Healthy seeds, make healthy babies
Did you know that women are born with ALL the eggs they’ll ever have in their lifetime? Yes, you heard right - your fertility journey starts while you’re still in your Mother’s womb. Men, on the other hand, produce sperm throughout most of their lives and lifestyle choices have a profound impact on sperm health.
As women reach reproductive age, eggs are selectively matured and released each month. In order to ‘reset’ egg and sperm health, it is recommended that women and their partners plan for their pregnancies and optimise their health at least 4 months before first trying to conceive.
Healthy eggs and sperm are critically important for pregnancy success. Just pause for a moment and read that sentence again. It’s the deal maker. Imagine your uterus is the garden bed and your endometrium (the lining of your uterus) is the soil. The eggs we’ve talked about, matched with the healthy sperm you’ve collected, join to become the embryo. This embryo is like the seed. When your soil is dense in nutrients the seed is strong and vital, you have the best chance for your little seed to grow.
We know from nature that a healthy seed, planted in rich, fertile soil, watered perfectly is likely to thrive and live a robust healthy life. Just like your baby can. We also know that when the weather gets a bit rough; these plants are resilient enough to cope and survive the storm. We want this for our little ones too.
Processed foods impair fertility
So here’s something to consider. Obesity rates are rising globally (~1.9 billion people are overweight and ~650 million are obese). The effects of obesity can be devastating for couples trying to conceive. Obese women have poorer fertility than women who are a ‘healthy weight’. Women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 27 (the healthy range is 18.5-24.9) find it 3-times harder to conceive; often because they don’t ovulate. For obese women who do ovulate, the quality of their eggs may be reduced, leading to lower chances of pregnancy.
Men's fertility is also negatively impacted by obesity including erectile dysfunction, reduced semen quality and lower pregnancy rates.
So what’s to blame for this epidemic?
Processed foods take the hit for much of the global burden of obesity. Processed foods mostly come wrapped in a package, contain artificial ingredients and will never be straight from Mother Earth. They are typically stripped of their micronutrients but loaded with energy, leaving our bodies malnourished and craving more food. Scientists are breaking down processed foods to identify which components may be the most harmful for reproductive health. Australian research suggests that specific components of highly processed foods, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), may directly impair the health of the uterus, leading to fertility problems.
Bad news all round, really. But the story CAN change if you want it to. Let’s now look at how you can achieve a healthier life for you and your baby.
What you eat in the years before pregnancy influences your pregnancy health
A healthy maternal diet up to three years before pregnancy optimises pregnancy outcomes and the long-term health of babies. Diets characterised by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and fish and low intake of red and processed meats are associated with lower risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure in pregnancy and preterm birth. Women whose diet is made up of mostly processed foods have an increased risk of preterm delivery and giving birth to shorter babies.
Whether you are planning for pregnancy/trying to conceive/receiving fertility assistance, what you eat matters. It really does.
eat for baby offers foods that are packed with the nutrients you need to prepare your body for your pregnancy journey.