Egg and Sperm: Gimme the Good Stuff
Eggs and sperm are both extremely sensitive to oxidative stress, which is a type of cell damage that comes from free radicals. Free radicals are irritating little molecules that can come from many sources. Some come from the environment, and some come from our food, but the majority actually come from our own cells - when we burn fuel to make energy, free radicals are left behind.
Usually this is no big deal. Our bodies have lots of ways to get rid of free radicals. But to do so, we need certain nutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, zinc and selenium. If we have those nutrients in abundance, we're ok. But when we have free radicals coming at us from our own cells, PLUS our food, PLUS the environment, and on top of that our nutrition is so-so (not a ton of vitamin C in french fries, unfortunately), we can end up with high levels of oxidative stress.
This wreaks havoc on eggs and sperm. It can cause poor egg quality, low sperm morphology and motility, and high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation. All of this can lead to low fertilization rates and even early pregnancy loss.
Hormones, Ovulation, and Food
Fertility isn't just about egg and sperm quality. If you want to get pregnant via any method other than IVF, you or your partner or surrogate have to ovulate! That's when the egg is released, at a (hopefully somewhat) predictable time so the sperm/egg meet-up can be arranged.
All of these hormones are affected, either directly or indirectly, by what you eat. High carbohydrate diets, especially diets with lots of refined sugar, can keep insulin and leptin levels high. This may cause your body to become “resistant” to these hormones (like a child who’s parent has called their name too many times and they’ve become “selectively deaf”).
Thyroid hormone levels can also be strongly affected by what you eat. Food allergies and sensitivities, in addition to certain mineral and vitamin deficiencies, can lead to lower levels of thyroid hormone. This can cause problems with ovulation and even increase miscarriage risk.
Hippocrates Got it Right...
... when he said "Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food." Or, if he didn't really say that (as many cynical historians claim), at least I can quote a well known Ayurvedic proverb: “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; When diet is correct, medicine is of no need."
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Dr Silver is a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor. Because his medical license is issued by the state of Vermont, in all other states Dr Silver works as a Naturopathic Fertility Coach. Outside of Vermont, his services are for educational purposes and do not constitute medical treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition. All written content published on this website is the property of GROW Fertility and can not be downloaded, copied, modified, or redistributed without formal consent of the page author.
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