You don’t have to search too hard to discover that fertility rates in the U.S. have fallen to a record low as of 2013[i] of 62.5 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. There are a number of contributing factors associated with this decline, but one of the most compelling is poor diet. Research is starting to reveal that nutrient deficiencies play an important role in the development of many diseases that cause infertility [ii].
Correlations Between Infertility & Nutrition
There are numerous, interesting correlations that can be made between the increasing infertility rates, historical changes that have occurred in the U.S. food supply, and increases in chronic disease. For instance, the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics sourced by PEW Research Center[iii] tells us that the general fertility rate among women of childbearing age took a sharp down turn around 1958-59, around the time processed foods, trans fats, use of prescription medications and use of sugar all became epidemic [iv].
Unfortunately, most soon-to-be parents aren’t paying attention to the history and deteriorating quality of our food supply or the burdening escalation of chronic disease. A wanna-be mom or dad’s focus is often limited to making sure they take their pre-natal vitamins regularly, occasionally eating some of the foods on the healthy food list received from their obstetrician, and of course, regularly monitoring weight gain. Nutrition just isn’t on the radar, which seems strange to those of us who understand the basic principal: garbage in = garbage out. Or put another way: poor parent health = poor hormonal, genetic and baby health.
If you really think about it, isn’t it just a little arrogant to think you can eat at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast in the a.m., McDonald’s for lunch, pizza for dinner, and NOT have problems getting pregnant?
The commitment to turn around your health needs to come from YOU. You need to do your homework, and not just on the latest gadgets to help a newborn sleep. Really educate yourself. Surround yourself with like-minded healthcare professionals to assist you if necessary — a nurse, midwife, nutritionist or other healthcare practitioner who understands the fundamental role nutrition plays in the human body, especially the pregnant human body.
It is a sad reality right now in the U.S. that our traditional medical doctors rarely consider dietary causes or solutions when diagnosis and treating a patient, pregnant or otherwise. In my nutrition counseling practice it is common for a new client to tell me “my doctor has never told me to change my diet”. I can write an entire blog (actually more like a dissertation) on what’s wrong with conventional medicine that they refuse to acknowledge the role nutrition plays in health or illness, but the reality is just because your doctor doesn’t know about something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
What You Eat Matters
Of the estimated 1 in 6 American couples who struggle with getting pregnant each year, there is
undeniable evidence that lifestyle, nutrition and environmental factors are a major culprit[v]. This is great news for those of you who want to get pregnant in the next few months because knowing this gives you the chance to do something to improve your circumstances, whether that be changing your diet or ridding your home of toxic cleaning products.
If you are 6 to 12 months away from the time you want to be pregnant, you are at the perfect point to adopt a healthier lifestyle and eating habits to support the healthy pregnancy I know you desire.
Your First Job As Parents
As hopeful new parents, the time for giddy joyfulness will come, but right now you should focus your efforts on making short-term decisions and changes that will benefit you and your baby long-term. Do some internet research, read a book, consult with a nutritionist….yes, you can even call me!
Consider this your first job as loving, responsible future parents – taking steps to improve your overall health. Doing so will increase your fertility and your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Wishing your good health and happiness!
Note: This information is provided as a resource and for educational purposes only. These recommendations are not intended as a substitute for consulting a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor before beginning any nutritional or dietary changes.
[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Differences in Prevalence of Obesity Among Black, White, and Hispanic Adults—United States, 2006-2008. MMWR, July 17, 2009:58(27);740-44. Retrieved 9-28-15 from www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5827a2.htm
[ii] Mercola, J., M.D. (2009) “10 Ways to Address Your Root Causes of Infertility – Naturally”. Retrieved 6/13/15 from www.mercola.com
[iii] PEW Research Center, Livingston, G. (2015). “Is U.S. Fertility at an All-time Low?” Retrieved 7/2/15 from www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/02/24
[iv] U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2015). “Significant Dates in U.S. Food and Drug Law History”. Retrieved 7/2/15 from www.fda.gov/aboutFDA/whatwedo/history/milestones/ucm128305.htm
[iiv] Mercola, IBID
© 2016 Nutrition Life Strategies. All Rights Reserved.