• ART Recovery (or Prep) – Case Study

    by Beth Heller M.S. and Laura Dubrule, R.D., L.D.N.

    At Pulling Down the Moon we will often recommend a “cleanse” diet following a miscarriage or failed ART cycle.  While a cleanse can, at times, entail the elimination of one or more common food allergens like dairy, wheat and soy, elimination is not the basis of our program.  More often than not our cleanse consists of limiting processed sugar and other processed foods, artificial additives and colors while focusing on foods that support our body’s anti-inflammatory and detoxification processes.  The cleanse program at Pulling Down the Moon is individualized and takes into consideration a woman (or man’s) past and present digestive function, hormonal and other symptoms, medical history and current lifestyle.

    One key element of our program is supporting hormone balance.  After a failed ART cycle or a miscarriage, a woman’s body must re-establish hormonal balance and function.  It may have been months since her last natural menstrual cycle. Weight gain during treatment may also impact hormone balance.  Yet another common symptom reported by our patients post-ART is anxiety and a lasting case of “the blues.”   It’s very easy to attribute these emotional side-effects to disappointment but there may also be a physical component.   The hormone medications used during the stimulation phase of an ART cycle, and the progesterone supplementation post-IUI and ET, can cause emotional side effects and these hormones can be slow to leave the body.  The liver is charged with processing these steroids before they can be excreted.  To do this it requires ample amounts of amino acids (in particular sulphur-containing amino acids), as well as the vitamins and minerals that work as co-factors in detoxification pathways.

    Our ART Recovery/Prep Program focuses on limiting sources of external hormones by discouraging foods that contain hormones and hormone-like substances.  Chief offenders in this area include factory-farmed dairy and meat products which contain the hormones and growth factors used in production.  There are also hormone-like chemicals in pesticides and plastics.  By limiting these external sources of hormone-like substances and increasing the intake of foods that support good hormone function (fiber, lignans and lignins, a range of whole grains – not just wheat! – , healthy fats, cruciferous vegetables, antioxidant rich fruits and veg and added-hormone-free protein) we have the potential to bolster our body’s ability to metabolize and excrete excess hormones and restore balance in the reproductive cycle.

    Our Rockville nutritionists Laura Dubrule, R.D. recently  shared a case with me that drove this message home.

    My patient is 43 and had experienced two failed IVF cycles in quick succession (6 months time).  Her physician had noted several potential factors contributing to failure including egg quality and endometrial lining quality.  In addition, the patient had recently been diagnosed with PCOS.  Since her last IVF the patient was unable to lose the 8 pounds gained during IVF treatment despite eating a healthy diet and working out four times per week.

    We discussed the impact of IVF medications on hormone levels as well as the impact of various dietary choices on her body’s ability to break down and clear excess hormones. We focused especially on tweaking her already health-supporting diet to include significant amounts of cruciferous vegetables and berries every day as well as a daily serving  of legumes.  I suggested she add two supplements, RePro Cleanse and FlowPro, to her regimen as well as vitamin D.

    I was very surprised when the patient returned for follow-up having lost 8 lbs over the preceding two weeks.  At Pulling Down the Moon we are extremely careful not to encourage rapid weight loss but upon review of my patient’s diet it was clear that a reduction in calories was not a major factor in her weight loss. The patient reported feeling that the weight came off her abdominal area, that she had lost a bloated feeling, and that her clothes fit the way they used to.

    The patient also told me about the resolution of another symptom she hadn’t mentioned in our initial consult. She had been experiencing high levels of anxiety while driving, especially on the highway.  This was not her experience historically, but had been a recent development.  Over the course of the two-week cleanse, this driving anxiety completely disappeared.

    While we can’t be certain, we suspect that this rapid loss of water weight and alleviation of anxiety may have been due to an increased clearance of excess steroid hormones that had been circulating in her system.   Whatever the reason, the result was excellent.  While there is still work ahead, my patient is very pleased with the results of her cleanse and feels more like herself than she has in months.  We both agreed that anything we could do to reduce the lingering effects of ART would only help her feel more prepared for her next round of treatment.

    We believe that a nutritional consultation can make a big difference in the fertility journey.   Our consultations are available in person in Chicago and the DC Metro area and by phone from almost anywhere else.  Call 312-321-0004 (Chicago) or 301-610-7755 (Rockville) for information.

    RePro Cleanse includes kudzu, flax, rice protein and other micronutrients that support the liver’s detoxification processes. Because it contains plant estrogens and is designed to help balance and promote clearance of excess reproductive hormones, we do not use RePro Cleanse when a woman is on fertility medications or birth control.  We often recommend supplementation with Re Pro Cleanse when women are recovering from a failed cycle or miscarriage, or in cases of hormone-related conditions like fibroids or endometriosis.  We will also use RePro Cleanse when a woman’s IVF cycle is cancelled/postponed due to high baseline estrogen levels.   Used as directed over a period of 2-4 weeks we feel that this supplement can help jump start a woman’s recovery process in preparation for a subsequent cycle, be it ART or natural.  Of course we recommend that our patients clear any/all supplements with their physicians.

    About Laura Dubrule

    Laura brings an eclectic mix of passions to her nutrition counseling. Her years studying acting in New York taught her the importance of connecting with our bodies; this deep sense is fundamental to her understanding of diet and nutrition. Laura completed the program in Nutrition and Food Science at Hunter College in New York, and then went on to complete her dietetic internship at Stony Brook University, a program with an integrative and functional approach. She returned to the city and practiced in a worksite wellness program, delivering individualized nutrition counseling to bank employees in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Her vision for her clients could be called “whole foods meet real world.” She believes that food is meant to be enjoyed and works with her clients to find healthful approaches to eating that are satisfying and enjoyable.
    Laura is thrilled to be working in concert with acupuncture, yoga and massage professionals because she believes that the nourishment and care of our hearts and souls is integral to the nourishment of our bodies. She considers it a privilege to be a resource to men and women on their fertility journeys and to celebrate every step long that path as an act of love and creation.

  • Fertility Intention Beads – When Fate, Beauty and Good Energy Meet

    by  Tami Quinn, Pulling Down the Moon Co-Founder

    Back in May, I attended a wonderful party at She Beads in Wilmette to celebrate the launch of a new jewelry line called, “Intention Beads.”   Sandy Rueve, the Founder and woman who started the hand-rolled, clay bead phenomenon and I became fast friends when we learned that each of us shared a love of astrology, eastern mysticism and beautiful jewelry.

    Over the years, while making jewelry for Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen of the Chicago Bulls and distributing her beads to high-end retailers around the world, Sandy was often told by her customers that her beads had a type of “power.”  “Nope,” she would reply, “They’re just jewelry beads infused with my good intentions and lots of personal energy.  I can’t really say they are powerful.”  Earlier this year, however, Sandy had an “aha” moment.  She had learned from her personal astrologer that there were certain times of the year when the energy created by planetary transits could be auspicious for manifesting ones deep-hearted desires.  Think the energy of the moon affecting the ebb and flow of the tides or the energy of the sun that allows plants to grow.  Armed with this information, Sandy decided to work with her astrologer to create “Intention Beads.”  These special beads are hand-made by Sandy during astrological transits that will help bring about certain universal intentions; things like strengthening partnerships, rekindling ones sex life, the ability to find creative passion or the drive to be assertive.  These beads are then made into beautiful bracelets infused with the energy of the astrological transits occurring at the moment the beads are created.

    As Sandy told me about her new beads, I couldn’t help but get excited about bringing them to Pulling Down the Moon and creating Fertility Intention Jewelry.  We began to brainstorm on what this special line of Fertility beads could look like and the intention they might hold.  I told her that I felt pretty strongly that the astrologist who was involved should be credible and understand the fertility process.  Sandy said she’d ask Barbara and let me know.  “Barbara,” I said, “Barbara Schermer from AstrologyAlive.com?”  Sandy looked astonished that I should know her astrologer.  As fate would have it, Barbara is the very same astrologer that Pulling Down the Moon has used for years to do readings for fertility patients who request them.  It seemed like a match made in heaven, SheBeads, Barbara Schermer and Pulling Down the Moon creating one-of-a-kind fertility intention bracelets.  Our first batch just arrived and they are beautiful, unique and filled with love and good energy.  You might say they have been designed to be your special fertility talisman or good luck charm throughout this challenging process of becoming a parent.

    We currently have just two left but will be making more in mid-August with the next auspicious fertility transit.  We invite you to view Sandy’s video and explore owning your own intention bracelet.  It is truly our honor to be offering this exclusive product at Pulling Down the Moon.

    http://shop.pullingdownthemoon.com/cat/Fertility-Jewelry-and-Talisman_52/

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    Namaste,

    Tami Quinn

    Co-Founder

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Embryo Quality

    by Beth Heller, M.S.

    To fully comprehend the latest research on omega-3 fatty acids and embryo quality it’s important to understand that the goal of medicated fertility cycles is not simply to make a lot of eggs.   In fact mild ovarian stimulation that results in fewer follicles seems to provide the best results.  This approach allows only the healthiest follicles and oocytes to develop.  Since developing follicles produce estrogen, fewer developing follicles also mean lower estrogen levels during the cycle.  This is also potentially beneficial as higher estrogen levels may negatively impact uterine receptivity and deter embryo implantation.

    New research suggests that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids ALA, DHA and EPA may support this objective (1).  In 225 women undergoing IVF diet data was collected using a food frequency questionnaire.   Intake of  the omega-3 fatty acids ALA,EPA and DHA were calculated, as well as omega-6 (LA) intake and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet.

    In this study, the women with the highest dietary intake of omega-3′s had lower estrogen response, developed fewer follicles and had better quality embryos, even after controlling for confounders like age and BMI.  A higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio was associated with higher numbers of follicles.  If the goal of fertility treatment is to help women produce fewer, higher-quality eggs, this research suggests that women undergoing ART  should strive to increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and decrease the amount of omega-6 they consume.

    As a result of these findings, the research team recommends that twice-weekly fish intake should be encouraged in women during fertility treatment.  While generally useful, this recommendation does not take into consideration the risk of toxicity from fish consumption – especially in the perinatal period.  In fact,  the fish richest in omega-3 fatty acids are the ones most likely to contain mercury and other contaminants.  For this reason, our recommendation at Pulling Down the Moon is that women work to lower their intake of omega-6 fats (found in snack and fast foods, factory/grain-fed red meat and processed oils), increase  their intake of leafy greens, nuts and seeds and supplement their diet with a high quality, purity tested fish oil supplement.

    Supplements are only a small part of fertility nutrition, however.  For more information about fish oil, diet and egg/embryo quality, schedule a consultation with one of our nutrition specialists. Learn more about omega-3 fatty acids here.

    1.  Hammiche et al. Fertility and Sterility. Vol. 95, No. 5, April 2011 1820-23