In his pioneering studies of isolated primitive peoples, Dr. Weston Price discovered that the diets of healthy population groups contained much higher levels of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D than the American population of his day. In fact, foods rich in these factors, such as butter, ghee, eggs, liver, cod liver oil, fish, shellfish and fish eggs, were considered so important for reproductive health that great effort was expended to provide these foods to prospective parents, pregnant and nursing women and growing children (3).
In Chinese Medicine, there is a similar list – with foods like chicken soup. In Ayurvedic medicine, foods rich in quality oils are also high in focus during this pre-conception phase. Unhomogenised full cream milk (unpasteurised if possible), almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and ghee are seen as the ultimate Ayurvedic reproductive foods (13).
Ayurvedic medicine also recommends unpasteurised milk consumption as it is said to help one develop spiritual awareness (14). People today tend to avoid the saturated fats under the misguided information that this will lead to cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential to the development of the brain and nervous system of the infant, so much so that mothers milk is not only extremely rich in the substance, but also contains special enzymes that aid in the absorption of cholesterol from the intestinal tract (4). Consider this, in order to produce oestrogen and progesterone, as required for the reproductive cycle; the body needs adequate amounts of cholesterol. Actually, cholesterol is a womans best friend. At a workshop held in 1992 at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, researchers looked at every study that had been published about the risk of having high or low cholesterol and came to the same conclusion: mortality was higher for women with low blood cholesterol than for women with high cholesterol (5).
More recently, researchers at the Wesley Medical Centre in Brisbane have discovered that avocado is more effective (and less dangerous) than a low fat diet. Most importantly, avoid synthetic measures to reduce cholesterol during this period. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine this year revealed that the cholesterol lowering statin drug, when taken during pregnancy, induced malformations worse than seen after exposure to thalidomide. The National Institutes of Health reported that almost half of the children, born by women who had taken statins during their first trimester, had malformations (6). Cholesterol is essential for the development of neural tissue, so logically it would follow that if the mother is taking a drug that inhibits cholesterol synthesis at a time when the fetus is developing that significant developmental abnormalities would occur (7). Looking at the body from the perspective of its functionality, there is also fine tuning that can be done to ensure each organ and bodily function is working optimally. For example, let’s look at the thyroid function. The thyroid gland is intimately involved in the female reproductive cycle.
Dietary factors that contribute to healthy thyroid function include adequate protein and iodine, trace elements such as iron, zinc and selenium; B vitamins, including B12; vitamin C; and, above all, adequate vitamin A (8). Many substances in the modern diet depress thyroid function, including modern soy foods (soy protein isolates) (9), fluoride (10) and possibly even aspartame, the artificial sweetener found in Nutrasweet (11) Pesticides and other pollutants may also depress thyroid function. Another factor that is important to consider is the spacing between your children.
There is currently a trend to space children very closely together, perhaps due to increasing age of first time mothers. In traditional societies and in traditional medicine, it is recommended to leave a minimum of three years between each child. The reason for this is that having a child is nutritionally and energetically draining on the mother. To ensure that your next child is born with sufficient ‘vitality’, the body requires time to re-nourish itself from each birth. It also requires time to re-nourish itself after a miscarriage. There are many adjustments that can be made to the diet during this period of pre-conception, every couple’s needs differ. The most important aspect to focus on is that you and your partner feel nourished. Optimal nutrition is much more than obtaining a certain amount of vitamins and minerals. It is a way of loving and caring for yourselves (12).
Enjoying what you eat is a very important aspect of a nourishing diet.
- M G Enig, PhD, Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research, 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc, Silver Spring, MD, 1995, Page 99.
- M G Enig, Modification of Membrane Lipid Composition and Mixed-Function Oxidases in Mouse Liver Microsomes by Dietary Trans Fatty Acids, 1984, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: Weston A Price, The Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 2000.
- Ancient dietary wisdom for tomorrow’s children: Sally Fallon, Journal of Family Life, 1999.
- D Jacobs, et al, “Report on the conference on low blood cholesterol,” Circulation, 1992, Vol 86, Pages 1046-60.
- New England Journal of Medicine, April 8, 2004: pages 1579 – 1582. Drs. Robin J Edison and Maximilian
- I W Jennings, Vitamins in Endocrine Metabolism, 1970, Heineman, London, UK.
- Y Ishizuki, et al, “The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects,” Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi 1991, Vol 767, Pages 622-629; R L Divi, et al, “Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean,” Biochemical Pharmacology, 1997, Vol 54, Pages 1087-1096.
- A Schuld, “Fluoride, Worse than We Thought,” Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, Fall 2000, Vol 1, No 3, Pages 21-29.
- H J Roberts, “Aspartame and Hyperthyroidism, A Presidential Affliction Reconsidered,” Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, May 1997, Pages 86-88.
- The Natural Pregnancy Book: Aviva Jill Romm, The Crossing Press, California, 1997, pg 40.
- Getting pregnant the Ayurvedic way: Sebastian Pole.
- Healing with Whole Foods: Paul Pitchford, North Atlantic Books, California, 1993, pg 246.