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Fertility Q&A: Fertility Diet Alternatives? Vegan, Raw, Allergens…

Fertility Q&A: Fertility Diet Alternatives? Vegan, Raw, Allergens…

Some of the most asked questions we receive are about substitutions or alterations for the Fertility Diet. This Fertility Q&A will focus on those questions…

1. Q: Hi, I am vegan and eat about 80% raw, I am wanting to prepare for pregnancy, what are the most important tips for a vegan/raw foodist when doing the Fertility Diet? What is the difference between the Fertility Diet and a Vegan or Raw diet?

A: The main difference between the Fertility Diet and a Vegan diet is that we feel it is okay to eat free-range organic meats and dairy products. The difference between the Fertility Diet and a Raw diet is that we feel it is fine to eat cooked foods. The real goal here is to help people to re-learn how to eat in a healthy way. While it may seem like common sense that whole foods are more nutritious and better for the body, it is not always what our supermarkets have on the shelves. We live in a time where everything is fast and convenient, pre-made for the consumer.

The first step for many people is to just learn how to eat whole foods. Later down the road, if a person wants to take their dietary changes a step further, they may change to vegan or raw only.

The most important step for vegans and raw foodists is to make sure they are getting enough vitamins, minerals, good fats, and protein! If you eat a lot of raw fresh vegetables and fruits you are probably getting enough vitamins and minerals, but it is very important to be sure you are getting a variety of B vitamins (dark leafy greens) and vitamin D3.

Vitamin D can be obtained for free by sitting out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes per day. Forget using sun block though, as it will actually block the ultraviolet light that is needed to produce Vitamin D. The warm sun helps your skin to create Vitamin D3 that is then transformed into the active hormone form of Vitamin D by the kidneys and the liver. In fact, by being out in the sun for just a few minutes a day, a woman’s body can create between 10,000 to 25,000 IU of Vitamin D.

In addition, be sure you are getting enough good fats and protein; avoid low fat foods. Here are some suggestions:

    Coconut oil
    Nuts/nut butters
    Seeds/seed butters
    Olive oil
    Sesame seed oil
    Grape seed oil
    Sprouted quinoa, nuts, grains, etc.

These are extremely important because you need adequate amounts of body fat to produce regular levels of estrogen; low body fat may mean lower estrogen levels. Estrogen is essential for healthy bone formation, healthy gene expression, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle.

2. Q: Hello, I am struggling to get pregnant, been trying for a year and a half with no success. I eat really well, I have been a vegetarian for 12 years, exercise 3 times a week and have regular 31-day cycles. Where should I begin?

A: My first thoughts are – have you been to see a doctor about your struggles to get pregnant? If not, please have both you and your partner see a doctor. When trying to conceive it is very important to prepare the body by eating a nutrient-rich whole food diet, which is what the Fertility Diet is. I am not saying you fall into this category, but many times I find that vegetarians think they eat well, but in fact they eat too many processed refined grains, pre-packaged food, or frozen vegetarian meals. Just because it is labeled vegan, natural or organic does not necessarily mean it is good for you. While those foods may not contain additives, they are still highly processed. Many of those frozen meals are in packaging safe for microwaving, which is a whole other topic. You can learn more about that here…

The point I am trying to make is that we want to eat foods that are the closest to their natural state. The first best place to begin for any program, would be to re-evaluate the diet. Include a whole food diet that is at least 50% raw fresh veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts. Keep a journal of everything you eat in a day and where it came from. This may help you to see areas that need improving.

Once you have been to the doctor and know what may be going on, you will be able to be directed to natural therapies that may be suited to your needs, such as herbs, supplements, physical therapy and possibly medical treatments. You can learn about a wide variety of medicinal plants for fertility here…

Be sure you are timing intercourse right. It may be that you are missing your window of opportunity. Your timing is all wrong! You have a 6 day window to get pregnant, with only 2 peak days. So, begin to ttc 3 days prior to ovulation, the day of and 2 days after that. If you can pinpoint ovulation and get the timing down, you will increase your chances of success greatly!

3. Q: What are good alternatives to Fertilica Whey Protein Powder in Fertility Smoothies if you don’t eat dairy products?

A: We have information on a variety of different dairy alternatives. We have both recipes and instructional videos on how to make almond and hemp milk. Rice milk is easy too. These recipes do not contain as much protein as Fertilica Whey does per serving (19g), so you may need to find an alternative protein powder if you are looking to get the same amount of protein. Organic hemp or pea protein powder may be a good choice. You can find these at your local health food store. Avoid soy protein powders, as this may contribute to estrogen dominance. Cooked quinoa is another option.

4. Q: Hi Hethir and Dalene, I am planning on switching to a mostly raw food diet, is it safe for me to try to conceive the same cycle I am beginning these new diet changes? I have heard that changing your diet completely can cause detoxing in the body and could harm your baby, is this true?

A: Switching to a raw food diet will most likely stimulate cleansing and detoxification in the body. This means your body will be working hard to remove toxins, which could be passed on to your developing baby if you were unknowingly pregnant. It is best to implement complete diet changes at least 3-6 months prior to beginning to try to conceive. It would be stressful for the body to adjust to a new diet and a new pregnancy all at once. You want to perform and feel your best in early pregnancy, so prepare in advance, rather than trying to take all the new changes on at one time.

5. Q: Hi, I have endometriosis, uterine fibroids and blocked fallopian tubes. I have heard there are many foods that may be causing these health problems for me. Is this true and what can I do? If this is true, how do I change my Fertility Diet Plan? Please Help!

A: There are many foods that are considered to impact fertility. There are foods that have been linked to certain fertility issues because they contribute to “stagnation” in the body, may trigger an autoimmune response, contribute to estrogen dominance, and trigger an inflammatory response. Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, PCOS, adenomyosis, and ovarian cysts are considered stagnant conditions. With PCOS, there is the issue of insulin resistance, which has not been found to be a part of those other conditions.

Key foods that have been linked to making these conditions worse:

Alternatives: quinoa, millet, amaranth, gluten free oats

Dairy (especially non-organic dairy)
Alternatives: almond, hemp, cashew, brown rice milk. For a cheese or dip alternative, try sprouted nuts blended smooth with herbs and spices.

Alternatives: quinoa, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds

Non-organic foods

Key foods that have been linked to making endometriosis worse:

Alternatives: there are many gluten free flour mixes, foods, etc. Do more research.

Red meat, especially beef
Alternatives: mushrooms, especially portobello, shiitake, morels

Alternatives: If you like white meat and wish to eat white meat try organic free-range chicken.

If you want to avoid foods that have been shown to exacerbate these conditions, slowly cut them out over time. It can be hard at first, but over time you will see the difference in your body. Choose one first one week, then another the next and so on. Consider learning about an anti-inflammatory diet as well, as some foods are linked to triggering inflammation in the body, which may cause these conditions to worsen over time.

Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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    I have uterine fibroid and ovarian cyst. Is it safe for me to consume whey protein, black cohosh and soy isoflovanone supplements?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Yee Min,

      You can consume whey protein and Black Cohosh if you feel they will benefit you. Black Cohosh is supportive of uterine health when inflammation is a factor. You may also want to consider the information offered in the following two articles regarding dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to support your body in finding balance.

      The Best Natural Remedies for Uterine Fibroids…
      How to Help Ovarian Cysts Naturally and Safely with Herbs and Supplements…

      About soy isoflavones… we are not proponents of consuming soy products (ie. soy isoflavones) because through our research, we feel that consuming soy in any form has the tendency to contribute to estrogen dominance and therefore has the potential to contribute to estrogen dominant fertility conditions.

      Soy by nature already contains a high amount of isoflavones and soy products. This including soy isoflavone pills because of the way the pills are made. Isoflavones from soy beans are chemically isolated in a laboratory, after which they are concentrated to make soy isoflavone supplements. These supplements contain concentrated levels of isoflavones – more isoflavones than natural soy beans, or whole soy foods. In addition, most soy in the US in genetically modified (GMO) soy. We are also learning consumption of GMO foods is not beneficial to overall health.

      Our Senior Herbalist, Dalene, has seen women really mess up their natural cycles using soy isoflavone supplements. If you choose to use a soy isoflavone supplement, it would be best to do so under the supervision of a health care professional, who can also do regular hormone testing.

      If you are struggling with knowing the best way to support your fertility issues naturally, you could also consider and Fertility Consultation. A Fertility Consultation will offer you a personalized holistic healing approach to your fertility needs including information on the best diet tips, exercise, natural therapies, herbs, supplements and stress reduction techniques for your fertility needs.

      I hope this is helpful!