Improving Fertility Through Diet

pregnantCan nutrition effect fertility? A small study shows that women who eat diets higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates may have a higher chance of becoming pregnant. The study, released at an annual meeting of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at a group of women undergoing fertility treatments and saw that the women who ate more protein had higher rates of pregnancy than those who ate higher amounts of carbs.

According to study researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Russell, director of the Delaware Institute for Reproductive Medicine, “Protein is essential for good quality embryos and better egg quality, it turns out”. This might not sound like a surprise to some, but this diet recommendation is another possible tool for women who are trying to become pregnant.

Good-quality proteins include organic and free-range poultry, pork, beef, lamb, and eggs, along with beans, nuts, lentils, and organic dairy. A healthy diet should also include lots and lots of fresh vegetables!

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Abdominal Massage for Digestive and Reproductive Health

bellyWhat can Abdominal Massage
Do for You?

Have you heard of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®? This powerful modality is based on an ancient Maya practice of abdominal massage. It is performed externally over the upper and lower abdomen, sacrum, and hips, using a combination of gentle massage strokes, stretches, and structural corrections. The Arvigo Techniques® gently stimulate the abdominal and pelvic organs and encourages them to return to their optimal positions, allowing for improved functioning of the digestive and reproductive systems. The technique relieves congestion in these areas by improving the circulation of blood and lymph and it also supports normal nerve functioning.

I am excited to announce that I am now practicing The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® (ATMAT) at Hillsboro Naturopathic Clinic. There are numerous benefits of ATMAT for both men and women of all ages.

Benefits for Women

Normally the uterus is positioned in the center of the pelvis, leaning just over the bladder. It is held in this position by many muscles and ligaments. Uterine ligaments are made to stretch to accommodate a growing fetus during pregnancy. In some cases, the ligaments and muscles that support the uterus can weaken and loosen, causing the uterus to fall downward, forward, backward or to either side.

When organs shift they can constrict normal flow of blood and lymph, and disrupt nerve connections. A uterus that is not in the optimal position may also press on the bladder or rectum and cause urinary symptoms or constipation. Shifting the uterus back into an optimal location promotes balance in the pelvic area and surrounding organs. Decongesting the abdomen and pelvis flushes toxins from the area and helps ensure adequate transport of nutrients to the tissues. This may help with many health conditions, including:

  • Menstrual disorders (painful or irregular periods, and PMS symptoms)
  • Infertility and pre-conception
  • Discomforts of pregnancy; Preparation for labor and delivery
  • C-section/hysterectomy surgery recovery
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic organ congestion (Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, Fibroids)
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Chronic bladder or vaginal infections
  • Pelvic organ prolapse

Benefits for Men

Men benefit from the techniques as well. By ensuring optimal blood supply to the prostate, the abdominal massage may help to prevent enlargement and inflammation and can help to relieve some symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) including urinary frequency, urgency, and dribbling. By improving circulation and reducing inflammation, the massage may also help with some types of male infertility.

Digestive and Emotional Benefits for Men and Women

Individuals with digestive disorders may also benefit greatly from the techniques. Our digestive organs are home to the majority of our immune system and also contain 80-90% of the neurotransmitters that our bodies use, including serotonin and dopamine. Issues in our digestive system can thus affect many other areas of the body. By improving arterial and venous circulation, lymph flow, and nerve conduction in the abdomen, we can make improvements in overall health and wellbeing. Some of the issues that may be treated with The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® include:

  • Digestive Disorders (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, Gastritis, Constipation, Indigestion, etc.)
  • Back and hip pain
  • Urinary system issues (Interstitial Cystitis, incontinence, frequent urinary infections, etc.)
  • Varicose veins
  • Mood disorders (Anxiety and Depression)

Ix Chel Maiden , color & high resolution by Megan AssafLearn more or schedule an appointment by contacting me at Hillsboro Naturopathic Clinic: 503-844-6667

Is it Safe to Eat Fish During Pregnancy?

salmon-dinnerDo you have questions about eating seafood while you’re pregnant? Have you been told to avoid sushi or to be careful about high mercury levels in fish? Moms want nothing more than to protect their kids and to give them a good start in life, and part of that is getting good nutrition during pregnancy. There are tons of lists out there about what to eat or not eat when you’re pregnant and a lot of the advice can be confusing. One of the more controversial items I’ve seen up for debate is fish; to eat or not to eat, and how much is safe to eat if you do eat it?

Seafood and Pregnancy Pros and Cons

So what’s the deal with seafood? On the positive side, seafood and fish are healthy sources of protein, zinc, and iron, along with omega-3 fatty acids that support a growing baby’s brain development. More problematic however is that many fish, especially the larger predatory species, can be full of mercury and other toxins. This is because these animals are higher up on the food chain and they absorb and then bioaccumulate toxins from their own food sources. Mercury is a health concern for humans and when ingested, mercury can cross through the placenta into a fetus’ circulation, causing organ and tissue damage. Mercury especially affects a growing baby’s brain and neurological development. The Environmental Protection Agency states that children exposed to mercury in utero may develop issues with cognition, attention, language, memory, and fine motor and visual spatial skills.

Safe Seafood Options and Portion Sizes

Despite the concerns, most researchers and doctors agree that fish should still be included in a pregnant woman’s diet due to the numerous health benefits this food group provides. Currently the FDA recommends women eat 8 to 12 oz of fish each week during pregnancy. This is equivalent to 2 or 3 portions per week. However, pregnant women (and everyone really!) should be careful to choose fish species that are lowest in mercury content. Good choices of fish that are low in mercury levels include: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Sardines, Anchovies, and Atlantic Mackerel. Fish that are high in mercury, such as Shark, Swordfish, Orange Roughy, and Marlin should be avoided. Albacore and other species of tuna are also relatively high in mercury and should be limited to no more than one serving per month. Raw fish and sushi are also not recommended in pregnancy due to risk for parasites and food-borne illnesses.

Safe Seafood Guide

If this sounds overwhelming to navigate and remember, there is thankfully a great online resource for moms-to-be. The Environmental Working Group offers a customized tool to help you find clean and nutrient-rich seafood sources. The guide lists seafood choices that are big on nutrition and low in heavy metals. This resource is amazing even if you’re not pregnant, since you can input your age, gender, and health information and it automatically gives you recommendations on what kinds of fish to eat, along with how many servings you should aim for each week.

So fear not! Armed with a little knowledge on what choices to make, fish and seafood are a great addition to a healthy diet and they can provide lots of nutrients to support a healthy growing baby.

Resources

Do Kids with ADHD Need to “Squirm to Learn”?

LearningA study done at the University of Central Florida shows that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may actually learn best when they are moving. According to the study recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, movements such as foot-tapping and leg-swinging help the children to work out complex cognitive tasks. This goes against the prevailing approach that children with ADHD must learn how to sit still in order to fit into a traditional classroom setting. You can read more about this topic on the Science Daily blog.

Do Longer Lives Equal Healthier People?

veggie_heartNot surprisingly, a recent study found that people around the world are generally living longer lives than ever before with less cases of childhood mortality. While this is obviously great news, does this also mean that humans are healthier now than in the past? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In most countries there have been strides over the last hundred years in better hygiene and living conditions, increased access to vaccinations, and less risk of starvation. While all of this has allowed more humans to live to old age, it doesn’t always equate to greater health status for these people. As an article in the newspaper, the Oregonian points out, “With more children surviving, chronic illnesses and disabilities that strike later in life are taking a bigger toll, the research said. High Blood Pressure has become the leading health risk worldwide, followed by smoking and alcohol.” Chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are quickly overtaking infectious disease as the top health priority world-wide.

Luckily, most chronic diseases are considered preventable. There is a great deal that we can do, both as individuals and as a matter of policy, to address and turn around these statistics. There are many organizations working to promote health education, access to fresh fruits and vegetables to poor and urban communities, and safe and fun ways for children and adults to exercise. Here are just a few:

Ending Childhood Obesity Project: Portland, Oregon

Portland Fruit Tree Project: Portland, Oregon

Spiral Gardens Community Food Security: Berkeley, California

Edible School Yard: Berkeley, California

Naturopaths Can Fill Shortage in Primary Care

Most people agree, the shortage in primary care doctors is a real problem. Here are some statistics from a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News:

  • Two to 4 million Californians, and 32 million people nationally, will obtain insurance in 2014 under the national health reform law.
  • The nation will need 45,000 additional primary care doctors within 7 years, including 2,000 or more in California.
  • Nearly one-third of all physicians are expected to retire in the next decade, just as more Americans seek care.
  • Only about 20 percent of American medical students go into primary care, according to the Council on Graduate Medical Education.

So, what can we do about this? How about making it possible for a group of licensed doctors, already trained in primary care and excited be in this role, to gain the legal recognition necessary to fulfill this need on a national level. There are perhaps 400-500 naturopaths graduating every year from accredited schools, but most graduates end up moving to one of the 17 states where naturopathic doctors are currently licensed. By creating legal recognition on a nationwide scale, naturopathic doctors would be able to spread out and help meet the need for primary care doctors throughout the nation. If your state does not already license and regulate naturopathic medicine, contact your legislators and let them know you want access to licensed Naturopathic Doctors.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act states that insurance companies must allow you to choose to receive medical services from any practitioner licensed to provide that care. Many insurance companies are still not following the law. If your insurance company does not cover naturopathic services ask them why they are not following the Affordable Care Act. You can also find out more about legislative advocacy by going to the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Clean?

It may go against what many parents tell their children, but there is evidence that getting dirty actually helps kids stay healthy. At least that’s what an article on NPR’s health blog states. Trying to raise children in overly sterile conditions may actually do more harm than good because our immune systems need to experience microbial insults in order to develop properly. It is these challenges that allow our bodies to develop natural immunity. Our immune cells need to learn through experience to make distinctions between what is healthy to have inside of our bodies and what warrants bringing the troops in for an attack. The ability to make this distinction comes mostly from experiencing a wide array of situations, foods, and even bacteria and viruses. If we limit what  our body experiences then it may begin to label harmless things as dangerous and studies show that this phenomenon may be responsible for the increasing prevalence of auto-immune disorders, allergies, and asthma.

Food for Thought?

Ever want to know what happens when your body tries to digest different types of food? Media artist, Stefani Bardin and Dr. Braden Kuo, M.D. may have the answer for you. Dr. Kuo is Assistant Physician, Gastroenterology Unit and Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kuo and Ms. Bardin recently collaborated on a video where two patients swallow small cameras and then eat two different meals, one highly processed and one handmade. The results are quite interesting and may have you thinking about food in a new way.

Prioritizing Organic

Many people are interested in incorporating more organic food into their diets, but it can be an expensive switch. So how do you decide what items are the most important to buy organic? Here is a list from the Environmental Working Group that details the types of produce that typically have the highest levels of pesticide residues. Simply buying these items in the organic version could greatly cut down on the amount of pesticides you are consuming. If you are trying to prioritize what products to buy organic, this is a great place to start. Besides produce, buying organic animal products (milk, eggs, meat, etc.) can also be a healthy choice, since pesticides get more concentrated as they move up the food chain. This means that eating a small amount of conventional animal products can have just as much pesticide residue as a much larger quantity of conventional produce.

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Bell peppers
  9. Cucumber
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap pea
  12. Potatoes