IVF: Basic guidelines to having a baby (2) by Prof Oladapo Ashiru
The top six environmental toxins to avoid are the following:
Pesticides: They are found in non-organic fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy and unfiltered tap water
Formaldehyde: This can be found in air fresheners, deodorants, floor polish, upholstery cleaners
Bisphenols: These are found in plastic containers and they can leach into food and water.
Organic solvents: These petroleum-based liquids are found in household products, electronics, car repair, health care, photography, agriculture, printing, construction and cosmetics, as well as dry-cleaning chemicals, paint fumes and many more. Occasional exposure to one or the other toxic chemical is not of concern. What is of concern is accumulation of these chemicals over a long period.
Don’t drink unfiltered tap water. Our waterways are constantly being polluted by industrial waste and byproducts, pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, herbicides and commercial cleaning products.
Heavy metals are the most common of the repro-toxins reaching our water supply through industrial waste, jet fuel exhaust residue and a variety of other sources. Pharmaceutical drugs are commonly found in tap water. Because the drugs do not metabolize fully, small quantities are excreted via faeces and urine and flushed away. Minute quantities of chemotherapy drugs, contraceptive pills, antidepressants, anxiolitics, anabolic steroids, HRT (hormone replacement therapy), heart drugs etc. have been found in tap water.
Use a dual filtration system. Buy a dual filtration water system that filters particles smaller than 1 micron (this will filter out the drugs and heavy metals). Use the filter in your shower and your kitchen.
Aim to eat an optimal fertility diet
In the first trimester of pregnancy your growing embryo will increase 20 million times. In the first eight weeks, your baby’s organs, hands, fingers, legs, feet, head, eyes, nose, ears etc. are being constructed. To ensure the best possible foundations are laid down during this phase, you want to make sure there are plenty of building blocks in the form of the right nutrients in the right combinations.
What does a fertility diet contain?
An optimal fertility diet is about what to avoid as much as it is about what to include. A fertility diet should be as fresh as possible and organic wherever possible. Key elements are: good quality protein sources (favor vegetable sources of protein) and good fats.
What should you eat?
Organic meat in small quantities, game, small deep-sea fish like sardines and red snapper, organic legumes home cooked (not canned).
Whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables that are better steamed not raw, very small amount of fruits and not after 4pm in the evening, organic where possible.
Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats. Good fats include monounsaturated fats in olive oil, polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts and midchain fatty acids found in coconut oil.
For cooking use clarified butter (ghee) or coconut butter (without flavor) as they do not become unstable when heated.
For non-heated oil requirements (salads etc) use cold pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil and nut oils.
Avoid dangerous fats
Did you know – consuming trans fats hidden in foods such as; doughnuts, biscuits, lollies, candy, chocolate, chips, pies, fries, take away and thousands of other foods may increase your risk of infertility by as much as 70 percent? Scientists from the Harvard University School of Public Health advise women wanting to get pregnant to avoid all trans fats.
Minimise animal-derived oestrogen
Dairy products account, on the average, for 60-70 per cent of oestrogen consumed. We usually associate dairy and drinking milk with calcium, and never think about what else we may be consuming along with the calcium (and dairy, by the way is not the best source of calcium). Here is a list of hormones that have been found in cows’ milk:
Prolactin, Somatostatin, Melatonin, Oxytocin, Growth hormone, Luteinizing releasing hormone, Thyroid stimulating hormone, Estrogens, Progesterone, Insulin, Corticosteroids and many more
Do you think an excess consumption of all these hormones could disrupt your own hormonal balance? You bet! Consumption of milk has been linked to certain cases of male infertility. Excess oestrogen and pesticide exposure has been linked to PCOS and Endometriosis.
Avoid the two most common allergens
The link between food intolerances and anti-sperm antibodies is now well established. Studies have found that women with multiple allergies and food intolerances were more likely to miscarry. An overactive immune system is more likely to attack its own body cells.
From an immunological point of view an embryo and sperm cell are foreign bodies. But Mother Nature was clever; she programmed our immune systems to distinguish between an everyday invader and a sperm cell or embryo.
A normal and healthy immune response to an embryo or sperm cell is orchestrated by Th2 cytokines. They suppress your killer cells (that’s what they are called) to leave the embryo unharmed. Because of this protection many pregnant women are poor wound healers and can come down really badly with a cold or flu. Your natural protection has been suppressed so that your baby can develop properly.
An abnormal immune response to the implantation of the fertilized egg is orchestrated by Th1 cytokines. Rather than suppressing your killer cells they stimulate their activity. This can lead to defects and the loss of the fetus. The two most widely spread food intolerances are gluten and dairy. I recommend all my patients have an IgG immunoglobulin test done to check if you are dairy and gluten intolerant. But since most people have some level of allergy to gluten and/or dairy, it’s advisable to avoid gluten and dairy altogether during the preconception and pregnancy period.
Have an STD check
Most people believe both they and their partner are STD free. However there are some STD’s which can be asymptomatic, meaning that you may not be aware you have them, as there are no obvious symptoms. One such STD is a Chlamydia infection. In men, a Chlamydia infection can lead to sperm abnormalities, including sperm antibodies. In women, it can lead to scarring, blocked tubes and miscarriage. In women vaginal discharge that have fishy odor or offensive odor indicate a degree of STD.
A study found 60 per cent of asymptomatic male partners of infected females attending a fertility clinic were found to be infected with Chlamydia. Most STD’s are easy to treat, so it pays for both partners to have an STD check. There is no point in only one partner going for a test as the other partner can re-infect them again.