Fertility and Nutrition: An Eastern Perspective ~ Christina Atkins
Modifying our diet to encourage pregnancy is one of the most simple and powerful tools we have to ensure optimum fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
Asian culture sees food as medicine – what we eat today will sow either the seeds of health or those of disease of the future.
All things in nature can be explained in basic terms of yin and yang and the interplay of these energies. Classical medicine states that:-
“Yin is still in nature , yang is active in nature . Yang generates and yin grows things. The yang function radiates and moves, yin stores and nourishes ” ~ (Su Wen )
Yin and yang constantly affect each other and we can easily find ourselves out of balance because of many factors, from the lifestyles we lead to the foods we eat. For example, overeating of hot spicy foods causes the yang to excessively radiate which causes excess sweating, open pores and then chilling of the body. Long term this can lead a person to experience exhaustion.
On the other hand, excess consumption of cold, raw foods can chill the digestive system causing sluggish movement of digestion. This results in bloating and the accumulation of water, which in turn, can lead to phlegm build up and disease.
The good news is that we can improve the yin-yang balance of our bodies just by changing our diet and thus improving your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
When I palpate a person’s ‘hara’ or abdomen, and feel it is “cold and empty”, usually it is due to their over consumption of raw and cold foods. This often means that they also tend to have a weak digestion. I will then immediately advise them to eat only steamed vegetables and warm or room temperature beverages. This enables the body to transform food into fuel with ease, without taxing an already weak digestion. This is especially important if a women is trying to conceive; we want to encourage an environment that is warm, where blood flows freely and is able to nourish a developing foetus.
Here is an example how yin and yang work together to conceive a life:
Yin dominates the fluids in our body. Stretchy fertile mucus is needed to guide the sperm through the generally acidic environment of the uterus. Yin encourages the cultivation of fertile mucus to carry the sperm safely up the pathway to the ovum. Yin ensures the egg and sperm that are released within 3-months’ time is ripe and succulent to carry life. We need yin to encourage a lovely thick endometrium for the fertilised embryo to embed its home in the uterus snugly and be nourished for the next 10 months.
Yang energy is needed to circulate energy throughout the body. It ensures the egg is fully released from the ovum and completely makes its way out of the fallopian tubes to the uterus. Sufficient yang Qi ensures the sperm swims efficiently through the uterus to meet the waiting ovum and, subsequently, impregnate successfully. Often men that have poor circulation have issues of viable sperm motility. This can be improved with regular acupuncture sessions. Women who have irregular cycles and ovulation issues can benefit from regular treatment also. Maintaining upright yang Qi ensures the baby is held safely in the uterus for the full gestational period.
Basic Yin nourishing foods –
- Soup or stocks made from bone marrow. You can add the stock to hearty soups or risotto or consume as a broth on its own
- Pork and pork marrow
- Osso Bucco – this nourishes fluids
- Eggs – great blood tonic
- Coconut milk
- Anything with gelatin
- Dates – spleen and blood tonics
- Tofu – lubricates dryness
- Kidney beans
Basic Yang foods –
We aim to warm the middle of the body, put fire back under “the burner” so we can strengthen the digestion and stomach.
- Cinnamon Bark, Clove
- Dill Seed
- Fennel root and seed
- Pistachio nuts
- Beef Kidneys
- Star anise
- Red dates and black dates
- Chicken soup, especially in winter. If taken regularly it will benefit you for the rest of the pregnancy
- Chai teas
Yang tonics need to be taken in moderation as overdosing can cause a dispersive effect rather than gathering of energy.
The beauty in eastern medicine is that every person is seen as an individual and there is not one recipe or fix for everyone. The above information is general in nature.
For a more individual treatment plan, it is recommended that you see a professional eastern medicine practitioner who can provide individualised recommendations.
Christina is available in clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays. Private health rebates are available.