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

thefertilitydiet

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!

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How To Choose Healthy Fish

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. With so many fish to choose from, how can you be sure you’re making a healthy choice? This helpful infographic makes the choice simpler. 

How To Choose Healthy Fish

Via. Click here to view larger image. 

Big Fat Surprise: Eat Fat To Lose Weight

Back in 2006, my mother called me. She had news for me – big news. “Fat is a good thing,” she said. “If you want to lose weight, you need to eat more fat.” Acting on advice she had originally gleaned from a number of niche health blogs, including the Weston A. Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola, and ultimately confirmed through her own experience, she advised me to begin eating more healthy natural sources of fat. At first, I ignored her.

Like any good mother, she continued to pester me. She sent me e-mails: “All of your friends who eat low-fat diets should be worried about their hearts and their brains and their muscles and their reproductive organs,” she wrote. “This information won’t be mainstream for a few more years.” She sent me studies. She sent me articles.

Eventually, I found myself curious and I began to follow her advice. Over the course of several years, I lost weight so slowly that I barely noticed. What I did notice was that my energy levels and overall health improved. When I landed at a weight that was right for my body, I found that I was able to easily maintain the weight loss. I didn’t have to play games with myself. I didn’t have to pretend I was full when I wasn’t. I rarely thought about portion control. At restaurants, I usually finished my entire meal, while my girlfriends packaged up barely-nibbled dishes to take home. In fact, my metabolism increased so much that I noticed I could eat more than the vast majority of my friends.

Food was no longer a struggle. It was a daily pleasure. What had happened? I could eat whenever I was hungry and I almost always felt full after meals. I no longer had ravenous, obsessive cravings. If I wanted dessert, I ate dessert. I weighed less and I had more energy. I tried to exercise when I had time, but I didn’t adhere to a strict schedule. Girlfriends asked me, “What’s your secret? How do you eat so much?”

My diet looked something like this: Most mornings, I scrambled a couple of eggs and topped them with a few slices of melted cheese, an avocado, a chopped tomato, and salsa. (Colleagues were shocked by my breakfast: “You eat an omelet with cheese and an entire avocado every morning before work? But you’re so tiny!”) Instead of grabbing a “health” bar when I was on the go, I ate more nuts and cheese. At lunch and dinner, I ate more red meat and fish. I stopped buying non-fat and low-fat dairy products altogether, and replaced them with whole milk products. Soon I began to crave more fruits and vegetables, and so I ate more fruits and vegetables. I ate large green salads with chicken, cheese, nuts, avocados, and apples or organic strawberries. To cook, I used olive oil or butter – never vegetable oil. When I wanted to indulge, I made myself a heaping bowl of full-fat vanilla ice cream, typically topped with a banana, chopped dark chocolate, and peanut butter spooned out of the jar. Whenever possible, I avoided soy. I bought as much non-GMO, organic food as I could afford. I never consciously ate less bread, but soon I found that I went days at a time without eating bread; my body simply didn’t crave it.

“Eat more fat. Lose more weight.” It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s not.

It’s taken years for the mainstream media to catch on, but my mother was right. Almost a decade later, a number of publications are writing about it:

The Wall Street Journal | The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat And Heart Disease

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533760760481486

The New York Times | A Call For A Low-Carb Diet That Embraces Fat

The New York Times | Study Questions Fat And Heart Disease Link

The New York Times | Butter Is Back

NPR | Rethinking Fat: The Case For Adding Some Into Your Diet

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/31/295719579/rethinking-fat-the-case-for-adding-some-into-your-diet

NPR | Don’t Fear The Fat: Experts Question Saturated Fat Recommendations

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/17/290846811/dont-fear-the-fat-experts-question-saturated-fat-guidelines

NPR | The Full-Fat Paradox: Whole Milk May Keep Us Lean

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean

TIME Magazine| Ending The War On Fat

Ending the War on Fat

Men’s Health | What If Bad Fat Is Actually Good For You?

http://www.menshealth.com/health/saturated-fat

The Greatist | Everyone Was Wrong: Saturated Fat Is Good For You

http://greatist.com/health/saturated-fat-healthy

Despite the overwhelming evidence that diets high in fat are healthy, not everyone is on board yet. Last year, The Atlantic summed up succinctly how public health reform works: “slowly, based on mounting scientific evidence, against constant and mounting headwinds of public ridicule and, much more important, industry lobbying and advertising.” As is usually the case when the medical establishment is wrong, positive change can take two to three decades–or even more–to take full root. Doctors and nutritionists often have trouble letting go of the facts they studied so hard during medical and graduate school. Today, some health advocates are still dangerously confused; these misinformed doctors and nutritionists erroneously promote low-fat dairy products. Many of these doctors believe their patients won’t be able to exercise “restraint” if they eat high-fat foods; what they don’t understand is that fat is satiating and when people eat healthy sources of fat, they tend to desire–and consume–less of everything.

Of course, the source of fat matters. A diet high in processed deli meats and sausages is not good for anyone. A diet high in McDonald’s burgers is not the same as a diet high grass-fed steak. Trans fats, which are found in donuts and processed foods, are not healthy; they are poisonous. But the evidence is in and the facts are simple: unsaturated fats–and yes, saturated fats, too–are good for you.

Make today the day you change. Stop playing games. Toss out the non-fat, the low-fat, the GMO soy. Learn about the sources of your food. Count ingredients, not calories.

Start enjoying your food–and your life.

What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Hormonal Contraceptives

WE_BirthControl

Much of the current research about the safety of hormonal contraceptives has been funded by the very pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit from the sale of birth control. Couple this with the political debates surrounding women’s reproduction—at a time when many feminists feel the pill is the answer to women’s liberation—and we have a nation of women in the dark about birth control.

Here are the facts: The pill works by stopping ovulation. When a woman swallows the hormones in birth control, her ovaries stop releasing eggs. This may sound minor, but the monthly release of that tiny egg is responsible for a number of important processes in a woman’s body. While it’s true that hormonal birth control can prevent pregnancy, do you know what else it does?

9 Facts You Need To Know About The Pill

  1. The hormones in the pill increase your risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer. If you have a family history of any of these diseases, you are especially at risk. There’s a reason why the World Health Organization classifies hormonal contraceptives—along with tobacco, asbestos, and radium—as carcinogens. According to BreastCancerFund.org, “Numerous studies have demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer in women using oral contraceptives (Althuis, 2003; Dai, 2009; Delort, 2007; Kumle, 2002; Rosenberg, 2009). This is not surprising….” As one surgeon explained, the birth control pill is a ‘Molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer. The facts are frightening: “A 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. In 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women starting the pill before 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer. Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent,” reported LifeSiteNews.

As one surgeon explained, the birth control pill is a ‘Molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer.

  1. The pill causes hair loss. According to the American Hair Loss Association, “The AHLA believes that it is imperative for all women, especially those who have a history of hair loss in their family, to be made aware of the potentially devastating effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth.” Of course, this is one of the side effects your doctor might mention after you experience it. If the possibility of losing your hair would be especially upsetting for you, that’s something to take into consideration before taking the pill.
  1. The pill increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. The correlation between oral contraceptives and brittle bones is so well-established that the New York Times mentions birth control as a known cause of osteoporosis in their basic overview of the disease. The New York Times goes on to recommend that “women who take birth control pills should be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from diet or supplements.” But there’s just one problem with this recommendation…
  1. The pill depletes your body’s natural stores of vitamins and minerals. Studies confirm that women who take the pill have lower levels of B vitamins like folate, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), zinc, and iron. Regardless of how much you consume, birth control pills lower the levels of these nutrients in your body. Clinically, it can be nearly impossible to bring these vitamins up to ideal levels while taking the pill. In fact, this is one of many reasons why OBGYNS recommend that women wait several months to get pregnant after going off the pill—to give your body time to replenish those depleted stores and adequately nourish new life.

Clinically, it can be nearly impossible to bring vitamins up to ideal levels while taking the pill.

  1. The pill increases your risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. While your overall risk may be small, these side effects are deadly. Yet so many doctors write prescriptions for birth control without so much as mentioning these potential side effects to their patients. If you take birth control, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of a blood clot, heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. Men, is not wearing a condom really worth subjecting your girlfriends and wives to these life-threatening risks? 
  1. The pill increases the likelihood that you will experience anxiety and depression. When you alter a woman’s hormones, you alter her emotions. Here’s just a sampling of the mood-related side effects that women report after taking the pill: mood swings, anxiety, depression, and lowered libido. When woman are fertile, they are healthier, happier, and have a higher sex drive. (It’s all part of nature’s tricky little plan!) That’s why many women who take birth control, which destroys fertility, report a loss of interest in sex. Even worse, these mood-related issues don’t always disappear immediately after a woman stops taking the pill. It can take months to regulate your hormones again after birth control. This is the type of information that good doctors should share with their patients before they begin taking birth control.
  1. The pill destroys your natural ability to choose a genetically compatible mate. Did you know that beneath the scent of soap, shampoo, or cologne, every man has a natural scent that helps women subconsciously sniff out genetic compatibility? Call it nature’s way of ensuring healthy offspring. In our logic-based, online-dating-obsessed world, many women forget that the process of mate selection is, on some levels, instinctual—and for good reason. From a scientific perspective, the more gene variability between two partners, the healthier their offspring will be. Even better, you don’t have to think about this process; nature takes care of it for you. In a study that asked women to sniff the sweat of male strangers, women expressed strong preferences for the body odor of men with major histocompatibility (MHC) genes that differed from their own. However, this was not the case for women who were taking hormonal contraceptives; women on the pill were unable to identify their genetically-compatible mates. What this means is that women on the pill are, in theory, not attracted to the odor of genetically-compatible strangers, nor are they repulsed by the odor of male family members. Other studies have shown that women on the pill choose less masculine, more feminine mates. These findings have led some scientists to question whether hormonal birth control is impacting the health of future generations. Could women who choose their mates while taking birth control—even if they ultimately stop the pill to conceive a child—have babies with more birth defects, more childhood disorders, lower rates of immunity, and higher susceptibility to illness? And if you don’t find your partners’ natural scent attractive—but you don’t find this out until years into the relationship when you’re ready to conceive a child and stop taking the pill—could that impact whether you feel attracted to your partner for the long haul?

Women on the pill were unable to identify their genetically-compatible mates… These findings have led some scientists to question whether hormonal birth control is impacting the health of future generations. Could women who choose their mates while taking birth control—even if they ultimately stop the pill to conceive a child—have babies with more birth defects, more childhood disorders, lower rates of immunity, and higher susceptibility to illness?

  1. The pill robs you of your most attractive time of the month: ovulation. As if birth control wasn’t complicating your dating life enough already! When a woman ovulates—that is, the 24-48 hours during which her body releases an egg each month—she becomes more attractive to men. Her face appears more symmetrical and more feminine, her voice sounds more appealing, her pupils dilate, her waist-to-hip ration becomes more attractive, and her vaginal secretions change in taste and scent. Because the pill stops ovulation, the pill robs you of this time. What woman doesn’t want to have a few extra days of the month where she looks and feels her very best? A well-known study of strippers found that au natural strippers made significantly more money overall than their pill-popping sisters ($53 per hour vs. $37 per hour on average) and made twice as much money while ovulating ($70 per hour).

The sad truth is that for some women, taking the pill will mask fertility issues that could have been addressed at a younger age—if only the woman was not taking the pill and knew she was having symptoms… Other women will experience “post-pill amenorrhea,” the term doctors use to describe a lack of periods for 6 months or longer after stopping the pill. Doctors theorize that post-pill amenorrhea is caused by hormonal suppression of the pituitary gland, but it’s not fully understood why some women experience post-pill amenorrhea.

  1. The pill may impact your future fertility. Did you know that birth control can impair your future fertility? Even well-intentioned organizations that genuinely want to empower women through birth control hide this fact from women. Why? Perhaps they are concerned that women will forego birth control altogether and suffer an unwanted pregnancy. Perhaps they underestimate the number of intelligent, ambitious women who will ultimately want children in the future—even if they don’t right now. Fortunately, there are safe, effective alternatives to hormonal contraceptives and it’s your right to know your options. The sad truth is that for some women, taking the pill will mask fertility issues that could have been addressed at a younger age—if only the woman was not taking the pill and knew she was having symptoms. Unfortunately, many woman stop taking the pill when they want to conceive a child, and by then, it’s sometimes too late to address these issues. While many women will go on to have healthy babies after taking the pill, other women will experience “post-pill amenorrhea,” the term doctors use to describe a lack of periods for 6 months or longer after stopping the pill. Doctors theorize that post-pill amenorrhea is caused by hormonal suppression of the pituitary gland, but it’s not fully understood why some women experience post-pill amenorrhea. The first line of treatment is simply to wait for a “spontaneous” resumption of the menstrual cycle; however, this is dangerous, impractical advice for a woman in her late twenties or early thirties who wants to conceive. For these women, treatment usually involves the fertility drug Clomid, which may or may not work. Here’s what your doctor won’t tell you about birth control: If there’s a chance you may want children in the next few years, stop taking the pill now, track and learn about your cycle, and use a non-hormonal method of birth control for the interim.

Make the choice to take charge of your health. If you have a woman in your life whom you love, please keep her safe by sharing this article with her. There are safe, convenient alternatives to hormonal birth control, from condoms to the Fertility Awareness Method. Before making a decision about birth control, research your options and know the risks.

 

 

Dasani Bottled Water Has 4 Ingredients: Tap Water, Known Teratogen, Lethal Drug, and Salt

Dasani Coca-Cola

I remember the first time I tasted Dasani bottled water. It was 2004 and I was at a gym in Orange County, California. The drinking fountain at the gym was out of order so I purchased a bottle of water from a vending machine. I cracked open that lid and—YUCK! I had never tasted water so disgusting. Who knew water could have such a strong taste? At the time, I assumed my taste buds were off and eventually I drank Dasani bottled water again… always with the same reaction. Gross! I’ve finally learned my lesson. Unless I’m extremely parched, I would rather remain thirsty than drink Dasani. While everyone’s bodies are different, I personally have a visceral reaction to Dasani. After drinking Dasani, my stomach sometimes hurts and I almost always have terrible dry mouth. Have you noticed any of these side effects after drinking Dasani?

Years later, during a trip to Costco, I noticed that Costco brand Kirkland Signature water lists several ingredients added “for taste.” Out of curiosity, I drank the water and—light bulb!—there was that familiar, metallic Dasani taste. It seemed clear to me that Costco and Dasani had shared water “recipes.” When I noticed that Costco brand water had multiple ingredients in addition to water, I wondered if Dasani had additives as well. What I learned surprised me. Not only does Dasani water have additives, but these additives are known to cause much more than dry mouth and abdominal pain. These chemicals can, at high levels, cause birth defects and death.

Dasani bottled water contains four ingredients: tap water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and salt. The Dasani label claims these ingredients are added for taste, and while that may be true, these ingredients change a lot more than taste. Do you know what’s really in your bottled water? 

Dasani Ingredient #1: Tap Water. It’s no secret that Dasani, which is owned by Coca-Cola, bottles tap water. In general, I have no problem drinking tap water. Although tap water often tastes noticeably different from spring water, I acknowledge that drinking tap water is an environmentally conscious choice…. but bottling tap water?! That seems to defeat the purpose. If you’re going to drink tap water, drink it from the tap.

Dasani Ingredient #2: Magnesium Sulfate. AKA Epsom Salts or Bath Salts. FDA Pregnancy Category D Teratogen, Drying Agent, and Laxative. On its own, anhydrous magnesium sulfate is a drying agent. (Side note: Could this explain the strange dry mouth I experience after drinking Dasani water? It’s ironic that Coca-Cola has added a “drying agent” to a beverage that is intended to quench thirst. If trace amounts of magnesium sulfate residue remain on your tongue after you drink a bottle of water, making it difficult to quench your thirst, it seems reasonable to question whether this might encourage you to purchase another bottle of water or perhaps a soft drink, either of which would benefit Coca-Cola. Could this be a dangerous ploy from the marketing masterminds at Coca-Cola?) In addition, magnesium sulfate has many powerful purposes in medicine. Off label, it has been used to delay labor by inhibiting uterine contractions in pregnant women. However, this practice is declining because recent studies show that magnesium sulfate causes birth defects at high doses. After studies suggested that just 5-7 days of in utero exposure to high doses of magnesium sulfate caused birth defects, the FDA recommended that magnesium sulfate be classified as a Category D Teratogen. Coca-Cola would probably prefer that the many pregnant women drinking Dasani water don’t know that an ingredient in their water can, at high doses, affect unborn babies. So what exactly happens to the babies of mothers who are exposed to high doses of intravenous magnesium sulfate? After just 5-7 days, exposed babies experienced bone structure changes and weaker bones. For these reasons, magnesium sulfate is now listed as a known teratogen (Pregnancy Category D) with positive evidence of human fetal risk, according to the FDA. Yes, Dasani water lists a known teratogen as an ingredient. As with any chemical, the dose makes the poison, but I personally choose to avoid water with additives. You can learn more about the FDA’s position here. One more thing: Magnesium sulfate is known to have a “bitter taste.” So why is Coca-Cola adding it to their already foul-tasting water?

Dasani Ingredient #3: Potassium Chloride. FDA Pregnancy Category C. Potassium chloride is commonly used as a fertilizer, but it’s also used in lethal injections to stop the heart and, in some cases, in late trimester abortions to stop the heart of the fetus. Interestingly, potassium chloride is known to have a “weak, bitter, unsalty flavor” with a “chemical or metallic aftertaste” which again calls into question how this ingredient could possibly improve the “taste” of poor-tasting Dasani water. If you would like to learn more about the role of potassium chloride in lethal injections, you might be interested Stephen Fox’s article, “Can Ingredients In Dasani Bottled Water Kill You?” over at The Water Filter Lady’s BlogIn addition to possible birth defects, the list of side effects from potassium chloride is endless: bowel lesions, gastrointestinal disruptions, cardiac arrhythmias, muscle weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dyspepsia or heartburn, GI tract bleeding, hypersensitivity, nervous system damage, and more. While potassium and magnesium are found in natural food sources – and are, in their natural forms, vital to the body – anytime you separate a chemical compound from their natural food sources, they may behave differently than they would in their natural forms. That’s why it’s very difficult to overdose on bananas, but much easier to overdose on potassium chloride. That’s also why so few people are able to successfully use processed foods to lose weight and stay healthy. How much potassium chloride is added to Dasani water? Do you trust Coca-Cola and Dasani to make that decision for you?

Dasani Ingredient #4: Salt. As I’ve written before, I believe that table salt gets a poor reputation simply because sodium is added to almost all processed foods. While table salt itself is rarely dangerous, adding unspecified amounts of sodium during “food processing” can absolutely create unnecessary health issues for many people. While one bottle of Dasani water may not have much salt, if you drink six or seven bottles of Dasani water in one day, suddenly the amount could be much higher. That said, the real concerns are magnesium sulfate and potassium chloride.

Dasani is not the only manufacturer selling water with additives. Next time you buy bottled water, take a look at the ingredients. There should only be one: water. 

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist, nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I do not claim to cure any condition or disease. I am unable to provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease. Before making any dietary changes or beginning any new fitness program, please consult with your doctor. The information held on this blog is merely the opinion of an active, health-conscious, informed citizen. The research and information covered in this blog is open to the public domain for discussion. All information is intended only to help you cooperate with your doctor, in your efforts toward desirable weight and health.

American Foods Banned In Other Countries

banned

A comprehensive and well-researched article from EatLocalGrown outlines some foods to avoid–if you live in the United States. These 10 foods are banned in other countries:

  • Genetically engineered papaya banned in the European Union
  • Ractopamine-tained meat banned in Europe, Russia, and China
  • Arsenic-laced chicken banned in Europe
  • Bread made with poisonous potassium bromide banned in Europe, China, and Canada
  • Fat imitation Olestra/Olean banned in the UK and Canada
  • Preservatives BHA and BHT banned in Europe and Japan
  • Milk made with rBGH banned in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Canada

This list offers 10 more reasons to buy organic, buy wild, buy local, read ingredients, and ignore package claims (and do your own research to take charge of your health!) Learn more about the Wellness and Equality health model here.

How Can You Improve Your Brown Bag Lunches?

brownbagOne of the realities of modern life is that our environment is different today. We eat more meals away from home and, when we do, the options available are less nutritious than ever. Maintaining good health may require more focus today than it was a hundred years ago, but it’s just as important as it always has been.

If your schedule requires you to consistently eat meals away from home, packing your lunch can go a long way towards your health and your budget. Remember, brown bag lunches are not just convenient for work and school. Having healthy snacks on hand is important while traveling, hiking, spending a day at the beach, or any other time you’re away from home for an extended period of time.

Finally, if you’re not already spending the day outdoors, be sure to take the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while you’re eating your brown bag lunch. Find a patch of grass or a park bench and take a few minutes to reconnect with nature while you eat. Breakfast typically gets all the credit, but a healthy, relaxed lunch can do wonders for physical and mental health.

Want to help the environment while you’re at it? Forego the brown bags and use a re-usable lunch bag.

Whether you’re packing your own lunch or packing lunch for a spouse or child, you will find a few ideas below for fresh and nutritious meals on the go that don’t involve processed deli meat.

Sandwiches and Salads On-The-Go:

PBandJ

1. PB & J: There’s a reason the peanut butter and jelly sandwich has been around for generations. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich prepared on whole grain bread is easy to make and requires no refrigerator. If you’re ever bored with peanut butter and jelly, try changing things up with a PB-and-banana sandwich. Spread both slices of bread with peanut butter and then layer pieces of a banana on top of one piece of bread. Place the other piece of bread on top and you’ve got a PB-and-banana sandwich.

tuna22. TUNA SALAD SANDWICH: If you want a meatier sandwich, replace your cold cuts, which are packed with nitrates, with canned tuna and organic mayonnaise. Be sure to look for a BPO-free can and don’t forget to add a few leaves of Romaine lettuce, or even sliced avocado. While tuna is arguably healthier than cold cuts, be sure to limit your tuna salad sandwiches to once or twice per week due to mercury content. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your tuna, try mixing in chopped celery, chopped apples, or even chopped raisins.

glasscontainers3. LEFTOVERS: You’ll need to invest in some glass to-go containers for this, but it’s worth it. Never let your dinner leftovers go to waste again. Instead of storing leftovers in one large container, use several smaller lunch-sized containers. Washable, glass to-go containers will last for years and are much more cost-effective for the long haul than disposable containers. On your way out the door, grab a container from the fridge and toss into your bag. You may be surprised to find that many leftovers taste delicious without re-heating.

salad4. GREEN SALAD: If you’re eating at your desk, a salad may be easier to make than it sounds. If you’re able to leave a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of balsamic vinegar on your desk at work, you can have a healthy salad every day. The key is to avoid soft, wet ingredients. The night before, prepare your salad as you usually would except without the dressing. Start with lettuce or spinach leaves, and then add protein (grilled chicken, beans, hard-boiled egg, chopped nuts), produce (sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots work well), and cheese. Top with equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar when you’re ready to eat.

choppedcaprese5. CAPRESE SALAD: Bored of green leafy salads? Try a caprese salad instead. In a glass to-go container, layer slices of tomato, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. (Feeling ambitious? Try growing your own basil plants.) For a change, add pieces of avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and store in the fridge. Just before you’re ready to eat, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Snacks and Sides On-The-Go:

redapple1. FRUIT: Never pack a lunch without fruit. Depending on the season, you have a variety of options: a banana (slightly green/firm is best to withstand the pressure of packed lunches), a washed organic apple, an easy-to-peel tangelo, a bunch of organic grapes, washed organic berries, or sliced seasonal fruit in a glass to-go container. For a heartier mid-morning snack on the go, pair with a carton of yogurt topped with nuts.

cashews2. NUTS OR TRAIL MIX: From almonds to cashews, nuts provide a convenient mid-day boost of nutrition and energy like no other snack. Keep a bag of raw nuts in your desk drawer. Or add raisins and organic (or homemade) granola to create your own trail mix. Check the package and avoid nuts that have been roasted in oils; instead, opt for raw nuts. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios tend to pack the most nutrients. As with any food, the key is variety.

stringcheese3. STRING CHEESE: While it may not be as fresh as the rest of these suggestions, the convenience of organic string cheese can’t be beat. In case you’re curious what makes string cheese stringy, you can watch a news segment on the process here. In short, when you heat mozzarella cheese above 140 degrees and then cool it down, it becomes stringy. Paired with fruit, string cheese makes a perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Even better, string cheese is always a child-pleaser!

celeryandpb4. VEGGIES AND DIP: Spoon a dollop of homemade vegetable dip into a glass jar and top with standing veggies. Carrots and celery sliced lengthwise work well. Organic peanut butter and celery is another combination to try. You may have to experiment a bit with jars and glass containers to find the right size container for this, but it’s worth it. This treat is also a great kid-friendly snack for road trips, too.
5. HOMEMADE BREAD: A loaf of banana bread baked over the weekend can turn into a treat for lunches all week. By baking something — as opposed to buying it — you have already won half the battle.  Be sure to check out our tips for healthier baking here. If you’ve never experimented with whole wheat flour before, banana bread is the perfect opportunity.

Have I forgotten any healthy lunch options? Please let me know by leaving a comment below!