Top 3 Superfoods to Help Your Fertility!

Top 3 Superfoods to Help Your Fertility 1

Turns out, there are all kinds of things living inside of you. It’s true!

There are actually more living bacteria cells inside us than our own human cells. Embrace those little critters, because they help form what is called our microbiome.  This is your own unique blend of friendly and un-friendly bacteria located mostly in the gut, that help our digestive, immune and nervous systems function.  Ideally, 85% of these organisms are good guys that live in a symbiotic relationship with you, their host!  Things like stress, antibiotic use and infections can decreased this percentage, leading to less “good” and more “bad” bacteria in our gut, causing more inflammation in our systems.

New research suggests that not only does a healthy microbiome lend towards improved digestive health, but it also plays a vital role in the health of both male and female reproduction by regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation.  Those tiny helpers are found everywhere, from semen to the vaginal canal.  A healthy population of friendly bacteria can encourage the right conditions for conception, aid in sperm health, support a healthy pregnancy.   A healthy microbiome leads to a healthier you, which translates to a more fertile you! A balanced microbiome may also help prevent miscarriage by supporting a healthy vaginal and uterine environment, free of infection.

While there are countless pills and supplements on the market that are ‘pro-biotics’, it turns out the hands-down best way to get living probiotics is from living foods.  Living foods are foods that have been fermented by wild yeasts and bacteria to give them that characteristic sour taste.

For thousands of years, cultures all around the world have eaten fermented foods as part of their traditional diets, and because of this we have been consuming friendly bacteria for generations.  These bacteria have grown and evolved much like we have, and this symbiotic relationship could be in part responsible for our evolution as a species, according to developing research!  

Now that you know how important your microbiome is to your overall health, and potentially to our entire evolutionary history, here are the top three pro-biotic super foods to support both female and male fertility. We love them not only because they have a ridiculous amount of goodness in the form of friendly bacteria, but they are also truly delicious in and of themselves. Enjoy!

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1. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut’s origins date back at least 6000 years, originating in northern China and imported to Europe by way of migrating tribes.  Literally meaning ‘sour cabbage’, this super food is high in B vitamins as well as vitamin C, and packs more probiotics in one spoonful than an entire jar of expensive supplements.  According to preliminary studies conducted on mice, within days of beginning to eat sauerkraut, both gut health and brain function improve.

There are so many flavor combinations that you can’t go wrong incorporating a spoonful or two into every day life.  Favorite ways to eat it include mixing it with scrambled eggs and spinach, heaping a spoonful into soups and stews for instant ‘umami’ flavor, and mixing it into salads with a little brine for a dressing substitute.  Of the three ferments listed, sauerkraut is by far the easiest to make at home.  Some call it the ‘gate-way ferment’ for this reason.  Don’t be afraid and go and grab some krauting supplies, and follow the link to this simple recipe that will get you on the road to self sustaining fermentation:

2. Miso

Miso has our hearts!  We put it in everything: Salad dressings, soups, stews, pestos, stir-fry sauces, glazes and more!  If there is ever a depth of flavor that you desire in a dish, look no further than a jar of miso paste. 

This humble ferment is made by inoculating soybeans with a substance called koji, which has been cultivated on rice, barley or soybeans.  Weeks later, all the enzymes work together to break down the soybeans and grains into a paste made up of amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars.   Some miso is fermented for years before it is deemed ready for consumption!

Why is it an amazing food? Well for all the reasons that are listed for sauerkraut!  Plus – it protects against cancer, and helps the body naturally detox heavy metals from radiation exposure, due to its high levels of dipilocolonic acid, an alkaloid that chelates heavy metals, such as radioactive strontium, and discharges them from the body.  In our modern chemical-laden world, detoxification can be an important part of boosting fertility, and miso is an easy dietary addition to help support a gentle cleanse of the body. Did you know we have our very own local miso producers in Portland? Joringi Miso whips up some of the best non-GMO flavors ever – especially the chickpea miso.

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3. Kombucha

I’ve never met a SCOBY I didn’t love! 

That is a “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast” that grows on top of a fermenting jar of tea, otherwise known as Kombucha. 

A SCOBY is like the pet you never knew you wanted, it lives off of sugar and tea and in return gives you a delicious, bubbly beverage that is teeming with pro-biotic life. 

Known as the ‘tea of immortality’ in ancient times, kombucha is very high in anti-oxidants, acetic acid and polyphenols, all known to help the body fight free-radical cell damage, protect the liver from chronic toxicity, and aid in overall digestive health, which all together can help slow cell aging.

The benefits of kombucha are well documented, but not all kombucha is made alike.  Many of the store-bought brands are chock full of sugar and diluted for taste.  If you are really wanting the medicinal benefits of this wonder drink, look carefully at labels!  Choose the brand with low sugar content and pure ingredients.  Our favorite brands in Portland are Lion Heart (Ginger Fix is yummy), Kevita Master Brew and SOMA (they have a coffee flavor that is to die for!).  Eva’s Herbucha is a good one to, but a little hard to find if you don’t know where to look (hint: the Portland Saturday Farmers Market!).

We hope this blog post lights a spark for you to see how easy it is to eat fertility-friend foods! If you want to know more about the medicinal benefits of fermented foods, and to learn how to make your own delicious sauerkraut, please join our own Haley West, LAc on April 11th at Side Yard Farm in NE Portland as we take a deeper look at the ways we can incorporate more seasonal ferments into our everyday lives.  More info to come!

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.

1. Haahr, T. (2016). Abnormal vaginal microbiota may be associated with poor reproductive outcomes: A prospective study in IVF patients. Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 115, 47-48. doi:10.1016/j.jri.2016.04.144

2. Pelzer, E. S., Allan, J. A., Waterhouse, M. A., Ross, T., Beagley, K. W., & Knox, C. L. (2013). Microorganisms within Human Follicular Fluid: Effects on IVF. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e59062. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059062

3. Sirota, I., Zarek, S., & Segars, J. (2014). Potential Influence of the Microbiome on Infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, 32(01), 035-042. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1361821

4. Bhandari, P., Rishi, P., & Prabha, V. (2014). Potential of Probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 2621 for the Management of Infertility. British Microbiology Research Journal, 4(12), 1585-1596. doi:10.9734/bmrj/2014/12129

5. Weiss, G., Goldsmith, L. T., Taylor, R. N., Bellet, D., & Taylor, H. S. (2009). Inflammation in Reproductive Disorders. Reproductive Sciences, 16(2), 216-229. doi:10.1177/1933719108330087

6. Groeger, D., O’Mahony, L., Murphy, E. F., Bourke, J. F., Dinan, T. G., Kiely, B., . . . Quigley, E. M. (2013). Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 Modulates Host Inflammatory Processes Beyond the Gut. Gut Microbes, 4(4), 325-339.

7. Bhandari, P., Rishi, P., & Prabha, V. (2016). Positive effect of probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum in reversing LPS-induced infertility in a mouse model. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 65(5), 345-350. doi:10.1099/jmm.0.000230

About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.