• Nutrition, Hormones, and Microbiome Diversity

    By Kelly Lyons, L.Ac, MSOM

    I often get the question, “Why do I need a probiotic?” It is easy to take a probiotic and start to develop valuable high quality and diverse forms of gut bacteria.  All too often, that diversity in bacteria is lacking. Probiotics can help adjust that.

    Study after study shows correlations between gut health and vital system health throughout the body. Just recently, I read an article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that illuminates a relationship between PCOS and gut bacteria. In “Gut Microbial Diversity in Women With PCOS Correlates With Hyperandrogenism” the study revealed links between PCOS and a reduction in microbiome diversity. It also showed a possible correlation between elevated testosterone in women and decreased microbiome diversity. In a follow-up study, one of the same researchers, Varykina Thackray, Ph.D., stated, “Our new results suggest that altering the gut microbiome via prebiotic or probiotic therapies may be a potential treatment option for PCOS.” Links to studies at end of blog.

    What does the gut have to do with hormone balance? Glad you asked. Hormones are metabolized in stages as they trek through the body.  They travel to the liver, and then they go to the gut, where hopefully and ultimately, they are eliminated out of your system. At various points along the way, hormones can get tripped up in their metabolic process.  If hormones get to the gut, and there is an unhealthy microbiome balance, they can easily get stuck there. This is one way that hormones accumulate and mess with digestion, disrupt biofeedback signaling, and slow down healthy hormone production.

    I think about what probiotics have to do with Chinese Medicine a lot. Traditional diets across cultures use daily fermented foods to assist digestion. Ancient Chinese texts describe the digestive system as the earth element and the center.  “The Earth permits sowing, growing, and reaping.” This is a very important passage from the Shang Shu, translated by our beloved late teacher Giovanni Maciocia. You hear your acupuncturist talk often about “reducing damp” and “reducing sugary foods that cause damp accumulation.” As the stomach and spleen are the origin of qi and blood, this makes sense.

    If you are trying to get a certain amount of highly nourished blood moving, without hesitation, to the uterus, you need the digestive system to be on it. You need the Earth element. You need the Spleen and Stomach channels to not be overworked and bogged down.

    If you are trying to metabolize hormones, whether in a natural cycle,  a medicated cycle, postpartum, menarche, perimenopause, or menopause, you need your digestive tract working optimally.

    Unfortunately, most of us were not raised to have a diverse palate that intuitively steers us to foods, herbs, and spices that are bitter, sour, pungent, salty, AND sweet. We mostly enjoyed sweet and salty diets. This creates an environment that appeals to certain microorganisms in the gut and discourages microbiome diversity. Did you know that there are taste receptors in the lower GI tract? So, we need to balance the flavors we eat, if we want our bodies to outmaneuver the impact of our less than healthy choices.  

    What does a sour food do for us? Technically, it increases saliva, digestive enzyme secretion, stimulates metabolism, and encourages proper liver function. (By the way, the sour flavor falls into a TCM category with the liver and spring, so when you feel like heavy wintery foods are not working for you anymore, try adding sour foods into your menu with greens to aid in the digestive transition). Apple cider vinegar? Yes, add a splash to your lemon water in the morning, with your probiotic. It will help prep your system to start digesting. Add it to your greens, too, at lunch!

    What about the taste of bitter? Bitters increase saliva and digestive enzyme production. They enhance the movement of blood in the digestive system after meals. If you have been in our offices, you know HOW IMPORTANT it is to keep blood moving in the abdominal cavity. Bitters encourage more complete absorption of nutrients. This can protect the body from having to deal with stray food particles leaving the intestines through the bloodstream, otherwise known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Guess what that does? It reduces damp and clears heat. Where there is inflammation, there is fluid accumulation, and vice versa. Next time you go to buy your chocolate bar, go as dark as you can and think about how beneficial that bitter is!

    Pungent flavors are amazing. These are the wildcard friends that open you up and make you laugh your eyes out! They literally open up the orifices, again, when the tendency is to contract. These are things like onion, garlic, ginger, scallions, horseradish, mustard, mint. All of these plants are known across cultures as medicine.  Mint needs no introduction to my clients. It is cooling, vents pathogens, soothes the liver, motivates blood flow, and is uplifting. It is part of an essential formula in Chinese Medicine called Xiao Yao San, or Free and Easy Wanderer. Pungent flavors are medicine. Use them in your meals. A little goes a very long way.

    Empty nutrition is robbing us of systemic health. Non-functional food is fueling the growth of harmful bacteria that degrades gut health, leaves cells weakened, and entire body systems undernourished and in distress. And there is a lot that you can do. If you are on a mission to balance hormones, regulate a cycle, reduce bloating and promote healthy metabolism of hormones from a medicated cycle, or reduce anxiety, and you haven’t aimed your attention at your gut, start now! Take a breath, get in warrior pose, and start helping your gut be as strong as it can be. Come in and talk to us. Let us help you through it.

    Exciting stories often start in very tiny packages.  Microorganisms are an example of this. Our entire body is understood as an ecosystem in Chinese Medicine. I remember reading an article about salmon shortages affecting old growth trees. It said that more than 75% of the nitrogen the trees needed to thrive was provided by the remains of salmon dragged into the forest by animals.  It reminded me of the human digestive system, and how reliant it is on tiny, often understudied components.

    If you are not taking a probiotic, or eating fermented foods daily, consider it. If you are bloated, constipated, or experiencing brain fog and signs of hormone imbalance, come in and discuss what to do with your practitioner.  Probiotics, prebiotics, functional and balancing foods, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, exercise, working with a nutritionist, and supplements can help create a healthy structure for you to take your next step forward.

    Try acupuncture, nutrition, massage, and yoga during these summer months with passport savings!

    Research Links:

    Pawelczyk L, Duleba AJ, Kelley ST, Thackray VG. 2018. Gut Microbial Diversity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome correlates with hyperandrogenism. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 103:1502-1511. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-02153 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6276580/

    The Endocrine Society. “Improved PCOS symptoms correlate with gut bacterial composition.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2019. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190323145201.htm

     

  • Choline: Are You Getting Enough?

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Are you getting enough choline in your diet? Most women are not, and most women may not have even heard of choline. Choline plays an important role in fetal development, including brain development. Most people have heard they need to get enough folic acid (or folate) before and during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects, but did you know that choline may also play a role in preventing neural tube defects, like spina bifida? Research has produced conflicting results in this area, but ensuring adequate choline intake makes sense while the research sorts itself out, especially given choline’s other benefits.

    In addition to a potential role in preventing neural tube defects, choline deficiency may also play a role in the development of fatty liver. Choline is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in muscle control and memory. In addition, choline is converted to betaine in your body, which assists in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine, thus preventing homocysteine levels from becoming elevated. Elevated homocysteine is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and miscarriage.

    Choline is not technically considered a vitamin, since our bodies make small amounts, but our bodies don’t make enough to meet our daily choline needs. Therefore, we need to get choline in our diet. Non-pregnant women need 425 mg choline daily, and this goes up to 450 mg during pregnancy, and 550 mg while breastfeeding. In the US, average choline intake is well below this recommended level with women on average only taking in 260 mg choline per day!

    The best food sources of choline include liver, eggs, meat, seafood, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. One egg provides almost 150 mg choline, which underscores how helpful eggs are in meeting your choline needs. Not only are eggs rich in choline, but they are also just a very nutrient dense food to support your overall health, fertility, and pregnancy. Because choline is most concentrated in animal foods, vegans or vegetarians who eat limited eggs and dairy products are at highest risk for choline deficiency. Since so many US women struggle with getting enough choline, it’s a good idea to take a prenatal vitamin that contains choline, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian with limited intake of eggs.

    Looking for more information about nutrition for fertility and pregnancy? Book a nutrition consult today!

    References:

    1. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Choline
    2. Caudill, et al. Pre- and Postnatal Health: Evidence of Increased Choline Needs. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2010; 110:1198-1206

     

  • Rethinking the Cleanse

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    The New Year is here and it’s one of the most popular times of the year to do a “cleanse.” This often comes from wanting to “detox” after eating too much or too many sweets during the holidays. For many, it’s a way to try to jump start some quick weight loss. For women trying to conceive, any type of restrictive cleanse or eating plan truly isn’t appropriate. Fertility and pregnancy are “metabolically expensive” processes for your body, meaning that you really need adequate calories, protein, and nutrients for optimal function. Here at Pulling Down the Moon, we focus on a nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates certain foods for a period of time in order to determine if certain foods are negatively impacting your health, but also to give yourself a period of time away from foods that aren’t serving you, which may help to reduce cravings in the long-term.

    Here are few things we focus on:

    1. Modify the food coming in. Start by looking at the quality of food you’re taking in. Reducing/eliminating added sugar is a great way to help balance blood sugar levels and reduce cravings for many people. Eating more organic food is also important, as one study showed that eating more high pesticide fruits and vegetables was associated with lower likelihood of pregnancy and live birth when doing fertility treatments. In addition, higher intake of fast food has been associated with longer time to pregnancy. Choosing organic minimally processed meats, fruits, and vegetables, when possible, is a helpful component for a cleanse.
    2. Don’t focus solely on food. There are a number of chemicals in food packaging and personal care products, such as BPA, parabens, and phthalates that are hormone disruptors and thus may adversely affect fertility. It’s important to educate yourself about these sources, and start choosing more natural alternatives. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great place to start.
    3. Support digestion. A healthy digestive system is a foundational part of good health and fertility, as our digestive system helps us digest and absorb our food optimally. In addition, our gut can have a profound impact on the rest of our body. Supporting healthy digestion ensures regular elimination of hormones like estrogen that can play a role conditions like fibroids and endometriosis, when in excess. Drink plenty of fluids, include probiotic foods regularly, and include at least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. These vegetables provide food to nourish your gut bacteria, which may have a profound impact on our digestion, immune system, and health.  

    These are just a few aspects that we discuss during the ART Recovery/Prep cleanse at Pulling Down the Moon. Schedule an appointment today, if you’d like to discuss how a cleanse program might be helpful for you.  Try it this month and save with our January special!

    Remember that changes to diet and lifestyle are a lifelong process that last beyond a few week cleansing period. A cleanse or reset period can be a helpful jump start for more lasting change!

  • Stocking Your Fertility Friendly Kitchen

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    When you’re working on making changes to your eating habits to support fertility, it’s important to set yourself up for success by making sure you’ve got healthy foods on hand. Often the best of intentions can awry, because we’re short on time or mental space or energy for planning. Stocking your kitchen with healthy nutrient dense foods helps ensure you have healthy options on hand. No need to overhaul everything at once, but pick your step to take to help you move forward. Here are some tips for getting started:

    1. Keep only fruits and vegetables out on the counter. Everything else should be put in the fridge, freezer, or cupboards. We tend to reach for what we see. Have you ever walked past a cookie sitting out and been tempted to eat it? Of course! We all have. Out of sight, at least helps to keep it out of mind. Conversely, when you see fruit and veggies out, you’re more likely to reach for them for snacks or when planning a meal.
    2. Buy versatile vegetables. If you have trouble with vegetables rotting in your fridge, you’re not alone. To combat this, focus on vegetables that you can use for a variety of recipes. For example, organic power greens are a combo of baby kale, chard, and spinach. These greens work for salads, adding to smoothies, and for cooking. For cooking, add to a veggie egg scramble, stirfry, chili, or sauté with mushrooms.
    3. Stock your freezer with organic frozen fruits and vegetables. Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are great, but we all get busy and frozen are super convenient and nutritious. Pick your favorite vegetable blends. Alternatively, broccoli and cauliflower rice are always good options when you need to add a quick veggie to a meal. Thaw out frozen fruit, and add to plain yogurt or to a smoothie for breakfast or a snack.
    4. Stock your freezer with high quality meats and fish, like wild salmon, grassfed beef, and organic chicken. A common barrier to preparing dinner is not having a protein source on hand. It’s so helpful to just be able to open the freezer and have something to cook.
    5. Keep nuts and seeds on hand for snack, smoothies, and salads. Choose raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds, but skip those roasted in oil. Great choices include walnuts, almonds, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds, but most nuts/seeds are nutrient dense and contain healthy fats, so you can’t go wrong.
    6. Keep eggs on hand. A veggie omelet/scramble works great for breakfast or for dinner on a busy night. Boil some eggs on the weekends that you can grab for snacks or breakfast during the week.
    7. Keep beans on hand for a nutrient dense protein source. Beans are packed with fiber, iron, and folate. In order to avoid BPA in canned beans, either buy beans in BPA free cans, glass jars, or cartons, or make your own from dried. You can freeze portions of cooked beans, so that you have them on hand when you need them.

    Now that you have gotten started, schedule a nutrition consult for the next steps!  Purchase a Wild Card in November and save with an Initial Nutrition Consult for only $75 (save $50)!  Must be scheduled before December 31st, 2018. No promo code needed to book today!

    Don’t forget Supplement Prenatal Packs are only $12 in November for a full month’s supply (save $56.50)!! Use promo code FALL12 to save online or in-center while supplies last!

     

  • 30 Nutrition Tips for PCOS Awareness Month

    By Margaret Eich MS, RD

    Have your vitamin D tested. Women with PCOS are often vitamin D deficient, and correcting the deficiency may help restore more frequent menstrual cycles and promote improved blood sugar regulation.

    Eat low mercury fish like wild salmon, tilapia, and sardines. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce the inflammation associated with PCOS.

    Cut out all sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, sweetened teas, and sports drinks. These beverages can lead to insulin resistance, which only exacerbates the symptoms of PCOS. Instead, drink water with lemon or cucumber slices, or sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice

    Avoid artificial sweeteners. They usually serve only to exacerbate sugar cravings and may contribute to issues with blood sugar regulation

    Make sure to eat a protein source at all your meals and snacks to help keep you full and satisfied and promote good blood sugar regulation. Moderate protein diets have been associated with better IVF success rates too! Protein sources include meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds, or (limited) dairy.

    Eat only full-fat dairy instead of low-fat or non-fat. In the Nurse’s Health Study, intake of full-fat dairy, as opposed to reduced or non-fat dairy, was associated with lower risk of ovulatory infertility.

    Eat cruciferous vegetables daily, as they are great for estrogen-dominant conditions like PCOS. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, and arugula.

    Avoid refined grains like white breads, pasta, cookies, cereals and crackers. They have no nutritional value. Instead eat whole grains like Ezekiel bread, brown or wild rice, quinoa, and millet.

    Take a fish oil supplement. Since it’s important to limit fish due to its mercury content, taking a fish oil supplement that has been purified to remove mercury is a great way to make sure you’re getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the inflammation associated with PCOS.

    Lose the sugar! High blood sugar may be damaging to egg quality and promote inflammation in the body, besides the fact that it’s empty calories. Cutting back on the sugar is also an essential strategy if you’re trying to lose weight.

    Avoid corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils that are rich in inflammatory omega-6 rich fatty acids. These oils are often found in crackers, cookies, salad dressings, and pasta sauces.

    Eat vitamin D-rich foods like low mercury fish (salmon, tilapia, haddock, sardines) and egg yolks and get some sunshine.

    Eat fermented foods, which can help promote healthy digestion and balanced gut bacteria.

    Avoid foods with “soy protein isolate” and “texturized vegetable protein,” as they contain high levels of phytoestrogens that may be detrimental to fertility. You find these in meat replacement products, many protein bars, and in high protein cold cereals.

    Eat organic whenever possible, especially meat and dairy.

    Work towards a healthy weight. Whether you are overweight or underweight, a healthy weight is an important way to help improve your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.

    Eat berries. Berries are rich in antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and prevent free radical damage to eggs.

    Eat healthy fats – dry roasted or raw nuts and seeds, avocados, low mercury fish, and olive oil.

    Learn the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to learn more. The Dirty Dozen are the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues. These are the items to buy organic. The Clean 15 have the lowest pesticide residues so buying conventional versions is a good money-saving option.

    Avoid Bisphenol A (BPA) by using a BPA-free water bottle and limiting your intake of canned foods. Higher BPA levels in the body have been linked to PCOS.

    Try myo-inositol. This vitamin-like supplement may reduce insulin and testosterone levels and may promote ovulation in women with PCOS!

    Try cutting out gluten, especially if you have any digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, or frequent bloating. If you have poor digestion, you likely are not absorbing nutrients from your food well.

    Support good digestion with probiotics, fiber from fruits and vegetables, and plenty of fluids. Limit refined grains and sugars.

    Eat beans and lentils. These nutritional powerhouses are great for PCOS as they are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, folate, and calcium – all very beneficial nutrients when trying to conceive.

    Avoid trans fats, which are a component of hydrogenated oils. Don’t buy any foods with “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list as these unhealthy fats may increase inflammation and are linked to decreased fertility.

    Take a prenatal vitamin that contains all of your B-vitamins. B-vitamins are vital to the ovulation process and especially important for women with PCOS. If you aren’t eating a balanced diet, you may not be getting enough of these important vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, B6 and B12 among others.

    Eat low glycemic carbohydrates. Low glycemic carbs keep your blood sugar steadier and provide more sustained energy throughout the day. Blood sugar balance can help keep insulin levels lower, which is important because higher insulin levels seem to be a driving force in PCOS.

    Eat foods with folate. You should definitely be taking a folic acid supplement while trying to conceive, but eating foods with folate is also beneficial. Include leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, green peas, strawberries, and avocados.

    Eat slowly and mindfully. These practices can enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients and satisfaction with eating and prevent overeating and digestive issues like gas and bloating.

    Get plenty of antioxidants in your diet, especially if you’re doing ART. One study suggests that IVF increases free radicals, but increasing your intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals was able to neutralize the free radicals. Think lots of different colored fruits and vegetables!

    Want to learn more? Schedule a nutrition consult today!

  • Tips to Manage Your Sweet Tooth

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    So many of us struggle with having a “sweet tooth,” reaching for sweets automatically after meals or struggling to say no to any sweets that happen to be in the break room at work or at events. When we rely on willpower in these situations, it’s very difficult to be successful. Instead, set yourself up for success by making sure to have healthy snacks on hand and managing your appetite. Anytime we become overly hungry, we’re much more likely to overeat, and it’s more difficult to make healthy food choices.

    It’s helpful to first determine the time of day that you’re working on cutting back on sweets. If it’s after dinner, get in the habit of having fruit for dessert after dinner. Don’t make having a real dessert off limits, since that sometimes makes us obsess about it more. Just add the fruit or a fruit smoothie as an experiment and see what happens. Sometimes you just might find that it’s enough, and you don’t need a “real” dessert afterward. The key is to pick fruits that you really enjoy and feel like a treat to you. Here’s a delicious and nutrient-rich smoothie to try, especially right now when peaches and blueberries are in season.

    Peach Blueberry Smoothie

    • 1 peach, peeled and pitted
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • ½ cup water or amount to achieve desired consistency.
    • Add all ingredients to blender or food processor.
    • Blend until smooth.

    Want to learn more?  Call us for a Nutrition Consult for fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, as well as, health/wellness support at: 312-321-0004.

     

  • Fast Food, Fruit, and Your Fertility

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    A recent study looked at women’s diets while they were trying to conceive and found that certain aspects of their diet impacted their fertility. 5628 women with no previous pregnancies recalled their intake of certain foods leading up to conception when they were 14-16 weeks pregnant. The two factors that were found to impact time to pregnancy (how long it took to get pregnant) were fast food intake and fruit intake.

    Fruit

    Eating fruit 1-3 times per month as compared to 1-6 times per week was associated with an 11% increase in time to pregnancy. Eating fruit 1-3 times per month compared to 3 times daily was associated with 19% longer time to pregnancy.

    Fast food

    Eating fast food at least 4 times per week was associated with a 24% increase in time to pregnancy as compared to women who eat no fast food.  Risk of infertility was 41% higher in the group of women who ate fast food at least 4 times per week compared to those who ate no fast food.

    It’s important to keep these results in perspective, as the time to pregnancy increase with high fast food intake or low fruit consumption was only about 0.6-0.9 months, which isn’t a huge difference. The increase in risk of infertility is definitely concerning. The bottom line is that we already know that fast food is harmful to our overall health, but it is also seems to impact fertility, which could be through the intake of unhealthy fats in fried foods and just a generally nutrient poor diet high in refined carbs and added sugars.

    It’s important not to stress when you read these studies! Fertility is affected by many factors, so worrying about your fast food intake or lack of fruit intake is definitely counterproductive. Instead look forward and work on small changes that that will improve your overall health and potentially your fertility moving forward.

    If you are eating fast food regularly, focus on one step you could make towards healthier eating. It could be cooking up 1 one-pot meal with leftovers per week, such as soup or chili that you could eat for multiple meals during the week. Alternatively, it could be choosing healthier fast food options with more whole foods such as tacos, a salad with protein, or a burrito bowls that include vegetables and omits fried foods. Adding some fruit can be as simple as taking the step of bringing an easy fruit with you to work or adding a fruit after dinner in the evening. Clementines, bananas, and apples are all pretty easy and portable. Berries pack a good antioxidant punch and would also make a great addition.

    Need help making changes to your diet to maximize your fertility? Schedule a nutrition appointment today! Get outside this summer with others TTC and learn more about nutrition for fertility with Mia Zarlengo at the FREE Two Week Walk event in Chicago on July 21st! 

     

  • Choosing the right kind of fats to support fertility

    By Mia Zarlengo, MS RD

    Do you know the different types of healthy fats that support a diet that fights off inflammation in the body ? Since science has begun to debunk the myth that a “low-fat diet” is the healthiest diet, we can look to focus more on which fats are actually healthy that we should include in our daily intake.

    One of the key components of a diet that supports reproductive health is being anti-inflammatory. Many sources of fats can support fighting inflammation, while some are actually pro-inflammatory. Navigating these different choices is a great first step in adopting a more anti-inflammatory, fertility friendly diet.

    Fats to avoid that can cause inflammation:

    Trans-fats: Luckily, trans-fats for the most part have been taken out of our food system in America. However, it’s still important to always check your food labels and be sure there are 0 grams of trans fats!

    Corn and Soybean oil: These oils are often used as cheap fillers in processed foods. However, these processed vegetables oils are heavy in omega-6 fatty acids; when our omega-6 levels exceed omega-3’s, the result is an increase in inflammation. Swap out processed vegetable oils with some of the healthy options below!

    Healthy fats that support an anti-inflammatory diet:

    Avocados: One of the easiest anti-inflammatory foods I tell patients to add to their plate are avocados! They are easy to pack on the go, go well with all sorts of meals, and are a nutrient-dense source of healthy fats to help fight off inflammation! They also provide fiber, potassium, and many other micronutrients essential for health.

    Olive oil: Olive oil, especially in its raw state, is a great source of healthy fats. I suggest using this as a salad dressing or a finishing sauce, to avoid burning off the healthy properties of the oil that can happen at high temperatures.

    Salmon: This fish is packed with omega-3’s, great for fighting off inflammation in the body. This is a great source of protein that will also add a healthy dose of good fats to your plate!

    Walnuts: Walnuts are especially high in omega-3’s for a nut, and a great addition to salads, snacks, and smoothies! They also provide fiber, another essential nutrient for a fertility-friendly diet.

    Chia Seeds: These tiny little seeds pack a mean punch of nutrients! They are high in healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Try adding these to your smoothie, oatmeal, or yogurt to create a more nutrient-dense meal!

    In addition to a diet filled with antioxidants from vibrant, colorful vegetables and fruits, fiber from vegetables and whole grains, and foods low in added sugars, healthy fats are a great addition to your diet to help support reproductive health and fight off any internal inflammation. Trying adding a healthy fat source to all of your meals today and notice how you feel!

    Book a nutrition appointment today to learn more ways to adopt an anti-inflammatory lifestyle through diet and supplementation to support hormonal health!  Don’t miss your chance to meet Mia in-person at our Chicago office for the FREE Two Week Walk event July 21st!

  • CoQ10 Improves Egg and Embryo Quality

     

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    An exciting new study shows promising results for CoQ10 supplementation in women with poor ovarian reserve doing IVF. In the study, 186 women under age 35 with poor ovarian reserve, defined as Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) < 1.2 ng/mL, and antral follicle count (AFC) < 5, were randomized to receive either treatment with 600 mg CoQ10 (200 mg 3 times per day) or control (no treatment) for 60 days leading up to their IVF cycle.

    The results were pretty striking. The CoQ10 group had significantly more high quality day 3 embryos (1 vs. 0 in the control group), significantly less gonadotropins needed for stimulation, significantly more eggs retrieved (4 vs. 2 in the control group), and significantly higher fertilization rate (67% vs. 45% in the control group). In addition, significantly more patients who took CoQ10 had embryos to freeze (18.4% vs. 4.3% in the control group). The CoQ10 group also had higher pregnancy rates (32% vs. 17% in the control group) and higher live birth rates (29% vs. 16% in the control group), but these results were not statistically significant.

    CoQ10 is an antioxidant and plays an essential in energy production in our body cells, including maturing eggs. CoQ10 is thought to exert its beneficial effects by neutralizing free radicals that could damage the DNA or other structures within the egg. Damage to DNA can prevent fertilization or result in a nonviable embryo. In addition, because of CoQ10’s role in energy production, CoQ10 likely also supports the energy needs of maturing eggs, thus leading to better quality eggs and embryos.  CoQ10 tends to be a safe and well-tolerated supplement, and in this study, there were no adverse effects reports from supplementing with CoQ10.

    Absorption of CoQ10 is best when the dose is divided into 3 doses with meals during the day. Because CoQ10 is fat-soluble, having fat with CoQ10 increases the absorption. Learn more about our CoQ10 supplement here.  

    Reference: Xu Y, Nisenblat V, Cuiling L, et al. Pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 improves ovarian response and embryo quality in low-prognosis young women with decreased ovarian reserve: a randomized controlled trial. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2018;16:29.

    **Save 25% off CoQ10 in June with the promo code EGG25! Available in-center and online while supplies last.

  • Tips to Help Stop Stress Eating

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Imagine this scene. You worked late to finish a project at work. You ordered in some takeout while you were working, and now it’s finally time to go home. You’re exhausted and stressed. When you get home, you start raiding the fridge and cabinets for things to eat. You really aren’t hungry at all since you ate dinner at work, but you’re looking for comfort in the cupboards.

    I think most people can relate to this, and I would venture to guess that most of us have been in this or a similar situation before. In times of stress, we tend to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Food is readily available and processed high sugar, high fat foods tend to give us a quick, but very short-lived, boost that often leaves us feeling worse or just simply that we haven’t acted in a way that is consistent with our long-term goals. No matter how good our intentions are, stress from a variety of sources can tend to deplete our resolve and decision-making capability. In addition to the daily stresses of work, family, and finances, struggling to conceive adds significant stress. People have varying degrees of stress or emotional eating, and these habits can take significant effort and time to change. Here are some tips to help get you started:

    1) Check-in with yourself to determine whether you’re feeling physical “stomach” hunger or “head” hunger. Sometimes our head is telling us to eat even though our stomach isn’t hungry. Physical hunger comes on gradually and is felt in the stomach, and can be satisfied by most foods. In contrast “head hunger,” tends to come on quickly with very specific cravings. In addition with “head hunger,” it may not be very long since you last ate, and your stomach isn’t giving you any hunger cues.

    2) Find alternative coping mechanisms to manage stress and find comfort other than eating. It’s helpful to make a list of things you can do when you want to eat when you’re stressed, but not actually hungry. There are a wide variety of options including ways to simply distract yourself or ways to actually help you unwind and manage your stress. Examples include: go for a walk, take deep breaths, meditate, do a few yoga poses, take a bath, call a friend, read a book or magazine, go outside and get some fresh air, etc. It’s helpful to make your own list of 5 things that you can do when you find yourself turning to food for comfort.

    3) Be kind to yourself. In those moments when you eat something that you wish you hadn’t or feel uncomfortable because you ate too much, practice being kind to yourself instead of berating or beating yourself up or feeling guilty. As much as we think our guilt about our eating habits helps us do better next time, it actually holds us back and keeps up trapped in the cycle of stress eating. Instead, practice being kind to yourself as you would to a dear friend or family member. Then move on, and return to your healthy eating instead of letting it spiral out of control or deciding to restrict at the next meal. Restricting at the next meal only causes the cycle to repeat, as becoming overly hungry combined with stress makes it much more likely that we have a harder time making healthy choices moving forward.

    Reducing stress and emotional eating takes time, so be patient with yourself. Know that progress often comes in fits and starts, and we often take 2 steps forward and 1 step back along the way.

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