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Nutrition for Conception and Pregnancy
Get off to a good start


To encourage you in your endeavour for conception, a radiant pregnancy and a healthy baby, the following information will assist you in getting off to a good start and give you some tips if ‘mum-to-be’ is suffering from some common ailments.

So how much thought have you put to this? Many of us have heard that in order to have a healthy pregnancy, a woman and indeed her partner, need to look at diet and other influencing factors even before conception. Pre-conception nutrition can be as important for baby’s well being, as what a woman eats during and even after her pregnancy. In fact, overall intake of foods, nutrients and toxins greatly influences the early development of the embryo – so much so that scientists now say that one can trace patterns of disease in adults all the way back to infant nutrition and the health of the mother during pregnancy.

Since the male partner is responsible in about a third of infertility cases, it's as important that he follows a healthy nutrition plan pre-conception, as the mother-to-be.  At EnergiZe we recognise that therefore that the man could do with some advice too!

Improving Sperm Quality

What to eat and add to your diet

For 'Mum-to-be'

Improving Cervical Secretions

Reducing the risk of Spina Bifida

Morning Sickness, Heartburn, Indigestion

Constipation

What else to eat

Other useful tips

Improving Sperm Quality
It takes 100 days for sperm to develop (74 to form and 20-30 to mature), therefore addressing sperm health three to four months before conception is of great benefit.

Eating a healthy, wholesome diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – especially dark green vegetables – wholegrains, oily fish, nuts and seeds and organic produce where possible, is vital.
Consider taking a liver detox and seek professional advice from EnergiZe before doing this.
Specific nutrients are discussed below. 

Firstly - drink more water - semen is made mostly of water (your whole body is in excess of 70% water).
Things to Avoid

Things to avoid
Alcohol
Alcohol interferes with the secretion of testosterone, speeds up the conversion of testosterone into oestrogen, lowers sperm count and sex drive. 
Smoking
Smoking increases the number of free radicals in the body which damage many cells and reduces sperm count and motility, and increases the number of abnormally shaped sperm. 
Caffeine
May impair sperm production, cause chromosomal abnormalities and effect sperm motility. 
Toxins and Pollutants
Pesticides and heavy metals are terrible for sperm. Since the start of the use of pesticides, male sperm counts have plummeted. Note: pesticides are designed to disrupt the reproductive cycle of the insect, fungus, or weed it is trying to kill! Eat Organic as much as you can! Also watch exposure to X-rays, solvents, paint products, toxic metals and toxic chemicals in your personal care products.
Exercise
Although exercise is good for you, excessive amounts punish the body, may lower sperm count and temporarily reduce testosterone production. In this instance it’s absolutely essential to supplement the minerals the body is losing and counteracting the free radicals formed through exercise.
Environmental Oestrogens
Much meat we eat is filled with hormones, unless it is organic. Oestrogens are now found in our drinking water. Plastics also give off oestrogens. Try to go without the microwave and drink from glass containers. If you are drinking water from a plastic bottle, try to limit its exposure to the sun. 

What to eat and add to your diet
Amino Acids - The building blocks of life. Necessary for egg and sperm production. 
Sources: protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, lentils, peas, beans, nuts, brown rice, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and quinoa.

Antioxidants
To counteract the effects of Free radicals which are said to be responsible for 40 percent of sperm damage, take a broad-spectrum antioxidant formula such as Revenol. This ensures a good supply of Vitamin A – essential for the production of male sex hormones – Vitamin E, which may also help the sperm penetrate the egg, Vitamin C, needed for the healthy production of sperm. Low vitamin C levels have been linked with an increase in birth defects. It can increase count and motility of sperm. It is also shown to reduce clumping of sperm. Other antioxidants in this formula include grape seed extract, maritime and white pine bark and turmeric – all very powerful and effective at destroying free radicals.

Food sources of these nutrients include:
Blackberries, blueberries, garlic, kale, strawberries, brussels sprouts, plums, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, red peppers, citrus fruits, rosehips, cherries, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet peppers, black currants, mangos, grapes, kiwi fruit, pineapples, asparagus, peas, potatoes, parsley, watercress, and spinach. Cold pressed oils, wheat germ, organ meats, eggs, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and avocados.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Together with zinc, B6 is essential for the formation of male sex hormones. 
Sources: molasses, brewer's yeast, whole grains, nuts, brown rice, organ and other meats, egg yolks, fish, poultry, legumes, seeds, and green leafy veggies.
Note: Zinc is needed for its absorption. 

Vitamin B12
Folate and B12 are needed for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. These make up the blueprint for the genetic code of the entire body. Low levels can cause abnormal sperm production, reduced sperm counts, and reduced motility.
Sources: lamb, sardines, salmon. Calcium aids in its absorption.

Folate (folic acid)
Needed for sperm production, count, motility. Vitamin C aids in absorption. 
Sources: dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, organ meats, brewer's yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, oysters, salmon, milk, legumes, asparagus, oatmeal, dried figs, and avocados.
Dosage: 200-400 mcg per day 

Selenium
Deficiency may cause infertility. It is needed to properly shape sperm and to maintain count. It is an antioxidant which protects the cells in the sperm that have a high fat content.
Sources: tuna, herring, brewer's yeast, wheat germ and bran, whole grains, and sesame seeds.

Manganese
Manganese competes with iron for absorption. It is advisable to take manganese supplements with protein foods and vitamin C. Deficiency may cause testicular degeneration, congenital malformations, sterility, low sex drive, low sperm count. Deficiency may also inhibit the synthesis of sex hormones.
Sources: whole grains, green leafy veggies, carrots, broccoli, ginger, legumes, nuts, pineapples, eggs, oats, and rye.

Zinc
Deficiencies of Zinc are quite common. Zinc is important for cell division and the production of healthy sperm. It is the most critical trace mineral for male sexual function. It is needed for testosterone metabolism, testicle growth, sperm production, motility, count, reducing excess oestrogen in male reproductive tissue. Every time a man ejaculates he loses about 5 mg of zinc. Alcohol depletes zinc in the body. Folic acid, tea, coffee, high fibre intake and iron may inhibit absorption. Vitamin B6 and C may aid absorption.
Sources: lean meat, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, rye, oats, whole grains, legumes, ginger, parsley, mushrooms, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ.

ALL OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED B VITAMINS AND MINERALS ARE INCLUDED IN MAXIMOL CLASSIC. This formula will give you an excellent low-dose base of minerals and trace minerals.

Essential Fatty Acids - Very important to take when trying to concieve. 
Omega-3 DHA and Omega-6 arachidonic acid are important structural elements of cell membranes, body tissue and brain development in the foetus. Sperm contain high concentrations of omega-3's, in particular DHA (found in oily fish). DHA is in the sperm tail (motility). Generally we are more deficient in Omega 3 than Omega 6, so focus more on Omega 3.
Sources: Omega-3; flaxseed, oily fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines), walnuts, green leafy veggies, and tuna (not more than 150g/week).
Sources: Omega-6; seeds and their oils.
Note: be careful if you are currently taking blood thinning medication. Also, these should be taken with antioxidants vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and grapeseed extract.

Neways Omega 3 EPA is a very pure and effective supplement if you’re not big on eating fish.

For 'Mum-to-be'

A woman’s diet for the three to six months before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy greatly influences the early development of the embryo.

Improving Cervical Secretions
To aid the sperm in their journey, cervical secretions are vital. Eating foods rich in B vitamins, drinking plenty of water and including wheat germ in the diet can all help.

Causes for inadequate cervical mucous can include; low oestrogen levels (low body weight), rapid weight changes, too much wheat bran in diet, vitamin A deficiency, antihistamines, ulcer medication, some antidepressants. Also too much exercise reduces circulating oestrogens, smoking, very high doses (above 1000mg) of vitamin C dry up mucus, synthetic underwear, fabric softeners, scented toilet paper, tampons, vaginal lubricants and pH being out of balance. 

Reducing the risk of Spina Bifida – is this commonplace advice now?
Research shows us that risks of giving birth to a baby with Spina Bifida, can be greatly reduced with high intakes of folic acid when trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy – but did you know that taking a good B-vitamin complex is part of the equation too? Again – as above, for the man, MAXIMOL Classic is an excellent low-dose liquid multi-mineral supplement that includes B complex vitamins. This is good for before, during and after pregnancy.

Folate works best when combined with vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Folate is important for cell division and replication, helps to regulate the formation of nerve cells in the embryo and foetus – this is vital for normal development. It also helps alleviate haemorrhaging in childbirth and improves milk production. 
Folate-rich foods: asparagus, barley, brown rice, chicken, lamb, salmon, tuna, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and legumes – but supplementing your diet with additional Folic acid (200-400mcg a day) will ensure that mother and baby-to-be both get what they need.

Morning sickness, Heartburn, Indigestion?
Is this something you’re suffering with? Sickness, may be due to a lack of certain nutrients, as the need for these increases during pregnancy. It is difficult to obtain sufficient amounts for optimum health of mother and baby, through diet alone, therefore, supplementing with B vitamins, as well as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium will help with symptoms of sickness and ensure that you have sufficient supplies for both you and baby. Also good to remember, is to eat little and often. Ginger tea and peppermint tea can help too – peppermint and fennel especially in the later stages when indigestion and heartburn are quite common. A cup of hottish boiled water with freshly squeezed lemon and some grated ginger first thing in the morning will do much to get you off to a good start. It’s very cleansing, supports the digestive tract and also gives the immune system a little boost. The first three months of pregnancy are crucial to the formation of all the baby’s organs – so ensure you give yourself the best possible nutrition and stay away from ‘empty foods’ such as white flour products, processed foods, fried foods, cakes, biscuits and sweets. Good snacks include fruits, crudités with dips such as humus and guacamole or oatcakes, which will give you sustained energy.

Constipation – another unwelcome side effect!
Bowel health is very important and one of the things to keep in balance is the gut flora. How to achieve that is by supplementing with a formula of several strains of beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Scienceuticals Advanced Probiotic as well as eating organic, live yoghurt. Not only will this help with normal bowel function during pregnancy, but it will have a positive effect on the immune status of the mother and the developing foetus too. Probiotic yoghurt drinks generally contain just one strain of bacteria, which is not enough and the amount of sugar added to the drinks cancels out the goodness!

Constipation is largely caused by the changing hormone levels, which have a relaxing effect on the intestines. Ensure that you drink plenty of water and have lots of high-fibre food, including seeds such as Flax/Linseed, which not only help to ‘keep things moving’, but are a great source of Omega-3 too. Refined and processed foods as well as sweets and biscuits, will only add to your discomfort.

What else to eat?
Most of the foods mentioned for promoting healthy sperm will be just as applicable for healthy egg production. Just remember to keep a balanced wholesome diet, including plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, some dairy products such as yoghurt (2% minimum fat content for maximum calcium absorption – important for the development of baby’s bones and teeth), brightly coloured fruits and vegetables for vitamin C and A. 
Vitamin C is important for Iron absorption. It’s good to supplement Vitamin C in a non-acidic form, such as Calcium Ascorbate – but when trying to conceive be careful not to dose too high (keep to 500 – 1000mg a day). 
Iron is needed for making the baby’s blood, as well as for maintaining mother’s own iron levels. Fortunately, the body’s ability to absorb iron increases during pregnancy. Food sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, green vegetables and dried fruits. 
Essential Fatty Acids are just that – ESSENTIAL - Omega-3 rich foods are important for the healthy development of the brain and eyes. Best sources apart from Flax seed, are from oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and fresh tuna, which also provide a good source of Calcium. If you don’t like to eat fish – then supplement with a high quality, toxin-free fish oil such as Neways Omega 3 EPA
As mentioned above, take a high-quality multi-mineral and vitamin formula – preferably in solution such as Maximol – that will give you a broad spectrum of nutrients to ensure a balanced supply of all that you need. You might want to take extra calcium and magnesium too 
Drink plenty of water – about 2 litres a day – staying hydrated is very important.

During the first three months of pregnancy all the organs of the baby’s body are completely formed, so it really is important to maintain optimum nutrition. This will ensure a healthier pregnancy with fewer complications and of course means a healthier and heavier baby too.

What to avoid
Commonsense tells us that if something is ‘officially’ bad for us – then it is bad for baby too, since baby is absorbing the effects of everything you take – whether internally or externally. Caffeine drinks, alcohol, smoking, toxins, oestrogens, certain herbs – even skin preparations that will seep through your skin and be absorbed into your bloodstream! Take another look at the list of things to avoid for the man, as this is pretty much the same for you.

Other Useful Tips

Finally, a few tips that perhaps are not so commonplace:

  • Alfalfa is a good source of vitamins and minerals – especially vitamin K (essential for normal blood clotting)

  • Red raspberry leaf tea helps the uterus contract more effectively and helps to enrich mother’s milk (but don’t drink more than a cup a day until your last four weeks, at which point you can have more)

  • Avoid rare or undercooked meat, poultry or fish

  • Avoid food products containing the sweetener aspartame, which contains high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine – which may alter the brain growth in the foetus.

  • Be sure to get moderate exercise, fresh air and plenty of rest and be careful not to over exercise

  • Learn techniques for coping with stress on a daily basis (meditation, stretching, reading, breathing, Tai Chi, Yoga etc.)

For a personalised, comprehensive programme contact us directly so that we can test you for deficiencies and see which areas of nutrition you need to focus on the most. 

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