• Is it Time To Consider Egg Donation?

    You’ve done it all. Diet. Acupuncture. Yoga. Reiki. You name it. You can only do so much to improve the quality of your eggs, so how do you know when you are ready to move on and use an egg donor to build your family?

    Know your limits

    When you first started on this journey, you probably didn’t think it would take this long to get pregnant. Perhaps you gave yourself a limit as to how many fertility treatment cycles or how much time you would allow yourself to try naturally before considering alternatives. It’s important to create some sort of threshold of what you can handle; not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and financially as well. A crucial step in this process is feeling like you did everything you could to achieve a healthy pregnancy.

    Don’t rush

    If age or egg quality have been factors for you on this journey then you probably have felt rushed to squeeze in treatment cycle after treatment cycle. The good news with egg donation is that age and egg quality are no longer a factor for you. You may need to grieve the loss of using your own eggs before you can consider collaborative reproduction. This takes time. Try not to rush through the grieving process. Once you’ve moved through those pivotal stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, you are more likely to allow yourself to accept that egg donation is a good option for you.

    Make a choice

    Egg donation might not be your first choice, but people choose to pursue this route because it is the best option for them. The first egg donation was a little over 30 years ago, so the process is still very new. It’s a personal choice and one that takes a lot of thoughtful care and planning. There is freedom in choice, but sometimes reviewing all of the options can be overwhelming. Try not to let others’ opinions influence your decision. They aren’t making this choice; it’s for you and your partner (if you have one). When you are ready, you may want to share the decision with a trusted friend or relative. Consider who may be a good person for you to confide in. Remember, once you tell you cannot “untell.” If you don’t feel like you have a good source of support, then you can choose not to tell anyone right now, and that is ok!

    Be proactive

    Fertility treatments are costly, time-consuming, painful, and stressful; doctors and nurses using terminology you barely understand don’t help either. But remember that you are your own best advocate. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Speak up. Take notes. Be the “annoying” patient. It’s better to know upfront than be surprised later. If you are educated and informed, it will give you the power to make decisions that are best for you. If your clinic has a mental health professional on staff, you may want to speak with them. Otherwise, you may want to get a referral to speak with someone privately. Sometimes it’s easier to speak with a complete stranger about what you are going through. There are communities of women just like you. Check out Resolve.org for local, peer-led support groups or nonprofits dedicated to supporting women through their family building journey.

    Stay present

    There is no time like the present moment. Worrying about the future likely won’t serve you right now. You have an important job to do, and that is making sure you are in the best space possible to carry a pregnancy. Take care of yourself. Do the things you love to do and try not to worry about what’s to come. When you find your mind wandering bring yourself back to your breathing. It is a constant cycle of energy you can focus on if you need to regroup. Remember, you’re in control. You’ve got this!

    Photographed by Juan Carlos | © 2018 TK Photography | www.tkphotographychicago.com

    Michelle Duchin began her career as a clinical social worker at one of New York City’s top-rated fertility clinics. For nearly a decade, Michelle provided supportive counseling to individuals and couples considering advanced reproductive technology to build their families. Michelle joined Treece and Associates Psychotherapy as a full-time clinician when she moved to Chicago and sees individuals and couples experiencing a range of issues including anxiety, grief, loss, academic/professional transitions, and more. She received a certificate in Yoga-Informed Psychotherapy, which allows her to incorporate mindfulness and breathing techniques in addition to traditional talk therapy. Michelle also conducts assessments for egg donors, sperm donors, gestational carriers, and intended parents who are pursuing third-party reproductive care. For more information about insurance accepted or services provided by Michelle Duchin, please visit her practice website: www.chicagotherapy.com

    Resources:

    https://resolve.org/ – support groups, resources
    https://www.sart.org/ – finding clinics, stats
    https://www.asrm.org/ – finding professionals
    https://progyny.com/ – infertility benefits

  • New hope for people being diagnosed with cancer before having children

    by Christina Livas

    According to the Illinois Department of Health, 5,800 Illinois residents between 14 and 45 will be diagnosed with cancer each year. Most of the effective treatments for cancer, sickle cell anemia, lupus, and other auto-immune diseases can leave people infertile. For people looking to still have children this leaves them with the difficult choice of having to choose between effective medical treatments and parenthood. Having to make that choice will no longer be necessary thanks to a new bill that was passed.

    On August 27th, Governor Rauner signed a bill that requires health insurance companies to provide medical coverage for standard fertility preservation when necessary medical treatment can cause infertility. Starting January 1st, 2019, health insurance will now cover the expenses of preserving sperm, eggs, or embryos for future pregnancies instead of patients being responsible for the cost themselves. This provides new hope for people facing a difficult diagnosis during their reproductive years.

    If you are going through current medical treatment for cancer or through a preservation cycle acupuncture can help. Acupuncture has been shown through numerous studies to be effective in the treatment of the side effects patients experience while undergoing cancer treatments. Not only will acupuncture help patients relax, it will help with symptoms such as pain, fatigue, dry mouth, breathlessness, hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, and many others. If you are a man or a woman looking to preserve sperm, eggs, or embryos, acupuncture can help. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in helping patients with improving sperm and egg quality and quantity.

    Learn more about how acupuncture can help you on your journey at:

    ACUPUNCTURE TCM

    For more information visit:
    https://resolve.org/get-involved/advocate-for-access/our-issues/covering-fertility-preservation/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2642987/

    Acupuncture and IVF

  • The Importance of Healthy Hormones

    by Diana Zic, RPYT

    I spent most of my life under the impression that my body contents all lived and operated on separate islands: Boy, was I mistaken! Let me explain, before my training in anatomy and hormone health with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) along with my yoga training programs I assumed if something was going on in my body it was isolated to that particular area in my body. For example, leading up to my menstrual cycle my breasts were almost always tender; therefore, I would assume there was something up with my breasts; when my digestion would fluctuate month-to-month, I would assume it was solely my gut to blame (which was partially the problem, that’s another blog); when I had pelvic pain during my menstrual cycle, I would assume it was isolated in my pelvis; and once I began trying to conceive a child, I assume it was solely my uterus to blame, but learned there was much more to it!  

    In other words, I had no understanding on how the body functioned and what can trigger these symptoms that I was having.  Many years later, I’ve learned how the endocrine system the glands that comprise it and produce the hormones in our bodies play an intricate role in how we feel.

    Quick anatomy lesson in case you were like me and unaware of the endocrine system: the endocrine system is a collection of glands and a few glandular organs (pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries in women, testes in men and pineal – see picture – being a yogini I shared the picture where it shows our 7 main Chakras.  It’s said that these energy centers pair with an endocrine gland and govern it’s function) that produce hormones that control our metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood. Woah! These hormones release messages via our bloodstream to carry to our organs and tissues to perform their job.

    Our hormones are not loners; instead they work together like the conductor and the orchestra to create a harmony in our bodies.  So, if one hormone is out of tune, it throws off your other hormones and even other body systems.

    Below I have shared the eight major hormones in the body and a very brief description of their roles:

    1. Estrogen – plays an important role in sexual reproductive health – there’s more than 15 forms of it that have been identified!;
    2. Progesterone – health of our nervous system, prepares the lining of the uterus for potential pregnancy, protects the brain from damage, breast health and cardiovascular health;
    3. Cortisol – mobilizing energy from the body, reduces inflammation and allergies, helps maintain mood and emotional stability to name a few;
    4. Thyroid hormones – T3 and T4 work together as a team, T3 is the active form. Together they help regulate metabolism, heart function, digestion, and brain development;
    5. Pregnenolone – known as the master hormone because it’s the precursor from which almost all other steroid hormones are made, including progesterone, testosterone, the estrogens, DHEA, and cortisol;
    6. Testosterone – known as the male hormone typically, but it plays a critical role in having a healthy libido in women, turns fat into muscle, keeps skin supple, increases bone density to name a few;
    7. DHEA – used in the body to make sex hormones; and
    8. Androstenedione – is a precursor of testosterone and other androgens, as well as estrogens in the body.

    So what’s a gal to do to be sure their hormones are in check so we can feel our best? First, I would recommend speaking with your doctor (a functional medical doctor, if possible) to get your hormones tested. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I described above, or if you’re not feeling well in your body, which include: lack of energy, not sleeping well majority of the time, not maintaining a desired weight, poor digestion, PMS symptoms, dull hair, problematic skin, and a poor sex drive to name a few.  

    In the meantime, you can benefit from cleaning up your diet a bit. Poor nutrition is often a big culprit to our hormone imbalances which can be a great place for most of us to start. 

    Clean protein: grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, Non-GMO fed, organic, cage free free-range eggs (certified humane raised and handled is my preference), organic lentils and beans

    Healthy Fats: Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grass-Fed Organic Ghee, Animal fats from grass-fed meats; Avocado, Nuts and Seeds

    Organic Fruit: Berries, Pomegranate, Pears and Melons

    Organic Vegetables: Greens of all kinds; Cruciferous vegetables , Beets and Carrots.

    Learn more at Yoga for Fertility and/or with an Initial Nutrition Consult today!

    Be well,

    Diana

     

  • 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!

     

  • The FEM SEM

    by Meredith Nathan, Director of Massage at Pulling Down the Moon, LMT
    Fertility massage is a cutting edge field, with far-reaching benefits that are still being explored.  At Pulling Down the Moon®, we’ve developed researched-informed and results-oriented techniques for working with the body after seeing thousands of fertility clients for over fifteen years. Our award winning, nationally recognized FEM Protocol™ is a five-part series using massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and to promote the client’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
    The five parts of the protocol focus on cleansing and detoxification, enhancing reproductive circulation, oxygenating the pelvic organs, encouraging pelvic alignment and combating stress. Benefits may include:
    * promoting egg quality by improving the follicular environment and increasing it’s supply of oxygen-rich blood
    * lowering hormone disruption through stress management and clearing lymphatic congestion (a common storehouse for excess hormones and toxins)
    * supporting uterine lining and alignment through melting abdominal scar tissue, clearing circulatory pathways, and releasing structural tension patterns
    * encouraging relaxation and an overall sense of well-being during your fertility journey
    Learn more about why this protocol has caught the attention of the American Massage Therapy Association, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, and thousands of patients-turned-parents at The FEM SEM, a seminar geared towards helping you understand if The Fertility Enhancing Massage Protocol could assist your fertility journey.  The replay of the free webinar is available here.

  • 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!

  • Car and Fertility Maintenance: A Metaphor

    By Cassie Harrison RYT RPYT

    Most of us have a car (or something similar) to take care of. With that responsibility comes maintenance and care. We do this to ensure our car is reliable and available for use.  Yet it might still break down. That dreadful red engine light comes on and flashes its ugly light annoyingly in our face. Our heads fall back against the seat and maybe like me, you’ve thought “Why? I don’t have time for this! I just took my car in, everything was fine!”  We do everything right and yet, it doesn’t run as expected. Car maintenance is akin to our fertility journey. We maintain and care for our bodies by eating right, exercising, lowering stressors, following doctors’ orders, and taking vitamins, just to name a few. Yet our bodies don’t perform as expected. So instead of getting that red warning light, we get negative pregnancy tests. While we don’t have control over the results of our maintenance, we do have control over our reaction to the “news”.  You might not be ready to consider Plan B, but be aware of your attachment to the results of Plan A. We keep maintaining, expecting different results, yet we get more of the same. F@@k! This isn’t what was supposed to happen. We are so tied to “Plan A”, that we can’t or are not ready to consider other options. Instead of holding so tightly to Plan A, can we open ourselves to Plan B? With the ultimate goal of becoming parents, regardless of how we get there.

    If you always looked at your car as broken and unreliable, it’s not a stretch to say you might think of it negatively. Possibly referring to it as “Old Unreliable” or “That Car.” In time you might grow to resent it. The same goes for our fertility and our body. We can choose to go through this journey broken and sad, coloring our fertility black or instead we go through it hopeful and optimistic. Which would you rather choose? Unlike the car we are not broken, yet it feels like it.  The next time you get unexpected fertility news, take a deep breath and step off the emotional roller coaster. That isn’t to say not to have your emotion, by all means have it, but then step back and decide how to move forward. It’s when we get off the emotional roller coaster that we can reassert control of the process. One way we can reassert this control is through breath-work, yoga, and mediation. Add these to your treatment plan today!

  • How PDtM’s Online YFF Works

    By Beth Heller MS RYT, co-founder of Pulling Down the Moon and Online YFF instructor

    Much more than a typical yoga class, this six-week Yoga for Fertility program, created by Pulling Down the Moon, helps students develop skills to manage the stress and anxiety of fertility treatment, as well as learn a yoga posture practice that promotes blood flow, supports hormonal balance through stress reduction and calms and relaxes the nervous system.  Two separate clinical studies have shown this study to reduce fertility patients’ anxiety by more than 20% over the course of six weeks, for both online and in-person groups!   We are also following our study groups to see whether yoga has impact on conception rates.

    Unlike heated, vigorous vinyasa and power yoga classes, Yoga for Fertility is safe during medicated fertility treatment.  Click here to register for class starting 9/23!

    Online Class Format

    Our online class uses a webinar format to replicate the group interaction and discussion portion of the class and uses Pulling Down the Moon’s Fully Fertile Yoga Companion videos to direct your individual home practice.  In addition, participants are provided with links to different practices, including our Moon Salutes, Hip and Heart Opening, Hormonal Regulation/Digestion Practice and Mood Elevating Practice.  The goal is practice 3-4 times per week on their own.

    While you may initially shy away from the discussion part of the class, it may be this point of connection (which in yoga we call sangha) that creates the greatest shift in our body and mind.  Research suggests that women have an additional defense against stressors, called the “tend and befriend” response.  What this means is that in addition to the fight, flight or response to stress, women who seek out female companionship during times of stress may activate another defense against stress that helps to physically induce relaxation.

    Why Yoga for Fertility?  

    *Yoga balances the nervous system. Unlike intense, high impact cardiovascular exercise, which places considerable strain on the body, yoga uses deep breathing, mindful movement and unique stretches to stimulate the body’s relaxation response.

    *Yoga massages and stimulates our internal organs, promoting blood flow and oxygenation. Unlike exercises like weight lifting, cycling and running, which direct blood into the large skeletal muscles and are largely two-dimensional, yoga uses subtle multi-dimensional movements like twists and folds, inversions and backbends. This gentle action stretches and massages internal tissues and organs, promoting not only blood flow but the movement of lymph.

    *Yoga trains your “letting go muscles.” Women in the thick of their fertility need tools to manage stress and anxiety in the here and now. Learning to hold a challenging standing pose or sensation-filled stretch, while staying calm and breathing deeply, is rehearsal for staying calm in stressful life situations.

    *Yoga for Fertility classes create “sangha,” the yoga word for a like-minded and supportive community. Everyone on the fertility journey needs a positive environment and a place they can go to feel safe and understood. Struggling to conceive can turn a woman’s social network upside down. With girlfriends on the mommy-track, family get-togethers feeling like minefields, and ordinary interactions can become excruciatingly painful, our Yoga for Fertility class creates a safe haven – and most women don’t realize how much they needed one until they join a group!

    Try Online YFF and another service to save in September with the You Pick Two promotion!  Call us if you have any questions about this class, promotion, or scheduling at: 312-321-0004 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.

     

  • The VAGUS nerve, the “Commander and Chief” of the autonomic nervous system–promotes your fertility, gut, and health!

    By Dr. Amie Shimmel Handa, D.C., L. Ac., Dipl. Ac.

    The Vagus nerve is the largest cranial nerve and one of the most powerful nerves in the body. It is a bundle of sensory and motor fibers that power the parasympathetic nervous system. It connects the brain to the heart, lungs, spleen and intestines. It also has branches that travels to the Female Fertility Organs (the uterus, cervix and vagina) besides to the neck, kidney and liver. This parasympathetic nervous system controls our unconscious body functions like breathing, heart rate, digestion, etc.

    Sometimes we “feel things” in our gut (good or bad) and it’s because of this vagus nerve–when it is sending messages from the brain to the gut!  This is why our “gut instincts” are good to follow. The gut is called the “second brain” because of the vagus nerve. The enteric nervous system (ENS) governs function of the G.I. tract. The ENS connects to the brain via the vagus nerve.

    How does the vagus nerve get damaged or stressed? There are a lot of reasons but the most common ones are injuries to the head or neck, accidents, stress,and even diet can interfere with firing of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve uses the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (chemical messenger), to communicate with the brain. Studies have shown acetylcholine can be negatively affected by stress and diet.

    One of the main purposes of the vagus nerve is to calm down the body. It also helps with the growth and repair of nervous system. Researchers at Oregon University report that daily meditation activates the vagus nerve to create a relaxation respond. Research also points out that auricular (ear) Acupuncture creates a relaxation response and stimulates the hypothalamic pituitary ovarian axis to help with balancing hormones for fertility. Once you know the importance of the vagus nerve below are some exercise and things you can do to keep your vague nerve healthy.

    1. *Singing Loudly
    2. *Gargling
    3. *Laughing
    4. *Cold showers
    5. *Massage
    6. *Yoga
    7. *Meditation, such as, this Heart-Opening Meditation
    8. *Acupuncture (especially ear acupuncture)