We have lost the traditional art of optimizing fertility and people are struggling to get pregnant as a result! We can optimize our fertility through simple steps used in indigenous societies, who recognize that both the father and mother contribute equally to fertility.

The first thing we want to do to optimize fertility is to increase progesterone production in women and testosterone production in men- these are our primary fertility hormones. This seems straight forward- but today we have massive issues with hormonal imbalances. Things like PCOS and Endometriosis in women and low testosterone levels in men are rampant. Many people have very high levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone (in women) or testosterone (in men).

How do we correct this? First, we need to address insulin resistance. Hormone production will be disrupted if our cells are not responding correctly to carbohydrate intake, and you are having big blood sugar spikes and crashes. So the first step is to increase insulin sensitivity and balance your blood sugar levels, which can be easily done for most people by lowering carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake until you reach a level of carbohydrate tolerance that your body can handle.

The second thing we need to do is target the key nutrients that are used in the production of progesterone and testosterone. Increasing your saturated fat intake is the primary one- which surprises a lot of people! Cholesterol is what our sex hormones are made of- and although we can produce some cholesterol from our liver, many people find that their hormonal health improves when they eat more saturated fat in their diets. Unfortunately, we are several generations now into a “low fat diet” craze and many people have grown up not getting enough fat in their diets, and even fearing so called negative health effects from saturated fat, which is a major myth addressed in a different blog post. I often have people supplement Cod liver oil to help with Vit A and saturated fat intake when they want to work on their fertility.

The next nutrient we need to target are B vitamins. While all B vitamins are important for fertility, B6 is especially important because we need B6 to convert cholesterol into our sex hormones. B9 and B12 also help with this conversion process. Animal protein like chicken and turkey have high amounts of B6, foods like liver have a high amount of B9, and foods like beef and lamb have high amounts of B12. Therefore an animal based, high fat diet that includes organ meat is an excellent diet to promote fertility in both sexes.

Lastly, we want to optimize our mineral intake. Similar to B vitamins, all minerals are important for fertility, but Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for fertility. Again, we use Zinc in the conversion from cholesterol into our sex hormones. Zinc is also naturally high in animal foods like beef and lamb, and also organ meats and seafood (especially oysters).

Iodine is also very important for fertility, and this is very overlooked by modern medicine- even though farmers still use iodine supplementation to increase fertility in their animals! Unfortunately, a lot of chemicals we come into contact with in the modern world actively deplete our iodine levels. These include bromide, chlorine, and fluoride, which are off gassed from a lot of home goods like clothing and mattresses, and our found in our city treated tap water. We need to be careful about minimizing our exposure to these chemicals as much as possible. Iodine supplementation is a complex issue and we want you to work with us before we discuss higher dose use of iodine, but for now you can safely take kelp as a natural iodine supplement.

Other than nutrients, we need to be careful about hormone disruptors in our daily product use. Many people are exposed to compounds called “forever chemicals”, also known as PFA’s, that are used in cleaning products, beauty products, plastic based products, synthetic fabrics, and more. A simple day of shampooing your hair, putting on clothes made out of synthetic fabrics, cooking breakfast in a Teflon pan, cleaning the kitchen counter after breakfast, stopping from coffee, exposure to air fresheners at work, and eating take out from a plastic container for dinner provides a massage dose of these chemicals. While it is unlikely that we can completely eliminate our exposure to these chemicals, we need to try to minimize it as much as possible to optimize our fertility.

Women worried about their fertility should try to reduce stress in their life as much as possible, as your body is unlikely to produce high amounts of the fertility hormone progesterone unless it feels like it is a safe and beneficial time to get pregnant. Having a loving and supportive partner, taking lots of time for “pampering” and self care, and reducing your workload are important lifestyle changes to implement. Additionally, men can boost testosterone production by doing stereotypically “manly” things, such as lifting heavy weights, challenging himself to do more fasting, and being nurturing and protective towards his partner, even if it is just opening doors and pulling out chairs for her!

At this point, I truly believe it is everyone’s duty to optimize their health as much as possible before they get pregnant. We pass down our microbiome, our toxic load, and our behavioral and emotional patterns down to our children, and we are in a crisis state when it comes to our mental and physical health. Taking a year to address emotional baggage, rebalance the microbiome, and detoxify your body as much as possible is something to take very seriously. We owe it to the next generation to give them better health and a better life than we had!

We take you through all of these practices in our Immune Resilience group coaching program. Will you join us?

About the Author
Jen Donovan completely rebuilt her life and career as a result of her experience with severe chronic illness. After finding no answers from conventional medical approaches, she took matters into her own hands and with the help of key mentors, found a path to healing.
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