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Natural health solutions for menopause problems

9 Natural health tips to support menopause

9 Natural Health Tips to Support Menopause

Every woman's journey through perimenopause and menopause is unique, but it can be a challenging time for many of us. It can physically and mentally take its toll as we experience any number of symptoms, including night sweats and hot flushes, disrupted sleep, fatigue, muscular and joint aches and pains, brain fog, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, skin changes, thinning hair, increased facial hair, weight gain and lowered sex drive. Mood swings, anxiety, and depression are also distinct realities for many women. Particularly in modern times, menopause can come with a lot of baggage.

We have to adjust to how our body changes, its capabilities altering over time. The ageing process can lead to feelings of inadequacy, a sense of mourning for lost youth and fading beauty. For women with children, and especially for women who haven't had them, menopause can represent an ending, leading to grief and a sense of loss. It's important to recognise that menopause isn't the issue. It's a natural transition. How menopause affects you depends on you. What's going on with you mentally and physically? How well are you looking after yourself and your needs? How's life? How are you spiritually and emotionally? All these things contribute to how you're affected by menopause.

All these factors determine how you manifest any illness or disease. If you are struggling with the hormonal shifts associated with perimenopause and menopause, treat it as a wake-up call. What do you need to change? You hold the healing power. You can take control of your health.

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Can Diet and Lifestyle Help with Uterine Fibroids?

Can Diet and Lifestyle Help with Uterine Fibroids?

Can Diet and Lifestyle Help with Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumours that grow in the wall of the uterus. Though typically small and symptomless, fibroids can cause pelvic pain, abdominal swelling and heavy menstrual bleeding, and are believed to affect around 50% of women of reproductive age.

Fibroids tend to shrink post-menopause, and with that, symptoms – where present – typically ease. Treatment for uterine fibroids usually includes medication to relieve symptoms (including NDAIDs), and in the worst cases, a hysterectomy may be recommended.

Lifestyle and diet can also play a key role in the treatment of uterine fibroids, and in recent years several online communities have sprung up to share information and advice about managing the condition.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at natural treatments for uterine fibroids.

Vitamin D

There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D could be beneficial for those with uterine fibroids.

In one double-blind clinical trial performed in 2019, for instance, vitamin D deficient patients were treated with 50,000 IU of vitamin D on a fortnightly basis for ten weeks, with their results compared to a placebo group.

After the trial ended, vitamin D level were predictably significantly higher in the group that had received supplementation.

Importantly, though, the size of their fibroids had also significantly decreased as compared to placebo group (52.58 vs 61.11 mm, respectively).

The study built upon previous in vivo and in vitro studies that demonstrated vitamin D’s inhibitive effect on uterine fibroid growth. What’s more, vitamin D3 supplements were said to be more effective for this purpose than sun exposure.

As with many poor health outcomes, a link between vitamin D deficiency and uterine fibroids has been underscored.

Weight Loss

Risk for uterine fibroids can correlate with weight. According to one BMJ paper, the risk increases by 21% for each 10kg increase. This may be due to the fact that fat cells produce large amounts of estrogen.

Another paper from 2019 showed that “visceral fat area (VFA), body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, waist circumference, waist?height ratio and waist?hip ratio were positively correlated with the incidence rate of uterine fibroids,” with VFA and body fat correlating with the size of fibroids – albeit the correlation was said to be relatively weak.

The take-home? Maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk.

Birth Control

Because fibroids are hypersensitive to hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, birth control pills can cause fibroids to grow in size.

This is why doctors will often advise fibroid patients to stop taking birth control pills, though paradoxically, the same pills may help to manage a common symptom (namely, heavy bleeding).

Low-dose hormonal birth control pills are another option, including low-estrogen and progestin-only pills.

Needless to say, your GP is the best person to speak to about contraception.

Diet

Research into dietary influences on the development of uterine fibroids is ongoing. Some papers suggest that an abundance of red meat sets the stage for fibroids, though conversely, there also appears to be a link between animal-derived Vitamin A (eggs, meat, cheese, liver, cod, kidney) and reduced risk.

Alcohol consumption also appears to be a risk factor, while green vegetables, fruit, fish and green tea have protective effects.

Ultimately, you are best served avoiding highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates and choosing natural alternatives: fresh produce, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, omega-3 rich fish and mostly white meat.

Related10 Portions of Fruit and Veg to Live Longer

Conclusion

Because fibroids are hypersensitive to hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, birth control pills can cause fibroids to grow in size.

Uterine fibroids are incredibly common, and as such, there is no reason to be unduly concerned if you are diagnosed. Fibroids can be as small as a grain of rice or as big as a grapefruit.

The fact is, fibroids are non-cancerous and do not increase the risk of uterine cancer. In fact, two-thirds of fibroids aren’t large enough to be detected! They are usually caused by genetics and prolonged exposure to estrogen.

If you do experience bad symptoms, though, treatment could be necessary. Hopefully this article has provided some food for thought, though naturally you should discuss your options with your healthcare practitioner.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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How to Naturally Restore Vaginal pH and Solve Yeast Infection

How to Naturally Restore Vaginal pH and Solve Yeast Infection

How to Naturally Restore Vaginal pH and Solve Yeast Infection

Itching, burning sensations or strange discharge can result if your vaginal pH is out of balance. This is important because the pH of your vagina is designed to be slightly acidic to ward off infection. If it becomes too alkaline, you could experience discomfort down there.

The scientific term for a dysbiosis in your vaginal pH is “bacterial vaginosis.” It’s also referred to as a yeast infection in some circles. A disturbed vaginal pH can lead to inflammation and infection. Either way, if you’re experiencing discomfort, you need to quickly change a few lifestyle factors to bring things back in line. The good news is that you can do this quickly, cheaply and easily.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a normal vaginal pH is; how stress can impact your vaginal pH; factors that can cause an imbalance to your natural pH levels; as well as tips and tricks to naturally restore your vaginal pH.

What’s a Normal Vaginal pH?

pH means the ‘potential of hydrogen’ and it measures how acidic or alkaline things are.

Seven is considered neutral while a higher pH is alkaline and a lower pH is acidic. The pH of your vagina is slightly acidic and should be in the range between pH 3.8 – 4.5. 

RelatedHow to Maintain or Restore a Healthy Body pH Balance

Can Stress Throw Off Your pH Balance?

For sure! All types of stress impact your health, including vaginal health. When you get stressed out psychologically, then the hormone cortisol is released.

This is problematic when it comes to prolonged or chronic stress. When we’re under a lot of stress, our fight-or-flight hormones surge, which can put us at risk for a plethora of infections. Including infections of the genitalia. 

Similar to other parts of your body, like the gut, your vagina is teeming with bacteria designed to keep your private parts healthy. Stress can alter the microbes in all areas of your body, throwing the delicate pH of your vagina out of whack. 

Take time out of your day to de-stress by meditating, walking in nature, exercising, deep breathing or listening to your favourite music. 

RelatedDuring Stressful Times, Reach for a Drink – Of Water

Probiotics and Microbes for pH Balance

“The vagina contains more bacteria than anywhere else in the body after the bowel, but the bacteria are there for a reason.” – Professor Ronnie Lamont, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Interestingly, the bacteria in the vagina can produce a naturally occurring antibiotic known as bacteriocins. Creating a natural defence system to ward off invading bacteria.

It’s important that your good bacteria outnumber the bad, to ensure that your vagina will have ample protection against foreign bacteria.

The main micro-organism that keeps your vaginal pH within the natural range is lactobacilli

Learn moreNature’s 5 Best Defences Against Harmful Bacteria

7 Things That Throw Off Your pH Balance

We’re all about practical tips in this blog, but before we get to recommendations, let’s take a closer look at some things that can throw your pH balance out of whack.

1. Sperm and vaginal pH

Semen is alkaline, with a pH of between pH 7-8. While the vagina is acidic. This mismatch means that sperm could alter vaginal pH levels and cause dysbiosis. 

2. Periods and tampon use

Menstrual blood is more alkaline than the vagina, therefore should be allowed to leave the body swiftly. Tampons soak up everything, including good bacteria. Leaving the vagina dry and susceptible to infection.

Healthier options include using a menstrual cup or a vaginal pH balancing tampon. 

3. Antibiotics

As we’ve discussed, the vagina is home for a large number of bacteria. As such, antibiotic use can throw your pH out of balance. Both in your gut and in your vagina, because antibiotics decimate microbial populations. 

Related: Antibiotics Are Not the Answer: Thoughts on the Coming ‘Apocalypse’

4. Menopause and vaginal pH

During the menopause, many people struggle with UTIs. This is due to a change in estrogen levels. In fact, one 2014 study found that vaginal pH could be a marker for the menopause. They measured follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in 173 women and found that menopausal women had a more alkaline pH.

5. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

The pH of your vagina may make a UTI more likely. Reduced estrogen levels in women going through the menopause can lead to developing a UTI. Having a high pH doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop a UTI. It’s simply that the lack of protection from the good bacteria could put you at greater risk of developing a UTI.

6. Clothing and hygiene

Wearing tight pants or trousers can encourage the growth of bad bacteria in the vagina. Also making sure that you wipe yourself front to back after going to the loo can help prevent bad bacteria from entering the vagina. 

7. Douching 

Douching is the practice of cleaning the vagina with water or soap. The vagina is self-cleaning and shouldn’t be interfered with. Despite this, one in five women douche. Douching has been linked to vaginal infections, an overgrowth of bad bacteria, a reduction in good bacteria, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and even trouble conceiving. 

Related: Alkaline Antioxidant Water: Hype or Does the Science Back It Up?

4 Tips to Restore Your Vaginal pH Naturally

We did promise some practical tips, didn’t we?

1. Consume more probiotics

The good bacteria Lactobacilli is an abundant microbe in the vagina. The probiotic Lactobacilli is found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh. It is also available as a probiotic supplement.

2. Garlic

Both garlic and garlic tablets contain an antioxidant compound called allicin. One study of 120 women found that consuming garlic tablets twice a day was effective against vaginal yeast infection. 

3. Relaxation

As discussed above, stress can exacerbate vaginal yeast infections. As such, finding ways to de-stress and relax is vital in balancing your vaginal pH. Why not take a bath, listen to soothing music, do some yoga or meditate to calm your nervous system.

4. Wear breathable underwear, loose clothing

Clean breathable underwear can help the good bacteria proliferate because bad bacteria will grow and take over when you wear tight pants. 

The Bottom Line

A yeast infection can drive you mad. But the good news is that it’s relatively easy to restore your vaginal pH and avoid discomfort.

One of the most impactful ways to restore your vaginal pH is to balance the microbial environment. The pH of your vagina should be slightly acidic and can be encouraged to reset by taking probiotics, de-stressing and wearing breathable clothing.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more

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four people walking

12 Tips for Calming Menopausal Mood Swings, Anxiety, Depression

12 Tips for Calming Menopausal Mood Swings, Anxiety, Depression

While it can start sooner for some women (known as premature menopause), the menopause tends to happen anywhere between the ages of 40 and 58, and in the UK the average age is 51. It is preceded by the perimenopause which lasts between four to ten years, as your ovaries gradually start producing less oestrogen and your body transitions towards menopause.

In the final phase of perimenopause (roughly one to two years), the oestrogen decline accelerates, and it is during this time that some women may experience more noticeable menopausal symptoms. Once your ovaries stop releasing eggs and you haven't had a period for a year, you are officially diagnosed as menopausal.

However, it's not uncommon for some women to have one or a few periods after this time and for them, it might be more appropriate to diagnose them as menopausal after two years without a period. The postmenopausal phase is the years after menopause, and it's during this time that menopausal symptoms may ease.

Postmenopause women are more at risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease due to lower oestrogen levels.

We are all different, and not all women will have the same experience of perimenopause and menopause. Some can breeze right through it, while others can struggle. Aside from irregular periods, common symptoms include night sweats and hot flashes, disrupted sleep, muscular and joint aches and pains, brain fog, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, skin changes, thinning hair, increased facial hair and lowered sex drive.

For many women, menopausal mood swings, anxiety, and depression are a challenging and unexpected reality, and that's what we'll be discussing in this article.

Mood swings & anxiety during perimenopause, menopause


Dealing with the menopause while still carrying on with commitments, family, and work can add a significant layer of stress to daily life. It can often coincide with other major life events like coming to terms with children leaving home, caring for ageing parents, or dealing with teenager issues. 

This is a hugely transitional time affecting a woman not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually. While some women welcome menopause, others can find it a painful time as they mourn the end of their childbearing years, grapple with changes in their appearance and any physical changes.

It’s a time when many women naturally evaluate their life, what they’ve achieved, the choices they’ve made and where they are at. It’s not unusual to reflect on where you want to go from here and what your true purpose is in life. 

It’s understandable then that many women find the mental-emotional symptoms of menopause just as challenging as any physical symptoms they may experience. This can be a very stressful time leading to increased irritability where you can quickly fly off the handle. You might find that you are more sensitive and emotional and frequently feel teary or more upset than usual.

If you’re prone to anxiety, you may find this increases with perimenopause and menopause. You might regularly suffer from anticipatory anxiety, feel a sense of unease, worry, tension, panic or fear.

Depression is also a genuine and unpleasant symptom for some women going through the menopause, added to which lack of sleep due to night sweats and hormonal changes can affect your mood, adding to feelings of stress and contributing to mood swings. 

Part and parcel of all these menopausal symptoms, you may also experience feelings of distraction, racing thoughts, trouble concentrating and indecisiveness. All this stress can exacerbate or bring on sleeplessness, tiredness and fatigue, digestive problems, headaches and changes in appetite.

If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, there are some natural ways you can help overcome them. By implementing them, you may find that many of these symptoms ease, life becomes more tolerable, and you start to feel happier again.

Here are 12 ways to naturally calm your moods during menopause.

1) Balance your blood sugar levels


Prolonged stress and anxiety take their toll on the adrenals, affecting hormones and blood sugar balance. When your blood sugar levels are out of whack, your mood is affected. This creates a vicious cycle of mood swings and irritability. It can also aggravate other menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and have far-reaching adverse effects on your overall health. 

In a nutshell, you need to cut excess sugar out of your diet – this includes simple carbs like white bread, rice and pasta as well as sugary snacks and treats. You need to start checking ingredients lists for added sugar in condiments and any processed or packaged foods. Better still, avoid packaged and processed foods altogether.

Exchange simple carbs for complex whole-grain versions (brown rice, bread, pasta) and eat other whole grains like oats, quinoa and buckwheat. 

Add healthy protein to every meal; along with whole grains this helps to slow the sugar release from your foods, balancing your glucose levels. Healthy proteins include oily and other fish, shellfish, lean meat, eggs and dairy.

When consuming any animal foods, eating organic, grass-fed and free-range is best. High protein vegetables include mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, sweetcorn, peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes. 

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Along with whole grains, these provide lots of fibre which also helps to regulate blood sugar. Hydration is hugely important as it can also help to control your blood sugar levels.

For more in-depth information on how to keep your blood sugar (and hormones) in check, click here.

2) Manage your stress


Postmenopause, oestrogen levels are roughly a third of what they were before. As you proceed through perimenopause and menopause, your ovaries gradually produce decreasing amounts, and you become more reliant on your adrenals to make much of that remaining oestrogen.

When you’re stressed, your adrenals release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. If you are chronically stressed, your adrenals can start to take a pounding as they don’t get the chance to come back into balance and replenish. The consequence? You become depleted in minerals like magnesium and B vitamins, which all help you to cope with the adverse effects of stress.

You have chronically high cortisol which messes with your blood sugar, and your hormone balance is affected. You start to feel tired and worn out, suffer from insufficient sleep, and blood pressure can rise. So managing stress is essential for the sake of your sanity, your hormones, your stress response, your mood and energy. 

Here’s the good news: all the suggestions in this article will help to support your adrenals and stress response! For more ways to effectively de-stress, click here.

3) Stock up on B vitamins


These play a vital role in how you cope with stress and anxiety and can quickly become depleted, particularly during difficult times.

B vitamins, including B12, help produce brain chemicals that affect mood. Vitamin B6 modulates adrenal activity and the stress response. Vitamin B5 is essential for energy production that enables optimal adrenal function. (Remember that you’ll be relying more heavily on your adrenals to produce oestrogen as you go through the menopause, so you need to look after them).  

It is essential to replenish your B vitamins daily to help carry you through this time. Eat these foods often: Wild Atlantic salmon and mackerel, sardines, cod, dark green leafy vegetables, parsley, broccoli, beetroot, turnips, asparagus, romaine lettuce, lentils, bell peppers, eggs, oats, full fat organic live yogurt, brussels sprouts, and peas.

You could also consider taking a good quality vitamin B complex supplement.

RelatedA Comprehensive Guide to Vitamin B

4) Start journaling


Help clear your mind, regain clarity and lift your mood by getting thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper.

When you’re chewing over worries, or coming to terms with challenging ideas, feelings and situations, they can become overworked in your mind, and you can end up feeling worse. It can calm your mind for a better night’s sleep, help to offload overworked thoughts and create time for quiet reflection, allowing you to work through any issues.

You can also take the time to practice gratitude. Write down any recent conversations, experiences or acts of kindness you’ve experienced and appreciated, no matter how small. Focusing on these things can help to shift your perspective and show you all the things that are working in your life.

5) Consume enough magnesium


Magnesium is an essential mineral that is crucial for numerous processes in your body. Among its many uses, magnesium helps to calm the nervous system, regulate mood and relieve feelings of anxiety. It may also help to ease depression and can help improve insomnia.

It’s relatively common to have low magnesium, and prolonged depletion can lead to an increased risk of chronic illness. 

Magnesium is known as an essential mineral as we don’t store it in our bodies. So your body relies on you getting enough through food.

As it performs many tasks, we use a lot of magnesium. Because it plays such a vital role in the stress response, when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed out, you can quickly drain precious magnesium supplies as your need for it is increased. 

Research shows a link between reduced magnesium levels and raised anxiety. As magnesium plays such an essential role in brain function, mood regulation and the stress response, if you are perimenopausal or menopausal and are suffering from any mood disorder, you need to increase your magnesium uptake now, more than ever. 

Bank some magnesium whenever you can by eating foods like dark green leafy vegetables, okra, avocado, mackerel, halibut, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and bananas. You might also consider taking a supplement – the safe upper limit for magnesium is 400mg. If you do supplement, take it as part of a healthy balanced diet, full of magnesium-rich foods as you won’t absorb it all.


As already mentioned, you also need to focus on B vitamins to help cope with stress and anxiety and balance hormones. Vitamin B6 enhances the absorption of magnesium, getting more of it to get into your cells. Salmon, chicken, lean red meat, sweet potatoes, potatoes, avocados, bananas and pistachio nuts are all rich in vitamin B6.

NB – As an aside, as your oestrogen drops, you’re more at risk of osteoporosis, and you also need magnesium to help keep your bones healthy and strong).

6) Don't skip meals


Skipping meals can negatively impact your mood, energy and other physical symptoms. It messes with your blood sugar and can affect hormone balance.

So, if you’re struggling with mood swings, irritability, anxiety, low mood or depression, be sure you eat three meals a day, eating healthy protein and fats with every single one.

7) Eat healthy fats, especially oily fish


Your brain is around 60% fat, so eating adequate amounts of healthy fats is essential for balancing mood.

Healthy omega-3 fats, particularly the EPA and DHA found in oily fish, are critical for healthy brain function, and low levels are linked to depression. Oily fish include sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring and you should try to eat these three times a week for adequate amounts of EPA and DHA. If you’d rather, you could take a daily fish oil supplement.

Be sure to include other healthy fats in your daily diet to feed your brain and balance mood like shellfish, walnuts, chia seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds, egg yolks and avocados.

8) Relax


Creating some regular ‘me’ time to unwind and relax is crucial. Find something that suits you and make more time for it. It could be reading, listening to your favourite music, taking a walk, spending time in nature, or doing some yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.

Gentle exercise such as swimming might also help you to relax, as well as massage, reflexology, or acupuncture. Take your pick of all the fantastic relaxation opportunities to be had.

9) Look after your gut health


Looking after your gut health is also crucial when it comes to improving anxiety, stress and depression, as the gut and brain are very closely connected. Brain and mood can affect gut health and vice versa.

We have lots of information about gut health on our blog but to start with, check out this article on the link between anxiety and gut problems and how to help resolve them.

If you want a deep dive, stick on the kettle then get stuck into this piece.

10) Eat foods high in zinc


Zinc is vital for normal brain function, memory and learning, and regulating your mood. Low levels are linked to depression. Zinc aids hormone balance and also plays a role in the synthesis, storage, and secretion of insulin which helps with blood sugar balance. 

During menopause, you’re likely to pull more heavily on your zinc resources. Like magnesium, our bodies don’t store zinc, and we need to replenish it continually. You need to stock up daily by consuming lots of zinc-rich foods including oysters and other seafood like mussels, shrimp and crab, beans, nuts including almonds and pine nuts, and leg meat from chicken and turkey as well as lean red meat.

Also eat seeds including pumpkin and hemp seeds, lentils, eggs, oats, quinoa and whole wheat.

11) Pack in the vitamin C


Vitamin C can help reduce your physical and mental response to stress, and its antioxidant powers decrease the inflammatory free radicals stress, depression and anxiety produces. It also helps regulate cortisol and blood pressure.

Excellent sources of vitamin C include yellow, red and green peppers, leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, mixed berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas and papaya.

12) Get good sleep

The hormonal fluctuations associated with perimenopause and menopause can play havoc with your sleep. Poor sleep is also associated with increased stress, anxiety and depression.

Following the suggestions in this article will all help to balance hormones and moods and encourage a good night’s sleep. Cutting down on alcohol and caffeine can aid sleep, too. If you are struggling, stop drinking alcohol close to bedtime as it can disrupt your shuteye.

If you’re suffering from night sweats and hot flashes, wear lightweight, loose-fitting bedclothes, keep a window open and a glass of water by your bedside. If you are experiencing hot flashes, cut out any triggers like alcohol, caffeine, spicy food and smoking.

Stress can also contribute to hot flashes, so follow all the advice in this article if that sounds like you. 

Conclusion

Mood swings, anxiety and depression are common perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. For many women, menopause coincides with other life events like children leaving home, which can exacerbate these symptoms. Moving out of your childbearing years and into a new phase is a transition that can carry a lot of emotion. It can be a time of reflection and life reevaluation and can be very challenging. 

Though there may be a lot to come to terms with and accept during this time, it can also be a catalyst for extraordinary change. Many women find it transformative and empowering. In their wisdom, they discover that they are happier and more fulfilled in their 50s and 60s than at any other stage in life.

If you are suffering from fluctuating and low moods or anxiety, stick to the tips mentioned in this article, and you should hopefully feel a positive difference!

Always try to maintain a balanced, varied whole food diet so that you can get all the nutrients you need during this time. It can be tempting to isolate yourself and your emotions when you’re feeling low. If that’s the case for you, don’t spend too much time in solitude. Socialise regularly, and talk it out with friends and family. Be sure to spend quality time in uplifting company and remember to have a laugh.

If your problems persist and you are struggling, don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your GP or a health professional of choice. 

By Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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woman holding her baby close

5 Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby and Mother

5 Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby and Mother

Breastfeeding is a topic often under discussion, with people having varying opinions and attitudes on the subject. Every aspiring parent must at one point think about how they will approach this vital stage of their child’s development, making whether or not to breastfeed a question commonly pondered by young parents.

Although circumstances may force some parents or caregivers to substitute breast milk with other nutrition sources such as infant formula, it is advisable that children be breastfed for at least their first six months.

The importance of the breastfeeding process to both infant and mother goes beyond mere nutritional benefits. The availability of equipment such as breast pumps, meanwhile, makes it possible for the child to benefit from breast milk without having to be breastfed.

Below you'll find five science-based advantages that breastfed children have over their bottle-fed counterparts.

1. An Ideal Source of Nutrition for Babies


According to medical experts, the recommended length of time is six months of exclusive breastfeeding, after which breastfeeding should continue for at least one year with the gradual introduction of other foods.

Breast milk contains the necessary nutrients required for the development of the infant especially in the first month, with their composition changing as per the changing needs of the baby.

In the first days after birth, the breast milk is produced with lots of colostrum; a thick and yellowish fluid high in proteins and other beneficial compounds which helps in the development of the infant’s rather immature digestive tract.

After the digestive system is developed, the breast now starts to produce milk with lower colostrum in larger amounts for the development and growth of the baby.

2. Breast Milk Contains Important Antibodies


In addition to vital nutrients, breast milk also equips the baby with important antibodies that help in boosting their immunity.

Colostrum – the first milk containing high protein, other nutrients and low sugar – is a source of large quantities of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and other important antibodies.

After the mother is exposed to pathogens like bacteria and viruses, antibodies are produced which are then secreted in breast milk and passed on to the infant.

The IgA produced forms a protective layer around the throat, digestive system and nose of the baby, shielding them from any pathogens that could cause illnesses.

While baby formula may contain some of the nutrients required by the developing infant, it does not contain antibodies. For this reason, breastfed babies are less vulnerable to health issues such as diabetes, cancer, pneumonia and other infections.

3. Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Disease


Especially true of exclusive breastfeeding – where only breast milk is given to the baby – there is a long list of health benefits experienced by breastfed babies.

Below are some diseases and illnesses whose likelihood of occurrence is highly reduced by breastfeeding according to PubMed Central:

• Respiratory tract infections: A baby breastfed for more than four months has a reduced risk of being hospitalised due to these infections by up to 72%.

• Middle ear infections: More than three months of breastfeeding exclusively reduces the risk of these infections by 50%, whereas breastfeeding together with other foods reduces it by 23%.

• Gut infections: The risk of gut infections is reduced by up to 64%, with these reductions evident for up to two months after the baby is weaned.

• Colds and infections: There is a lower risk – up to 63% reduction – of babies exclusively breastfed for six months getting colds and throat or ear infections.

• Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): In the first month after breastfeeding, there is a 50% reduced chance of the baby suffering from SIDS, while for the first year the risk is reduced by 36%.

On top of the reduced risk of the aforementioned diseases, breast milk also limits their severity.

Related: The Benefits of Probiotics During Pregnancy to Mother and Child

4. Breastfeeding Helps with Weight Maintenance

A baby that is breastfed will gain weight in a healthy manner, reducing the likelihood of childhood obesity. According to studies, babies raised on formula have a 15-30% higher chance of childhood obesity than their breastfed counterparts.

The duration of breastfeeding is also an important factor, with the likelihood of childhood obesity reducing by 4% for each month the baby feeds on breast milk.

The healthy weight gain could be explained in terms of the beneficial gut bacteria – breastfed babies have a higher number, improving their fat storage. Breastfeeding also increases the amount of leptin, an important hormone for the regulation of fat storage and appetite in the system.

Babies who have been breastfed have a greater ability to regulate their intake of foods. They are better adapted to limiting their eating only to the satisfaction of hunger, a healthy eating pattern which reduces their risk of being overweight.

Related: Seven Great Ways to Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

5. Breastfeeding Makes Children Smarter

The brains of breastfed babies develop differently from those of formula-fed infants. This is explained in terms of the intimacy, eye contact and physical touch associated with the process.

Studies also indicate that breastfed babies have higher intelligence scores and a lower likelihood of exhibiting behavioural and developmental problems.

These effects are especially evident in preterm babies who have a predisposition to developmental issues.

Related: Autism in Infants – Signs, Symptoms and Suggested Solutions

Conclusion

We hope we have demonstrated that there are numerous reasons why you should breastfeed your baby, if you have a chance. The effects are not limited to the infant either, as mothers who breastfeed experience a higher rate of weight loss and reduced stress levels, among other benefits.

Mothers or caregivers unable to breastfeed should not worry, however, since they could use breast pumps to give the baby access to much-needed breast milk.

The current official UK advice states that women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from before pregnancy up to 12 weeks, and 10mcg of vitamin D daily throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. While folic acid helps reduce the risks of birth defects such as spina bifida, vitamin D improves bone and muscle health in mother and baby.

Author bio: Marie Burke is an employee of O’Flynn Medical, one of Ireland’s biggest healthcare equipment providers. They provide healthcare advice and services to both the commercial and private sector.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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pregnant woman

Probiotics During Pregnancy: The Benefits to Mother and Child

Probiotics During Pregnancy: The Benefits to Mother and Child

Nothing is more magical than a child being born.

But something equally spectacular and significant happens in the time before a newborn baby completes its journey out of the birthing canal.

This spectacular event – one that cannot be seen – is where human microbial organisms are introduced to humans: in other words, when a newborn's microbiome (the collection of resident microorganisms living on and inside the human body) is formed.

It is the microbiome which provides the blueprint of future health for each brand-new human life.

Probiotics for Children: Building a Microbiome from Scratch


Much attention has been paid to the microbiome in recent years; its vital role in immune health, mental health, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), skin health, bone strength, fertility and many other named conditions has been firmly demonstrated by scientific data.

One common thread is invariably discussed – make the gut microbiome a happy and balanced place and the health issue at hand can improve and, in some instances, reverse itself completely.

But one question which isn’t considered is: where did the garden of good and bad bacteria that is the microbiome first originate?

For many years it was believed that babies were born with a sterile gut, with the very first transferring of bacteria occurring when the baby was born via the birth canal.

But new research has challenged this. Studies carried out on mice pups found that they had bacterial strains in their meconium (the first faeces a newborn passes) which are usually passed within the first few hours of life outside the womb.

Either way, what is increasingly evident is that the state of a mother’s health – especially her microbiome health status – holds significant importance when it comes to laying the foundations for health of all of her children.

After all, this is where the bacterial strains in the first stool would have come from in the aforementioned study.

Probiotics While Pregnant: Changing Microbiome Status to Positive


After decades of modern medicine showing it is nothing more than a plaster or crutch at best – as it rarely offers a true cure – the only way forward if we want to live our longest and best life is to carry out preventative medicine.

And for many integrative doctors, paying close attention to balancing the microbiome is exactly what is giving patients positive results.

Every human has their own unique microbiome which is influenced by multiple factors. Not limited to but including (as we have seen) a mother’s microbiome health from conception to birth; the type of birth; whether we were breastfed or bottle-fed; the type of diet we ate as a child and onwards; our mental and physical stress; and where and how we live, including any addictive habits we have i.e. smoking, drinking alcohol.

So although truly balancing the microbiome comes in many forms depending on the individual, the same close attention functional doctors pay to balancing the microbiome should be paid to a mother’s before she conceives, as part of her preconception plan.

A preconception plan is something every woman should take part in to help iron out as many health issues as possible, preventing them being passed on to her children.

Also, a preconception plan is used to help build up a mother’s health and ensure she is in the strongest state possible during her pregnancy and beyond.

Interestingly, research suggests that changes in the good and bad bacteria balance happen daily, and therefore choosing a sugary chocolate bar over a hearty chicken, spinach and quinoa salad will have a direct effect on your overall health, not just your waistline.

Probiotic Use Lowers Pre-Eclampsia and Premature Birth Risk

According to observational research published in the journal BMJ Open in 2018, consuming probiotics during pregnancy reduced the risk of both pre-eclampsia (a condition in which the mother’s body experiences an aggressive inflammatory response) and premature birth.

The study encompassed over 70,000 pregnant mothers in Norway over a nine-year period (1999-2008).

What the researchers discovered was that timing was crucially important: probiotic intake correlated with a 20% lower risk of pre-eclampsia, but only when consumed during late pregnancy.

Furthermore, a notable association came to light between probiotic intake during early pregnancy and an 11% lower risk of premature birth. The figure rose to 27% for preterm birth late in the pregnancy.

Although no definite conclusions could be drawn due to the study’s observational nature, and indeed researchers did not track strain viability or shelf life, it mightn’t be long before probiotics are suggested as a public health measure to help reduce instances of these adverse pregnancy outcomes.

After all, there are no known risks from taking probiotics during pregnancy.

On the topic of pre-eclampsia, incidentally, another new study from Holland suggests women with severe pre-eclampsia should have their blood pressure closely monitored for a year after giving birth, since high blood pressure can remain undetected.

The study of 200 women found 17.5% had masked hypertension. What is interesting to note is that probiotics can also help to reduce blood pressure, providing the dose is sufficiently strong.

The long and short of it: probiotics were shown to lower diastolic blood pressure by an average of 2.38mm Hg, with the greatest benefit coming from a daily dose exceeding 100 billion.

Only a handful of probiotic supplements offer such a mega-dose, and you often have to take 5 or 10 capsules per day to achieve it. However, Progurt probiotics contain 1 trillion CFU in every sachet. Just disperse in water and drink to enjoy the benefits.

Probiotics for Post-Partum Depression?


Some probiotic strains have even been linked with improved post-partum depression symptoms.

This is not such a great surprise, when you come to think of it: the network of 100 million neurons lining is our guts is so complex that scientists refer to it as the Second Brain.

It gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘gut feeling’. Your enteric nervous system – the name given to the neural network – is certainly involved in perception, and just as our brain informs the gut, our emotions are undoubtedly influenced by signalling in the digestive tract.

Around 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin is actually located in the bowels, and its effect on mood, appetite, sleep and sexual desire is well documented.

Probiotics for Eczema


In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 433 studies involving over 1.5 million subjects, it was found that children who had been exposed to probiotic supplements – either directly via a supplemental formula or via the mother’s diet while pregnant or breastfeeding – were 22% less likely to get eczema.

In other words, there were 44 fewer cases of eczema per 1,000 children. However, it was unclear which strains of probiotic bacteria were used; the dosages were also unrecorded.

Nevertheless, researchers concluded by stating that, in their view, “current infant-feeding guidance needs revision.”

Your Gut is Alive and Ready for Balancing with Probiotics

The reason you are so easily able to disrupt your microbiome is because it is alive. Alive with real living organisms, as this is ultimately what microorganisms are.

Our microbiome is constantly growing and changing the order of the living strains to reflect whatever we feed it.

The more we feed it the food it prefers (usually clean, healthy, sugar-free food), and supplement with probiotics where necessary, the more good bacteria will grow vs. pathogenic bacteria that flourishes when we eat unhealthy food, expose ourselves to toxins and so on.

This is good news and can be used to our advantage. You have the power in your hands to create a healthy microbiome sooner than you realise, that you will then pass on to your future offspring.

Conclusion

By making some simple diet and lifestyle changes, and adhering to them long-term, you give the microbiome a chance to re-populate with more good bacteria. This will in turn set the scene for increased positive health for the next generations, which is the biggest gift we can give to our children.

It is absolutely vital that every mother has a healthy gut before, during and after pregnancy: put simply, it is the best way to set your baby up for lifelong health.

As research shows, it will also help the mother recover from illness quicker and help to keep her strong. As well as help positively influence a child’s behaviour as they grow.

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Why the Spectrum of Omega-3s are Vital for Women’s Health

Why the Spectrum of Omega-3s are Vital for Women’s Health

Omega-3 fatty acids have been credited with a number of health benefits, including heart health, cognitive function and proper growth and development in children.

But many women tend to shy away from any type of fat in fear of gaining weight. It has long been established that “good” fats won’t make you gain weight the way refined sugar will, yet many women remain deficient in omega-3s.

Here’s why you can’t afford to skip out on the good fats if you’re a woman.

Women’s Health and Omega-3 Fatty Acids


Omega-3 deficiency doesn’t just cause you to miss out on having gorgeous skin and hair; it also increases your risk of heart disease.

According to recently published researchapproximately 70 percent of middle-aged German women are at an increased risk of heart disease due to their low omega-3 levels. The study also found that 97.3% of the women in the study had omega-3 levels below the recommended 8 percent threshold to fight off chronic disease, making them more susceptible to illness just because they were lacking in one nutrient.

Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for building a strong female body. According to a study published in Obstetrical and Gynecology Surveyomegas-3’s are precursors of hormones in the female body, including eicosanoids, which are needed to prevent chronic diseases in women.

The study also stated that omega-3 fatty acids are important constitutes of all cell membranes in the body. Additionally they are needed to prevent dysmenorrhoeal and support fertility in women who have trouble getting pregnant by increasing blood flow to the uterus.

Supplementing with omega-3’s has been shown to reduce the risk of premature birth and can even support healthy foetal development by balancing the eicosaniods required for labour and improving placental blood flow, which is needed to deliver nutrition and oxygen to an unborn baby.

Nursing mothers who supplement with omega-3 fatty acids may help support their child’s brain development. Evidence also shows that omega-3 supplementation prevents preeclampsia, menopausal problems, postpartum depression and postmenopausal osteoporosis, according to the study.

Finally, omega-3 fatty acids have powerful effects on lowering triglyceride levels in women particularly, reducing the risk of heart disease. This is especially important for women who are receiving hormone therapy replacement, as it has been shown to increase the risk of some diseases.

The study recommends choosing a supplement with an appropriate antioxidant content so as to prevent lipid peroxidation, as well as a product that does not contain dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Plenty of information has been shared on omega-3s for health, but there are actually several types of omegas to be aware of. Although there are 11 different types of omega fatty acids, the three most important are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

1) ALA

The most common type of omega-3 fatty acid is ALA, which is found in plant foods such as spinach, kale, walnuts and chia and flaxseeds. It can also be found in some animal fats. ALA needs to be converted into EPA or DHA before the human body can utilise it. Several studies have shown that ALA reduces the risk of deaths due to heart disease.

2) EPA

The main function of EPAs are to form eicosanoids to assist in many roles, including the reduction of inflammation and prevention of disease. Fish oil containing EPA and DHA has been shown to reduce depressive symptomsOne study even suggests that EPA is better than DHA at reducing depression. It can be found naturally in salmon, herring and grass-fed animal products.

3) DHA

DHA is needed for proper brain development and function in both children and adults. Children who are deficient in DHA are more likely to develop learning disabilities, aggression, behavioural disorders, ADHA and hostility later in life.

DHA deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s diseaseAs heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide, DHA should be included in every woman’s diet as it has been shown to protect the heart by reducing cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.

Conclusion

Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency may include mood swings, poor memory and impaired concentration, heart problems, poor circulation and fatigue.

Luckily, the majority of these symptoms can be treated by taking a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as UnoCardio 1000 or UnoCardio X2.

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flaxseed and type 2 diabetes

Could The Lignans In Flaxseed Help Menopausal Women?

Although they are not always fun, women’s bodies go through several important changes during their lifetime. From puberty to pregnancy and breastfeeding to the time they stop menstruating, women are constantly being subjected to change.

Menopause is the age in which women stop being able to have babies. Her menstruation ceases and her body does not produce enough estrogen anymore. This can produce unwanted side effects that greatly interfere with a woman’s life.

Read on to find out how supplementing with flaxseed may be just the thing to help women make the transition as easy as possible.

What Happens During Menopause?

Women are born with close to two million eggs that are stored in the ovaries, but approximately 11,000 will die monthly prior to the time a woman hits puberty. By the time a woman is 30 years old, she will have lost approximately 90 percent of her eggs.

Because she will not make any more in her lifetime, there is some truth to the old saying that a woman’s biological clock is ticking! She releases one egg every month of her child bearing years. Once the eggs are gone, more cannot be made.

Menopause usually occurs in women over the age who of 40 in which the ovaries no longer release an egg every month in anticipation of getting pregnant. Despite some scary misconceptions, menopause is a natural part of a women’s life cycle!

There are three stages of natural menopause:

  1. Perimenopause occurs when the ovaries gradually start to make less estrogen, or the primary female sex hormone that is responsible for the development of a woman’s reproductive system. This generally occurs several years before menopause.
  2. Menopause is the point in which a woman stops having periods. A woman is considered to be in menopause when it has been one year since her last period. During menopause, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and make very little estrogen.
  3. Postmenopause occurs several years after menopause. This is the stage in which symptoms such as hot flashes are greatly reduced; however, the health related risks due to the loss of estrogen rise.
Symptoms of menopause include the following:
  • Hot flashes
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Headaches and muscle aches/pain
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Problems controlling bladder

Research Supports Flaxseed Lignan Benefits

Some studies have found through natural bio-identical supplementation (through things like lignans that are converted from plant oestrogen form to human oestrogen form if you like), this can help a women transition into menopause easier.

According to a 2002 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, supplementing with 40 grams of flaxseed is as effective as oral estrogen for improving mild symptoms of menopause.

Another study found that supplementing with flaxseed may be better than soy in terms of supplying an ideal amount of phytoestrogens such as lignans, which have been shown to produce hormonal effects that may reduce the symptoms of menopause.

The study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that supplementing with flaxseed modified urinary estrogen excretion to a greater extent than did supplanting with an equal amount of soy, meaning that flaxseed helps the body hang on to its estrogen levels better than soy.

A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Nutrition found that lignans were able to significantly reduce hot flash frequency in postmenopausal women. The study found that even women who were given a low dosage of lignans experienced a 44 percent decrease in the average number of hot flashes they experienced per week. The study also found that supplementing with lignans was safe. No changes in blood counts, blood chemistry, or kidney or liver functions were found in these subjects.

Supplementing With Flaxseed Powder

Flaxseeds offer the highest amount of lignans in commercial available food, so they are a great choice for menopausal women looking to reduce the side effects of this stage in their life. Other foods that are high in lignans include the following:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Berries
  • Pumpkin seeds
Try sprinkling some pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds on your salad at lunch or dinner. A berry smoothie in the morning with some kale will get you an extra helping of lignans. You can also try adding some flaxseed powder to your favorite baked goods and recipes.
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Relief from Back Pain and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - Some of Natasha Corrett's Benefits from Switching to an Alkaline Diet

Relief from Back Pain and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - Some of Natasha Corrett's Benefits from Switching to an Alkaline Diet

Relief from Back Pain and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - Some of Natasha Corrett's Benefits from Switching to an Alkaline Diet

Six years ago at age 26, gourmet cook Natasha Corrett discovered something that would energise her, help her lose weight, relieve some enduring health complaints, and revolutionise her life. At that time she was suffering from back pain, polycystic ovarian syndrome, exhaustion, and she was unhappy with her weight. After just one month on an alkaline diet, she had lost weight and her health had improved. Since then, she has never looked back. She has written several books with alkaline recipes and alkaline detoxification programs and she regularly blogs about the alkaline lifestyle.

The Alkaline Diet is Simple

The alkaline diet is a diet where one consumes 70 percent alkaline forming foods like vegetables, whole grains, some nuts and seeds, pulses, fruit, and herbal teas and the remaining 30 percent of the diet is made up of a combination of neutral or acidic foods like meat, dairy, eggs. One very effective way of obtaining your greens is by supplementing with Green Vibrance. Foods like gluten, sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, coffee, and all sodas are to be avoided on this diet due to them being extremely acidic and very stressful to the body.

The point behind eating in this way is to consume enough alkaline food to make it easy for one’s body to keep its blood and organs at a slightly alkaline level where research has found they function there best.

Why Does Natasha Corrett Follow an Alkaline Diet?

Unsurprisingly, after years of on-and-off dieting, Natasha's body no longer responded properly to food. When she cut the number of daily calories in her diet, her body simply slowed its metabolism and used fuel sparingly to accommodate for the loss of calories.

Accordingly, she could not lose weight on diets anymore. Even worse, when she was not dieting, her body simply continued its slow metabolism, which caused her to put on weight. For her, the alkaline diet immediately paid off, both in weight loss and in regulating her body's metabolism so that it once again burned enough food to prevent weight gain.

On the alkaline diet, she lost two stone and two dress sizes. Still, while she recognises that the diet does help one lose weight, she sees it, not as a quick-fix weight loss method, but as a long-term weight maintenance lifestyle, especially when paired with exercise. It is healthy habit-forming, so she has learnt to enjoy tasty but healthy food and no longer reaches for unhealthy snacks when she is hungry, tired or down.

Boost Your Mood & Energy Levels

Natasha says that she now has much more energy than before. This allows her to work and play harder and, together with exercise, helps her maintain a positive mood. So much of life is rendered unpleasant by negative emotions, self-doubt, poor self-esteem, and chronic fatigue that many people have forgotten how to be happy and enjoy their families and careers. Better still, the more one works and the better quality work one is able to do, the better one feels about oneself. The 70/30 lifestyle, hence, re-enforces itself because the energy and positive emotions that result from the healthy food translate into more energy and positive emotions.

Enjoy Really Delicious Healthy Food

In the past, Natasha struggled with the old dilemma of choosing between tasty unhealthy food and boring healthy food. For a professional chef, this can be an uncomfortable problem. However, she now says that she loves the food the alkaline diet promotes to eat.

Taste-wise, the worst aspect of popular low carbohydrate diets is the exclusion of whole grains, fruit, potatoes, and orange vegetables. This leaves one with primarily clean green vegetables which many people do not like much. The alkaline diet allows a far greater variety of foods, which makes it a lot easier to come up with genuinely tasty dishes.

Be Excited by New Ingredients

Moreover, meat and dairy encourage boring recipes because cooks load every main dish with meat, cream and cheese. There are so many more varieties of vegetables, nuts, and fruits than meats, however, so recipes are automatically more interesting.

Further, excessive sugar and salt blunts our taste buds until we can no longer enjoy foods that do not contain them. Once one abandons these, food that previously tasted bland suddenly comes to life. Eating alkaline also introduces a lot of herbs into a diet, with which no diet can be bland.

Astounding Results for Natasha’s PCOS & Back Pain

After some weeks on the alkaline diet, symptoms of Natasha's polycystic ovarian syndrome started to improve. Soon enough, acne, mood swings, and bloating were things of the past. She believed that the diet balanced her hormones and facilitated the repairs. Most cases of acne are, in fact, caused by hormonal imbalances, which is why so many skin creams and soaps are so ineffective while some contraceptive pills work so well.

It is uncontroversial that dieting can affect one’s hormonal balance; diabetes, for example, which is a major disorder of the endocrine or hormonal system, is caused primarily by unhealthy eating. It is for these reasons no doctor can dismiss a patient with these health conditions giving the healthy alkaline diet a try, even if it is tried alongside conventional treatment.

Natasha also claims that her battles with muscle spasms and back pain are over. Many people struggle with muscle pain, often as a result of stress. From her own testimony, this was clearly a big problem in her life. Physically, the alkaline diet allowed her muscles to relax, but her improved energy levels also helped her to be more productive and positive, which addressed the causes of the stress.

So Much Improvement to Health in Such Little Time

When looking at before-and-after pictures of herself, Natasha believes the alkaline lifestyle is responsible for her better figure, shinier hair, and more vibrant skin. She attributes it to the diet's ability to slow the aging of the body's cells. Furthermore, if the cells on the outside of our bodies respond so well to the diet by looking healthier and younger, she thinks it is obvious why the cells on the inside also seem to function so much better.

Finally, Celebrities Promoting a Truly Healthy Way of Eating

The alkaline diet has become extremely popular among those whose lives are above average busy and among those with great figures for whom previous diets were painful. Victoria Beckham, Robbie Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Brook, Kelly Holmes, Natalie Imbruglia, and Lisa Snowdon, among others, have since adopted the alkaline diet.

Victoria Beckham, who is known for extreme dieting to maintain her figure, calls this the first lifestyle diet on which she can eat a reasonable amount of food without putting on weight. Gwyneth Paltrow has hailed it for her improved energy levels and her positive mood. Swimwear designer Melissa Odabash praises it for allowing her to eat enough while still looking good in her bikinis.

The Alkaline Diet Really Just Promotes Old Fashioned Healthy Eating

Best of all, the alkaline diet is not simply the latest fad. It corresponds closely with what physicians have told us for years. Processed packaged food contains too many chemicals to be truly healthy. Refined carbohydrates contain almost no nutrients at all. Sugar spikes and drops our blood sugar level in a yo-yo pattern that leaves us exhausted.

Since caffeine and alcohol are addictive, the energy boost we think they provide is temporary and smaller every day. Whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and herbs are natural, healthy, are energy-giving. It is, therefore, predictable that so many celebrities benefit from eating them and we can too if we just gave it a go! Healthy Vegetarian Oils are packed with wonderful health benefits that are also energy-giving. A selection of these oils ensures there is one for your salads, medium heat cooking and high heat cooking.

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Probiotics and Women

Probiotics and Women

Probiotics: A Woman’s Best Friend

-by Sherrill Sellman, ND

One of the secrets to optimal health is cultivating a great relationship with bacteria. While many people will be reaching for their favourite antibacterial soap with just the thought of bacteria, there are, in fact, certain species of bacteria that we literally cannot live without.

In fact, our digestive tract is home to a thriving population of life-promoting gut bacteria that take up residence within us from the moment of birth. These microflora are so critical to our survival, that without their presence, every aspect of our health would suffer.

Welcome to Our Inner World

Our digestive tract, all 30 feet of it, is one of the most complex and immensely important organs of the body. The healthy functioning of our digestive system is profoundly dependent on the one hundred trillion microorganisms that dwell there, outnumbering the ten trillion cells that make up our body by ten to one!

While it is commonly believed that intestinal functions are relegated to the absorption and assimilation of food, a healthy digestive tract is intimately connected to our overall wellbeing.

Medical science has only recently discovered that it plays a fundamental role in our immunity, emotional health, and even our hormonal balance. Our digestive system also has another name. It is called the “enteric nervous system”. It is also referred to as our ''second brain''. Endowed with its own local nervous system, it contains as many neurons as is found in the spinal cord.

The gut actually does have a mind of its own!

Just like the larger brain in the head, this system is capable of sending and receiving impulses, records experiences, and it also responds to emotions. Its nerve cells are bathed and influenced by the same neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, that are found in our brain. Our gut and brain are continuously influencing and affecting each other.

How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being

In order to have a healthy functioning digestive tract, we must have a healthy and robust gut flora population.

More than 99 percent of microbes living in our intestinal tract are a very diverse group of bacteria, numbering between 500 to 1,000 different species. Collectively, they add about three pounds to our overall weight. The rest are yeast or parasites.

To keep things in order, a healthy gut population needs to be composed of about 85 percent beneficial microflora

The vast majority of our gut bacteria takes up residence in our small and large intestines. The bacterial population of the large intestines, which is more hospitable to microbes, outnumbers that of the small intestines by about 100,000 to 1.

We might liken our gut flora to a large, thriving, and diverse community of microbe species, living harmoniously in their particular neighbourhood. Each colony contributes their unique functions to the benefit of the whole.

Microbes are a natural part of the human nutrition system

Our microflora are little factories that convert plant and animal products into usable nutrition. Humans require many nutrients that can only be manufactured by these industrious microorganisms.

For instance, trillions of cells of bacteria manufacture the following vital nutrients: B vitamins, (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxone, cobalamine), Folic Acid, and vitamin K.

Friendly bacteria are also hard at work allowing for the efficient absorption of essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium.

Beneficial bacteria play another major role; they are responsible for insuring a strong immune system. An impressive 70% of our immune cells line the intestinal wall. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that compete with harmful ones.

However, this equilibrium between beneficial and harmful is a delicate balance. Many of our 21st century habits are disrupting influences wreaking havoc on our friendly bacteria. A junk food diet, pharmaceutical drugs, (such as antibiotics, steroids, and birth control pills), environmental chemicals, and psychological or mental stress all impact our gut flora. Specific beneficial strains can be killed or crowded out, allowing their neighbourhoods to be overtaken by harmful bacteria or yeast, such as Candida Albicans.

Friendly microbes help prevent disease in several ways. They deprive invaders of nutrients and secrete acids that less friendly microbes can’t tolerate. They also reinforce the mucosal barrier of the intestines, which blocks dangerous pathogens, toxins, and allergens.

Some bacteria stimulate the immune system by increasing T-cell counts, while others produce natural antibiotic and antifungal substances. It is now coming to light that the trillions of probiotics, which populate our inner ecology, are our best friends – providing beneficial, nutritional, and therapeutic functions necessary for overall human health and vitality.

Probiotics – A gift to Women’s Health

When it comes to ensuring woman’s health, probiotics are indispensable allies for wellbeing. Beneficial microbes metabolize and recycle hormones, including Oestrogen, thyroid hormones, and phytoestrogens. This facilitates proper hormonal balance, which can help offset symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, and may protect bone and breast health as well. They also detoxify drugs and harmful compounds, as well as have anti-tumour and anti-cancer effects.

Pregnancy and Birth – Getting the Gut Right from the Start

We are born sterile. It is only when a baby takes a trip down the birth canal, can the newborn be properly colonized with the various species of gut flora that are found in her mother’s vaginal tract.

Breast-feeding is the next stop for the delivery of gut flora. The baby’s intestines colonize with bacteria shortly after birth, through contact with the environment and from the breast milk. As a child grows, the bacterial population can diversify to contain many hundreds of different species. This is how an infant’s digestive and immune systems are established.

Caesarean-delivered babies have their initial exposure of bacteria from environmental microbes in the air, other infants, and the nursing staff. As a result, the gut flora in infants born by caesarean delivery can be disturbed for up to 6 months after the birth.

Breast-feeding helps to colonize the intestinal tract along with additional supplementation with strains of baby bifidobacteria in order to protect against pathogens. It’s been observed that infants who develop allergies have intestinal bacteria that are distinctly different from those of non-allergic infants, suggesting that the type of intestinal microflora is an important factor in forming allergic conditions. Therefore, it is critical to replenish the beneficial flora through mother’s milk, fermented foods and probiotic supplements.

Hormone Balance vs. Oestrogen Dominance

Probiotics play a major role in helping to maintain hormonal balance in women of all ages, from the menstruating years all the way through to the post-menopausal years.

The greatest challenge to hormonal health is maintaining an optimal balance between Oestrogen and progesterone, and if that balance is thrown out of kilter from an excess of Oestrogen, hormone havoc ensues.

Oestrogen dominance symptoms include weight gain, PMS, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, hot flashes, migraines, autoimmune diseases, and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Intestinal bacteria react with chemical compounds, (i.e., hormones), in the intestines. One of the functions of healthy gut flora is to make sure that the break down products of Oestrogen metabolism are tightly bound so they can be safely excreted from the body.

One of the ways in which the body eliminates excess Oestrogen, as well as fat-soluble toxins like pesticides and solvents, is by binding the toxin to a molecule called glucuronic acid. This complex is then excreted in the bile. However, the bond between the toxin and its escort can be broken by the enzyme glucuronidase which is produced by certain bacteria. Excess glucuronidase activity means more of the toxins are liberated and reabsorbed. A high glucuronidase activity in the gut is associated with an increased cancer risk; particularly the risk of Oestrogen dependent breast cancer.

Taking probiotic supplements increases the proportion of the beneficial gut flora, lactobacillus and bifidobacteria to the beta-glucuronidase producing bacteria.. For overall hormonal balance, and in order to reduce the level of reabsorbed, unbound (free) Oestrogen, it is critical to supplement the diet with the friendly bacteria. Therefore, supplementing with probiotics becomes an essential strategy for not only reducing Oestrogen excess but also for reducing the amount of dangerous chemicals in the body as well.

Probiotics and Female Health – Vaginitis, Yeast Infections, and Urinary Tract Infection

Many women are unaware that their vaginal health depends directly on a flourishing probiotic population, which exists in the vaginal tract. The problems of Candida albicans, (also known as a yeast infection), urogenital tract infections, (UTIs), bacterial vaginosis, and vaginitis, are that they are all indicators that there has been a major disturbance of the gut flora. This results in an over-production of more toxic pathogens and a weakened immune system.

For instance, few women realize that the bacteria that cause bladder infections can travel from the gut to the vagina and then into the bladder. Beneficial bacteria take the same route.

The use of probiotic supplements have been proven to reduce bladder infections. It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of women have unhealthy vaginal flora, (that make up their vaginal bacteria), at any given time — although they may not exhibit any overt symptoms. Probiotics have been proven to reduce infections by increasing the good flora and restoring the requisite balance.

Normally Candida albicans is a harmless yeast which lives in the gastrointestinal tract—which is well populated by healthy gut flora and a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, when this internal ecology is disrupted, Candida can quickly multiply out of control, especially in the colon. Antibiotics, birth control pills, and environmental chemicals are major causes for disrupting this inner world.

Probiotic treatment restores the balance of vaginal microflora. It plays a major role to help heal vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, bladder infections, and urinary tract infections.   It is also interesting to note that women who do not have adequate vaginal probiotics double their risk of getting HIV and herpes simplex infection. Moreover, they quadruple their risk of getting gonococcal infections and Chlamydia.

More Support for Women’s Health

Probiotics play a key role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Bone loss is one unfortunate result of a lack of friendly microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin K, a vital building block to healthy bones, is a byproduct of lactobacilli, a friendly gut flora.

Probiotics are responsible for producing lactic acid, which greatly increases the body’s ability to absorb minerals such as calcium. Studies with rats whose ovaries are removed, (in order to stop Oestrogen and induce osteoporosis), have shown that the rats fed with probiotics maintain their bone mass better.

Recent studies indicate that healthy bacteria have a direct impact on mood and behaviour by influencing the production of brain chemicals, including Serotonin and GABA. Friendly bacteria, specifically Bifidobacteria, help prevent bad bacteria from altering the inner ecology the intestines.

People suffering with mood disorders may be affected by an overgrowth of Candida albicans, which is often a cause of anxiety and depression. The presence of abundant Lactobacilli bacteria can help contribute to a more relaxed state of mind. During fermentation, lactobacilli release Tryptophan, which produces the calming neurotransmitter Serotonin.

An imbalanced digestive tract may contribute to weight gain and obesity. Taking friendly flora is an important step to improving digestion, thus promoting the normal metabolism of calories and fat.

Aging does not only affect the way we look, but it also affects the microflora living in our gut. Since our body is a host to both good and bad bacteria, the process of aging tilts that balance towards a decline of beneficial bacteria. As a result, the immune system is compromised, digestion and absorption are impaired, etc. It is therefore essential to replenish the friendly intestinal bacteria to support healthy aging.

A Guide to Choosing an Effective Probiotic

It goes without saying that an effective probiotic should be an essential part of any health program. However, the world of probiotic supplements is confusing, to say the least. So, what are the most reliable guidelines for choosing a proven probiotic?

First of all, it should guarantee the highest number of live microbes. In the world of probiotics, the microbial contents are described as “Colon Forming Units” (CFU’s), meaning the number of microbes – bacteria or yeasts – that are capable of dividing and forming colonies. CFU’s should be in the billions; the more severe the health problem, the greater the CFU’s required. Ideally we want at least 10 billion CFU/dose.

Our probiotic supplement should also be composed of multiple strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in a formulation that assures live delivery into the intestinal tract.

In addition, a good probiotic includes a prebiotic in order to help the flora survive the acidic environment of the upper GI tract.

One important component to remember is that a probiotic touting a large mixture of probiotic strains that are consumed simultaneously may be self-defeating since these strains may actually compete with each other. 

A Woman’s Friend for Life

Incorporating an effective probiotic supplement into one’s daily program is really an essential part of every woman’s health strategy. Not only will probiotics help to maintain hormonal balance, but they also insure a strong immune system, efficient digestion, mood balance, vibrant energy, and strong bones.

The word probiotic is a compound of a Latin and Greek word meaning, “favourable to life.” There is no doubt that the regular use of effective probiotic supplementation is, indeed, favourable to every aspect of a woman’s health throughout her entire life. Dr. Sherrill Sellman, a naturopathic doctor, women’s health expert, best-selling author and international lecturer and can be visited at www.whatwomenmustknow.com or drsellman@whatwomenmustknow.com.

References

Fedorak RN, Madsen KL. Probiotics and the management of inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2004 May;10(3):286-299. Rescigno M. The pathogenic role of intestinal flora in IBD and colon cancer. Curr Drug Targets. 2008 May;9(5):395-403. Fan YJ, Chen SJ, Yu YC, et al. A probiotic treatment containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus improves IBS symptoms in an open label trial. J Zhejiang Univ Sci. B 2006 Dec;7(12):987-991. Bittner AC, Croffut RM, Stranahan MC, et al. Prescript-assist probiotic-prebiotic treatment for irritable bowel syndrome: an open-label, partially controlled, 1-year extension of a previously published controlled clinical trial. Clin Ther. 2007 Jun;29(6):1153-1160. Hickson M, D’Souza AL, Muthu N, et al. Use of probiotic Lactobacillus preparation to prevent diarrhoea associated with antibiotics: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial. BMJ. 2007 Jul 14;335(7610):80. Rafter J, Bennett M, Caderni G, et al. Dietary synbiotics reduce cancer risk factors in polypectomized and colon cancer patients. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):488-496. Savilahti E, Kuitunen M, Vaarala O. Pre and probiotics in the prevention and treatment of food allergy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Jun;8(3):243-248. Giovannini M, Agostoni C, Riva E, et al. A randomized prospective double blind controlled trial on effects of long-term consumption of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei in pre-school children with allergic asthma and/or rhinitis. Pediatr Res. 2007 Aug;62(2):215-220. Isolauri E, Arvola T, Sütas Y, et al. Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clin Exp Allergy. 2000 Nov;30(11):1604-1610. Hatakka K, Savilahti E, Pönkä A, et al. Effect of long term consumption of probiotic milk on infections in children attending day care centres: double blind, randomised trial. BMJ. 2001 Jun 2;322(7298):1327. So JS, Kwon HK, Lee CG, et al. Lactobacillus casei suppresses experimental arthritis by down-regulating T helper 1 effector functions. Mol Immunol. 2008 May;45(9):2690-2699. Schultz M, Sartor RB. Probiotics and inflammatory bowel diseases. Am J Gastroenterol 2000 Jan;95(1 Suppl):S19-21. Nobaek S, Johansson ML, Molin G, et al. Alteration of intestinal microflora is associated with reduction in abdominal bloating and pain in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 May;95(5):1231-1238. Lu L, Walker WA. Pathologic and physiologic interactions of bacteria with the gastrointestinal epithelium. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73;1124S-1130S. Madsen KL, Doyle JS, Jewell LD, et al. Lactobacillus species prevents colitis in interleukin 10 gene-deficient mice. Gastroenterology. 1999;116:1107-1114. Pelto L, Isolauri E, Lilius EM, et al. Probiotic bacteria down-regulate the milk-induced inflammatory response in milk-hypersensitive subjects but have an immunostimulatory effect in healthy subjects. Clin Exp Allergy 1998 Dec;28(12):1474-1479. Nebraska Cultures. L. Acidophilus DDS-1 Resource Document. Available at: http:// www.nebraskacultures.com/_pdf/dds1_resource_document.pdf. Accessed on: 06-26-08. Shahani KM, Ayebo AD. Role of dietary lactobacilli in gastrointestinal microecology. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 Nov;33(11 Suppl):2448-2457. Roberfroid MB. Prebiotics and probiotics: are they functional foods? Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun; 71(6 Suppl):1682S-1687S. Tokunaga T. Novel physiological function of fructooligosaccharides. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4): 89-94. Ohta A. Prevention of osteoporosis by foods and dietary supplements. The effect of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) on the calcium absorption and bone. Clin Calcium 2006 Oct; 16(10):1639-1645. Lara-Villoslada F, de Haro O, Camuesco D, et al. Short-chain fructooligosaccharides, in spite of being fermented in the upper part of the large intestine, have anti-inflammatory activity in the TNBS model of colitis. Eur J Nutr. 2006 Oct;45(7):418-425. D’Argenio G, Mazzacca G. Short-chain fatty acid in the human colon. Relation to inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999;472:149-158. Shimotoyodome A, Meguro S, Hase T, et al. Short chain fatty acids but not lactate or succinate stimulate mucus release in the rat colon. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2000 Apr;125(4):525-531. Scheppach W. Effects of short chain fatty acids on gut morphology and function. Gut. 1994 Jan; 35(1 Suppl):S35-38. Rabassa AA, Rogers AI. The role of short-chain fatty acid metabolism in colonic disorders. Am J Gastroenterol. 1992 Apr;87(4):419-423. Pierre F, Perrin P, Champ M, et al. Short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides reduce the occurrence of colon tumors and develop gut-associated lymphoid tissue in Min mice. Cancer Res. 1997 Jan 15;57(2):225-228. Some extra information…. Researchers in Finland have discovered that giving probiotics to pregnant and lactating mothers increased the immunoprotective potential of breast milk and protected the infants against atopic eczema during the first 2 years of life. nes Probiotics increase the efficiency of phytoOestrogens by rendering them bioavailable and by expediting conversions. Since “PhytoOestrogens are effective in preventing and treating osteoporosis”(1), probiotics can also be effective. Evidence exists that probiotics are effective for bone support, both alone, as well as in conjunction with phytoOestrogens. A 6-wk study with 50 birds was conducted to investigate the effects of a dietary supplemental probiotic on parameters associated with the tibia. At the end of the sudy, thickness of the medial and lateral wall of the tibia, tibiotarsal index, percentage ash, and potassium content were all significantly improved by the probiotic (1). Since substances “that can modulate the intestinal microflora could affect the bioavailability of isoflavones”, pre-biotics such as frustooligosaccharides (FOS) also possess the ability to be effective; in fact, they have “effectively improved tibial microarchitectural properties by enhancing tra-becular number and lowering tra-becular separation compared with ovariectomized (rat) controls”. The FOS, (which attracts probiotics to the intestinal milieu), exerted this influence on bone alone, even when given without the iso-flavones/phytoOestrogens. However, in terms of microarchitecture, the combination of the phytoOestrogens and FOS had a greater effect in reversing the loss of certain microarchitectural parameters of bone such as tibial trabecular number, separation, and thickness (2). 1. Mutus R, et al. Poult Sci. 2006 Sep;85(9):1621-5. 2. Devareddy L, et al. Menopause. 2006 Jul-Aug;13(4):692-9.

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How Your Weight Determines Your Chances of Conceiving

How Your Weight Determines Your Chances of Conceiving

A woman’s weight can be the deciding factor between getting pregnant and dealing with infertility. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, 12 percent of all infertility cases are a result of a women either weighing too little or too much. Estrogen and Fertility - Estrogen is a sex hormone primarily produced by the ovaries and stored in fat cells. They are responsible for growth and development of female secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, pubic and armpit hair, endometrium, regulation of the menstrual cycle and the reproductive system.

During the menstrual cycle, estrogen prepares a suitable environment for fertilization, implantation and nutrition of an early embryo (Nichols 2014). But when a woman is obese, her body produces too much estrogen, which acts like birth control and lowers her chances of conceiving.

Being underweight is also problematic as it means that the body does not produce enough estrogen, causing hormonal changes and shutting down the reproductive cycle.

Body Mass Index

Obesity is on the rise. According to research, approximately 1.6 billion adults worldwide were overweight and at least 400 million were obese in 2005. These figures were expected to rise to 2.3 billion and 700 million, respectively, by 2015 (Bhattacharya 2010).

Body Mass Index, or ‘BMI’, is an individual’s weight to height ratio. It is calculated by dividing an individual’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters.

BMI categories are as follows:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

Body Fat Percentage

Another way to determine body fat is by performing a body fat test, which can be calculated by dividing total mass of fat by total body mass.

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average amount of body fat should be 25-31 percent for women and 18-24 percent for men.

Westernized Diet and Infertility

Eating a healthy diet is the first step to achieving healthy body weight. Unfortunately, Westernized foods are the primary food source for much of the world. Although they are fast, tasty and cheap, processed foods act like poison to the body.

Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, GMO’s, and hydrogenated oils (such as soybean oil) can cause damaging inflammation in the body. The result is an increase of Westernized diet related diseases, including obesity, which can affect fertility.

Research indicates that a combination of five or more low-risk lifestyle factors, including diet, weight control, and physical activity was associated with a 69 percent lower risk of ovulatory disorder infertility (Chavarro et al, 2007).

Menstrual cycle irregularities have also been reported in individuals consuming a soy-rich diet, which is a common ingredient in Westernized foods in the form of soybean oil. Meat intake has been positively associated with infertility too. Women who eat red meat and processed meat specifically have a 32 percent greater risk of experiencing fertility issues.

However, eating a diet rich in vegetable protein has been associated with a modest decrease in the risk of infertility (Chavarro et al, 2008).

To increase fertility and achieve a healthy body weight, consider eating less processed foods, especially meat, and more plant based foods.

The following is a list of foods recommended for a person following a whole food plant based diet, or for those simply needing ideas of what foods are great fertility boosting foods to start including more of alongside healthy meat choices (such as meat from organically reared animals):

  • Fruit: mangoes, bananas, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries, etc
  • Vegetables: lettuce, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots, etc
  • Tubers and starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, yucca, winter squash, corn, green peas, etc
  • Whole grains: millet, quinoa, barley, rice, whole wheat, oats, etc
  • Legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, cannellini beans, black beans

Your Partner's Role in Fertility

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Excess weight in males may be linked with altered testosterone, estradiol levels, poor semen quality and infertility. Research has shown a trend of increased infertility with increased male BMI.

Male obesity not only affects sperm quality, it has been associated with altering the physical and molecular structure of germ cells in the testes and ultimately mature sperm.

Studies have shown that couples with an overweight or obese male partner, with a female of normal BMI, have increased odds ratio for increased time to conceive compared with couples with normal weight male partners (Palmer et al, 2012).

Reversing Infertility

Lifestyle factors, such as eating more whole foods that are plant based, and exercise can reverse infertility issues.

During an animal study, an intake of selenium enriched probiotics by obese rodents improves both their metabolic health and fertility measures (sperm count and motility) which could offer great benefits for humans supplementing with these supplements too.

Furthermore, improvements in metabolic health, such as the benefits experienced with regular exercise, result in improvements in sperm motility and molecular composition such as reduced DNA damage.

Parenthood is a journey of two people. Encourage one another to make better food decisions. Cook and exercise together, and try to inject some fun into it to help it become a long standing habit . Even if it is just at the weekends when you are both off together.

Every positive thing you do will have huge benefits to your fertility. Hold each other responsible and remind yourselves that your future child’s health starts with your own.

References

Bhattacharya, S., Pandey, S., Pandey, S., & Maheshwari, A. (2010). The impact of female obesity on the outcome of fertility treatment. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, 62.

Chavarro, J., Rich-Edwards, J., Rosner, B., & Willett, W. (2007). Diet and Lifestyle in the Prevention of Ovulatory Disorder Infertility. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1050-1058.

Chavarro, J., Rich-Edwards, J., Rosner, B., & Willett, W. (2008). Protein intake and ovulatory infertility. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 210.e1-210.e7.

Nichols, H. (2014, September 16). What is estrogen? What does estrogen do? http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277177.php

Palmer, N., Bakos, H., Fullston, T., & Lane, M. (2012). Impact of obesity on male fertility, sperm function and molecular composition. Spermatogenesis, 253-263.

You may also like to try Healthy Vegetarian Oils as some are believed to help shed excess weight.

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