As a naturopath I am always going on about the importance of Vitamin D with my patients. Vitamin D is needed to strengthen bone health, to balance the immune system, to help mental health issues especially depression, to reduce inflammation and improve intestinal lining health and is also essential for male and female fertility and pregnancy.
The reason it is so essential to fertility and getting pregnant is because it is needed to help the body create sex hormones. The correct amount of sex hormones in your body is vital to your overall well-being, otherwise you may suffer PMS, PCOS, and sadly, infertility.
Regulating cell growth is another key function of Vitamin D.
Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels. The remainder of the women either had insufficient levels of Vitamin D or they had clinical deficiency of Vitamin D in their bodies.
Tips for Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels
Get 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily while the sun is at its highest, between 11 and 3. Even weak sunscreens will block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D. Note that you do not make Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window.
Gradually build up your exposure. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than infrequent, long ones.
The best places to absorb Vitamin D are your inner arms and thighs.
After your 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun, apply sunscreen or wear a hat and light clothing to protect yourself. Opt for sunscreens with fewer added chemicals, look in your local health store.
Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems.
Showering: Vitamin D3, an oil-soluble vitamin, is on the surface of your skin and it apparently takes up to two full days before you can absorb this vitamin into your bloodstream. So avoid washing with soap for 48 days after sun exposure. Wash your armpits and groin area with soap but the rest of your body with pure water.
Increase your anti-oxidants and omega 3 intake. These nutrients help to protect your skin from sun damage. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits daily, eggs and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies and herrings) at least twice a week.
You can ask your GP to check your Vitamin D levels or there home kits that you can buy. I generally recommend to my patients to supplement Vitamin D3, I find that liquid drops are best in 1000iu. The dosage would be dependent on what was going on with the patient. Contact me if you would like further info on this.
This is a topic that I always go through with my fertility patients, please get rid of the low fat foods…! They are more damaging than good. This piece below is from the new Zita West book Eat yourself Pregnant and it outlines the dangers of low-fat foods and trying to conceive.
‘Many women make the mistake of substituting foods containing fat with low-fat products, thinking they won’t gain weight using them. However, for fertility – and, for that matter, for weight management – the principle is flawed. These products often contain trans-fats, sugars and sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners disrupt the normal hormonal and neurological signals that control hunger and satiety. Many studies have shown that a diet that is high in sweeteners in the end leads to a greater consumption of calories and so to weight gain.
But, weight aside, there is some startling evidence for how low-fat products can hamper conception. In one extensive study in the USA, women who ate two or more low-fat dairy products a day were twice as likely to have problems conceiving. Ovulation rates were 38% better among those who used full-fat milk. One reason for this might be that when the fat is skimmed off dairy products to make reduced-fat versions, estrogen and progesterone are removed too, leaving an unnatural preponderance of androgen’s – male hormones.’
Scary stuff, my recommendations are to swap all low-fat dairy with organic full-fat dairy, or use alternative dairy products such as goat’s and sheep’s products or coconut & unsweetened almond milks and yogurts. But watch out for soya products such as soya milk, as these may well have a negative effect on fertility.
As part of the fertility consultation I ask my patients to do a 3 day diet sheet. I then make individual detailed nutritional suggestions for the patient to help them conceive.
I don’t know why but we are always grossed out by discharges and sometimes we fail to see the importance of them, especially when it comes to fertility. As part of my consultation with patients who are trying to conceive I always ask if they are aware of their fertile period? Do they notice any discharge and if so how much and when?
This ‘discharge’ (such a horrid word for such an important fertility fluid!) is vital for conception as it shows that the body is getting ready to release an egg and to aid sperm on their long journey to reach the egg for the magic conception to happen. In chinese medicine this is the time that yin turns into yang, the cooling phase of the run up to ovulation turns in the incubation phase for implantation.
As an acupuncturist and naturopath I am looking to help increase/promote cervical fluids with acupuncture, diet, lifestyle and correct supplements. And obviously to include the couple having sex in the fertile period!
There are lots of misconceptions about cervical mucus, here is some info to help you decipher your discharges…!
Fertile mucus means you are ‘potentially’ fertile.
It’s not the day we see the most amount of fertile mucus (characteristically clear/egg white consistency), it’s the last day we recognise this mucus. If the mucus lasts for 4-5 days this can be key for timing intercourse.
Cervical fluid changes with fertility and goes through a predictable pattern each and every cycle. After you have finished menstruating you should have a period of no discharge at all.
It should then be:
1. Sticky – In a 28 day cycle, this will be around day 7 or so. Your cervix will start producing a sticky or pasty kind of cervical fluid. This is the beginning of the fertile period.
2. Creamy – As your cycle progresses, your estrogen level is rising daily and the water content of your cervical fluid will increase.
3. Egg white – It is called this as it resembles raw egg white. It’s clear and slippery and can usually stretch an inch or more between a finger and thumb. This is the really fertile stuff!! It’s alkaline and keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside your body.
4. Watery – Sometimes the water content inside a woman’s cervical fluid will be so high that the eggwhite cervical fluid is more like water, it’s clear, slippery and does not hold any shape. You will know it’s there by a very wet sensation in your vagina. This is very fertile cervical mucus is the last stage of the fertile period and suggests that the egg is about to be released.
5. Dry – this happens quickly after the wet period/egg release, the fertile window has finished for this cycle. Some women do experience a water cervical fluid the day before thee period, this is the endometrial lining starting to break up.
Cervical fluid is an incredibly valuable substance that is produced by your cervix. It’s made up of water, sugars, electrolytes and proteins. Fertile cervical fluid keeps sperm alive once it is inside the vagina. It provides nutrients, a hospitable alkaline environment and aids in transportation. Cervical fluid helps the sperm survive, sometimes for up to 5 days while waiting for the egg to be released. It also tells a lot about the state of a woman’s hormones.
Cervical fluid helps the sperm in 3 ways:
1. It provides an alkaline environment for the sperm. A woman’s vagina is slightly acidic and hostile to sperm. Fertile cervical mucus is alkaline, like a mans semen, and provides a safe harbour for the sperm.
2. It provides sustenance for the sperm while they swim on the way on up through the cervix, to reach the egg in the fallopian tube. The sperm need food along the way and fertile cervical fluid provides the needed nutrition.
3. It provides an easy pathway for the sperm to swim through. It also helps filter out irregular sperm so only the most suitable arrive at the egg.
There are many foods and supplements that can improve your cervical mucus such as royal jelly, evening primrose oil, increase your omega 3’s, avocados, olives etc…
I look at each women/couple individually and recommended foods and supplements to go with the acupuncture fertility program.
Menopause should be a time to embrace the changes in the female body, not a time of dred, the word alone can send cold chills (or hot flushes) down the spine of many women! But does it really have to be that way? Is there anyway to maneuver through menopause and maintain one’s sanity? Acupuncture and Naturopathy can have a positive impact in this transitional time.
Although by definition the date of a woman’s last menstrual period; the term menopause commonly refers to the period of change, when the egg supply becomes exhausted and the levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall. Ovulation and menstruation become less frequent and eventually stop. This usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age and constitutes a major transition period for most women. It can also happen at a younger age.
The Symptoms of Menopause
Symptoms in the transitional period may be felt for a short period or for several years depending on the body’s ability to adapt. They may include:
a change in the frequency or volume of blood flow of periods
emotional swings, irritability, depression
hot flushes and night sweats
loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness and recurrent vaginal infections
weight changes, reduction in breast tissue
bone loss of calcium may also occur.
However, many of these symptoms are also the natural side effects of ageing.
Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
Hot flushes and night sweats are experienced by more than 85% of menopausal women with varying degree of severity up to ten years after their last period. They occur because the brain decides that the body is overheated and responds by increasing the blood flow through the skin. The heated skin reddens and begins to perspire. The symptoms rise to a peak over about 4 minutes and then decline during the next 15 minutes accompanied by cold chills. Hot flushes are often accompanied by an increased heart rate and palpitations. Although harmless they can be very uncomfortable and distressing. Night sweats often cause frequent interruption of sleep, contributing to fatigue.
Menopause and Bone Health
The repair and maintenance system of bones is mainly controlled by hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. As levels of these hormones fall, bones begin to deteriorate and loose density. Osteoporosis literally means: “bone that has holes”. It leads to an increased risk of fracture especially of the spine and long bones of arms and legs (hip fractures). It may cause pain, especially in the lower back, loss of stature, and various deformities (Dowager’s hump). Osteoporosis is a complex condition which also involves lifestyle and nutritional factors, and prevention is much better than cure.
Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms – The Naturopathic Approach
Long term poor diet, emotional stress, and lack of exercise may lead to an increase in menopausal symptoms.
Diet(Food, drink and drugs)
Eat a wholesome diet predominantly based on fresh organic foods. Prepare your own meals whenever possible.
Foods to eliminate or reduce
Sugar, cakes and other refined carbohydrates
Processed ready meals
Animal fat from meat and dairy
Coffee, tea and alcohol
Increase beneficial foods
Plenty of fruit and vegetables
Brown rice and whole meal bread
Lentils and beans
Nuts and seeds
Organic poultry and fish and eggs
A non-dairy milk source – Coconut, rice, almond etc…
Cold pressed oils (olive, linseed etc.)
Cooling foods and foods rich in natural oestrogens (see below)
In Chinese medicine, the consumption of cooling foods is recommended. Such foods are wheat germ and its oil, mung beans, mung bean sprouts, string beans, seaweed, spirulina, millet, black beans, tofu, kidney beans, barley, black sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, saffron and cold sage tea.
Increase plant foods high in natural oestrogens (phytoestrogens). These include: soya products (don’t over-consume), flaxseed oil, flax seeds, nuts, whole grains (such as brown rice), apples, fennel, celery, parsley, and alfalfa. Maca powder has been proven to help reduce menopause symptoms and has been named the natural HRT.
Blood sugar control is also very important for hormone balance.
Drinking plenty of water keeps the body vital and young. Increase amounts gradually to about 1.5 to 2 liters per day.
For more advice of foods to eliminate and increase please contact me.
Endorphins arethe body’s own mood-elevating and pain-relieving compounds. They are also thought to relief hot flushes. Regular exercise enhances endorphins and has many benefits on health of bone and the cardiovascular system. It reduces stress, boosts the metabolism, increases energy levels and assists in achieving and maintaining normal body weight. In addition exercise may also help mobilise some stored estrogen, which may make for an easier transition.
Exercise in average 3 – 4 hours per week; Combine aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming with toning and strengthening exercise such as Yoga and Pilates.
Learn to adopt less aggressive attitudes. A relaxed, un-stressful life will greatly help overcome menopausal symptoms.
Supplementation & Herbs
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to a good general supplement programme (multivitamins & minerals, fish oil) the following vitamins and minerals may help relieve menopausal symptoms:
Vitamins E and C – For hot flushes, night sweats, irritability and vaginal dryness
B-Vitamins, especially B6 – For hormone balance, energy production and a healthy nervous system
Vitamin D & Calcium – For protection against osteoporosis, and for hot flushes
Magnesium – For night sweats and irritability
Evening Primrose Oil – For hot flushes & breast pain
Much of the effect of herbal medicine is thought to be a result of phytooestrogens in the plants and the plants’ ability to improve blood flow.
Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis): has a mild oestrogenic effect and stabilises blood vessels
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): mild oestrogenic effect and raises progesterone levels
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): relieves hot flushes, depression, vaginal atrophy
Chaste berry (Vitex Agnus-Castus): Balances secretion of certain hormones
Gingko Biloba: Improves blood flow to the extremeties and to the brain.
Red Clover and Korean Ginseng may also help because of their oestrogenic effects.
Combining all of the above is thought to produce greater effect.
For advice on recommended amounts please contact me.
Other useful tips
Menopause can often be a time of lowered energy. Get adequate sleep and even take a nap when feeling tired. If hot flushes and night sweats are your main problems:
Keep a record of your hot flushes and see if there is a pattern developing.
Wear loose clothing, made of natural fabrics, with short sleeves and V-necks
Use a battery operated fan and keep a flask of iced water near by
Relaxing during a hot flush can diminish its intensity.
Keep your bedroom cool
Use night clothes and bed linen made of natural fabrics
Keep a sponge and a bowl of water near your bedside to cool yourself down easily.
Acupuncture & Menopause
Acupuncture can help women suffering from the most common symptoms of menopause, it is claimed. A study suggests that Acupuncture can curb the severity of hot flushes and also relieve mood swings among women receiving it regularly.
Hot flushes can suddenly produce an uncomfortable feeling of intense heat, while frequent flushes at night can disrupt sleep. The symptoms are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the skin and are linked to hormone imbalances, but they are still not fully understood.
Medication proven to combat flushes includes Hormone Replacement Therapy and some antidepressants, which appear to damp down the body’s blood vessel system.
In the study, which was published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, Turkish researchers looked at 53 menopausal women. Twenty seven received acupuncture twice a week for ten weeks. This involved placing needles at certain points on the body to boost energy and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
The remaining volunteers were given ‘dummy’ acupuncture with blunted needles.
At the end of the trial, those receiving genuine treatment had lower scores for the intensity of the hot flushes and mood swings they experienced – which progressively improved over the treatment period – compared with those given dummy needles.
The researchers said the effect on endorphins might curb flushes by stabilising the body’s temperature controls, but they were unable to say how long the effect lasted after treatment finished.
The researchers admit the trial was small but claim that Acupuncture is worth trying for menopausal women unable or unwilling to use HRT.
Please contact if you would like any further information or to see how I can help you.
6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle Naturopathic programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.
Well done, I know I need a pat on the back for completing the last 6 weeks. Eliminating some of those foods groups was tough, now complete the programme with the 2/3 day juice fast.
As I have said before Spring is the perfect time to cleanse for overall health and well-being! According to traditional Chinese medicine, Spring is when your liver is particularly activated. Like any irrigation system, things build up, and the system can tire under strain. Ours is no different. When this organ functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. By eliminating alcohol, caffeine, meat, dairy, wheat/gluten & sugar you have done a lot of the hard work. The reason for doing the elimination over a long period of 6 weeks is so that you have gently cleansed your body and hopefully you won’t have a major healing crisis/reaction to the fasting. You can expect some on the normal fasting side effects, headaches, feeling cold, tired etc… Try not to do too much over the 2/3 days. You may have some side effects because the toxins in your body are being dumped into your blood stream and they will take 24 – 72 hours to clear through your system (Kidneys mainly). You can do gentle exercise, yoga and walking is OK but make sure you keep warm.
Juicing is the key to radiant skin and health. Also referred to as “cellular cleansing,” juicing is preparing and drinking fruit and vegetable juices. A juice fast is great way to nurture your body, rebuild your immune system and restore yourself to a healthy way of living. Raw fruit and vegetable juice contains many cleansing elements such as minerals, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants to heal and detoxify the body safely.
Little energy is used by your digestive system during the cleanse, allowing the body to focus on rebuilding, renewing, and healing. You might be surprised by how much energy you have. The many health benefits of juicing far exceed those of eating solid fruits and vegetables.
At the most basic level, juicing gives us the opportunity to add far more vegetables to our daily diet. Juicing allows us to up the amount of raw food we consume which gives the body energy and boosts the immune system and the body’s cleansing process. Green juices contain lots of chlorophyll which is significantly effective in detoxifying our bodies. Chlorophyll can help make our bodies strong by detoxifying the liver. This detoxification will purify and help to rebuild our blood cells, remove mold, parasites and toxins from the body.
It is necessary to strain the juices to ensure that solid pieces are not consumed. Solid food will encourage the digestive process to begin again and will make you hungry. This is not desirable. If you feel like you need more juice, more calories, or are a little low in blood sugar, you can repeat any of the juices during the same time period of any given day, I would recommend 3-5 juices per day. Most juices contain about 100-200 calories and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Also allow yourself to drink non-caffeinated Herbal teas.
Earlier in the week I recommended this great value juicer, you can get almost anything through it as long as harder fruits and vegetables are chopped into smaller pieces. If you do not have a juicer you can use a blender and strain out the pulp.
Fruits are the cleansers and being very alkaline are good to do first thing in the morning and vegetables are the builders and good to do in the evenings. Avocados and Bananas do not juice well. Remember you can use herbs; mint and parsley are great in juices, also ginger.
Have 3 – 5 8oz glasses (large glasses) of juice per day plus 1.5 – 2 litres of clean filtered water
Please feel free to make up your own juices, more veg than fruit and try not to mix fruit and veg together as they impair digestion, exceptions to this are carrots (which break down simple sugars very quickly) and apples, which can comfortably be mixed with vegetables because of the higher starch content.
If you are hungry, eat raw veg such as peppers
NO Salad dressing, Salt & Pepper
If you blood sugar is low have a piece of fruit
Both fruit and veg are high in Potassium and Magnesium so even though you may find this hard you are doing your body the world of good.
1. 1 Carrot grated, ½ Cucumber, 2 medium Beetroot, handful of Spinach or Kale & 2 Celery sticks and add Ginger and the juice of a lime to taste.
2. ½ Cucumber, 1 Apple, 2 Celery sticks, 1 Carrot grated – this mixes really well together
3. 1 Apple, Grapes and a Lemon – great in the morning
4. 1 Pear, Grapes, ½ Lemon & ½ Watermelon
5. Handful of Spinach & Kale, handful of chopped Broccoli, 2 Celery sticks and ½ Cucumber – surprisingly sweet because of the Kale
6. ½ Pineapple, ½ Cucumber & Lemon or Lime
Please feel free to make up your own and remember to dilute all juices with equal parts of clean filtered water.
When you have competed the 2 days, please ease yourself gently back into the world. Lots of soups and stews, nothing processed and see how much you can keep eliminated from your diet. If your ever feeling like you have slipped back into your old routine you can just do a 2 day juice fast but watch out for the side effects!!
6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle Naturopathic programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.
So how are you getting on with the detox, are you starting to have more energy and your skin looking brighter? I hope so, I can defiantly feel a difference and it’s so good to not be relying on Caffeine for that pick me up, I feel great. Still a way to go though, this week the food group to eliminate is Dairy.
There are so many misconceptions with Dairy, we are lead to believe from a young age (thanks to the government funded Dairy Council) that Milk is good for us and will help protect us from diseases such as Osteoporosis and Heart Disease and that it’s full of vitamins and minerals (yeah right!). In fact is that dairy is responsible for so many health disorders especially allergies, eczema, asthma, arthritis, bloating and acne as well as being high in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.
Think about it, we are the only mammal on the planet that drinks another mammal’s milk; this surely has to be wrong. Here are a few further facts on dairy:
After weaning, milk is not an essential part of an adult’s diet, after the age about two the enzyme rennin, responsible for milks proper digestion dries up. Milk can damage the small intestinal wall leading it to be permeated; this can lead to a lot of health problems.
Dairy attacks the lymphatic system – this is the first line of defence for the body, cow’s milk is high in acid and this causes congestion of the lymph as bacterial cultures can develop very quickly, this is a primary source of infection for the body especially in children – ear infections, eczema, asthma etc…
Cultures that don’t drink milk have the strongest bones.
We are all lead to believe that the Calcium in dairy is good for our bones, realistically the calcium that we ingest into our body’s from dairy products creates too much calcium, this cannot be absorbed without magnesium, most people are deficient in magnesium, therefore the calcium is ‘free’ and cannot be used.
The high acids in dairy products are a main factor in Osteoporosis, instead of going for the diary option you should switch to green leafy veg. Many green vegetables have calcium-absorption rates of over 50%, compared with about 32% for milk. Additionally since animal protein induces calcium excretion in the urine, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher plus you are also getting the Magnesium you require to absorb the Calcium, so it is of more benefit.
Green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without problems associated with diary. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don’t consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.
Milk and dairy are a huge factor in the production of Gall Stones
Because of the demand for dairy, cows need to produce 55 litres a day to be viable, this is not possible without the help of growth hormones and antibiotics, and we are also ingesting these nasty’s.
So as you can see there are many health benefits from eliminating dairy and maintaining a plant based diet. There are some really good dairy free options to look out for and most supermarkets and all health stores stock them.
Every dairy product has a non-dairy alternative. Milk from cows and other animals is used as a beverage and in recipes for both sweet and savoury foods. You can get non-dairy milk from Soya, Almond, Rice and Coconut milk – my personal preference is from a brand called Kara, have a Coconut milk and it is not as sweet as some of the alternatives and is great for cooking with. If a recipe calls for buttermilk, simply stir 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar into 1 cup of soy milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
With more people giving up dairy for health or dietary reasons, the selection of soy-based yogurts is growing. Peruse the supermarket yogurt section and you’ll find plain, vanilla and fruit flavoured soy yogurts. Soy yogurt seamlessly replaces dairy-based yogurt as a snack and in recipes.
Tofu and vegan cheeses are delicious non-dairy substitutes for nearly all types of cheese. You may have to visit a natural foods store to find vegan cheeses, but tofu is available at most grocery stores. You can use crumbled, seasoned tofu in place of cottage cheese or ricotta.
Replacing ice cream:
If ice cream is one of your favourite desserts, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the vast selection of non-dairy ice creams made from soy, rice and coconut.
Your morning toast habit and love of baking don’t have to end just because you’re eliminating butter from your diet. Dairy-free or vegan butter substitutes come in stick, spreadable and shortening forms and can be used in many recipes, in addition to adding moistness and flavour to your breakfast foods. If you opt for margarine, go with organic and trans fat-free varieties.
One more tip, remember to read labels, just because you eliminate the obvious dairy in your diet (i.e., milk, yogurt, cheese and butter) doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Dairy may lurk in other everyday foods. Read labels on all packaged foods before buying or consuming. Be on the lookout for — and avoid — these common dairy-derived ingredients: casein, whey, ghee, lactic acid, lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, lactose, milk sugar and recaldent (found in dental products).
This week may sound as if it’s going to be tough, but stick with it, the health benefits from eliminating dairy are immense. Good Luck as always and please get in touch if you have any further questions.
6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.
Week 2 – Caffeine Detox
Well done, hopefully you have survived week one of my detox. Well, how was it? Did you manage to stay off the booze? I managed it, even when I went out for a Valentine’s dinner I managed to stay clear from the White Wine.
Even if you slipped up you should carry on with the Detox programme, as each week is accumulative you will continue to stay clear of alcohol.
This week the item to eliminate is Caffeine. This is going to be tougher as Caffeine is an everyday item, the main culprets being Coffee & Tea.
Below is a chart that shows the Caffeine content in everyday items:
Item Caffeine (mg)
Coffee, brewed (240ml/8oz) 60-120
Coffee, instant (240ml/8oz) 70
Coffee, decaf (240ml/8oz) 2-5
Tea, black, 5-min steep (240ml/8oz) 60-100
Tea, green (240ml/8oz) 20
Coca-Cola (355ml/12oz) 34
Milk Choc (30g/1oz) 1-15
Dark Choc (30g/1oz) 20
As you can see from this, it’s not just Tea & Coffee that you have to eliminate from your diet. Sorry the Chocolate has to go…! As you may know, Green Tea has many health benefits but I will come back to these at a later date, for now all you need to know is that it contains caffeine so it’s a no, no.
What you can drink:
It’s all about the Herbal Tea’s, these days the shops are filled with so many flavours and you will be surprised at how good they taste. I recommend that you get yourself a ‘Tower of Tea’, below is mine and I’ve been an Herbal Tea addict for a long time and I’m always finding new flavours. My new favourite is from a brand called Clipper and is an Orange & Coconut flavour – Yum.
Side effects from Detoxing from Caffeine:
Caffeine is a drug. It’s addictive, gives you a sudden rush of energy and offers you a bit of a high, which is usually followed by a bit of a crash. Once you start to feel the crash, more Caffeine is needed to maintain stimulation. But the biggest sign that Caffeine is a drug is that when you have a go at detoxing from it, you will experience crazy withdrawal symptoms.
Headaches, nausea and moods so bad…this is what prolonged periods of abstinence can do to the caffeine addicted.
Drinking Coffee is a ritual and symbol of important, busy people. The more responsibilities we have, the bigger the cup of Coffee we need to carry around with us. I never drank Coffee untill I started studying to be an Acupuncturist & Naturopath, I think that it was the working full-time and studying that did it. Now I can go through phases of one Coffee a week or one everyday and I’m partial to black Tea and dark Chocolate so this is going to be a challenge.
The more stress we have in our life, the more Caffeine we drink. It’s a vicious cycle. We need Caffeine to keep up with the pace of modern life, but if Coffee is your choice, itself actually helps to create nervous energy. Coffee wakes us up and gets us going, but over time this unnatural stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones and our adrenals.
It is widely known that Caffeine enhances alertness and concentration, but the negative effects are pretty well downplayed. The health risks include inhibiting the absorption of essential minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc as well as B vitamins. Many studies have also linked heavy Coffee consumption with higher risks for miscarriages, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Drinking Caffeine is a habit that should be gradually given up – especially if you rely on more than one cup each day. Caffeine withdrawal is not fun – for you or for those around you. Here are a few things you can do to help you kick the habit:
1. Drink more water – you can help to flush out the Caffeine in your system by drinking a lot more water throughout the day.
2. Try Dandelion and Chicory root blend tea – this tea is a great Coffee substitute as it looks like Coffee and it still has a rich flavor. You can also add oat milk or almond milk if you prefer it creamy. This stuff is rich in minerals, provides energy and is also known for its detoxifying properties.
3. Get plenty of rest – when you take Caffeine away, your body won’t know what’s hit it. Without that false energy, you will most likely feel tired and more lethargic than usual. Be gentle with yourself and honor your body with more sleep and rest.
So Good Luck, this is going to be a tough week. Any questions let me know and I’ll check in, in the week to see how you’re getting on.
Fertility simply refers to a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. If you are fertile, than there is a good chance that you will become pregnant at some point in time. Though pregnancy may not happen right away, if both a man and a woman are fertile, they will conceive a child eventually. Certain factors play a key role in determining fertility. In order for a woman to be fertile she must produce a viable egg during each monthly cycle. In order for a man to be fertile he must be able to produce strong and healthy sperm that can fertilize this egg. Numerous factors play a part in these roles including your diet, lifestyle and stress management. Keeping in mind the following guidelines, they will increase both your chances of conceiving and improve the health of your baby also.
Start a 3 month plan incorporating Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle and Stress management.
Why 3 months?
It takes 3 months for eggs to mature and be ready for ovulation
Men also take 3 months to produce a batch of sperm
The body requires 3 months to eliminate toxins and increase to optimum nutrient status
Optimize nutrient intake using following information. Eat a diet sufficient in Carbohydrates, Fibre, EFA (essential fatty acids) with a healthy amount of protein.Drink plenty of water 6-8 250 ml glasses per day.
Decrease Saturated Fats
Increased amounts of Saturated Fats are associated with increase in oestrogen causing an oestrogen imbalance. They also trigger body to produce inflammatory substances which can also increase period pains. They also block the body’s ability to absorb Essential Fatty Acids or “good” fats.
Food Sources: Reduce meat and dairy. Avoid all processed foods, such as biscuits, cakes, white bread, white pasta, and white rice. Aim for whole foods in their natural state.
Increase your Good Fats
Especially the omega 3 as they help decrease inflammation in the body, hormone balance and development of a baby brain, eyes and nervous system.
Food Sources: You will find good fats especially Omega 3 in oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, fresh tuna. Also found in walnuts, flax and pumpkins. Vegetable sources include kale and cabbage.
Increase Fibre intake
Fibre helps control the levels of Oestrogen. Old oestrogen enters the gut where fibre binds and helps excrete it from the system thus preventing re-absorption of old oestrogen into circulatory system leading to oestrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance.
Soluble fibre: found in vegetables, fruit, oats and beans.
Vitamin C – can trigger ovulation, with Vitamin E it may keep you fertile longer and improve the quality of the eggs.
Food Sources: Fruit, vegetables, citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables such as brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
Vitamin E – plays an important role in egg production.
Food Sources: Seeds, nuts, egg yolk, oily fish and broccoli.
Folic Acid – critical to baby’s health and in lowering risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and/or neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida and Anencephaly.
Vitamin A – Important for your baby’s embryonic growth – including the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes & bones and the circulatory , respiratory and central nervous system. It also helps with infection resistance and fat metabolism. It also helps to assure you that your cervical fluid will be sperm-nourishing, fertile consistency. It also increases the amount of fertile fluid.
Food Sources: Coloured fruit & vegetables.
Zinc – essential for conception. Important for men to ensure the head of the sperm is hard and can penetrate the egg to fertilise.
Magnesium: nuts, vegetables, brown rice, eggs & sunflower seeds.
Manganese: help boost sperm quality, improves health of baby.
Food Sources: Wholegrains, seeds, leafy green vegetables, green beans, sweet potatoes, onions, strawberries, bananas, apples & eggs.
Selenium: essential for sperm production.
Food Sources: Found in eggs, nuts (Brazil), broccoli & garlic.
Calcium: needed for babies bones, teeth & nervous system.
Food Sources: Organic dairy products, salmon, oranges, prunes, sesame seeds, almonds, pulses, wholegrains and green leafy vegetables.
Royal Jelly: Royal Jelly is rich in amino acids (29 to be exact), lipids, sugars, some vitamins, fatty acids and most importantly, proteins. It contains high levels of vitamin D and E as well as ample levels of Iron & Calcium.
Evening primrose oil: This is an essential fatty acid that you can take from your period until ovulation to improve fertile mucus. It is not recommended to take this after ovulation as it can cause mild contractions in the uterus and prevent implantation.
Co Q 10: Improves ovulation and even rejuvenates eggs so that they act like younger eggs, can be linked to higher success rates in IVF. In men it is thought to have a protective action on sperm, improving the count and motility.
Exercising encourages hormonal balance which in turn increases your fertility, aim for 30 mins a day gentle exercise. Try incorporate Yoga or Pilates to de-stress.
Chronic stress leads to high levels of the hormone cortisol, however in order to continually make cortisol your body requires progesterone, decreasing the amount available for your fertility cycle. Stress can also affect the release of other hormones necessary for your cycle. It can also affect libido inevitably affecting chances of conceiving.
Detox your lifestyle
Avoid environmental toxins e.g. organic foods as much as possible, avoid plastic containers and bottles which contain xenoestrogens disrupting your hormone balance and instead use cast iron, steel or glass cookware.
Watch your weight
A certain amount of body fat is essential for conception however if too low you may stop ovulation. If it is too high, it can interfere with ovulation as excess fat causes imbalance in the ratios of reproductive hormones. Men being overweight can affect the quality and quantity of your sperm. Achieve optimal weight through healthy eating and exercise.
Coffee can delay conception for a year, its best to try to avoid completely if you can.
Alcohol may increase production of oestrogen. Alcohol may decrease fertility by half and increase risk of miscarriage. 1-2 glasses of wine ok if special occasion only, however if you experience any hormonal imbalances it is best to avoid completely.
Smoking may increase the risk of miscarriage; it may decrease oestrogen by interfering with ability of cells in the ovaries to make oestrogen. Smoking can increase the rate at which a woman loses eggs causing early onset of the menopause.
It is always best to try to get your daily Vitamins, Minerals and Essential fatty acid’s through food sources, but this is not always possible, this is when supplementation comes in.
Female Vitamins & Minerals to maximise Fertility
Pre-natal Multi Vitamin & Mineral – improves nutritional status
B complex – reduces stress and is a nervous system tonic
B6 – synthesis of RNA & DNA – will be in B complex
Folic Acid – 400mcg
EPA (essential fatty acids) – for healthy glandular function and hormone balancer
Selenium – deficiency is linked to infertility
Vitamin E – use D-alpha-topherol form, carries oxygen to sex glands
Zinc – for cell division
Vitamin C – improves hormone levels
Vitamin D – boost levels of progesterone and estrogen, which regulate the menstrual cycle & improve the likelihood of successful conception
Co-enzyme Q 10 – needed for basic functioning of cells and fertility benefit for women with low egg reserve
Royal Jelly – has been shown to help balance hormones, to increase libido and support egg health
Evening Primrose oil – improve fertile mucus
Male Vitamins & Minerals to maximise Fertility
Multi Vitamin & Mineral – to improve nutritional status
Vitamin E – increases sperm count and carries oxygen to sex organs – D-alpha-topherol form
Vitamin C – helps to manufacture healthy sperm, prevents sperm from sticking together and can improve their motility, can increase sperm up to 1/3 – 500mg twice a day
Vitamin D – essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido
Zinc – cell division and improves desire & ejaculation
Selenium – lack of selenium is linked with sterility
Vitamin B Complex – stress and nervous system tonic
L-Arginine & L-Carnitine – crucial for male fertility and sperm development
Coenzyme Q10 – energy for sperm
I treat fertility patients with Acupuncture and Naturopathy. For advice on recommended daily amounts, the best brands and where to get supplements please contact me.
Stress is not an easy word to define, although everybody has a sense of what stress means. Stress means a pressure or tension, created by too many physical, mental or emotional demands. Physiologically our reaction to stress is known as the “fight or flight syndrome”. Situations frequently occur that require physical action quickly. The body prepares for this rise in effort by diverting blood from the digestive system to the muscles, raising the level of blood sugar, mobilising fats into the blood stream and increasing the pulse and blood pressure. This reaction is caused not only by stress, but also by “adrenal stimulants”, such as coffee, alcohol, and many other drugs. Refined sugar in the diet has a similar effect in raising blood sugar levels. Today, unlike our ancestors, we do not respond with a burst of activity, which is the natural way of utilising the extra sugar and fats made available.
Our diet consists of the foodstuffs and liquids we take into our bodies on a daily basis. The diet when broken down by the digestive system then provides the nutrients the body needs to function properly. The better the quality and source of the food we intake the better the quality of the nutrients (or fuel) we provide for the maintenance of our overall health.
The long term effects of stress and its interaction with nutrition are directly the result of being in “top gear” too often. This uses up nutrients needed in the stress cycle at an alarming rate. Stress weakens the immune system, thus increasing the risk of frequent infections. In the body stress manifests itself as physical tension and the inability to relax. But stress is not just physical. Emotional upsets and awkward relationships cause anxiety, and mental stress results in preoccupying fears and worries, the mind endlessly chattering without a break. Whatever its origins, stress has a profound effect on our body chemistry. The heart beats faster and stronger, the blood vessels constrict, the liver converts protein to glucose, muscle cells break down glycogen (stored sugar) to glucose, our who biochemical system swings into action, all conducted by the adrenal glands.
Saturated fats and trans fats (max 4 g per 100g serving
Chicken and fish – especially cold water fish for E.F.A.’s
Sugars – such as white bread, sweets, breakfast cereals (they contain no nutrients and stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin)
Vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables. Eat a variety for optimum nutrient intake.
Alcohol – high in calories, low in nutrients, depletes B vitamins, increases blood pressure and alters blood sugar levels.
Fruits – eat a variety in season for optimum nutrient intake.
Chocolate and confectionery – see above re sugars
Tofu – to provide good quality protein
Coffee and stimulants – can lead to mood swings, irritability, digestive problems, nervousness and interfere with sleep.
Seeds, nuts, brown rice, legumes, avocados, examples of these include sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, hemp, flat seeds, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, beans, lentils, quinoa etc.
Salt / sodium – 1 slice of bread usually provides our daily requirement
Some dairy including milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs.
The body needs an increased amount of B vitamins, especially Vitamin B5, Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium when stressed. They help adrenal function and also help protect the body from free radical damage. Sources of these nutrients are as follows:
B Vitamins: sources include dark leafy green vegetables, whole wheat, wholegrain, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, egg yolks, yogurt, mushrooms, brown rice and wheat germ.
Vitamin C: Good food sources include: avocado, blackcurrants, broccoli, brown rice, cabbage, cheese, citrus fruits, nuts, oat bran, parsley, peppers, pineapple, potatoes, sesame seeds, strawberries, sunflower seeds and wholegrains.
Calcium: sources include: milk, cheese, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium: Good food sources include: brown rice, soybeans, nuts, brewer’s yeast and wholegrains, cod and mackerel.
Potassium: Consume more avocado, lima beans, potato, tomato, nuts, fish, bananas, fruit juices, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes,watercress and whole-wheat.
Sodium: As sodium is present in so many foods it is unlikely to be deficient. The body in stress, especially prolonged stress, retains sodium and this helps to increase blood volume and raise blood pressure. So do not add salt to the diet. Cut it out wherever possible.
Zinc: Sources include: oysters, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, fish, oats, ginger, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds, turnips, pecans and brewer’s yeast. Recommended daily dosage is 15mg.
Selenium: Good sources include: Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, cashew nuts, chicken, crab, seaweed, garlic, eggs, herrings, onions, salmon, tuna, tomatoes and wholegrains.
Relaxation techniques for Stress Management:
Breathing exercises for awareness; tension release; progressive relaxation exercises; meditation; visualisation; affirmations; massage can help relax the nervous system, lead to better sleep and an increased ability to deal with stress. Also beneficial are techniques to deal with worry control and better time management, improved life / work balance. A stress management therapist can teach the above techniques. To restore balance daily try the following:
Make time every day for yourself (even 10 minutes or better still 30 minutes per day can help).
Do something which you enjoy every day and which makes you LAUGH; laughter is wonderful for relieving stress. Ensure there is some FUN in your life.
Exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi can help relax the nervous system, release endorphins and provide an increased ability to deal with stress.
Reconnect daily with family and loved ones, a daily meal together is ideal as it creates a break with work-time, reconnects with family and loved ones and can be relaxing.
Changing unhealthy eating habits can make a positive difference to health, changes such as:
Eating more complex carbohydrates and fibre. These are better for the body than refined sugars; they provide bulk in the diet and help feed our essential friendly gut bacteria. They also a) help to give a sense of fullness and satisfaction, b) protect against chronic illness as wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes also reduce constipation, c) help to control blood sugar, d) maintain a healthy digestive system, e) reduce the risk of colon cancer, f) support out adrenal glands. Eat some protein foods with carbohydrate foods to maintain blood sugar levels.
Attain / Maintain ideal weight. Overeating stresses the body and carrying extra weight is a continuous physiological strain. Psychologically the image of being overweight is even more pervasively damaging. So eat when hungry and try not to comfort eat. To lose weight, follow a sensible eating plan and exercise to expend surplus calories. Individually our correct weight is dependent on height, size and structure and our ideal body weight should be in the body mass index range of 20 – 25. Exercise with a friend if this helps.
Eat frequent, calm meals. Our fast paced society, together with our many available fast food options, encourages us to eat on the run and denies us the time to relax as we eat. Our bodies’ run/work better if we refuel them frequently and properly.
Simple Methods to improve your digestion and reduce stress:
1)Eat in a settled and quiet atmosphere and sit down to eat. It is important that you take meals during a settled and pleasant time of day when you are free of distractions. Sitting relaxes the digestive tract and helps focus your attention on the process of eating. Even if you are only having a small snack, sit down to eat it.
2)Take a few minutes to rest quietly at the end of your meal. By relaxing at the finish of your meal, the digestive process can begin in an effortless way.
3)Don’t eat when you are upset. If you feel upset at mealtime, wait a little while until you feel calmer. When you are emotionally upset there is an increase in the production of acid and a slowing of normal stomach contractions. These acid rich secretions remain the stomach longer and cause severe irritation.
4)Avoid overeating. You should eat to about three quarters of your stomach’s capacity. Eating beyond this point prevents normal stomach contractions. This is also the point that gives us a feeling of satisfaction without the sensation of overeating. The average stomach size is that of a closed fist, each person’s stomach size being individual to them.
5)Don’t drink while you are eating. Many of us are in the habit of washing our food down with a drink, before we have chewed it properly and by drinking whilst we have food in our mouths. Chewing your food helps your digestive system with the process of digestion, as there are smaller pieces to break down, and helps prevent indigestion and excess wind.
6)Eat at a moderate pace. This allows you to chew your food well and helps you to find the point at which you feel satisfied. If you find that you eat too quickly, simply put your fork down after each mouthful and don’t eat more food until that mouthful has been chewed and swallowed. Your digestion will thank you!
7)Eat meals that a freshly cooked using a variety of ingredients. This will ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients needed for a healthy diet and enable your body to maintain balance.
8)Eat your meals at a regular time each day. This will allow you to develop a routine, helps to prevent snacking, maintain blood sugar levels, and put less stress on your digestion.
Acupuncture for Stress management:
Acupuncture is a great way of relieving stress because it relaxes the muscles in the body and causes a mental feel of tranquility. The benefits of acupuncture not only relieve stress but may provide many other benefits as well. When learning to manage stress, acupuncture gives you the emotional break to rein in your emotions. Often, with the assistance of acupuncture, the triggers for stress are greatly reduced or eliminated.