Increasing IVF Success Rates

Increasing IVF Success Rates

Can you increase IVF and other ART success rates using nutrition?

Probably! There have been many research studies done on how nutrition and nutrients affect fertility overall, fertility treatments, egg health, sperm health, and reproductive success. While there is no one large study specifically about nutrition and ART (Assisted Reproductive Treatment) success, there are many studies about various aspects of fertility, ART, and nutrition. You will find I have referenced several of them throughout the article.

What do all these research studies and articles tell us?

When taken as a whole, most of the studies and reviews of studies indicate that nutrition plays a vital role in a couple’s ability to conceive and carry a baby to full term. In men, many of the studies focus on antioxidants in particular because semen should be full of antioxidants to protect the maturing sperm. In women, quite a variety of nutrients have been examined for their impact on healthy egg development, maintaining healthy hormone levels, and overall building up the body for the precious job of creating a baby.

In this article I am going to focus on foods you can add to your diet that will help support your hormones and your eggs or sperm. You can take supplements, and for some people this is a great idea, but if you want lasting change (and lasting health), you need start adding in more healthy foods. Adding in these foods will help you now, as you start this journey, and long into the future as you become healthier overall.

There is no one diet or food that is going to be right for everyone, but there are many foods that promote health and vitality. Working with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) can help you to figure out where to start, which foods would give you the biggest bang for your buck, and if you should consider supplementing. If you are preparing to conceive, I also recommend doing the Feed Your Fertile BodyTM program.

Some examples of how foods/nutrients affect reproductive success and fertility:

This is just a sampling of some of the research out there, both for men and women.

  • The more closely a woman followed a Pro-Fertility Diet, the higher her ART success rate.[i]
  • After undergoing counseling in a Health Promoting Lifestyle, ART success was 46% compared to the control group with 19%.[ii]
  • Based on a recent Cochrane review, a man could improve his fertility (sperm) fourfold by taking antioxidants.[iii]
  • Iodine, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids, and magnesium are crucial for successful fertility.[iv]
  • The majority of infertility cases due to ovulation disorders may be preventable through modification of diet and lifestyle.[v]
  • A low relatively low carb diet (43%) improved the metabolic profile of women with PCOS within 16 days.[vi]
  • Patients with diminished ovarian reserve undergoing IVF or ICSI were more likely to become pregnant and less likely to abort when taking DHEA.[vii]

How can nutrition and foods help with ART success rates?

Women

  1. Healthy hormones are quite the catch-phrase right now, but it is true. To have a successful ART fertility treatment, and then to carry a baby to term, requires a woman’s hormones to be healthy and working well.
  2. If your eggs are going to be used during fertility treatment, there are several nutrients and foods that can nourish and protect your eggs as they mature.
  3. Preparing your uterus to carry a baby is crucial. We all desire a safe, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. It is a good idea for every woman to spend some time making sure her body and her uterus is in good condition for the hard work of building and nourishing a baby.

Men

  1. Cholesterol is needed for testosterone creation as it is a precursor for our sex hormones You are going to enjoy adding in healthy fats.
  2. If your sperm is going to be used, there are several foods you can add to your diet that will help nourish and protect your sperm.
  3. DNA fragmentation inside of sperm is often present in men with fertility problems. In fact, it can be better marker for determining ART success or failure than just sperm count or sperm motility.

What foods and nutrients should you focus on adding?

Foods and Nutrients for Women Undergoing IVF or other ART

What foods and nutrients are going to prepare your body for pregnancy? We want to include foods that are good for your hormones, for egg development, and for your uterus and other reproductive organs.

Foods that support healthy hormones to increase IVF success rates

Supporting Female Hormones

An easy and effective way to support your female hormones to by making sure you are eating healthy fats and protein with each meal. Cholesterol is needed for production of both male and female sex hormones. As a bonus, eating more healthy fats and protein will make you feel fuller and more satisfied. You will want to eat around 1 to 2 Tablespoons of fat with each meal.

[Blood sugar fluctuations can also wreak havoc with female hormones. Insulin is a hormone and when it is fluctuating wildly, it can cause your thyroid and sex hormones (like estrogen) to get out-of-whack. Again, when you prioritize eating healthy fats and protein with each meal, you will have fewer cravings for sugar. This will make it easier to get those cravings under control.]

What are some healthy fats and proteins to support female hormones?

  • Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
  • Butter
  • Animal fats-lard and tallows
  • Seed/nut oils-like flaxseed oil, almond oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil
  • Omega 3s from fish, like salmon, or from fish oils, like cod liver oil
  • Nuts count as both fat and protein
  • Full fat dairy also counts as both fat and protein
  • Proteins from fish, grass-fed beef, free range chicken
  • Eggs are an extremely good source of protein and fat
  • Seafood-wild caught

Using foods to support egg development to increase IVF success rates

Supporting Egg Development

In addition to having a healthy, functioning hormone system, it is important for eggs to be protected as they develop. Most people do not realize that eggs take about 90 days or so to mature. During that time, you want to keep them safe from damage. This is where antioxidants come into play.

Antioxidants protect your cells and your eggs from damage. You want to make sure you are eating foods high in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, selenium

Some foods for that are high in antioxidants – good for women or men

  • Berries-all kinds
  • Kale and other dark green veggies
  • Red Cabbage
  • Orange foods like sweet potatoes and butternut squash
  • Colorful foods-the more color the better

Foods that will support your liver and your uterus

Supporting your uterus and your whole body by supporting your liver

Female reproductive organs function best when hormone levels are normal AND when the liver is doing its job of recycling those hormones. If you struggle with breast tenderness, uterine fibroids, chronic bad breath, or itchy skin, then your liver might not be recycling your hormones correctly. The liver plays a crucial role in estrogen metabolism by recycling estrogen before it builds up in the system. Fiber helps the body to get rid of excess estrogen.

Foods that support reproduction by supporting the liver

  • High fiber foods like dark leafy greens, quinoa, beans
  • Beets are one of the top foods for the liver and gallbladder
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts
  • Berries
  • Healthy fats-see above
  • Water
  • Liver-yes, Liver! If you can’t stomach the thought of eating liver, you can get liver in pills.

Foods are almost always going to be the best way to nourish your body, but in some instances, it may be wise to supplement. Please talk with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner about how to get started adding these foods to your diet and if supplementing may be right for you.

Foods and Nutrients for Men Undergoing IVF or other ART

For men it is critical to provide nutrients that support healthy testosterone levels, and healthy sperm development.

Foods that will help support the creation of testosterone

Supporting Healthy Testosterone Levels in Men

For men, two important things they can do to maintain healthy testosterone levels is to add in healthy fats and to cut back on sugars. Luckily, when you add in more healthy fats, it tends to cut sugar cravings. It’s a two for one bonus.

Foods that support healthy testosterone levels

  • Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter
  • Animal fats like lard (from pigs) and tallows (from cows, duck, geese)
  • Seed/nut oils-like flaxseed oil, almond oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil
  • Omega-3s – like mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts
  • Full-fat dairy products

Improve sperm parameters with foods to increase IVF success rates

Protecting and Nourishing Sperm

Surprisingly, it takes around 74 days for sperm to mature. As you can imagine, we need to choose foods and nutrients that not only protect the sperm but also ones that help the sperm to develop properly. For successful ART, it is best if the sperm count is high, they can swim well (motility), and the sperm morphology (shape) is good.

Foods that support sperm development (sperm count, shape, and motility)

What are some of the foods and nutrients that researchers have found support healthy sperm? Foods that have been found to have a positive impact are omega-3s, probably because they reduce inflammation, and various vitamins and minerals. (Keep reading for the research behind these nutrients).

  • Omega-3s from fish and cod liver oil
  • Brazil nuts-for selenium
  • Sunflower seeds and almonds-for vitamin E
  • Guavas and bell peppers-for vitamin C
  • Oysters and beef-for zinc
  • Liver and mackerel-for vitamin A

Here are some studies that talk about specific nutrients or diets that improved sperm form and function:

  • In one study of 690 infertile men, they found that Selenium and vitamin E improved sperm form and function in over 50% of the men.[viii]
  • There is another study of 225 men who were part of couple attending a fertility clinic. In this study, the men who most closely followed a Mediterranean type diet had around 30% better score of their semen parameters (sperm count, shape, and motility).[ix]
  • In a review of 35 studies, they found that healthy diets rich in omega-3s, vitamin E, C, Beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, and other nutrients usually resulted in better semen quality parameters.[x]

Foods to prevent DNA fragmentation to increase IVF success rates

Preventing DNA fragmentation of sperm

Another important factor for ART to be successful is for the DNA inside the sperm to be protected. DNA fragmentation can be a major factor in fertility success, especially with IVF[xi],[xii]  . It is now recognized that the sperm of many infertile men have damage to the DNA of the sperm and their semen quality is low.[xiii] [xiv] It is believed that poor sperm quality may be caused by oxidative stress, when free radicals attack the DNA molecules.[xv] Antioxidants have been shown to improve DNA fragmentation in men with low fertility.[xvi]

Quite often, when looking at research, you will find that researchers look only at semen parameters, but sometimes they include DNA fragmentation. Others only look at DNA fragmentation. These two are closely linked and probably should always be looked at together. What I mean by this is that if a sperm has fairly high levels of DNA fragmentation, then it probably also has poor morphology and motility. Also, in men whose sperm are not healthy, the amount of DNA fragmentation is probably high as well.

Foods that support sperm development and  may help reduce DNA fragmentation

There are several research studies that have shown that antioxidants can help prevent DNA fragmentation.

  • In one study they found that sperm DNA fragmentation in infertile men was improved from 22% down to 9% after treatment with vitamin C and E.[xvii]
  • A review of research showed that in five studies, antioxidants helped reduce DNA fragmentation.[xviii] Some of the studies showed direct improvements in DNA integrity while others showed an increase in pregnancy rates.

Some antioxidants are vitamins A, C, D, E; the amino acid L-carnitine; and the antioxidant Co-Q10. Selenium has also been shown to be helpful. Another very important anti-oxidant component of semen is zinc. Low zinc levels are closely associated with male infertility. Supplementing with zinc has been shown to improve sperm health.[xix] It is the second most abundant metal in the human body after iron. If you talk with holistic nutrition practitioners, they will tell you that most of their clients test for zinc deficiencies.

  • Vitamin A – Liver, cod liver oil, salmon, sweet potatoes, kale, collard greens
  • Vitamin C – chili peppers, yellow peppers, fresh thyme, kale, kiwi, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lemon, papaya, strawberries, oranges
  • Vitamin D – while there are some foods with vitamin D, the best way to get vitamin D is to get out in the sun. Some foods with vitamin D are salmon, cod liver oil, tuna, oysters, shrimp, egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens, mushrooms (some varieties have very high levels)
  • Vitamin E – sunflower seeds, almonds and almond oil, hazelnuts, salmon, avocado, red peppers, brazil nuts
  • L-carnitine – beef, chicken, dairy products, cod, beans, avocado
  • Co-Q 10 – liver, beef, mackerel, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, sesame seeds, pistachios
  • Zinc – meat of all kinds, shellfish, beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, eggs, sweet potatoes
  • Selenium – brazil nuts, salmon, shrimp, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, spinach

Does sperm health really affect fertility and the ability of a couple to become pregnant?

When doing research on fertility it came as a surprise to me that it takes around three months for sperm to fully mature. As you can imagine, there are many opportunities in that time for the sperm to become damaged so we need to be protecting those sperm as they mature. Men’s bodies are designed to keep the sperm protected with things like anti-oxidants in the semen. But many men are not eating enough foods that are high in these antioxidants. Sperm also need specific nutrients to fully mature, just as eggs do in women. Here is a study that found that low concentration and motility of sperm on day of IVF led to less successful fertilization.[xx] And here is a study that discusses how the father’s diet affects sperm quality.[xxi]

What damages the sperm as they mature?

Some things that can cause damage to sperm are smoke, sunlight, food preservatives (think sandwich meats and most processed foods), and chemicals like alcohol, cleaners, and chemicals in personal care items like lotions.

Increasing the Success Rate of IVF and other Reproductive Treatments

One of the ways you can try to increase the success rate of your IVF or ART procedure is by making sure your body has the nutrients it needs to create healthy hormones and healthy sperm and eggs. Foods are the best way to get the nutrients you need, but you may want to consider supplementing with the help of a knowledgeable practitioner. I hope you feel inspired to try adding some of these foods to your diet.

 

If you want help implementing these changes, please reach out to me for a free 20-min Discovery Call to talk about your situation.

I am also an instructor for the Feed Your Fertile BodyTM program that you can do together with your partner or by yourself.

 

 

 

[i] Dietary Patterns and Outcomes of Assisted Reproductions, Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Feb 8. pii: S0002-9378(19)30345-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.02.004.

[ii] The effect of health-promoting lifestyle education on the treatment of unexplained female infertility, Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2016 Dec;207:109-114. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2016.10.050. Epub 2016 Nov 2.

[iii] Nutrient supplementation: improving male fertility fourfold, Semin Reprod Med. 2013 Jul;31(4):293-300. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1345277. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

[iv] The Role of Nutrients Crucial in the Infertility of Couples …, Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Sciences 2017 Dec.

[v] Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility, Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Nov;110(5):1050-8.

[vi] Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Fertil Steril. 2006 Mar; 85(3): 679–688.  doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.08.045

[vii] DHEA use to improve likelihood of IVF/ICSI success in patients with diminished ovarian reserve: A systematic review and meta-analysis, JBRA Assist Reprod. 2018 Oct-Dec; 22(4): 369–374. doi: 10.5935/1518-0557.20180046

[viii] Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate, Int J Gen Med. 2011; 4: 99–104. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S16275

[ix] Association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and semen quality parameters in male partners of couples attempting fertility, Human Reproduction, Volume 32, Issue 1, 1 January 2017, Pages 215–222, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dew288.

[x] Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies, Hum Reprod Update. 2017 Jul 1;23(4):371-389. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmx006.

[xi] What should be done for men with sperm DNA fragmentation?, Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2018 Sep; 45(3): 101–109.

[xii] A mathematical model predicting the individual outcome of IVF through sperm-analysis: The role of the HaloSpermG2® DNA fragmentation test.

[xiii] Correlations between two markers of sperm DNA integrity, DNA denaturation and DNA fragmentation, in fertile and infertile men.

[xiv] Sperm chromatin damage impairs human fertility. The Danish First Pregnancy Planner Study Team.

[xv] Sperm DNA damage caused by oxidative stress: modifiable clinical, lifestyle and nutritional factors in male infertility, Reprod Biomed Online. 2014 Jun;28(6):684-703. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Mar 4.

[xvi] The role of sperm oxidative stress in male infertility and the significance of oral antioxidant therapy, Human Reproduction, Volume 26, Issue 7, 1 July 2011, Pages 1628–1640,https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/der132

[xvii] Reduction in the Incidence of Sperm DNA Fragmentation by Oral Antioxidant Treatment, Journal of Andrology, 02 January 2013, DOI:10.2164/jandrol.04146

[xviii] Antioxidants and sperm DNA damage: a clinical perspective, J Assist Reprod Genet. 2009 Aug; 26(8): 427–432. doi: 10.1007/s10815-009-9343-5

[xix]Zinc levels in seminal plasma and their correlation with male infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 22386. doi: 10.1038/srep22386

[xx] Semen parameters on the day of oocyte retrieval predict low fertilization during conventional insemination IVF cycles, Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 10 Nov 2018

[xxi] Epigenetics in male reproduction: effect of paternal diet on sperm quality and offspring health, Nature Reviews Urology volume13, pages584–595 (2016)

Nutrition to Improve Success Rates of Fertility Treatments

Can You Improve Your IVF & Fertility Treatment Success Rates?

Check out the article I wrote for the Feed Your Fertile Body blog. It goes over the scientific research for how various nutrients can improve your fertility. While there are no direct research projects about this, there are many that have shown how nutrients affect egg and sperm health and hormone health. Read more to find out how you can improve your IVF success rate.

Nutritional strategies that improve the effectiveness of fertility treatments

Want to Know More

Contact me for a free 20 minute Discovery Call to discuss your situation.

Contact Me

Free Health Fair-See New DNA Test for Fitness and Weight Loss

Free Health Fair

Want to know if you can lose weight with exercise (or do you need to focus on foods)? How about if your muscles are made from endurance or strength?  Come see me at my booth at the Free Health Fair this Saturday, March 9th, at Apple Athletic. It runs from 9:30am to 12pm.

I have posted one page of the DNA report that shows you information about fitness and health.

Health Fair

Postpartum Depression

Struggling with postpartum depression?

or

Worried about getting postpartum depression?

Every woman has heard horror stories about postpartum depression. Many women have experienced it and never want to again.

Understanding it and recognizing the symptoms can help but ultimately we want to avoid it altogether or have some tools to help alleviate the symptoms.

Come join me for a free class where we are going to discuss:

  • Causes of postpartum depression
  • Using nutrition to help you to avoid or alleviate symptoms
  • Other things you can do to improve postpartum depression

LOCATION: Idaho Falls Yoga Co-op

ADDRESS: 740 W Broadway, Idaho Falls

DATE: Saturday, June 23rd

TIME: 1pm-2pm

5 Fall Foods For Fertility

5 Fall Foods for Fertility

Five Types of Foods for Fertility and Overall Hormone Health

    1. Fats
    2. Flora
    3. Fuel
    4. Forage foods
    5. Ferments

Eating foods as they come into season, just as our ancestors did, not only makes sense but is better for your budget as those foods are usually at their cheapest. Many of those foods are also superb at supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to be at its best, especially in regards to preparing for pregnancy. So, let’s get started.

 

FATS

The first place to start with when you are looking to improve your hormone health, your fertility, and to prepare for pregnancy is to add healthy fats to your diets. Yum, Yum! We love fats because our body craves them and needs them to be healthy. There are so many reasons that we need healthy fats that I am only going to list a few:

  • Cholesterol is used to make your sex hormones-your body needs lots of cholesterol and it makes much of its own but you can help by eating the right types of fats. If you are giving your body inappropriate building blocks (trans-fats and other non-traditional fats like vegetable oils) then your liver has to detoxify and excrete them, putting more pressure on an already busy organ. From there, as you can guess, your body will have a hard time making appropriate amounts of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
  • Your body can not absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K unless they are in fat. Fat-soluble means they dissolve in fat. Healthy fats like butter, from healthy cows, have these vitamins in them.
  • Trans-fats are associated with fertility problems. It is suspected they contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation.

So which fats should you eat for fertility?

Stick with traditional fats that our ancestors used and those that come to mind in the fall are the fats from animals, especially grass-fed or wild animals.

  • Fats such as butter from grass-fed cows
  • Ghee-Butter with the milk proteins removed. For folks who are sensitive to dairy proteins.
  • Lard-That’s right! But make sure it comes from healthy pigs. If you don’t want to buy a bottle of lard, then buy some non-processed bacon and save the lard after you cook it. Yum!
  • Tallow-This is beef fat and you can buy it in the store or online. It also has a similar fatty acid profile as our skin, so I use it on my face.
  • Chicken, duck, lamb fat-These are harder to find in the store, but available online.
  • And coconut oil (it is not an animal fat, but it needs to be on this list)-it is a great source of medium chain fatty acids which also help with hormone health. A tip-replace most of the oils you use in making baking products with coconut oil.

How much fat should you eat?

A regular sized person ought to eat around 6 tablespoons of fat a day. Maybe 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 4 tablespoons of butter, or 4 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of tallow. (~600 calories/day for an average person eating 2,000 calories/day.)

FLORA

There are lots of great fall vegetables that will help with fertility. Remember, eating whole, real foods is always the best way to go, so you can’t go wrong with vegetables. This time of year there are lots of squashes available.

How do squashes like pumpkin and butternut squash help with fertility?

They are chock full of vitamins and minerals needed by the body for egg health.

Pumpkin and butternut squash have beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor, which encourages natural progesterone production and is abundant in the ovaries and supports sperm health.

Here is a link to a discussion on the study regarding sperm health. Sperm and Carotenoid-rich Foods

And, here is a link to a discussion of Beta-Carotene and female health-especially the ovaries. Female Health and Beta-Carotene

They also have anti-oxidants in them which help protect the body from damage and reduce inflammation overall.

Just remember that squash is a carbohydrate, so don’t eat too much, especially if you have blood sugar issues, including PCOS, and make sure you have plenty of healthy fat to eat with it. This will cause you to feel satiated so you won’t overeat and it will help keep your blood sugar from spiking too fast. So feel free to lather on the butter-but not the sugar.

Recipe-Pumpkin Spice Muffins (Grain Free)

FUEL

Proteins and fats go hand-in-hand. They are usually found together and are both required for body to properly absorb and use protein.

How does eating protein help with fertility?

  • Proteins are made of amino acids, which are building blocks for just about everything in your body.
  • They help your body to balance blood sugar by providing a constant supply of energy. Proteins, along with fats, keep you satisfied longer so you are less likely to crave junk foods and snacks between meals.

Fall is the time of year for wild game meats. If you hunt or know someone who does, try to get some wild game and add it to your diet once in a while.  Otherwise, buy some ground wild game meats and mix it with your ground beef once in a while. Think meatloaf, meatballs, and so forth.

Eating foods that our ancestors ate is usually going to be the best choice when it comes to increasing fertility.

Recipe-Venison Meat Pie w/Butternut Squash

FORAGE FOODS

This is the perfect time to find nuts & seeds in the store. Just remember, store them in the fridge (to protect their fats and keep them from going rancid) and buy organic if you can. Also, it is best if the nuts are raw, not roasted. I remember when I used to dislike walnuts because they were so bitter. I found that it was because the walnuts I was buying (baking nuts) were rancid. Fresh, properly stored nuts and seeds taste delicious.

Pumpkin seeds are perfect this time of year and can be added to oatmeal, salads, and yogurt. They are high in zinc, iron, and magnesium-all of which are important for fertility and sperm health. Zinc especially is an important mineral for both men and women. It is used to make sex hormones and eggs and is needed for a healthy thyroid. Men cannot make sperm without it. The prostate gland, semen, and sperm are loaded with zinc. Men and women need a constant, steady supply of it. Read more about this important mineral at-Zinc and Fertility

Things to do with raw Pumpkin Seeds

  • Put them in trail mix
  • Sprinkle them on a salad or a soup
  • Make a nut butter with them
  • Use them in a energy bite
  • Add to your oatmeal or porridge

Recipe-Pumpkin Pie Granola (pumpkin, sesame, chia seeds and coconut)

Walnuts are important for their omega-3s. You have probably heard a lot about omega-3s in the news and how they can help lower inflammation, which helps with endometriosis, PCOS, and uterine fibroids. Omega-3s are also important for fertility as they help with regulating hormones, cervical mucus, and ovulation. They also increase blood supply to the reproductive organs. And, they are important for sperm production. Fertility Benefits of Nuts & Seeds

FERMENTS

To keep foods from spoiling, this is the time of year our ancestors started many of their fermented foods. Fermented foods help our digestion, and just think-if you are not digesting your foods well, then you are not getting the nutrients you need for your health and fertility.

They help digestion in a couple of ways:

  • Fermented foods are full of bacteria that are beneficial to our guts
  • These foods provide enzymes that help us to digest our foods

Sauerkraut-I know, I know, yuck! Right! I always thought so until I had fresh fermented sauerkraut which I bought at my local store. It actually has a nice flavor and is not strong. This is perfect to eat with cooked meat as it will help your body to digest the proteins. There are also all kinds of ways to spice your sauerkraut, such as with garlic, or other vegetables, like beets, to change the taste.

Apple Sauerkraut is a recipe I make with cabbage and apples from my garden. It has a sweet and salty flavor and I add it to my green smoothies.

Recipe for Apple Sauerkraut

Other ferments are beet kvaas, kombucha, and unpasteurized yogurt (preferably made from raw milk). Beet kvaas (and beets in general) are great for your liver and help support your body’s ability to detoxify. It can also help prevent morning sickness by gently stimulating bile flow from your gallbladder (part of the detoxification process). Beets are also a good source of folate (34% DV in 1 cup cooked beets).

Conclusion

This is just a broad overview of some foods that you can find in the fall to enhance your fertility. Challenge yourself to starting adding these foods into your diet and become more aware of how you feel after you eat. I bet you start to feel better and find you have more energy to put towards enjoying your healthier body, with a loved a one, if you get my drift.

Preparing for Pregnancy or Struggling to Get Pregnant

If you would like to know more about what you can do to prepare your body for pregnancy, let’s work together to develop a plan designed just for you and your needs. If you are struggling with infertility, let’s talk about what you have tried and work to find a path forward. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.

Apple Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut can be eaten alone, as a side dish, or is most often eaten with meat. The enzymes in sauerkraut help us to digest meat, so that makes sense. This recipe takes advantage of fall foods would be great with pork chops, with sausages, or by itself as a snack. I make the basic recipe with fall spices and put it into my green smoothie.

Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, can provide a great boost to our digestive system as they are loaded with beneficial microbes that help us to process our foods. A new saying that is quite true is, “We are the microbes that live within and on us.” They help break down the foods we eat and provide us with vitamins and other compounds that nourish our colon. And, having the wrong microbes or an imbalance in microbes in our gut can lead to digestive dysfunction and upset.

Cabbage is loaded with vitamin K (85% DV in 1 cup chopped), vitamin C (54%), and folate (10%). Remember, vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so to get the most out of your sauerkraut, eat it with fat, oil, or meat with fat.

Apple Sauerkraut

Basic Recipe

Ingredients

1 head of cabbage, red or green

2 Tbls of sea salt

2 apples, red or green, depending on the taste you are going for

Optional ingredients

Spices

If you want a fall flavored sauerkraut, try cinnamon(1 tea), cloves (¼ tea), and ginger(1 Tbl)

If you want a more unusual taste, try caraway seeds or other spices that interest you

1 onion

Method

  • Shred the cabbage using a food processor or a hand shredder or chop it finely with a knife.
  • Place it in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt.
  • Massage the cabbage with your hands for a few minutes until it releases its juices.
  • Let the cabbage sit for a 15-20 minutes while you shred the apple. You can peel the apple if you like, but it is not necessary. I find a hand shredder works just fine for this.
  • Once the cabbage is ready, add the apple, spices, and onion (if you are using it).
  • Mix it all together well.
  • Pack the cabbage mixture into a jar or crock. Make sure you add all the juice.
  • Put a bowl or lid in the jar or crock, on top of the cabbage, and then place something on top of that to lightly weigh it down.
  • Either loosely screw on a lid or cover the jar/crock with a towel.
  • Place it in a cool place, out of the sunlight for 1-4 weeks.
  • Check the ferment and taste it every 3-4 days. You may want to clean off the plate and skim off any foam or mold that develops on top. If it becomes foul-smelling or if anything brown, moldy, or slimy is below what can be easily scraped off, then discard the whole jar.
  • The sauerkraut should have a little crunch and taste salty and tangy.

There are many places to go online to learn more about fermenting foods.

I found ideas for this recipe at:

Fermented Food Lab

Food & Wine

Fermentools