One of the main suggestions you may come across as you explore natural fertility methods is the importance of a healthy diet. Eating foods that are natural and supply the body with essential nutrients is not only good for our health in general, but also helps to improve fertility and make conception easier.
There are many nutrients that are necessary for fertility that we need to make sure we are getting on a daily basis; essential fatty acids are one of those. Given that the general diet found in today’s modern world often is lacking in these nutrients, many people turn to certain supplements to help provide these nutrients to the body.
What are Essential Fatty Acids?
For years, it has been driven into our heads that fats are bad. We must eliminate fats from our diet to lose weight, prevent heart disease, and more. However, what many people seem to fail to realize is that there are some fats that are actually good for us and are, in fact, essential to our good health.
Essential fatty acids are three of these good fats. There are three different types of unsaturated fatty acids; Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to the body. Omega-9 acids are not “essential” for human health, because unlike Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that cannot be manufactured by the body, Omega-9 is naturally occurring because the body does contain the necessary enzymes for synthesis of the fatty acid to take place.
However, there are some cases where the body is unable to produce adequate amounts of Omega-9 on its own, so in this case a supplement is definitely beneficial. Since Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are unable to be produced by the body, we must gain them by eating foods that are rich in these unsaturated fats or use a dietary supplement to get the necessary amounts in our body.
Best Sources of 3-6-9 Essential Fatty Acids
The three best sources of essential fatty acids that will provide the different levels of unsaturated fats are borage oil, flax oil and fish oil. As each of the types of fatty acids are processed differently by the body and work in different ways, it is important to ensure that you are getting the proper intake of each.
Flax oil and fish oil are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids have been shown to help fertility by helping to regulate hormones in the body, increase cervical mucus, promote ovulation, and overall improve the quality of the uterus by increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Omega-3 fats also contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA and EPA. These two acids have been shown to help many forms of disease. Low levels of DHA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. During pregnancy, a lack of DHA may be associated with premature birth, low birth weight, and hyperactivity in children.
Borage oil is rich in Omega-6 fats, which can assist fertility by improving reproductive cell structure, decrease risk of inflammation and improve the condition of organs in the body.
Omega-9 monounsaturated fats are found in various food sources with the most amount of the nutrient found in olive oil. Other sources of Omega-9 fatty acids include fresh seeds and nuts, avocado, and sunflower oil.
It is important to ensure that your daily intake of nutrients includes each of these essential fatty acids, particularly paying attention to intake of Omega-3. Dietary supplements can be found that contain 3-6-9 fatty acids combined or you can take them separately or add foods to your diet that are rich in these fats. For best results, look for supplements that use fish and flax oil for the Omega-3s, and borage oil as a source of Omega-6.
By eating two servings of fish per week, you can increase your levels of omega-3s in your diet.
Omega 3 EFAs help the body to:
- Regulate hormones
- Increase the blood flow to the uterus
- Reduce sensitivity to the hormone prolactin, which can suppress ovulation.
- increases egg white cervical mucus, which is needed to help the sperm reach the egg.
- Helps your cycle to become normalized.
Essential Fatty Acids and Pregnancy
It is important to have a plentiful supply of essential fatty acids before becoming pregnant and to continue to eat fish or take fish oil supplements during pregnancy to maintain optimal health.
During pregnancy, essential fatty acids are important to your baby’s brain, eye, and heart development.
- EPA is necessary to grow a healthy circulatory system.
- DHA is an important component for a healthy central nervous system.
These EFAs support retinal development and visual acuity. Studies are showing that babies born to mother with high levels of DHA do better with visual acuity and visual learning tests. With optimal development that these nutrients provide, studies show that your baby will enjoy enhanced attention span and cognitive function after the birth as well, which will help them learn more effectively.
Having a sufficient level of these fats in your system is thought to help prevent miscarriage and premature delivery. Premature birth occurs in as many as 6 – 10% of births and increases the risk of physical and learning disabilities.
Increasing your intake of essential fatty acids can result in an increased sense of well-being and health for yourself during pregnancy. Omega-3s have been shown to be instrumental in preventing complications in pregnancy like pre-eclampsia, which can endanger the lives of both mother and baby. It may also lower the risk of postpartum depression after your baby is born.
It is important to have a plentiful supply of essential fatty acids before becoming pregnant and to continue to eat fish or take fish oil supplements during pregnancy to maintain optimal health. If your diet contains enough omega-3 EFAs, your baby’s needed supply will pass easily through the placenta. If your diet is lacking, your baby will need to draw omega-3s from your own internal stores, which can lead to a long-term deficit that can negatively affect your health.
Essential Fatty Acids and Men’s Fertility
For men, essential fatty acids can also make a big difference…
- Fatty acids improve the circulation to the genitals, which help support the prostate and the other elements needed for reproduction.
- It helps lower blood pressure, which helps with erectile dysfunction.
- Omega 3s are important to the production of sperm
Essential fatty acids and cholesterol are primary ingredients in sperm cell membranes.
DHA, one of the fatty acids contained in fish oil, has a significant impact on the viability and health of sperm. When there are not enough fatty acids present, cholesterol replaces the needed fatty acid in the sperm membrane. This prevents sperm from proper maturation. This, in turn, helps create more free radicals, which damage any healthy sperm that may be present.
By increasing the intake of essential fatty acids through the consumption of fish or fish oil supplements, the resulting sperm are healthier, have better motility, and the chances of a successful conception increase.
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