There is no doubt that the foods we ingest have a significant effect on both our ability to conceive and the health of our children. The commonly known adjustments are to reduce or eliminate coffee, alcohol, drugs, and synthetic additives, white sugar and where possible – stress! And to replace these with fresh foods, organic where possible and to the counter stress – some form of exercise or meditation that you enjoy. Giving each other regular massages is also highly beneficial! This is a wonderful framework to start with. Although there is much more that can also be done to truly nourish both partners.
There are two phases to pre-conception – cleansing, followed with building. The aim of the first stage – the cleansing or purification, is for both you and your partner to eliminate any toxicity that may have built up over the years. This can be achieved by increasing the quantity of cleansing foods in the diet, for example fresh salads and fresh home made juice. Or you might like to do some gentle fasting. This could be done for a period of 24 hours once a week. The type to choose is dependant on your current physical condition.
- Raw fruit, vegetable or fresh juices (drink the juice from a bowl with a soup spoon and add 50% water to the bowl.) This is suitable for a person who tends to be overheated and does not have any signs of coldness or deficiency.
- Vegetables – lightly steamed or as soup. This is preferable if your condition is on the cool or deficient side i.e. poor circulation, cold hands and feet, prefers summer to winter. Green vegetables are most cleansing and therefore best to focus on.
On the day of your fast, ensure you have a relaxing day planned and keep warm. Eat lightly and ensure that all food and liquid is well masticated. Water and herbal tea may also be consumed. For more effective results, fasting can also be combined with colonic irrigation to remove excess waste that may have built up in the colon. The best times to cleanse are through the warmer months; spring and summer are perfect seasons. For longer and more thorough cleanses, or to heal any chronic ailments, I would advise you to consult a practitioner who can specifically tailor one to your needs. Never fast when pregnant, breast-feeding or when attempting to conceive.
The next phase is equally important, but the one most overlooked. This is the building phase. This basically translates to a more nourishing diet. Of these foods the group that are currently most neglected is quality fats. The media and multinationals would have us believe that their factory-produced fats are the healthy ones. Their cholesterol lowering margarine, highly refined canola and soy oils and their low-fat products wherein the healthy fats have been replaced with hydrogenated fats rich in trans fatty acids. If you trust they put your health above their commercial interests, think again. There is considerable evidence that trans fatty acids interfere with reproduction (1) possibly because they disrupt the action of the cytochrome enzyme systems needed for the conversion of progesterone into the various types of estrogens (2).
Quality fats are critically important during all aspects associated with child rearing, including preparation for conception. Deficiency in the mother has been directly linked to post-natal depression, lethargy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowl syndrome, to mention just a few. In the developing child it can lead to colic, allergies, attention deficit disorder and decreased IQ, again just to mention a few.
So what are the quality fats? Those that have been consumed by traditional societies for centuries to ensure strong and healthy offspring –avocado, nuts and seeds (including freshly ground flax seeds and flax seed oil), butter, ghee, extra virgin unrefined olive oil and coconut – fresh from the shell, coconut oil (perfect for cooking) or coconut cream. It’s important to realise your body needs a variety of fats and that saturated fats and foods rich in omega 3 are both critically important in this mix.(continued page 2 – see below)