Better Body Clinical Nutrition


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Enhancing Conception

Monday, March 25, 2024 1:29 PM

From a Lecture given by Dr. Ronda Nelson

Recent studies have confirmed that indeed our ability to reproduce is diminishing as infertility rates continue to climb. For women who have tried repeatedly to conceive only to miscarry during the first trimester, there is little consolation offered by the medical profession other than assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF, IUI and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), all of which are costly and carry their own inherent risks.

Rather than continue to experience fertility failures, many women give up after a number of years and will either adopt a child or just resign themselves to have given up their inborn dream of carrying their own child to term.

Preparation is Key
Instead of allowing conception to spontaneously occur, a better and more proactive approach would be to work on improving the health of both parents via dietary and lifestyle modifications. In order to provide adequate time for the body to respond, allowing at least five to six months for preparation is recommended. But longer would be even better.

This period of time is known as periconception and includes not only the period prior to conception but continues on through the first 10 weeks of gestation. This is when the fetus requires crucial nutrients from the mother in order to maintain viability, maintain the developmental timeline and eventually grow into a healthy baby boy or girl. Without them, the risk for miscarriage increases dramatically.

The Magic of Methyl Donors
Research has shown a clear correlation between successful conception and adequate dietary intake of methyl donors. One of the key metabolic pathways involved in maintaining a successful pregnancy is the 1-C metabolic pathway which delivers these important nutrients to the body and the baby via folate-methionine cycles. Not only do they help with development of the baby, but these methyl groups play a major role in a number of biological functions including:

• Neurological development
• Fat metabolism
• Reduction of homocysteine
• Protein and fat synthesis
• Detoxification
• DNA synthesis
• Epigenetic expression

Lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking, coffee and alcohol consumption can negatively affect epigenetic expression in both parents as well as the developing baby.

It Always Starts With the Diet
Daily intake of adequate animal protein, healthy fats (including saturated fats) and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide an abundance of phytonutrients to ensure optimal health of both mom and dad. Additionally, we want to encourage our parents-to-be to concentrate on a few specific nutrients that can make a world of difference in the health of their baby. Vitamins B6, B12, folate, choline and betaine provide these crucial nutrients in the form of methyl donors which are needed for a healthy pregnancy, conception, and subsequent delivery.

Top 10 Pregnancy Foods
When creating dietary recommendations for any pre-pregnancy patient, I like to emphasize foods that are rich in methyl donors. Not only do the foods listed below meet this need but they are always generally great as part of a healthy diet. They contain hundreds of important phytonutrients that can help genetic expression before conception.

• Beef liver – contains B12, choline, and folate
• Turkey breast – contains B6, betaine, and choline
• Grass-fed beef – contains B12, Choline, B6, and betaine
• Beets – contains folate and betaine
• Garbanzo beans – contains folate and choline
• Avocado – contains folate and B6
• Spinach – contains betaine, folate
• Eggs – contains B12 and choline
• Pistachios – contains B6
• Wild caught salmon – contains choline and B12

Other beneficial foods include sunflower seeds, beans, split peas, salmon, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, lentils, feta cheese, sesame seeds, lamb, sardines, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower.
The time you spend working on your health will reap tremendous rewards when it comes to the health of both mother and baby. But don't forget to include dad in the process as he contributes as much of the genetic material as mom does!

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