At Good Nutrition, we help women (and men) support their fertility and hormonal health from a functional perspective. This means looking at the root cause of hormonal imbalances and supporting the body in finding balance. You may be looking at this blog post because you are ready to get pregnant, but don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re not trying to conceive, but want to learn more about hormone balance. In any case, this information is for you!
When thinking about fertility at Good Nutrition, we look at different factors impacting body systems like: hormonal balance, inflammation, mitochondrial health, oxidative stress (and endocrine disruptors), insulin + blood sugar balance, and gut health. In this blog post, we’ll break down each of these factors and offer a few tips on how to address each of these systems to optimize your reproductive health.
Remember, reproductive health is a window into overall health, so no-matter where you are in your journey, these tips can be beneficial for fertility and beyond!
What it is: Hormones are messengers that instruct our cells and organs to regulate things like metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, hunger, mood and more. Balanced hormones are important for synergy and optimal body function. The body wants to find hormonal balance, we just need to create the right conditions.
Common symptoms of hormonal imbalance include: Irregular or heavy periods, PMS/PMDD Symptoms, Acne, and Difficulty losing weight.
How to support hormonal balance: our #1 tip for balancing hormones using nutrition is to start the day with a blood-sugar balancing breakfast. This means a savory breakfast (like eggs with veggies) or something containing plenty of protein and fiber (such as plain, organic Greek yogurt with seeds and berries). It is also important to limit exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and environmental toxins. This includes things like heavy metals, microplastics, pesticides, phthalates, parabens, and more. Take a look at our non-toxic home and beauty guides for tips on where to start!
What it is: Chronic inflammation is at the root of most fertility issues. Inflammation refers to a natural immune response by the body to identify and remove harmful or foreign stimuli. Short-term inflammation can be helpful, but chronic inflammation can cause damage to our cells and DNA. This can impact ovarian health, ovulation, fertility and implantation, and plays a role in many of the symptoms associated with reproductive health.
Common symptoms include: Cyclical hormone symptoms, difficulty losing weight, pain, fatigue, swelling, poor mental health and mood.
How to reduce inflammation: Compounds like i3c and sulforaphane that activate nrf2 pathways, support phase II detoxification, and fight inflammation. Eating a diversity of deeply pigmented plants (like berries, cruciferous vegetables, and turmeric) can be especially powerful for reducing inflammation!
What it is: Mitochondria provide up to 90% of the body’s energy – think of them as the energy powerhouses in our cells. They also help regulate hormone production, and are regulated by hormones (like thyroid hormones).
Common symptoms include Fatigue or low energy, brain fog, hair loss, anxiety/depression
How to support mitochondrial health: Mitochondria rely on adequate nutrient stores to function properly (especially B-vitamins, magnesium, acetyl-l-carnitine, vitamin C, omega-3s, and CoQ10). High quality animal products (meat, poultry, fish) are incredible sources of many nutrients necessary for healthy mitochondrial function. Nutritional yeast is a good plant-based source of B-vitamins, as well. We also love hot/cold exposure to give our mitochondria a little boost. At the end of your shower, turn the temperature to COLD for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
What it is: Oxidative stress is a term we use to describe when disruptive compounds called free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are out of balance with antioxidants in the body. This leads to inflammation and cellular damage, which can impact fertility, ovarian health, egg quality and ovarian reserve (the number of eggs we have).
Common symptoms include Hormone-related disorders, chronic digestive issues, headaches and fatigue, poor hair, skin, and nails.
How to support oxidative stress: fill your plate with whole,organic, real foods that are packed with fruits, vegetables, high quality protein, complex carbs, nuts and seeds, and anti-inflammatory fats. Phytonutrients are key (eat the rainbow!)
What it is: Insulin is a hormone that impacts blood sugar balance. When our blood sugar balance is off, so are our hormones, and naturally that can interfere with fertility.
Common symptoms include: Sugar cravings, Afternoon slump, Difficulty falling asleep, getting “hangry”
How to support insulin and blood sugar balance: Balanced meals, regular meal times, and regular movement – incorporating a healthy amount of protein (both animal or plant-based sources), fiber (plants), and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, coconut oil) is key in balancing blood sugar and resistance! Try starting your morning with a savory breakfast and see if your hunger levels and sweet cravings go down!
What it is: Your microbiome is the landscape microbes that live in and on your body that influence health. Gut, oral, skin, and vaginal microbiomes can all support or hinder your health and fertility journey. Good gut health is also critically important for digestion, nutrient absorption, and elimination – a healthy microbiome will reduce inflammation and protect against infections (ex. if you are prone to chronic UTI’s, your microbiome needs love!)
Common symptoms include: Constipation/diarrhea, Acne and chronic skin issues, Gas/ bloating, IBS/ IBD.
How to support gut health: a nutritious diet, stress management techniques, evaluating medications, taking probiotics, treating infections, and avoiding toxins. Some great prebiotic-rich foods include baked oatmeal, cooked & cooled rice or potatoes, asparagus, bananas, apples, tigernuts, and sunchokes.
If you are interested in learning more about how to support your fertility and hormonal health, download our Nourishing Hormones for Fertility Guide to prioritize your health and balance your hormones!
If you’re looking for a personalized approach, book a free discovery call with our Good Nutrition team to see how we can best support you!
Morgan Goodstadt, MS, RD, CDN, LDN, IFNCP
Registered Dietitian, Master’s in Clinical Nutrition, Certified Integrative and Functional Nutritionist and Health Coach. Morgan combines her expertise in nutrition with evidenced-based functional medicine and experience in human behavior to help her clients improve their health, relationship with food, and overall wellbeing. Her philosophy aims to achieve balance in both the diet and other areas of life.
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