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

 

5 Commonly Asked Questions About IVF

In today’s episode of The Fertility Show, I’m answering the top five questions we get asked about IVF. As always, you’ll find your cheat sheet below.

  1. Is IVF an Emotional Rollercoaster?

Certainly it can be (although not always), but if you are prepared from the outset, you can help manage your emotions. Some women feel tired and emotionally fragile during treatment so building in time for yourself, to sleep well and nourish yourself you can enhance your energy. Mindfulness, hypnotherapy and meditation apps can also help with worry.

2. Are IVF injections painful?

Some are more painful than others, but during treatment, we show all women how to use and administer drugs correctly. There is also always someone to ask and offer you support and extra guidance.

3. Can you exercise during IVF?

We recommend gentle exercise when going through IVF – if you’re doing lots of exercise it will be diverting the blood away from the pelvic area.

4. Can eggs be improved before the IVF process?

Yes. The environment in which eggs grow in is affected by lifestyle, so improving your diet, cutting out alcohol, taking a multivitamin and mineral that contain folate and Omega 3 taking and eating well can all help improve egg quality.

5. How long does an IVF cycle last?

Generally, the same length of time that a woman’s natural cycle lasts, is two quite intensive weeks and then the dreaded ‘two week wait’ in which you are waiting to find out of if you are pregnant or not. It’s really important to try to manage your time through a cycle to be sure you’re not in a hurry at the same time as going for tests and scans, and have space to manage the two week wait.  

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

Dr Simone Rofena discusses ‘What Is Endometriosis?’

In today’s episode of  The Fertility Show, Dr Simone Rofena, our brilliant consultant in Reproductive Medicine, is answering a question that a lot of women as us at the clinic… ‘What is Endometriosis?’

Watch Dr Rofena talking more about Endometriosis in the video below:

As always, here’s your cheat sheet below:

What is Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (endometrium) is found in other parts of the body including the ovaries, fallopian tubes and in or around the bladder or bowel.

What are the most common symptoms of Endometriosis?

One of the most common signs of Endometriosis is period pains or painful intercourse, which might be the result of inflammation of the pelvic organs. Other symptoms include feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or difficulty getting pregnant.

What are the different stages of Endometriosis?

There are several degrees of Endometriosis from very mild to moderate to severe. It can be treated through medicines or surgery, either of which can help patients conceive either naturally or through IVF.

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