by Angela Bell LicAc., MAOM
Getting your body ready to have a baby can feel a bit like Spring cleaning. With only 25 days until the first day of Spring, I think it’s the perfect time to talk about preconception health! It can be really hard to figure out where to start, so I’ve put together a list of the things I’ve found to be most useful for patients who are preparing for pregnancy. They include; increasing your daily consumption of dark leafy green vegetables, caring for your emotions, avoiding harmful foods and getting rid of common chemicals in the home.
Greens, Greens, Greens
Dark leafy greens are arguably the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, but that’s not the only reason to up your daily intake when preparing for pregnancy. The fact is, they quite literally help clean your body. Greens support some of the most crucial health processes such as detoxification, managing inflammation and protecting the body from harmful free radicals. When any one of these processes are compromised, your hormonal health suffers. Incorporate greens like arugula, spinach, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, swiss chard and even iceberg lettuce into your diet and your body will thank you for it.
The journey to getting pregnant can be an emotional one. You may suddenly feel surrounded by pregnant women (made even worse by social media), you may be tempted to compare yourself to others who are also trying to start a family and you may want to read blog posts written by women who have gone though IUI’s or IVF cycles. In the midst of all these recommendations, stories of others experiences and unsolicited advice, remember that your journey is uniquely yours. It may be easier than someone else’s and it may be harder. Be kind to yourself by throwing out the comparisons, it will help protect your heart.
Gluten, Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol
Food can be both destructive and incredibly healing, so it’s important to pay particular attention to what you are eating when trying to conceive. Diets heavy in gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol foster high levels of inflammation which negatively impacts ovarian hormones, thyroid hormones and adrenal health. Fortunately, avoiding these substances allows for powerful healing to take place in the body, including stabilizing hormone imbalances which may be hindering fertility. So when you’re cleaning out those cupboards, ditch gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Product Clean Up
Since we are talking about Spring cleaning, we gotta talk about the products you use in your home. You are bombarded with toxic chemicals everyday, many of which are dangerous endocrine disruptors that disturb both Estrogen and Androgen levels. If left untreated these types of hormone imbalances can contribute to things like irregular cycles, PCOS, ovulatory disorders and endometriosis. Though we can’t avoid toxins and chemicals completely, we can significantly reduce our exposure by using cleaner/greener products. I recommend taking a look at your cleaning supplies, makeup, beauty products and even our lawn and garden products. Try starting with the Environmental Working Groups Consumer Guides. It’s a great resource that will help you find the safest products from sunscreens to water filters.