The chocolate brownie recipe to prepare your body for conception and IVF

During IVF treatment, it is vital to avoid refined sugar and junk food, so today I’m going to share a recipe from my book, The IVF Diet Book, that is both nutritious and will help you chocoholics curb your sweet cravings 🙂

My Chocolate Bean Brownies are a perfect healthy snack, an on-the-go breakfast option or can be eaten as a pick-me-up when your energy levels are low.

Rich and fudgy, these delicious brownies are packed with protein thanks to the addition of cooked beans and protein powder. Give them a go, I bet you’ll end up loving them!

You can find the full recipe below:

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Makes 12 brownies

Ingredients

  • 60g walnuts, toasted
  • 60g almonds, toasted
  • 60g pecans, toasted
  • 350g black beans, cooked and drained
  • 60g coconut oil, melted
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 60g soft dates, pitted
  • 50g chocolate protein powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Step one: Preheat the oven to 180g (gas mark 4). Line a 20x20cm traybake tin with baking parchment

Step two: Place the nuts in a food processor and process them briefly until they are finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process to form a thick soft batter.

Step three: Spoon the mixture into the traybake time and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Step four: Allow to cool in the tin completely and when ready cut into 12 bars to serve.

The brownies can be stored in the fridge for one week,  or frozen for up to three months.

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Consultations are available at our Clinic in London or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0808 196 4060 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com

6 Common Questions About PCOS Answered

September marks PCOS Awareness Month, and at the Zita West Clinic, we are in full support of raising awareness of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormone disorder that affects around 1 in 10 women in the UK.

At the Zita West Clinic, up to 15 per cent of the women we see have PCOS, we understand that this can be upsetting, and many clients worry that they will never be able to conceive due to the condition.

Our Doctors have years of experience with PCOS and will support and guide you throughout your fertility journey.

We wanted to answer some of the most commonly asked questions:

1. What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Symptoms vary, and some will experience severe symptoms, whereas some may be mild.

Symptoms may include:

  • Irregular or no periods
  • Difficulty becoming pregnant
  • irregular ovulation, or no ovulation at all
  • Depression or changes in your mood
  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Unwanted facial or body hair (hirsutism)
  • Thinning hair or hair loss from the scalp (alopecia)
  • Weight problems – being overweight, rapid weight gain or difficulty losing weight

2. Will PCOS affect my fertility and chances of getting pregnant?

The hormonal imbalance that PCOS causes interferes with ovulation, and therefore can affect fertility. PCOS can also affect how regular cycles are, meaning there may be fewer cycles in a year and it is harder for a woman to detect her fertile phase.

PCOS is a treatable condition, so there is a chance that you will be able to get pregnant.

3. Do I need to have IVF?

In most cases, the answer is no, especially if PCOS is your only condition.

Of course, a full personal assessment of the couple is needed, but most patients are able to conceive naturally after a diagnosis of polycystic ovaries.

4. Are there any lifestyle changes I can make?

Symptoms can be improved through dietary and lifestyle changes, including:

  • Adding more lean protein, fruit and vegetables to your diet
  • Avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol
  • Do regular exercise
  • Get plenty of good quality sleep

5. How is PCOS treated?

A very simple and effective treatment, when it comes to establishing a normal cycle in at least 50% of the cases, has been proven to be Inositol. When Inositol fails, we are likely to prescribe drugs such as Clomid.  

6. Will having PCOS affect the outcome of my IVF?

Normally we have the same good results with PCOS patients that we have with all patients. The only additional risk for PCOS patients is an increased risk of hyperstimulation as a result of the IVF process.

In this particular group of patients, we usually start with smaller dosages of stimulation and we carefully monitor these patients throughout the whole cycle. By doing this, we normally achieve a good control on the hyperstimulation with very good results in terms of pregnancy rate.

Contact us

We are here to support and guide you.

If you’d like to speak to a member of the Zita West Clinic team about your options, please contact us.

Anti inflammatory foods for fertility

Inflammation and fertility

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or illness. However, prolonged inflammation can lead to insulin resistance and studies suggest it is linked to many conditions that may affect fertility, such as endometriosis, PCOS, implantation failure and recurrent miscarriage.

One of the greatest obstacles to successful implantation of the embryos and the reason why IVF fails in some women is an inflammatory environment, which can be caused by autoimmune and other pro-inflammatory conditions of the immune system. If there is inflammation in the body, it could damage embryos and prevent successful implantation. At the Zita West Clinic we do specialist blood tests to see if this is the case or not. If inflammation is detected, we don’t simply rely on medication to reduce this; the internal environment can also be optimised through appropriate nutrition and improvement in lifestyle. It is also extremely important to reduce the effect of stress, which can impact the immune system, and we use other, holistic treatments – such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy – to help with that.

Reducing inflammation through diet

There are certain foods that are inflammatory and others that help reduce inflammation in the body. Let’s start with the good stuff. Try to increase the following in your diet, because these foods are anti-inflammatory:

  • Oily fish – levels of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish help to counteract the inflammatory effects of omega-6 fats that are found in most meat.
  • Certain nuts, like macadamia nuts, which are high in omega-9 fats and seeds like flaxseed, chia and hemp.
  • Fruit and vegetables – high antioxidant foods help stem the action of free radicals, which cause inflammation. Orange and dark green vegetables are especially important for their beta-carotene levels.
  • Olive oil, which in its raw state contains omega-9 healthy fats and a chemical called oleocanthal, both of which have anti-inflammatory actions on the body. However, once you heat olive oil it becomes pro-inflammatory, so opt for seed oils for cooking instead.
  • Spices such as turmeric, garlic and ginger help to prevent pro-inflammatory enzymes from acting on your body.
  • Green tea
  • Pineapple
  • Rosemary
  • Propolis (honey bee resin) is a source of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), which has been found to inhibit NF-kB, which promotes inflammation.
  • Apples, onions, berries, brassicas and capers are a good source of quercetin, an important anti-inflammatory antioxidant.
  • Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and yoghurt, should be included regularly in your diet. The gut is an important site for the development and maintenance of immune health and modulating inflammation. Therefore maintaining a healthy digestion is important for addressing long-term inflammation.
  • Vitamin D-rich foods, such as oily fish, shellfish, egg yolk and mushrooms.
  • Coconut oil contains a beneficial fatty acid called lauric acid, which is also found in human breast milk. Lauric acid converts in the body to a compound called monolaurin, which may help support the immune system. Other fatty acids include capric and caprylic acids, which have antimicrobial properties.
  • Vitamin A-rich foods, such as organic liver and eggs.

In addition, try to eat more white fish, beans and pulses as your main protein sources, rather than poultry and red meat. Although turkey and chicken are fine in moderation, in general animal protein is considered more inflammatory for the body than fish and plant protein. You may wish to limit your intake of red meat and dairy products, as they contain arachidonic acid, which the body can use to make inflammatory eicosanoids.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-inflammatory foods in our diet comprise refined carbohydrates and sugars, excess saturated fats, processed foods, junk foods and hydrogenised (or partially hydrogenised) fats. Avoid them as often as you can. Caffeine and alcohol are pro-inflammatory, too.

Finally, avoid stress. Although this isn’t a dietary cause of inflammation, stress is almost certainly contributing to inflammation in your body. Support all the good work you’re doing with your diet by adapting your lifestyle to reduce stress, too.

For a detailed nutrition consultation tailored for you either in the clinic or by phone, contact us here.

Embrace the new season

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that the changes that occur in nature in the Autumn are also reflected within changes in our bodies. The organs Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on in Autumn are the lungs and colon, and the element associated with autumn is metal. Now is the time to go inside as the evenings draw in, eating the warm, colourful foods nature provides at this time such and pumpkins and squash which are rich in beta carotene and great for ovary health. Fermented foods are also great to eat at this time of year and are important for gut health.

Make the most of beautiful autumn days and focus on breathing and the lungs, topping up with your vitamin D levels to boost your immune system ready for the winter.

The energy of the lungs is all about “letting go”, so let go of grief and anger, repair old relationships or prune and cut out what you are not happy with in your life. This is the season to make the changes and prepare for the harvest!

Vegan diets and fertility

Increasingly women are becoming vegan for a lifestyle choice, but my concern here is for fertility. You need to manage your diet really carefully to get the right amount of protein as it’s not only your hormones and the neurotransmitters in your brain that need protein – eggs and sperm need it, too. High-quality protein, such as from lean meat and poultry, as well as fish, eggs and soya beans, contains all eight essential amino acids. These are biological catalysts that enable protein to break down and become what the body needs – be that muscle or other tissue, egg, sperm, neurotransmitter or hormone. Your body can’t manufacture these amino acids for itself (which is why they are essential), so they must come from your diet. Include one portion (about the size of your fist) of protein in every meal. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need a full range of plant proteins to ensure that you get all the essential amino acids.

Beans, leafy greens, pulses, nuts and seeds are all good  sources, and I’d also encourage you to use protein powders – including hemp, pea and sprouted-seed-based powders. Finally, be aware that you may be more prone to other nutritional deficiencies that can affect fertility – including low levels of iodine, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Supplement with a multivitamin and -mineral formula to make sure that you keep all your vitamin and mineral levels up, and you may also need to take a specific vitamin B12 supplement, too.

Pregnant from IVF… What next?

In this week’s Fertility Show, I’m talking about what happens after becoming pregnant from IVF.

Many of the women I see have had years of fertility issues, so naturally they know all about fertility, but not a huge amount about pregnancy.  So once you become pregnant from IVF, what do you do next?

It is important to try and manage your mindset through this difficult but exciting period so that pregnancy joy doesn’t give way to anxiety. Here are 3 tips to help you in the next steps of your journey:

  • Look after yourself: Taking time to rest and take it easy is essential in the first few months of pregnancy. Learning to relax as much as possible is the best way to take care of you and your baby.
  • Take care of your mind set: Try to find ways to stop the worry and anxiety you’re feeling. This could involve looking at deep breathing, meditation and counselling if you feel you need additional help.Also make sure you are registered with a GP early on so you know you have back up in case something goes wrong.  
  • Give into your cravings:  When you were going through IVF you were probably eating good things to nourish yourself, and when you become pregnant this shouldn’t stop. You might start having cravings for carbs and foods that aren’t always good for you. But it’s important that you give in to what your body craves because you will need carbs for energy and your diet will improve as time goes on.   

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0808 196 4060 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com