8 Foods to Avoid if You’re Trying to Conceive
What you eat affects every part of your body. Conversely, what you avoid eating can help in more ways than you might suspect.
Soy is the number one offender on the fertility list (for men and women), and should be in the top 5 list for everyone else as well. Soy is often touted as a good vegan protein replacement for meat and today it’s used in many forms in processed foods – soybean oil, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy isolate, and soy protein. But it’s naturally high in phytoestrogens which can be harmful if you’re trying to conceive because it throws off the estrogen-progesterone balance and disrupts endocrine function.
- Soy inhibits protein metabolism and blocks certain chemical neurotransmitters that aid in the function of the pancreas.
- Soy blocks vitamin D metabolism, an essential nutrient for everyone and one which plays a huge role in all bodily systems.
- Soy is rich in phytic acid which prevents absorption of minerals.
- Studies show that men who consume just 8 ounces of soy milk a day lower their sperm count by 50%, and women who drink 2 glasses of soy milk a day (16 ounces) were providing their bodies with the same amount of estrogen they would get from a birth control pill.
- Soy protein isolate, found in common processed foods and in infant formulas, is not recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA.
- And soy crops in the U. S. are genetically modified, which may complicate matters further.
Bottom line – Do not eat soy unless it’s both organic (non-GMO) and fermented. Foods such as tofu, miso and tempeh are ok in moderation. Do not eat soy milk, soy burgers, soy protein powder, soy chips, or soy made into something else such as meat and cheese.
Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
It should go without saying that refined sugars are bad for your health at any age and under all circumstances, and artificial sweeteners can be deadly. If you’re still consuming refined white sugar, white bread, juice drinks, or bottled juices that contain concentrated forms of natural sugar, it’s time to make the change.
Most processed foods contain sugar. Read labels and stay away from dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin, malt syrup, evaporated cane juice, corn starch, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, invert sugar, and the artificial sweeteners saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame, and sucralose.
- Start squeezing your own fresh orange juice, make fruit smoothies that include fruit and yogurt, or make fresh applesauce by simple steaming apples, cinnamon, butter, nutmeg, and ginger in a covered pan until soft.
- If you still need to use sweeteners, opt for raw unfiltered honey, real maple syrup (not pancake syrup) or stevia.
Enough cannot be said about the hidden dangers in industrially processed packaged foods. When you walk down grocery store aisles, you’re inundated by boxes of chips, cereals, flours, breads, soft drinks, cookies, quick meals-in-a-box, ice cream and pops, candy and desserts of all kinds, instant rice, cheap oils, and all sorts of other foods that have had the nutritional life sucked out of them in the refining process. They may look good, but the dangers that lurk within them are numerous.
There are as many as six thousand chemicals approved by the FDA and allowed into our food, all of which are manmade and do not resemble anything the human body will recognize. So what happens when we eat it? It causes mutations in cells which need to have some sort of response to these invaders. They don’t recognize it as food and must come up with some sort of defense against it. Unfortunately, cells don’t always win.
Industrially processed foods are linked to cancer, compromised immune system response, adrenal failure, liver impairment, reproductive mutation, cognitive decline, and a host of other system ailments for which the only cure is real food.
So what can you eat?
Processed food is OK if it’s processed the right way.
- Ferment your own cabbage and vegetables
- Buy high quality cooking oils such as organic raw coconut oil, raw walnut oil, virgin olive oil, or black seed oil.
- Learn to make your own yogurt, buttermilk or kefir or buy only grass-fed products with organic being the second best choice.
- Eat foods whole – whole fruit, whole oats, real butter from pastured animals, dried beans, dark chocolate, organic coffee and tea, whole vegetables, real eggs, pastured meat including the fat, whole brown rice, quinoa, and sprouted flourless breads.
- If you have a sweet tooth, make your own cookies using oats, coconut sugar, milk, eggs, almond flour, and butter. (Coconut sugar, like honey, metabolizes differently in the body and does not cause sugar spikes).
By eating this way, you’ll balance hormones and blood sugar, increase fiber, and get most of the recommended dietary intake of vitamins and minerals. Keep track of your vitamin D intake and take a supplement if you’re not out in strong sun for at least 10-15 minutes daily.
Studies have shown that caffeine can affect your hormonal balance, increase your chances of a miscarriage and prevent you from ovulating. Limit caffeine to 2 cups a day or switch to a coffee substitute. Remember to eliminate soft drinks that contain caffeine (and sugar).
No one really knows the long term danger that genetically modified foods might pose. It’s still too soon to tell. The problem with them right now is that they’re genetically modified to withstand heavy doses of Roundup, a chemical designed to kill weeds. Plants can now stand up to the chemical without dying, but they still absorb plenty of the stuff and it’s handed off to us when we eat those foods.
- Major GMO crops include corn, soy, sugar beets, cottonseed, alfalfa, canola or rapeseed, and papaya from Hawaii.
- GMO alfalfa is grown specifically to feed dairy cows, but if you drink milk or eat conventionally processed butter and other dairy products, you’re eating Roundup.
- Cottonseed is used for vegetable oil, margarine and shortening in food processing and frying foods such as chips.
- About 70% of all processed foods contain some genetically modified (biologically altered) ingredients.
Fat is good for us. The human body needs fat including saturated fats and cholesterol. When food manufacturers take out the fat, they need to replace it with something else to put back flavor, so they generally add salt, sugar or chemicals.
In a study published by Human Reproduction, full-fat milk was shown to increase fertility.
Unfortunately, the animals we eat are not healthy enough for us to get the full benefits of their fat. They’re fed grains loaded with pesticides, processed oils and feed, and are packed into CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation) which are essentially animal factories. Animals are often sick and spread disease, chickens grow so fast that their under-developed legs break because they can’t support the disproportionately heavy weight, and animals are severely stressed. High stress causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol, the fight or flight hormones, and these hormones are then passed onto us.
The solution to getting the necessary fat your body requires for a healthy pregnancy (and health in general) is to eat only pastured animals. These animals are allowed to graze all day eating grass, weeds, shrubs, bugs and whatever they naturally choose.
Listeria is a harmful bacterium found in soil and water, so it’s easily transferred to animals and then humans. You might get it from raw dairy products, so considering you’re likely going to be eating a lot of dairy right now, avoid raw dairy or foods that might be made from it. Listeria can grow in cold places like coolers and can show up in processed meats and packing plants. Although meats have been cooked, if they pick up some Listeria along the way to the refrigerator, it will continue to grow.
Listeria can only be killed by heat.
Pasteurized milk is heated for a reason, so unless you’re absolutely sure of the source (perhaps you own or are near a farm), stick to grass-fed organic pasteurized milk. Stay away from raw sprouts, hot dogs, soft cheeses, and deli meat.
Listeria can cause miscarriage, and although a healthy ovulating women can withstand Listeria’s effects (fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea), if you’re trying to become pregnant, it’s best to take preventive measures and know what you’re eating before any damage is done.
Omega-3, DHA and other nutrients in fish can be extremely important to ovulating women, but mercury is still a concern. It’s considered a heavy metal that, under normal healthy conditions, can be dangerous and toxic to humans. It can have serious effects on the nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. Methylmercury can easily pass through the placenta, so avoid eating fish that are high on the food chain (tuna, shark, and mackerel). The bigger the fish, the more little mercury-containing fish it may have eaten.
However, a study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that the children (now 8-year-olds) of women who ate more fish in general during pregnancy were found to have much lower incidences of ADHD.
- Select a variety of fish such a salmon, trout, sardines, flounder, tilapia, whitefish, grouper, sole, perch, and orange roughy.
- Avoid shark, swordfish, tile fish, king mackerel, and all shellfish and limit tuna to white albacore and only 3/4 cup per week.