I love to cook. So much so that my friends “affectionately” refer to me as a feeder. Whilst struggling 15-years to identify my food allergies, I really learned to cook basing my technique on three simple requirements: Is it fresh? Is it tasty? Is it healthy?
Aside from this, my food knowledge is the same as that of the average soul. I thought today I would get the advice of nutritionist, Madeleine Whyte for some more in depth information. Madeleine specialises in women’s health, particularly in fertility. So, in light of the recent baby boom at the JMP studio, I asked Maddy to share her expertise in regards to the nutritional health of Mum, Dad and Bubba. Note: The second half of this interview will be posted tomorrow.
Is it possible to boost fertility by eating well? Does this apply for men as well?
MW: Eating well can certainly boost our fertility! Diet has such a profound impact on our overall health that even just small changes to what we eat and drink can be a complete game changer. Preparing for pregnancy is a great time to connect with our bodies and address our relationship with food. This doesn’t mean just eating well but really relaxing around food, enjoying it and having a deep appreciation of how it nourishes every cell in our body.
This definitely includes men! It really puzzles me how a man’s health is often not accounted for during the preconception and conception period. Research tells us that men are accountable for up to 50% of fertility difficulties. So yes, it is very important for men to address their health during this period. This time does not have to be excessively restrictive, in fact i believe this to be more detrimental in certain cases. It is a time when you can actively enhance the health of your child not only in utero but for their entire lives.
We all know that a pregnant woman should eat as healthy as possible to support a growing child, but what about prior to conception? How long does it take to detoxify the body and get it ready for pregnancy?
MW: As a general rule a 3-4 months (or longer if possible) ‘cleaning-up’ period is great for both men and women. For women, the ova are susceptible to damage during their period of maturation, which is about 100 days before ovulation and for men, the formation of sperm may take up to 116 days. Therefore, I would say that this the most important period to ensure you are in optimum health.
Are there certain things we should cut out when trying to get pregnant, and why?
MW: Yes, there definitely are a few key things that are beneficial to avoid during this period, which will not only increase your fertility but will also enhance the health of the foetus. Like I mentioned before, it is important to not be too restrictive and to still enjoy yourself during this period. I am a firm believer that a great night out at a beautiful restaurant with good company, a little wine and some decadent food is much better for your health then staying at home miserable, eating grilled fish and steamed veggies. If we aim to be on track at least 80% of the time then this will give you the best shot. Each patient will be different in their requirements however I recommend avoiding:
- Refined carbohydrates and sugars.
- Processed foods and foods with additives.
- Excess alcohol- a small amount of organic wine or beer may be beneficial.
- Caffeine- limit to at most one caffeinated drink a day if you can’t go without.
- Allergenic foods- these are foods you may have an allergy too. Consult your health care practitioner.
- Non-organic animal products- aim for a mostly organic diet where possible.
What is your view on supplements and supporting fertility?
MW: I’m not huge on supplementation and really encourage my clients to reach their nutrient needs through diet. However, during pregnancy, our nutrient requirements increase dramatically therefore supplementation, in addition to a balanced diet, is a great way to ensure our needs met. Each woman’s case will be different and their need for supplementation will vary depending on factors such as iron status, morning sickness and pre-existing conditions. However, my three essential supplements for most patients include: a pregnancy multi (preferably with the activated form of B vitamins), a good quality fish oil and a multi-strain probiotic.
What is your view on water? Is tap water ok for a pregnant body or should we all be drinking filtered water? If so, what is the cleanest way to filter our water? Does it depend on where you are located and are there things you can do to make tap water healthier (i.e. add lemon?)
MW: This is a really great question and is so often overlooked. I really believe investing in a quality water filter is one of the best things we can do for our health. A good quality filter will not only remove all the nasties but will also remineralise and energise the water, often passing through a series of natural materials that emulate nature’s method of providing pure water.
Adding lemon is a great way to make water more nutrient rich however it will not remove any chemicals and harmful toxins. This also applies to boiling water. While it does remove bacteria and some chlorine, it unfortunately concentrates other toxins.
In my opinion, removing fluoride from water is extremely important. However, I encourage everyone to do their own research, as it is a controversial topic. Check with your local council to see if your area fluoridates the water.
Morning sickness for some can last well and truly past the first trimester. What can be added into the diet to help ease this and other symptoms?
MW: Morning sickness and general nausea during pregnancy can be extremely debilitating for the mama to be. While it may be difficult to eat anything at all during this period, it is really important to balance your blood sugar levels, as a dip in blood sugars is one of the a main cause of nausea. This means good quality protein at every meal, plenty of snacks and limiting the intake of sugar and refined carbs. Keeping snacks near the bed can also prevent blood sugar drops during the night and consequently nausea in the morning and also means you can eat as soon as you wake before getting out of bed. Ginger (fresh, powdered, in teas or supplemented) and vitamin B6 are great for treating nausea however speak to a health care practitioner before supplementation.
Please visit the blog for more of Maddy’s wisdom tomorrow!
Madeleine is a qualified and certified clinical nutritionist. Having completed a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine, her mission is to guide clients in attaining vibrant health using food as medicine. Madeleine is passionate about helping clients to decode their bodies’ messages and uses simple, tradition-based natural remedies to heal from the inside out. Madeleine is currently living and practising in the Northern Rivers.