What food to avoid?

By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility

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WHY AVOID SOME FOODS?

  • Protect the quality of your eggs or sperm

  • Prevent insulin resistance, which can affect hormone levels

  • Prevent inflammation, which can be a huge source of chemical stress in the body

  • Reduce your consumption of toxins

  • Prevent depleting your body of nutrients

  • Maintain a healthy weight

FERTILITY FOOD SUPERVILLAINS

Watch out they don’t put too much stress on your body, deplete you of vital nutrients and strip you of your fertile powers.

Sugar Squad

Masters of disguise, sugar has many names it hides under like glucose, molasses and syrup. Excess can contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance, which can impact your fertile health.

Deep-Sea Shoal

Deep-sea dwelling fish tend to contain high concentrations of mercury; a toxic heavy metal linked to infertility.

Boozey Bunch

Try not to hit the bottle. Alcohol consumption can reduce your chances of pregnancy, lower testosterone levels and impact sperm production.

Caffeine Crew

Soaking up excess of this stimulant can result in delayed conception and increase risk of miscarriage.

Junk-Food Pack

Obvious o enders, unhealthy processed foods tend to be low in nutritional value and packed with artificial avours and preservatives.

BE AWARE OF SWEETENERS

Stevia

  • About 300 times sweeter than table sugar

  • Non-caloric, no impact on blood sugar and may reduce blood pressure

  • Many people dislike the after taste. Some companies sell highly processed forms of stevia combined with other sugars

Xylitol

  • About the same sweetness as table sugar

  • Low caloric, no significant impact on blood sugar, some studies show it can help reduce plaque build-up and harmful bacteria in the mouth

  • Potential minor digestive issues in some people. Can be toxic to household pets like dogs. Is very processed

Erythritol

  • About 70% as sweet as table sugar

  • Nearly non-caloric, tastes very similar to table sugar, does not spike blood sugar or insulin, easily digested

  • Potential minor digestive issues in some people

Coconut palm sugar

  • About the same sweetness as table sugar

  • Has a low glycaemic index, contains some nutrients and fibre

  • Still contains a moderate amount of fructose, which should be limited

Agave

  • 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar

  • Lower glycaemic index than regular table sugar

  • Contains a high percentage of fructose, which is not so healthy for your body. Excess fructose can cause insulin resistance and damage the liver

Maple syrup

  • About three times as sweet as table sugar

  • Lower fructose content than table sugar, contains some trace minerals

  • Don’t over do it; it’s still sugar

Monk fruit (Luo Han Guo)

  • About 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar

  • Non-caloric, no impact on blood sugar, may have anti-inflammatory benefits

  • Beware of certain processed brands that contain other sweeteners as well

Aspartame

  • About 200 times sweeter than table sugar

  • Low caloric, no significant impact on blood sugar

  • Once it has been ingested it’s broken down into formaldehyde. Scientists use this to preserve specimens. Can also cause migraines

GOOD SUGAR ALTERNATIVES

Remember not to overdo it though!

Dates

Good source of bre and vitamin B6.

Lucuma powder

Good source of fibre and nutrients, can help to boost the immune system response and doesn’t impact blood sugar levels.

Raw natural honey

Can help to boost the immune system.

AVOID HIGH GLYCAEMIC INDEX (GI) FOOD

GI ranks carbohydrate-containing food from 0-100 based on how quickly and how much they raise your blood sugar levels after eating. High GI food (70+) like white bread, are digested and absorbed quickly causing blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, sapping you of energy. Check the GI of your food at www.glycemicindex.com

FISH TO AVOID

Due to higher mercury and/or polychlorinated biphenyls – toxic industrial chemicals and antibiotics in farmed fish:

  • Atlantic Halibut

  • Blue Fin Tuna

  • Canned Albacore

  • Farm Raised Salmon (wild caught is fine to eat)

  • Grouper

  • King Mackerel

  • Marlin

  • Monk Fish

  • Orange Roughy

  • Sea Bass (from Crozet, Prince Edward, Marion Islands, Chile)

  • Shark

  • Sword Fish

  • Tile Fish

  • Tuna

  • Yellow Fin Tuna

AVOID ALCOHOL

Alcohol intake by women having five or fewer drinks a week is associated with a decreased chance of conceiving. One study showed that having as few as four alcoholic drinks per week before undergoing IVF was associated with a decrease in IVF live birth rate.

In men, one study found that heavy alcohol consumption (more than seven drinks per day) caused reduced testosterone levels, impaired cells involved in sperm maturation and interfered with the production of hormones in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Another study suggested that even modest habitual alcohol consumption (five units per week) had adverse effects on semen quality.

CUT OUT CAFFEINE

Research shows women who consume four to five cups of coffee daily (500 milligrams of caffeine), produce 70% more oestrogen in the early follicular phase of their menstrual cycle. Caffeine is not just included in coffee, but also tea, fizzy drinks (e.g. Coca-Cola), energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull), painkillers, sweets and chocolate.

One study showed high levels of caffeine intake can result in delayed conception in fertile women. Another study suggested that ingesting more than 300 milligrams per day of caffeine doubles the risk of miscarriage, compared to women who ingest less than 151mg of caffeine per day. Moderate caffeine consumption appears to be safe for men’s reproductive health.

One study showed caffeine concentrations in white, green, and black teas ranged from 14 to 61 milligrams per serving (6 or 8 oz) and that in most instances, they contained similar caffeine concentrations. Decaffeinated teas contained less than 12 mg of caffeine per serving. Most teas contained less caffeine per serving than brewed coffee. A good alternative is Rooibos, which is naturally caffeine free.

Decaf is not caffeine free; EU regulations means depending on how the coffee is made, you could have 5 grams of caffeine per cup, compared to 120 grams of caffeinated coffee. The process of extracting the caffeine from the beans, does in some methods involve the use of chemical solvents. Be aware that any stimulants can put stress on the body, depleting it of its nutrient supply.

ALSO BE AWARE OF...

Foods that can trigger an inflammation:

  • Dairy

  • Gluten

  • Caffeine

  • Alcohol

  • Sugar

  • Red meat

  • Trans fats

  • Processed food

  • Artificial additives

  • Barbeque food

  • Fried food

Rice

May contain low levels of arsenic. Arsenic is naturally found in water and soil, and can be absorbed by rice crops as they grow. The rice plant and grain tends to absorb arsenic more than other food crops. As always, eat in moderation.

Liver

Very high in vitamin A. Too much can harm an unborn baby.

REFERENCES

  • Does moderate alcohol consumption affect fertility? Follow up study among couples planning first pregnancy. Tina Kold Jensen et al. BMJ. 1998 Aug 22; 317(7157): 505–510. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pmc/articles/PMC28642/

  • Effect of alcohol consumption on in vitro fertilization. Rossi BV. Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Jan;117(1):136-42. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31820090e1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21173655

  • Alcohol’s effects on male reproduction. Emanuele MA, Emanuele NV. Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):195-201. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-3/195.pdf

  • Habitual alcohol consumption associated with reduced semen quality and changes in reproductive hormones; a cross-sectional study among 1221 young Danish men. Tina Kold Jensen et al. BMJ Open 2014;4:e005462. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005462. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/4/9/e005462

  • Early follicular phase hormone levels in relation to patterns of alcohol, tobacco, and coffee use. Lucero J et al. Fertil Steril. 2001 Oct;76(4):723-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11591405

  • Caffeine intake during pregnancy, late miscarriage and stillbirth. Greenwood DC. Eur J Epidemiol. 2010 Apr;25(4):275-80. doi: 10.1007/s10654-010-9443-7. Epub 2010 Mar 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/20306287

  • The effect of caffeine consumption and nausea on the risk of miscarriage. Giannelli M et al. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2003 Oct;17(4):316-23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14629312

  • Male infertility: lifestyle factors and holistic, complementary, and alternative therapies. David F Yao and Jesse N Mills. Asian J Androl. 2016 May-Jun; 18(3): 410–418. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC4854092/

  • Caffeine Content of Brewed Teas. Jenna M. Chin et al. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 32, October 2008 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19007524

  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/decaf-co ee-the-best-solvent-free-low-ca eine-full- avour-bea/


Juliana Kassianos