Your future child’s health depends on your health right now. The 3 to 6 months before you conceive is the perfect time to eat right, exercise, do a detox and see an integrative healthcare provider that specializes in fertility, taking steps to give your child the best health at birth and beyond.
Eat for fertility now
A 2007 study of nearly 18,000 women at the Harvard School of Public Health showed women with the highest fertility:
- Consumed fewer trans fats (from fried food and packaged baked goods)*
- Ate less sugar from refined carbohydrates (bread, crackers, cakes, cookies, candy)*
- Consumed more protein
- Ate more fiber and iron (from plant foods and organic, lean, grassfed red meats)*
- Took more multivitamins (high-quality vitamins recommended by your healthcare practitioner specifically for your needs)*
- Consumed more (organic, grassfed)* high-fat dairy products and less non-organic, low-fat dairy products.
*Dr. Graser’s additions in parenthesis.
Take these supplements
Start taking fish oil with high DHA content, a prenatal vitamin with the right kind of folate, probiotics and vitamin D.
- Fish oil with high DHA content. From reducing risk of cardiovascular disease to improving mood and cognition to being essential for neurological development—DHA omega-3s are a preconception must. Nordic Naturals and Carlson’s are brands I recommend. Only use fish oil that has been 3rd-party tested for heavy metals. Benefits of taking fish oil are:
- Support for neurological development of your baby
- Reduced incidence of asthma and allergies early in life
- Better hand-eye coordination, visual acuity, information processing and problem-solving in kids with moms that take fish oil in pregnancy and lactation
- Reduced likelihood of postpartum depression.
- Prenatal vitamins with methylfolate. We used to stress the importance of folic acid for preconception and pregnancy; now we know that methyl folate is an even better choice. This is because we are now finding many people have small genetic mutations that prevent them from methylating (activating) their folic acid.
- Activated folic acid or methyl folate is essential for neurological development, production of brain chemicals that support mood and cardiovascular health. I do recommend people get tested for the MTHFR genetic mutation and seek treatment with a qualified healthcare practitioner, but until then take a prenatal vitamin with methyl folate to be on the safe side.
- Probiotics. Everyone needs good gut bacteria, but especially pregnant moms. Healthy bacterial populations are shown to improve immune health, reduce inflammation and allergic response, reduce incidence of vaginal infections and promote regular bowel movements (even during pregnancy). The bacteria in your gut will be the bacteria in your baby’s gut, especially if you deliver vaginally. You want that population to be healthy and thriving so you can pass the good stuff on. I recommend Pure Encapsulations, Klaire Labs, Metagenics, Seroyal, VSL#3, Pharmax and Vital Nutrients.
- Vitamin D3. Essential for calcium absorption, healthy tooth and bone growth, immune health, and promotes healthy birth weight. Best to get your blood tested to see how much vitamin D you need. Most people are safe taking 2000 i.u. daily, but many will need more than this at first if they are deficient.
Do a gentle detox 3 to 6 months before trying to conceive—preferably with the guidance of a qualified professional.
Unfortunately, we are all exposed to toxins and have toxins in our bodies just from daily living. Those toxins can be passed to the fetus through the placenta and to babies through breast milk. In the United States, the benefits of breast-feeding still outweighs the risks, but it’s a great idea to get rid of as many of those toxins as possible 6 to 12 months before you conceive. The good news is there are many ways to reduce your toxic load.
- Eat organic, nutrient-dense foods (green tea and green vegetables are a must for detox) and avoid the most heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables. Check foodnews.org for a list.
- Avoid fish with high-mercury.
- Support the organs of elimination—your colon and skin—by ensuring regular bowel movements (at least one daily) and sweating. Saunas, baths and sweaty exercise are great options.
- Avoid plastics. Many plastics contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that interfere with fertility, not to mention contribute to other health conditions like obesity and diabetes. Avoid plastics with the numbers 3, 6 and 7. Do not heat food in plastic containers—use glass or ceramic. Drink from glass or stainless steel water bottles. Do not use Teflon nonstick pans. Do not take paper receipts if you can avoid it as they are coated with BPA—a chemical that interferes with fertility (BPA-free receipts are also toxic).
If you're wanting to conceive, I can provide a customized preconception health plan based on your medical history, goals and comprehensive blood work to evaluate and optimize your fertility and pregnancy. Plans can include food sensitivity testing, nutritional and supplement recommendations, abdominal massage for fertility, recommendations for stress management and more.
Dr. Claire Graser specializes in holistic detoxification, women’s health, hormone balancing, weight loss, anxiety and stress management, as well as abdominal massage to support healthy digestion and detox. Dr. Graser creates comprehensive wellness plans for patients at San Francisco Natural Medicine Tue-Fri, and is currently accepting new patients. Call 415-643-6600 to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consult.