healthy fats and fertility

Are You Afraid of FAT?

One of the reasons why we’re so successful at Inner Peace Acupuncture is because we’re not just acupuncturists.  Acupuncture is great, but it’s only one aspect of what we do.

We integrate Chinese medicine with functional medicine and incorporate nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, environmental detox, and supplements for a well-rounded treatment protocol to help you get pregnant faster.

Over the years, we’ve noticed that nutrition is where a lot of people get stuck and struggle because eating is such an innate, natural part of being a human.  No one ever thinks about how nutrition really impacts fertility because if you’re hungry, you eat.  However, what you’re eating absolutely impacts fertility.

We’re going to talk specifically today about a certain three-letter word that brings up a lot of anxiety and stigma for people.  And this three-letter word is:

F.A.T

This word scares a lot of people!  This word triggers so many emotions ranging from disgust, self-loathing, to joy and contentment.

In America, we have become afraid of fat.  Fat is associated with obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease; it’s overall a very unattractive word.  People read and read labels because they are so scared to be eating a food that has high fat content.

Do you remember the low-fat craze in the 90s and early 2000s.  People were buying imitation butters, low-fat dressings, non-fat yogurts, zero-fat snacks.

My college roommate for example, was one of them.  We didn’t notice at first, but overtime, her hair started falling out and then her period stopped all together.  Perhaps she suffered from an eating disorder as well, but it was never confirmed.  We just knew that she wasn’t eating the right type of foods, and that’s why her health was suffering.

Fast forward to present day, at Inner Peace Acupuncture, nutrition is one of THE most important aspect of our fertility enhancement program.  Our philosophy is:  if you’re not feeding your body properly, your health will suffer and so will your fertility.

Fertility is a reflection of overall health.  If your body is not in the best shape, it will borrow energy to use from another organ system and very often, it borrows from the kidney.  We talked so much about how the kidneys store reproductive energy and must be preserved at all cost.

So of course there are many aspect of fertility nutrition, but getting in enough fat is where a lot of people struggle because of the information that we’ve been told about fat in our culture.

Fats are important for fertility because they secrete hormones.

Hard to believe, right?

However, too much fat or too little fat can both cause problem.

There are two hormones that are closely associated with fat and directly impact fertility.  They are leptin and estrogen.

Let’s start with Leptin.

Leptin is a hormone that’s made in the fat cells, and it suppresses hunger by sending a signal to the brain that we have enough energy storage and don’t need to eat.  It’s sort of a survival mechanism that we have adapted as humans over time because sometimes food sources were scarce.

What most people don’t know is that leptin, through an indirect process stimulates Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) production from the hypothalamus, the command center.  It starts the chain reaction for ovulation each month.  Studies have found that in women who have low body fat percentage, the level of leptin is lower, therefore can impact the production of GnRH and cause the period to stop altogether.

On the flip side, if there is too much fat accumulation in the body, then the leptin level increases and overtime the hormone receptors become desensitized.  That in turn triggers a vicious cycle where the body is unable to respond to hunger cues, and eventually leads to overeating and weight gain. Excessive weight will interfere with ovulation.

Estrogen

The next hormone is no stranger to us, we know that estrogen is super important for ovulation because it is the hormone that helps to mature the egg for ovulation every month, without it, ovulation doesn’t happen.

But, the ovaries aren’t the only ones producing estrogen each month, it turns out that fat cells produce estrogen as well. So again, too much or too little fat can definitely upset the hormone balance in your body.

So how much fat do you really need?

There isn’t a formula for how much fat you should consume, or maybe there is if you are a professional or Olympic athlete.  When you’re competing at a professional level, nutrition becomes a science.  Every ounce of protein, fat or carbohydrate can literally be the difference between winning or losing.

For the average woman like us, we’re not trying to win a gold medal, we’re just trying to get pregnant.   And there are some of you who are struggling to conceive because of PCOS and weight gain due to insulin resistance.  You might have been told that weight loss will improve your chances of conceiving but you still might be hesitant to add fat into your diet.

But trust me, fat is NOT the problem.  It’s insulin resistance caused by over consumption of carbs that’s the culprit.

So the trick for eating the proper amount of fat is to simply avoid unhealthy fats and incorporate healthy fats into your diet.

Unhealthy fats come from processed foods (self-explantory) and oils like canola oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil (they are not made from vegetables.)  So avoid them at all cost.  If you have any of these unhealthy fats in your fridge or pantry, throw them out right away.

The good news about healthy fats is that some of them may be fats that you’ve been avoiding because of misinformation.  Healthy fats come from sources such as red meat (YUP, you can have red meat,) coconut oil, avocado, olive oil and grass-fed or clarified butter.  So stock up and consume these fats liberally.

So if you’re having trouble with regulating your cycle, one of the places to look into might be your diet, and specifically your fat intake and the sources of the fats.

I always say “A healthy diet isn’t always a fertile diet.” You might think that you’re doing yourself a favor by eating very little fat, but you might be missing out on vital hormone balance that fat brings to the body.

For more information on how we can help you get pregnant, feel free to call us at 704-307-7821, or email us at info@ipacupuncture.com

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