All of us have both good and bad bacteria in our bodies. The good bacteria keeps the bad in check, and also promotes optimal digestion, immunity, weight loss, and regularity among other things.
These days, most people are lacking an adequate amount of beneficial gut flora.
This is largely due to the modernization of the world we live in. Throughout our lifetimes we are exposed to an onslaught of detriments like vaccines, antibiotics, irradiation, and toxins, not to mention the damaging effects of birth control pills and other chemicals and medications.
For bacterial infections (like sinus infections or urinary tract infections) and for prevention of infection (during or after surgery, for example) doctors will prescribe antibiotics. But antibiotics don’t discriminate. They wipe out all of of the bacteria in your system and it can take a while for the beneficial bacteria to repopulate. Some researchers would argue that the effect can be permanent.
And, oral contraceptives, in particular, have a “devastating effect on the gut flora,” according to Dr. Natascha Campbell McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
How does that affect fertility?
“Gut flora imbalances can be very important for achieving optimal fertility. The gut flora can affect hormone availability as the gut flora metabolizes hormones like a second liver (the liver is the most important organ for processing hormones.)” says Naturopath Dr Denice Moffat. (Source)
Boost beneficial bacteria by consuming probiotic-rich foods.
One of the more popular foods is yogurt “with live active cultures.” If yogurt is your thing make sure it’s a good quality yogurt, with no artificial colors or flavors. I favor full fat, plain Greek yogurt above all others and add my own honey and granola.
In addition to yogurt, some dairy brands, like Horizon and Breakstone, add live and active cultures to their sour cream and cottage cheese. Look at the ingredients list to see.
Another food is kefir — a fermented milk drink made using kefir grains — which is kind of like a drinkable yogurt.
There’s also raw cultured vegetables. These are pickles, sauerkraut, and Kimchi that are not pasteurized. You can find these in the refrigerated section of the grocery. Stay away from sauerkraut in cans. The pasteurization kills off any good bacteria that was once there.
Tempeh is a fermented grain made from soy beans and because it is high in protein and B12 it is ideal for vegetarians.
Miso is made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley. You can add a tablespoon or so to some hot water and make an instant soup.
Spirulina and Chlorella are microalgaes. These are supplements that are bought in powder or pill form. The powder can be added to juices and smoothies.
Kombucha is a fermented tea, of sorts. It has some fizz to it and some say it’s similar to sparkling apple cider.
Keep this up during pregnancy too.
Although a human fetus is sterile in utero, colonization with normal flora bacteria begins with birth when the baby comes into contact with the mother’s vaginal bacteria; this continues with breast-feeding and subsequent contact with the environment.
The thing is, the baby gets what the mother gives. This means if the expecting mom’s system is low in good bacteria, then the baby will only receive that small amount of friendly flora as well.
So, what about the liver?
The liver, a vital organ in your body, has big-time job responsibilities.
In addition to its role in detoxification and digestion, the liver regulates hormone production. It secretes amino acid proteins and necessary hormones into the blood stream as well as eliminates excess hormones through bile and urine to prevent build-up (which can cause cysts and other abnormal growths).
When we don’t eat right or become exposed to too many toxins the liver has to work overtime. The damaging result could include infertility issues.
There are several things you can do to support the liver, including a diet rich in whole, organic foods.
Whole foods are nutrient dense and organic foods relieve the liver of having to work harder (ie – clearing out pesticides). The less toxins you put into the body the more efficient the liver can be.
Foods and herbs that are liver-friendly include cruciferous veggies, milk thistle, dandelion and micro algae. Avoid fried foods and oxidized oils. Instead, opt for the good fats found in avocado, omega-3’s and eggs.
Beneficial bacteria from fermented foods keep the liver from working too hard because they can break down toxins. And because they’re contributing to a healthy inner ecosystem they allow the liver to work more efficiently.
The more pro-active you can be about getting your digestive health back on track, the more your hormones will regulate, and the more your body will be the miracle it already is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Charissa Sharkey, CHHC is a Holistic Health Counselor, helping women take control of their fertility through diet and nutrition, while providing a safe place of understanding, resources and support.
After years of anguish, and a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility,” Charissa was finally able to get pregnant (with twins!) with the help of IVF. Charissa feels that by changing her diet she could have prevented the scientific intervention, and all of the chemicals, hormones and frustration.