubles the amount of lycopene available for absorption. Lycopene requires a fat carrier for absorption, hence the butter, and the release of bile to be absorbed, something that garlic promotes! I didn’t have to be a biochemist to decide this snack would be beneficial to me, I just had to trust my craving.

I’ve seen women who change their lifestyles to prioritize nourishment and nutrient density experience ease and joy when it comes to conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Their bodies are provided with the tools they need to thrive and carry out physiological processes exactly as they are meant to. When hormonal signaling is unhindered and supported, the body is an incredible machine that will masterfully carry out it’s biological imperatives. As you become more nourished, you will start to trust your body, and that trust is the foundation for a grounded, expressive and expansive womanhood and motherhood.

If you trust your body and are in a state of love as opposed to fear, you can start to connect with your baby from the point of conception, and develop a relationship and understanding.

That trust and relationship with your baby can transition into a smooth birth, in which you are not afraid when it comes to the unfolding of labor. You trust your body and your baby to do what they are innately designed to, you are able to ride the sensations, knowing that they are from you and of you, and cannot be any stronger than you are. This fearlessness will allow you to avoid unnecessary interventions. When you make choices to nourish and protect your body and family, your confidence and intuition expand, allowing you to make instinctive decisions as a mother without second guessing yourself. This creates an environment for your children to thrive in expression and exploration, knowing that they have a competent leader for a mother, protecting them and giving them a safe haven from which to grow.

Tennessee Snow Cree Kamanski Dennis


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