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

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This salad is a favorite with my kids and I have often been asked to bring again to potlucks. Feel free to change up some of the ingredients to match your tastes or what you have on hand.

 

One cup of strawberries has 113% of your DRI of vitamin C and 28% RDI of manganese. Spinach is rich in water and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals in addition to many other phytonutrients. It is also an important source of folate. One cup of spinach has 987% RDI of vitamin K, 105% RDI of vitamin A and the list continues. It is a great choice for many salads and pairs well with fruits.

Directions

Ingredients

1 large container of spinach (or other greens as you like)

½ of a red onion, chopped

1 pint of strawberries, cut up (or other berries)

¼ – ½ cup of pecans, chopped (or other nut)

 

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup sweetener (sugar, coconut sugar, honey, etc)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tea sea salt

½ tea dry mustard

1 Tbl water

 

Method

Prepare the salad by combining the first four ingredients in a large bowl. You can change up the greens and the fruit if you like.

 

Prepare the dressing by mixing the rest of the ingredients together in a jar. Shake to mix then drizzle onto the salad just before serving.

Teriyaki Fish

Do you have trouble getting your family to eat fish? I have tried several recipes in my attempts to make fish more palatable to my kids. So far, this one is our favorite. The Tamari helps cover the “fishy” taste and makes the fish yummy.

 

This recipe comes from Sally Fallon Morell’s book, “The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children”. It is a great book with lots of pictures and simple steps to make it easier for kids to follow and use.

 

Teriyaki Fish

Ingredients

  • butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pound wild fish filets (my kids like tilapia best)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or naturally fermented soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Rub the butter on the inside of a glass baking dish. (Size will depend on the number and size of filets you are cooking.)
  3. Place the fish, skin-side down, in the baking dish.
  4. Grate the garlic into a small bowl. Add the tamari and honey to the bowl. Mix together with a fork.
  5. Spread the sauce on top of the fish using a pastry brush.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.
  7. Once the fish is done, if you want to thicken the sauce left in the baking dish, pour it into a small frying pan and boil it for a few minutes.

Sautéed Chard

Have you ever wondered what to do with Swiss Chard? I found a delicious recipe in a book called “Bringing a Garden to Life” by Carol Williams. Carol Williams does a lovely job of describing how to garden in a story telling format. This recipe is just a sentence tucked into her chapter on vegetables.

This recipe is my family’s favorite and is what got me started eating chard. The honey and tamari give the chard a fabulous flavor. I now plant it in my garden every year and eagerly look forward to my harvest.

Swiss chard is very high in vitamins A and K, and has plenty of vitamins C & E, magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium in it. If you want to know more about chard, here is a link to some great information. World’s Healthiest Food

Sautéed Chard

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, any color
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey

Method

  1. Wash the chard. Remove the large vein by cutting it out or tearing off the leaves. Tear the leaves into smaller pieces but not too much as they shrink quite a bit once cooked and chop the veins.
  2. Heat the butter, tamari, and honey in large sauce pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the veins. Cover and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add the leaves. Cover and cook for a few more minutes. I add the leaves in handfuls and rub them in the butter/tamari/honey mixture each time.
  5. Once the leaves are wilted, they are ready. Remove from heat and uncover the pan.

Warm Beet Salad

The humble beet has gone out of style in many kitchens but it is an antioxidant-rich root vegetable that provides incredible support for the liver and gallbladder. The deep pigments that give beets their rich color, called betalains, are special phytonutrients that provide anti-inflammatory and detoxification benefits.

This recipe uses both the root and the greens. While many of you know that you can eat the root (the beet) the greens are also great for you. If you have other recipes calling for just the roots, don’t throw away the greens. They are great in salads, smoothies, soups, or sauteed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt.

Loaded with a variety of additional nutrients such as folate, potassium, cacium, iron, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A,C and K, beets are a great way to increase the nutrient-density of your diet.

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