Diet Matters – especially for women facing fertility challenges.
Published in 2018 by members of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, the “Dietary intake and age at natural menopause: results from the UK Women’s Cohort Study” considers nutrition and diet related to the onset of menopause.
A positive cohort study in the British Medical Journal shows how diet could delay, or contribute, to early onset of menopause. We love this study because it confirms what we believe, practice and preach – the right diet can directly impact your health and the reproductive system! While the study follows women at the end, and beyond their reproductive years, we feel the mechanisms at hand apply to women with diminishing ovarian reserve, or nearing the end of their fertile years.
Fertility-minded nutrition is part of a holistic approach to getting pregnant and empowers the individual.
We also like studies that lean into areas of diet, mindfulness and exercise because they give individuals some control over the wheel. Those who take the wheel and make the dietary and lifestyle changes really do get the best results. We also hope studies like this empower women who aren’t quite ready to transition to donor eggs and other family building options. I could say this confidently before the plethora of fertility nutrition literature and studies because it’s what we’ve been doing for almost 15 years – helping women have children with their own eggs. Yes, the biological clock does tick, but we can influence that clock by our choices. And, it doesn’t always have to be so strict!
Diet can impact fertility – but it’s most important to find the right diet for you.
This study is so wonderfully simple, too. It tracked women who ate fatty fish and legumes with regularity; these women experienced a delayed onset of menopause. Women who ate refined pasta and rice experienced earlier onset of menopause. What this tells us is that incremental, moderate change does make a difference. There are a lot of conflicting dietary recommendations out there, and we at Collaborative Care believe everybody has her own “right” diet. We help women understand what that diet looks like by understanding their Chinese medical pattern, life habits, sleep habits, and work habits. Then we make recommendations that allow for realistic change. For more details on how diet impacts fertility, check out the study here.
Legumes – love ’em or leave ’em
Let’s take a look at legumes and why we would recommend some women eat lots of them and some women eat less for a period of time.
- Many legumes are high in phytoestrogens and are beneficial in reducing symptoms of low estrogen, which is at the root of menopause. Menopause is natural, but premature menopause is not.
- From a Chinese medical viewpoint, and the one we use when making dietary recommendations, all legumes generally support ‘Blood’ production and circulation, assuming digestion is not weak. ‘Blood’ encompasses everything that travels through blood vessels – red blood cells, plasma and hormones. Some legumes are more effective at circulation while others are best at building blood. An assessment of a woman’s menstrual flow and color and strength of digestion helps not only identify which beans will be most beneficial to eat for a period of time, but also the best method of preparation. The diet is never static; it changes as symptoms improve, digestion strengthens and as changes are seen.
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