What Med School Never Taught Your Doctor About Vaccines

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Above: A medical student’s roommate complains that “Literally the only thing on [Med Student’s] side of the fridge is a live typhoid vaccine.” The medical student was never taught that vaccines should not be stored in home refrigerators.

I used to be pro-vaccine. When my first child was born, I believed all vaccines worked. I believed all vaccines were safe. When I took my firstborn to the doctor for a routine set of infant vaccines, I had just one question for my pediatrician. I had recently read a study revealing that babies who receive the rotavirus vaccine are more likely to suffer a painful and deadly intestinal disorder called intestinal intussusception in which their intestines literally collapse into each other like a toy kaleidoscope. I wanted our pediatrician to put my new-mom fears to rest. Since intussusception can be deadly or permanently disabling, and since rotavirus is rarely deadly in first world countries with access to clean water, I hoped he could explain why the rotavirus vaccine was so important, despite its risks. But when I mentioned the study to our pediatrician, he did not even know the study existed. When he saw my surprise, he cursorily skimmed the article I was holding and then announced that it was “hogwash.” I wanted to believe him, but he seemed uncomfortable, like a child who doesn’t want to answer his mother’s questions. If he had been well versed in the science of vaccines, I probably would have trusted him, but now I was suddenly aware that I had read more studies about vaccine safety than our pediatrician. I decided to hold off on the rotavirus vaccine and I took my eight-week-old infant home. Back at home, I dug deeper into the research—and found much, much more disturbing information on vaccines.

At least a dozen of my closest friends are doctors who have graduated from top American medical schools. I’ve spoken with many of them about their medical education. I have learned that mainstream medical schools teach their students very little about preventive health, but spend entire semesters teaching techniques to ensure “patient compliance.” Courses on patient compliance, sometimes called patient “adherence” or “capacitance,” teach doctors how to convince patients to listen to them, even when patients voice serious concerns about the doctors’ recommendations. This seems like a generally dangerous practice and a poor use of time during medical school, when there is so much to learn in such a short time. Why all this focus on patient compliance?

What many medical students don’t realize is that their education is funded by drug companies who benefit from overprescription. Most people have heard of pharmaceutical reps whose job it is to convince doctors to push specific drugs on unsuspecting patients, but did you know that those same drug companies wine and dine medical students, pay medical school professors millions of dollars each year, and begin lecturing medical students even before they are doctors?

Over the years, Harvard Medical School has received hundreds of millions of dollars from drug companies. TIME reports, “1,600 [Harvard professors] admit that either they or a family member have had some kind of business link to drug companies — sometimes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — that could bias their teaching or research.”

Several of my pediatrician friends have told me that they are sick of mothers who don’t believe in vaccine “science,” but these same pediatricians have admitted to me that they haven’t actually read a scientific study in years. My friends—so many of whom are intelligent, well-intentioned doctors who genuinely hope to help their patients—simply trust that their medical schools have taught them all they need to know about health.

So what do doctors learn about vaccines in medical school? Not much. A reader sent us the above screen shot of a woman taking to Instagram to complain that her roommate, a doctor, is storing live typhoid vaccine in their communal refrigerator. Most people know that live viruses are the stuff of chemical warfare, but this doctor was apparently not concerned. Why didn’t she learn how to safely store vaccines in medical school? Even the U.S. government admits, “It is the nature of living things to change, or mutate, and the organisms used in live, attenuated vaccines are no different… An attenuated microbe in the vaccine could revert to a virulent form and cause disease….”

But Pharma-funded medical schools know that if they were to teach their students about the dangers of live vaccines—including the fact that live vaccines are excreted in the mucus and feces of injected children and can even be spread to other children for days and weeks following vaccination, a phenomenon known as “shedding”—that they would be opening up a broader conversation about vaccine safety. It’s a conversation that Big Pharma and medical schools don’t wish to have.

So, instead, medical schools ignore the conversation about vaccine safety altogether.

Maybe the problem isn’t mothers who don’t believe in science; maybe the problem is medical schools who have stopped teaching the science to their doctors.

 

Sources:

Time Magazine: Is Drug-Company Money Tainting Medical Education?

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1883449,00.html

U.S. Government: Types of Vaccines

http://www.vaccines.gov/more_info/types/

 

How Much Money Do Pediatricians Really Make From Vaccines?

If you want to be sure your pediatrician has your child’s best interest, this is mandatory reading. Pediatricians around the country have begun refusing to accept families who opt out of some or all vaccines. Thanks to a tip sent to Wellness & Equality by a reader, now we know why.

When my friend’s child suffered a life-threatening reaction to a vaccine a week after her first birthday, my friend assumed her pediatrician would write her a medical exemption from future vaccines. Shortly after receiving a routine set of vaccines, the happy, vibrant one-year-old spiked a 106 degree fever, began having seizures, and was hospitalized. When the unexplained “illness” passed after a week in the hospital, the little girl had lost her ability to walk. My friend describes how her daughter, who had learned to walk several months earlier at 9 months, suddenly “stumbled around like a drunk person” for weeks following the vaccines. My friend met with a team of pediatricians, neurologists, and naturopathic doctors, and they agreed: Her daughter had suffered a brain injury caused by a reaction to one of the vaccines. Hoping the injury would be temporary and that she might recover and ease her brain inflammation if they could help her small body quickly eliminate the vaccine additives that caused the reaction, my friend’s daughter underwent an intensive detoxification program overseen by a nutritionalist. Slowly, her daughter relearned to walk.

My friend is a practicing attorney who graduated from a Top 10 college. The evidence was overwhelming that her daughter’s reaction had been caused by vaccines, she told me.

But a few months later, when she took her daughter back into the pediatrician for a visit, he wanted to vaccinate her daughter again. She was baffled. Why?

After a reader sent us a link to a PDF file of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Physician Incentive Program available online, Wellness & Equality learned that insurance companies pay pediatricians massive bonuses based on the percentage of children who are fully vaccinated by age 2. 

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So how much money do doctors really make from vaccines? The average American pediatrician has 1546 patients, though some pediatricians see many more. The vast majority of those patients are very young, perhaps because children transition to a family physician or stop visiting the doctor at all as they grow up. As they table above explains, Blue Cross Blue Shield pays pediatricians $400 per fully vaccinated child. If your pediatrician has just 100 fully-vaccinated patients turning 2 this year, that’s $40,000. Yes, Blue Cross Blue Shield pays your doctor a $40,000 bonus for fully vaccinating 100 patients under the age of 2. If your doctor manages to fully vaccinate 200 patients, that bonus jumps to $80,000. 

But here’s the catch: Under Blue Cross Blue Shield’s rules, pediatricians lose the whole bonus unless at least 63% of patients are fully vaccinated, and that includes the flu vaccine. So it’s not just $400 on your child’s head–it could be the whole bonus. To your doctor, your decision to vaccinate your child might be worth $40,000, or much more, depending on the size of his or her practice.

If your pediatrician recommends that your child under the age of 2 receive the flu vaccine–even though the flu vaccine has never been studied in very young children and evidence suggests that the flu vaccine actually weakens a person’s immune system over the long term–ask yourself:  Is my doctor more concerned with selling me vaccines to keep my child healthy or to send his child to private school?

Sources:

The Physician Alliance Blue Cross Blue Shield Incentive Program

Getting A Flu Shot Every Year? More May Not Be Better

Distribution of Pediatric Practice: Size, Age, Sex 

 

Study Links Vaccines To SIDS: Infant Mortality Rates Regressed Against Vaccine Doses

Do mandatory vaccines save lives and protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated? Or, as so many mothers continue to ask, could mandatory vaccines actually increase infant mortality? Read on to learn about the major study that found “a high statistically significant correlation between increasing number of vaccine doses and increasing infant mortality rates…”

The correlation between vaccines and SIDS is high enough that the CDC has been forced to acknowledge it. The current CDC website reads, “Babies receive many vaccines when they are between 2 to 4 months old. This age range is also the peak age for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or infant death that cannot be explained. The timing of the 2 month and 4 month shots and SIDS has led some people to question whether they might be related….” (Source: CDC).

The CDC goes on to list a small number of studies that claim to disprove the link, but there are many more studies (a few are listed here, but not listed on the CDC website) that do find a connection. Like this one: “Infant Mortality Rates Regressed Against Number Of Vaccine Doses Routinely Given: Is There A Biochemical Or Synergistic Toxicity?” The study authors found “a high statistically significant correlation between increasing number of vaccine doses and increasing infant mortality rates.”  You can read the full analysis here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170075/

Here’s a screenshot of the analysis:

Infant mortality rates regressed against number of vaccine doses routinely given: Is there a biochemical or synergistic toxicity?

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To further corroborate this finding, a 2007 case study documents the death of 3.5 month old twin girls at the exact same time 2 days after their DTaP and Hep B vaccines. The cause of death was unknown, so it was termed Simultaneous Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Simultaneous SIDS is an exceptionally rare event, so the fact that both twins died at the same time in the 48 hours following a routine set of vaccinations almost certainly implicates the vaccines in the twins’ deaths.

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In fact, the correlation between SIDS and infant death is playing out here in the United States. Recently, California joined Mississippi and West Virginia to legally require childhood vaccines by eliminating parents’ rights to opt out of any vaccines. The law mandates vaccines against “any disease deemed appropriate by the department,” including chickenpox, a mild childhood illness that the UK refuses to add to their schedule due to evidence that the chickenpox vaccine increases adult cases of the far more serious and painful disease shingles. (Source: NHS Scotland.)

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Has the law helped improve the health of children in Mississippi or West Virginia? Let’s take a look….

Among all 50 states, Mississippi has the #1 HIGHEST rate of infant death before age 1. Yes, that’s right: Mississippi ranks LAST place (#50 out of 50) in keeping infants alive. A Washington Post article acknowledges, “Overall, the residents of Mississippi are the unhealthiest in the country.”

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Daily Beast article praising Mississippi’s vaccine laws is titled, “Mississippi: Last In Everything, First In Vaccines.” The connection between being FIRST in vaccines and LAST in ALL other markers of children’s health is not lost on everyone, however. The Daily Beast article mentions a letter to the editor in which Lindey Magee, co-director of the group, Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights (MPVR), writes that, “Mississippi families are being exploited for its reputation of ignorance and lack of education.”

Similarly, West Virginia also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, just a few spaces away from Mississippi.

The current slew of American vaccines are some of the least effective, least regulated vaccines in history, but even if they were effective, most parents are less concerned with mild rashes like measles and far more concerned with keeping their children alive.

As anyone who has researched vaccine science knows, NO credible studies have demonstrated that higher rates of vaccination in comparable populations saves children’s lives and improves their long-term well-being.

So why is California following the lead of two states with the highest infant mortality rates in our entire country?

That’s a question for California’s state lawmakers, many of whom regularly accept money from the pharmaceutical companies who will benefit from the new mandatory vaccine law.

 

 

 

 

Can You Trust Your Doctor?

I believe in the goodness of people, so I believe your doctor probably has good intentions. Just like the generations of doctors before him or her. Just like the doctors a few decades ago, who told their patients that smoking cigarettes was perfectly safe, even good for your health. Those cigarette-prescribing doctors pointed their patients to the body of published “science” that supported the safety of smoking at the time.

Had you asked your OBGYN back in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, or 70s how to reduce your chance of miscarriage, your doctor would have told you to take diethylstilbestrol (DES) during your pregnancy, a drug that caused cancer in ten million daughters born to mothers who listened to their doctors. Doctors told their patients that DES was safe and the “science” said DES was safe; DES was recalled after 37 years on the market. 

Had you asked your doctor how to lose weight between 1973 and 1997, your doctor would have helpfully written you a prescription for Fen-Phen, a drug that caused massive heart attacks in patients for almost three decades. Fen-Phen remained on the market for 24 years before it was recalled. 

Had you asked your doctor how to lower your cholesterol in 2000, he would have prescribed Baycol, a drug whose side effects killed tens of thousands of people in just a few short years. Baycol was recalled only after 100,000 people were killed. 

Had you asked your doctor how to heal arthritis pain in the early 2000s, he would have prescribed Vioxx, a Merck drug. Vioxx was recalled after damaging the hearts and cardiovascular systems of more than 140,000 people. 

Had you complained of inflammation to your doctor in 2005, he would have prescribed Bextra, a Pfizer drug that caused heart attacks, strokes, and fatal skin conditions. After Bextra was recalled, Pfizer’s subsidiary admitted to “intent to defraud or mislead” with their promotion of the drug. 

Had you sought treatment for Type 2 diabetes in 2000, your doctor would have prescribed Rezulin, a drug that was found to increase hepatitis cases. When one doctor did voice concerns about Rezulin’s safety, the FDA fired him. The drug was only pulled after overwhelming evidence showed that it was dangerous–at a time that was already too late for many people who had been hurt by it.

Did you know that doctors used to prescribe tobacco cigarettes to prevent illness? Physicians played an integral role in the promotion of smoking. Those cigarette-promoting doctors were probably decent people who simply believed in the “science” of the time. Those doctors, with the best of intentions, believed they were helping their patients.

In the year 2016, if you take a healthy newborn to an American doctor, your doctor will recommend injecting your baby with 49 doses of vaccines containing a cocktail of known toxins, including aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG, aborted fetal cells, cow cells, chick embryo cells, monkey kidney cells, and some of today’s most common childhood allergens. Your doctor  might even mention the “science” that supports the safety of such a schedule, but the truth is that no prior generation has ever received this number of vaccines at such a young age. Zero long-term studies have examined the safety of the schedule. In the same way that we allowed cigarette manufacturers to fund and interpret the “science” of cigarette safety, our current system allows vaccine manufacturers to fund, oversee, and interpret the “science” of vaccine safety.

If you listen to your doctor and allow him to vaccinate your baby with a vaccine full of ingredients you haven’t researched, and then you call your doctor a few hours later because you’re concerned about your baby’s reaction, your doctor may tell you that nonstop crying, fevers, and even seizures requiring hospitalization are a normal response to those vaccines. This generation of American children is the first to experience a new “normal” when it comes to health: more autoimmune conditions than ever before, 1 in 42 boys diagnosed with autism, never-ending rashes, rampant obesity, incessant illnesses, and severe, lifelong allergies that many will never outgrow.

One day, with the 20/20 hindsight of history, we will look back on the vaccine debate in the United States and we will understand it more clearly. 

Until then, you can trust your doctor. But when you choose whether to trust your doctor without doing your own research, remember that your doctor, like millions of doctors throughout history, is only human.

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Sources here.

Source of vaccine ingredients: CDC.

 

Zika Virus Update: Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly

As Brazilian and U.S. officials continue to push for a lucrative Zika virus vaccine, new theories are emerging to explain the crisis in Brazil. According to organicconsumer.org, “a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the [Brazilian] drinking water supply in 2014. This poison, Pyriproxyfen, is used in a State-controlled programme aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes….”

Read more: Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly.

 

Zika Virus Rumors: Could the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy cause microcephaly?

In 2014, Brazilian officials recommended that all pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine. For the first time in the country’s history, thousands of pregnant Brazilian women received the Tdap vaccine. A few months later, in 2015, news outlets began reporting that Brazil was experiencing an unprecedented rise in the number of cases of newborns with a neurodevelopmental disorder known as microcephaly.

Officials quickly named a culprit: mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus. But when officials were pressed to provide evidence of the link between birth defects and the Zika virus, a little-known pathogen that has been considered harmless since its discovery in the 1940s, they came up short. Even the mainstream media, including Reuters and the BBC, reported on the lack of a scientific link.

At best, officials could only suggest a “correlation.” Still, they ploughed forward with a new message: “Postpone pregnancy until we can sell you a new vaccine that will protect against Zika.”

The rise in cases of microcephaly in Brazil may be correlated with a recent increase in cases of Zika virus, but it’s just as heavily correlated with the rising trend of Brazilian pregnant women receiving the Tdap vaccine.

Could the Tdap vaccine, which has been in widespread use around the world—including in the United States—be responsible for Brazil’s many cases of microcephaly? If the Tdap vaccine were connected to microcephaly, wouldn’t there be just as many cases of microcephaly in the U.S.?

FACT: Rates of microcephaly are currently higher in the United States, where the Tdap vaccine is routinely administered to pregnant women, than in Brazil. Each year, approximately 25,000 American mothers give birth to babies with microcephaly. For many mothers in the United States, microcephaly is nothing new. Since Brazil began recommending the Tdap vaccine to pregnant women, rates of microcephaly in Brazil are quickly catching up to U.S. rates. (In the wake of its microcephaly crisis, Brazil has reported less than 4,000 of microcephaly for its population of 200.4 million. Compare that 25,000 new cases each year in the U.S. population of 318.9 million.)

FACT: Pertussis vaccines have long been associated with reports of brain swelling, brain damage, and death in infants and children. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database is full of these reports. Do a quick search for incidents related to both Tdap and DTaP (the name of the vaccine administered to children).

FACT: Statistics suggest that some vaccines are more harmful to men, but the Tdap vaccine—the same vaccine recommended to pregnant Brazilian women—appears to be more harmful to women. Vaccines affect men and women differently. As far back as 2011, American women were more than twice as likely as men to report an adverse reaction to the Tdap vaccine. According to a medalerts.org analysis, the gender disparity in adverse reactions “defies explanation.” In the U.S., a whopping 32.67% of reactions to the Tdap vaccine are reported by patients between the ages of 17 and 44, during their prime childbearing years.

FACT: The safety of administering the Tdap vaccine to pregnant women has never been studied.

What’s the bottom line? No one is suggesting that EVERY pregnant women infected with Zika will have a baby with microcephaly. And no one is suggesting that EVERY pregnant woman who received the Tdap vaccine will have a baby with microcephaly.

Timing and genetics play an important role as well.

But you should know the facts.

So how can we determine whether the 2014 introduction of the Tdap vaccine to Brazilian women is the cause of the 2015 rise in cases of microcephaly?

That question can be answered by studies that simply examine the safety of administering vaccines to pregnant women, but Big Pharma and their lobbyists are too powerful to allow studies that could hurt their bottom line. Even the package inserts of vaccines that doctors are legally administering to pregnant women admit that no studies have ever examined the safety of administering vaccines to pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, ask your doctor to provide you with the package inserts of any vaccines he or she recommends. Administering vaccines to pregnant women is generally considered an “off-label” use of vaccines.

Conclusion: With the country’s souring rates of microcephaly, there’s no doubt that something strange and sad is happening in Brazil. Cases of microcephaly are likely the result of a combination of factors or co-factors (including genetic predisposition, in-utero exposure to harmful chemicals or pesticides, plus a variety of maternal complications) but recommending that pregnant women receive additional vaccines is a simplistic answer to a complex problem—and it could make the situation even worse for generations to come.

For further reading:

Public Radio International | The Sketchy Numbers Behind Brazil’s Zika Crisis

UPDATE 02/11/2016: Zika Virus Update: Doctors Name Monsanto Larvicide-Tainted Water As Potential Cause of Microcephaly

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The Fertility Diet: 15 Tips To Help You Achieve Pregnancy Naturally

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When my husband and I began discussing the possibility of having children, we initially decided to wait a year to take advantage of our child-free lives. Then one night, after a few glasses of wine, we threw caution to the wind. At the time, I didn’t know anything about fertility. I didn’t realize that it would have been biologically impossible for me to get pregnant that night because I had already ovulated earlier in the month.

When I found out that I wasn’t pregnant a few days later, I panicked. I wondered: What if I have endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome or blocked fallopian tubes? I began to research infertility—and I was stunned by what I found.

Last year, American women spent upwards of $4,000,000,000 on fertility treatments. A typical round of IVF carries a price tag of $15,000, and with a success rate of 20 to 30 percent per round, many hopeful parents undergo multiple rounds before conceiving a child. As a result, America’s (in)fertility industry is booming.

By some accounts, fertility treatments are a modern medical miracle. Couples who may not have been able to conceive without medical intervention are now meeting their biological offspring. This may sound like a happy ending—and often is, for those who can afford it—but there is more to the story. Because the industry benefits financially from infertility, there is little to no motivation to promote free, natural methods to improve fertility. Given the industry’s fierce drive for profit, some experts speculate that too many women are offered invasive fertility treatments before they receive any counseling about how to alter their diets, lifestyles, and behaviors in order to conceive naturally.

As I began to learn more about fertility, I wanted to know the answer to a simple question: How can I improve my chances of conceiving a baby quickly and naturally? I never wanted to experience the fear of infertility again. Like many couples, when we decided we were ready to get pregnant, we wanted to get pregnant as soon as possible.

My husband and I agreed to spend a few months focused on health before trying to conceive again. We cut back on caffeine, stopped drinking alcohol, and cooked more healthy meals together. A few months later, when we tried again—this time, officially—we got pregnant immediately. Was it chance that we conceived the first month we actively tried? Or did our dietary and lifestyle changes make the difference?

American women are facing unprecedented rates of infertility. The number of couples unable to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse has risen from 1 in 10 couples to 1 in 6 couples. Can our rising infertility rates be fully explained by the delayed age of first marriages and first pregnancies? The answer is unclear, but at least one puzzle piece is within your control: your diet.

As scientists have long agreed, fertility is an important marker of health in the animal kingdom. When an environment is inhospitable to new life—due to famine, environmental pollutants, or other concerns—a series of biological chain reactions take place and animals are unable to procreate. Fertility, then, is not only important when a couple is trying to conceive; it’s an important indication of personal health.

What dietary changes can you make to improve your chances of conceiving a baby quickly and naturally?

Note: The tips below apply to both men and women. Women: You were born with all of the eggs you will ever have, so your lifelong habits are especially critical to the health of your future children. Most sources estimate that diet and lifestyle changes take about 3 to 6 months to impact ovulation, menstrual regularity, and fertility, so plan to make these changes half a year or more before you begin trying to conceive. Men: The most recent studies suggest that the lifecycle of your sperm is just 74-90 days, so be sure to implement fertility-friendly dietary changes at least 3 months before you and your partner hope to conceive.

The Fertility Diet:

15 Tips To Help You Conceive Quickly And Naturally

1. Eliminate soy (including soy products, like tofu) and corn (including corn products) from your diet. Thanks to powerful biotechnology corporations like Monsanto, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are extremely prevalent in the U.S., but they have never been proven safe—that’s why the European Union has banned many of them. Current studies clearly link GMOs to reproductive health issues and infertility. Worse, some animal studies suggest that the side effects of GMOs are cumulative across generations, meaning that the daughters and granddaughters of today’s GMO-consuming mothers will experience the harshest effects. Since 94% of soy is genetically modified and 88% of corn is genetically modified, you can eliminate a majority of genetically GMOs from your diet simply by cutting out soy and corn. If you do choose to eat soy and corn, make sure they are always organic. Remember, the current generation of reproductive-age women is the first generation ever to try to conceive while consuming GMO food; our own mothers did not grow up eating GMOs. Do you really want to be Big Agra’s guinea pig?

2. Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Did you know that men who consume two or more alcoholic drinks per day produce fewer sperm? In fact, the sperm that these men do produce are often deformed. Fertility doctors refer to these two-headed or two-tailed sperm as “sloppy swimmers” because they are unlikely to be strong enough to make the journey to the egg. Sadly, if they do reach the egg, the pregnancy is more likely to end in miscarriage. Like alcohol, caffeine seems to impair sperm in a similar way. Fortunately, most healthy men produce many, many sperm in the biological hopes that the healthiest sperm will reach the egg. However, for women, who generally release only one egg each month, limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine while trying to conceive is even more important. A study of Danish couples found that women who drank five or fewer drinks per week had a harder time getting pregnant than women who didn’t drink at all. Other studies have found that consuming alcohol can change a woman’s ovulation pattern, delaying or even halting ovulation altogether. The bottom line: A healthy egg and healthy sperm are requirements for conception, so if you want to get pregnant quickly, it’s a no-brainer: cut back on caffeine and alcohol.

3. Avoid processed foods and “natural flavors.” Always, always read ingredients. If you can’t identify every ingredient on a label, do not put that Frankenfood into your mouth. Just what are “natural flavors”? 60 Minutes recently answered that question with a fascinating video, which you can watch on their website. So-called “natural” flavors are actually a concoction of chemicals that “give an impression” and “mimic the taste and smell” of real food. Since the flavor industry has come of age only recently, you can be sure that our mothers did not consume these chemicals. There are already enough dangerous, fertility-disrupting chemicals in our environment—in non-stick pans, cleaning products, plastics, flame retardants, personal care products, and pesticides—so keep them out of your stomach!

4. Consume dairy from organic, whole milk sources—never non-fat. This is a big one, especially for women! In fact, this is probably one of the easiest-to-fix diet-related causes of anovulation (not ovulating, and therefore skipping periods). A famous Harvard study found that women who ate two or more servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy per day, like skim milk or yogurt, had an 85 percent increased risk of infertility when compared with women who ate the same amount of dairy from whole-fat sources. Here’s the science behind it: “To prepare low- and non-fat dairy, whole milk is spun at high speeds to separate the fat from the water. Hormones separate differently according to their preference for fat. Estrogen and progesterone prefer fat, so when milk is being separated, those hormones go into that fat layer. Androgens, insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1), prolactin, and male hormones prefer the watery layer — hence a glass of skim or low-fat milk gives you more male hormones and fewer female hormones.” How creepy is that?! So next time you’re making oatmeal, skip the water or skim milk, and use whole milk instead. Eating fruit? Mix in some unsweetened organic whole fat yogurt and drizzle with maple syrup or honey. The good news: Women who eat one full-fat serving of dairy every day are 50 percent less likely to experience anovulation than women who consume full-fat dairy only once a week.

5. Eat organic, pastured eggs including the yolks. Experts agree: Eggs are a reproductive health superfood. In traditional Chinese medicine, eggs have a long history as a fertility booster, energizer, and blood strengthener. Did you know that too little cholesterol can actually cause fertility issues? Perhaps this is where those Chinese traditions stem from. But not all eggs are created equal: Pastured eggs, which come from hens that are raised on pasture unlike factory hens fed GMO grains, contain up to 20 times more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than eggs from factory hens. Scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, chopped on top of a spinach salad—the possibilities are endless!

6. Eat high-quality, 100% grass-fed red meat. Did you know that vegans have just one fifth the chance of giving birth to twinsAlthough the causation is not yet fully understood, studies suggest that women who consume animal products have higher rates of either ovulation or embryo survival. Of course, grass-fed red meat is very different from farm-raised, hormone-filled, corn-fed red meat, so seek out the healthiest red meat you can afford. A McDonald’s hamburger and a 100% grass-fed beef patty are not the same. Also be sure to consume animal products like organic, cage-free eggs and whole milk dairy products. Protein is one of the building blocks of human life. Are you getting enough?

7. Up your antioxidants. You can eat all the organic meat and dairy in the world, but if you’re not getting enough produce in your diet, your diet won’t be balanced. Antioxidants—found at particularly high levels in fresh berries—protect a woman’s eggs from damage and aging. Similarly, studies have shown that men who consume more Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene—all of which are found in colorful fruits and veggies—produce sperm with less age-related DNA damage. So don’t forget your fruits and veggies!

8. Eat the right fish. Weekly consumption of fish is linked to a host of health benefits. Unfortunately, as our world and oceans become more polluted, it’s important that women do not eat fish indiscriminately. Although I don’t generally recommend vitamins and supplements when food will do the trick, many people sing the praises of fish oil supplements and Nordic Naturals consistently receives high ratings for their fish oil supplements. Still, at Wellness and Equality, we prefer real foods to supplements, so choose fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury whenever possible. Aim for one or more servings of wild-caught, low mercury fish per week. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for the brains of developing fetuses, and as they say, it’s best to nourish the soil before planting the seed. Click here to view an infographic that can help you make sense of all the choices.

9. Eat oysters. Have you heard the old wives’ tale about oysters as aphrodisiac? It just might be true, but there’s more to the story! Zinc, which is a fertility-friendly mineral, is mainly 
found in oysters. In fact, zinc deficiencies are sometimes the culprit in ovulation issues, irregular periods, and uterine fibroids. Though oysters offer the most concentrated source of zinc, zinc is also found in peas, lima beans, maple syrup, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and whole-milk dairy products.

10. Eat Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Eating just 2 to 3 Brazil nuts per day can significantly increase levels of selenium in your body, which has been nicknamed “the fertility mineral.” That said, too much selenium can cause a variety of side effects, so there’s no need to eat more than a few Brazil nuts per day. As for almonds, cashews, and peanuts, feel free to enjoy them by the handful! Just be sure you purchase nuts that have been properly prepared, or soak them yourself.

11. Eat sweet potatoes. This one is just for a bit of fun! The Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, West Africa has the highest rate of twinning in the world, with 45 pairs of twins per every 1,000 births, and scientists have speculated that their yam-heavy diet is responsible. Wild yams contain phytoestrogen, an estrogen compound that may increase follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and induce higher rates of ovulation. Now, you would probably have to consume wild yams at an impossible rate to make a true difference, but there’s certainly no harm in consuming this healthy, Vitamin A-rich root vegetable.

*** Many OBGYNs recommend that women take a high-quality multivitamin or prenatal vitamin for several months before trying to conceive, especially women who have ever taken oral contraceptives, which have been shown to deplete vitamin stores. The final four tips below are particularly important for women who have taken oral contraceptives, but may be helpful to any woman. ***

12. Consume foods rich in folate. The well-established fact that oral contraceptive pills deplete the body’s stores of folic acid, fat-soluble vitamins, and other nutrients is one of many reasons why most OBGYNs recommend waiting a few months to get pregnant after stopping the pill—that is, to replenish those depleted stores. Folate is an extremely important fertility nutrient because a lack of folate can cause serious birth defects. Like any nutrient, folate is best consumed as a food, rather than as a supplement, whenever possible. It can be found in dark leafy greens, nuts, liver, and chicken. If you are taking prenatals in advance of a pregnancy, seek out a vitamin that contains folate, not folic acid.

13. Consume foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins like D, K, E, and A, which can also be depleted by years of oral contraceptive use, help to support the production of estrogen and other hormones important to fertility. Fat-soluble vitamins D and K2 are found in egg yolks, butter, liver, and wild salmon. Vitamin E, which may normalize hormone production, is found in butter from grass-fed cows, olives and unrefined olive oil, palm oils, avocado, and almonds. The essential Vitamin A is best consumed from animal sources like organ meats, butter, cream, cod liver oil and eggs, but can also be absorbed from plant sources like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, spinach and collard greens.

14. Consume foods rich in B vitamins. Oral contraceptives have a confusing impact on Vitamin B levels. Vitamin B6, which balances estrogen and progesterone and aids in reproductive health, can be found in meat and starchy fruits and vegetables, including potatoes and bananas. Vitamin B12, which is also impacted by oral contraceptives, is another important hormone balancer and can be found in grass-fed red meat, poultry, wild-caught fish, shellfish, eggs, and whole-milk dairy products.

15. Consume foods rich in iron. Last but not least, iron is another key for women’s reproductive health. Humans absorb iron best when it comes from animal sources like eggs, salmon, tuna, beef, dark chicken meat, and pork.

For a healthier pregnancy, nourish the soil before planting the seed. Improve your health before you begin trying to conceive. Your commitment to health before and during pregnancy is one of the most important gifts you can give to your unborn child. The benefits of a healthy pregnancy continue not only throughout your unborn child’s life, but also into the lives of future generations.

In our culture, we spend a lot of time talking about how to avoid pregnancy. Let’s change the conversation and teach women about how to keep their bodies healthy. Clearly, the success of America’s fertility industry confirms that women are craving information about their bodies, conception, fertility, and health. If you know a woman—a daughter, a friend, a sister—who may try to conceive in the future, please share this article with her.

Wishing you and your loved ones prosperity!