Issue 105 is out now

By The Green Parent

07th July 2021

Sandra Greenbank is a Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner. She writes about how optimal nutrition is key to developing healthy egg and sperm in the second of our four part series.

By The Green Parent

07th July 2021

By The Green Parent

07th July 2021

It takes around three months to mature an egg ready for ovulation as well as a batch of sperm. During this time, the egg and the sperm are exposed to everything that is circulating in your blood stream including vitamins, minerals, any chemicals that you come into contact with through your skin, via the food that you eat, and the air you breathe. This also impacts the environment in the womb and can impact your chances of a healthy pregnancy. The building blocks for the egg and sperm come from the food that you eat. We need good quality proteins and fats to build healthy cells and membranes, as well as for optimal hormone function. Antioxidants derived from food protect cells and the DNA within the egg and sperm from oxidative damage. It’s not only food that has an impact. For a true holistic approach we also need to consider our lifestyle and our environment. Pollution, stress, exercise levels, and sleep all impact fertility. So, how do we best feed the eggs and sperm, and create a nourishing womb, as well as boost the mother’s nutritional status ready to grow a baby without compromising her own nutrient and energy stores?

1 Follow the Mediterranean diet - There are a few basics of a fertility diet that focuses on nutrient dense foods, which support both male and female fertility. The Mediterranean diet means eating plenty of colourful fruits, vegetables and legumes. I recommend focusing on eating 7-10 portions of fruits and vegetables every day, while making sure you are eating all the colours of the rainbow, ideally with special focus on the dark green and the orange varieties. In addition, the Mediterranean diet also consists of plenty of sea food, nuts, seeds and whole grains with minimal amounts of dairy. Of course olive oil is the star of the show and I recommend around 4 tablespoons per day of a good quality organic extra virgin olive oil – ideally raw. Healthy fats support normal hormonal balance as well as healthy cell membranes. Aside from olive oil, good sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish. It’s important not to overheat these healthy fats, as that causes them to change properties and potentially become harmful. The fats to avoid are vegetable fats such as groundnut oil, sunflower oil and corn.

2 Take Vitamin D - Most of the population is low in this crucial nutrient, especially if they are not in the habit of taking Vitamin D supplements. Low Vitamin D levels can have a detrimental effect on male as well as female fertility. Studies show that 85% of women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D, however in reality the vast majority of patients in my clinic are shown to be low in this critical nutrient. It’s a good idea to test your levels so that you can then tailor your supplements to your individual needs. Tests are available from vitamindtest.org.uk.

3 Avoid toxins - Pollution and pesticides are harmful to fertility, with research showing that it can severely damage female ovarian function and sperm development. Plastics are a source of potent hormone disrupting chemicals and also have the potential to wreak havoc with both male and female fertility. Evidence is now emerging that BPA free replacement chemicals, such as BPS, are unfortunately no better than their predecessor, so it’s best to avoid plastics as much as possible.

Share your stories with Sandra @sandragreenbank_fertility

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