Create A Fertile Life Book Launch

We are incredibly grateful for everyone who was involved in making our book launch such a special night. Our book baby has been birthed into the world!

Our attendees enjoyed platters of yummy treats on the night, as well as a show bag full of goodies to try at home and listened to talks by fertility specialist Dr.Lynn Burmeister, building biologist Nicole Biljsma, and of course our book authors Gina Fox, Charmaine Dennis, Tina Jenkins, Rhiannon Hardingham and Milly Dabrowski.

Some people were asking about whether you can still join our private community Facebook group for Create A Fertile Life, as well as sign up for the FREE miniseries we created to celebrate the launch of the book. The answer is YES YES you may join both the facebook group as well as sign up for the miniseries.  You can also purchase your copy of the book here Create a Fertile Life.

P.S. If you are a practitioner and want to join us on 2nd October for our practitioner only launch event, please sign up here. We know as soon as we announce the special guests for this one, spots will be snapped up in a flash. Make sure you are also signed up to our practitioner list for future collaborative events and opportunities too.

Thank you to all of our beautiful friends who took photos xx.

 

Food Cravings – what are you really craving?

Food cravings with Jane Holland

Food cravings come in all tastes and sizes. Have you ever walked past a bakery early in the morning and spied the rows of croissants in the window and found yourself thinking about nothing else but those buttery flaky pastries for rest of the day??

Or perhaps you’ve arrived at the end of a busy afternoon and found yourself thinking of nothing else but the moment when you can crack open the cupboard and dig your hand into a packet of salty crunchy crisp chips??

Or perhaps after dinner when you’re winding down, your mind becomes filled with the idea of biting into a delicious chunk of chocolate, that sweet goodness bringing you some kind of wild euphoria…

Chances are, if you are a human, you have experienced some form of food craving.

In fact, surveys suggest that up to 90% of women and 70% of men have experienced food cravings at some point during their life (Magee 2005).

Food cravings can be defined as an intense desire to consume a particular food, differentiating it from a feeling of hunger, which can be alleviated by consumption of any type of food (Muele 2020).

The Complexities

And it’s more complicated than you might think! We tend to think food cravings are driven by a primal instinct to stay alive, an evolutionary advantage embedded in our genes. And while that’s partly true, what is now also known, is that areas of the brain responsible for memory and sensing pleasure are also partially to blame (i.e. conditioned responses to stimuli), as well as a need to satisfy emotional states, such as calming stress and reducing anxiety. In other words, it’s complex.

When our needs are not being met – physiologically, emotionally, mentally, or energetically – our natural impulse is to rectify this. In other words, when we are ‘out of alignment’, we will find a way to bring ourselves ‘into’ alignment. Our brain can’t always differentiate between fulfilling needs in a resourceful versus unresourceful way, however, so if we are not aware of the ways we have learnt to ‘fulfil’ these needs (i.e. we have learnt to do something that brings relief but not necessarily long-term satisfaction), we will continue to repeat this behaviour over and over again, despite our seemingly ‘conscious’ desire to change it.

Mindfulness for Food Craving

Mindfulness, and self-awareness through sensation and the body, are some of the ways to bring us back into deep connection with our intuitive self. From here, we can respond to our needs in a more honest way, rather than a reactionary, automated way. But it’s tricky business. The parts of us that work to protect us (often formed during childhood or adolescence to ‘meet the needs’) might feel fear or hesitation or resistance to a different response, which can lead to more dissonance and contraction if we are not willing to listen and be ‘in relationship’ with them! Simply put, in order to understand our needs, we need to engage with them in a compassionate and honest way, to find out how we can support them (and ourselves) in a more resourceful way.

Stopping the Self-Punishment

As we bring more awareness to these needs and honour our deeper stirrings and get curious about the places where we are betraying ourselves, our physical body changes too. Instead of punishing or banishing the parts of us that crave chocolate after dinner, or eat a whole wheel of cheese at the party, or yearn for a hot cross bun smeared with butter, we start to notice that actually, those parts just wanted to feel safe in that moment, or connected, or loved.

Over time, as we integrate and listen to our different parts, our behaviour changes too. Learning to notice and feel what we are truly craving, fulfilling our needs and honouring our intuition leads to deep and lasting changes. It just requires deep compassion, radical honesty and a willingness to listen.

Written by Jane Holland, respected holistic Nutritionist at The Melbourne Apothecary, renowned international retreat facilitator, adored Deep Sleep Yin Yoga teacher.

Book in with Jane to understand and reshape your food story, build a healthy relationship with your food and body, and create behaviours in your life that support your healthiest self. (Jane is currently offering free 10 minute Nutrition consults to help you take action – when booking navigate to heading Nutrition > Free 10 min consult > Jane Holland)

References

Meule, A. Twenty Years of the Food Cravings Questionnaires: a Comprehensive Review. Curr Addict Rep 7, 30–43 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-020-00294-z

Magee, E. The Facts About Food Cravings, WebMD (2005). https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-facts-about-food-cravings#1

Zucchini and Chilli Pepita Salad

Zucchini Salad with Josephine Cabrall from Fertile Ground Health Group

Zucchini and chilli pepita salad is a simple dish that I love for shoulder seasons where we are still having some nice days but the weather is getting colder. It’s still got a lot of freshness about it but the grilled zucchini is easier to digest than raw salad and the chilli pepitas give it some warmth. The lemon, dill and feta really get your tastebuds going.

This dish is super yummy as a BBQ side salad with just about every type of protein – fish, tofu, tempeh, chicken, red meat, falafel, chickpea or lentil burgers. If I have some leftover I often have it for breakfast on a slice of dense wholegrain bread with a poached egg on top.

Zucchinis are very high in fibre, which feeds beneficial gut bacteria and helps you to feel full and satisfied, as well as aiding healthy bowel movements. They are also very low in carbohydrate. All of these things are great for hormone balancing, general health and are compatible with a PCOS diet, if that is what you are aiming for. Being dark green in colour, they are a natural source of antioxidants and folate, making them great for fertility and pregnancy.

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) add a good source of zinc – helpful for skin, hair, immunity, fertility and so much more.

Ingredients
  • 4 large zucchinis, sliced lengthwise
  • A large handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • A pinch (or more as desired) of cayenne pepper (chilli powder)
  • Half a bunch of fresh dill, leaves picked
  • 30-40g of goat’s chevre or goat’s feta
  • Half a lemon, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Method

Brush zucchini slices with olive oil and cook them on a grill plate until soft and browned, flipping halfway. You could also roast them in a 200 degree oven on trays (don’t overcrowd the trays or they’ll go soggy before they brown).

Toast the pepitas in a fry pan with a splash of olive oil, pinch of salt and the cayenne pepper until just starting to go light brown, then remove from heat to cool on a plate.

Assemble the salad by tossing the zucchini with the dill, lemon and olive oil, crumbling the feta on top and sprinkling over the pepitas.

Want more? Download your free PCOS & diet guide, filled with delicious and healthy recipes specifically for people with PCOS – Written by Naturopath Josephine Cabrall.

Weight loss and PCOS

PCOS and weight loss with Josephine Cabrall from Fertile Ground Health Group

Weight loss improves just about every aspect of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Whilst it is often more difficult to lose weight when you have PCOS, even modest weight reductions can have a significant impact on PCOS symptoms plus reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How do I know if I need to lose weight?

Being overweight, especially around the waist, causes insulin resistance (even if you don’t have PCOS) because fat cells release substances that mess with insulin sensitivity. This means that being overweight increases insulin levels even more, worsening PCOS signs and symptoms. In short, being overweight is bad news for PCOS.

Body mass index (BMI) is a good guide to determine if you are in the overweight range or the healthy weight range. You can calculate your BMI using a simple online calculator and plugging in your height and weight (there are many available).

How to get started on weight loss

It’s not so simple to just lose weight and if you have PCOS with insulin resistance, this can be even more difficult because insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage. Both diet and exercise matter when it comes to weight loss but if you need to make changes in both areas, start with diet and once that is a routine for you work on your exercise routine – changing everything overnight is hard and you don’t want to set yourself up to fail.

When it comes to diet, head over here and get your copy of my free PCOS & Diet eBook. It outlines the dietary changes that have the most impact on weight loss for people with PCOS. If you check out the eBook but still need more help or have questions, you might need to work with a naturopath to work out the best diet for you as an individual.

What’s the best type of exercise for weight loss and PCOS?

There are two types of exercise that have been shown to be effective for PCOS and weight loss:

  1. Resistance training

Resistance training means moving your body against a resistance. The resistance can be your own body weight (e.g. push ups, planking or yoga) or equipment such as bands or weights. You can do resistance training at home if you’ve already got some experience with how to do it safely. If not, get help from a professional PT to ensure you adopt the correct posture and alignment, avoiding injury.

If you can’t afford a personal trainer, join a gym and ask the staff for assistance in getting your posture and alignment right on their equipment. If the gym is not your thing, join a strength yoga class such as Iyengar, Ashtanga or Vinyasa.

Resistance training is designed to build muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass has a positive effect on insulin resistance and boosts metabolism, meaning your resting metabolic rate is faster; you burn fat while at rest.

Research has shown resistance training can reduce androgens, waist circumference, body fat percentage and fasting blood glucose: all good things for PCOS. However, the best results come with doing a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise.

  1. Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is also known as ‘cardio’ exercise and refers to any exercise that gets your heart and lungs to work faster. You breathe harder, your heart pumps faster and you work up a sweat. There are many ways to do this and lots of them are actually fun! Dancing, swimming, sex, aqua aerobics, team sports, cycling, HIIT, circuit training and jogging are just a few of them.

Beyond improving insulin resistance, aerobic exercise has many benefits. Aerobic exercise improves circulation, increases energy levels, increases endurance, reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes, reduces body fat, maintains a healthy weight, improves mood and improves sleep.

How much exercise do I need to do?

Based on the research you should do 1hr of resistance training three times weekly but you should start slowly and build up to this. On alternate days you should do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. Have one day off per week to give your body a rest.

More is not better

If you push yourself beyond the above guidelines you run the risk of pushing your stress hormones too high, which inhibits weight loss and increases insulin.

My top 4 tips for success
  1. Get friends and family in on it

Making a time to exercise with friends or family increases your motivation and makes exercise more enjoyable. It makes you accountable for showing up. Likewise, a healthy diet, such as outlined in my PCOS & Diet eBook, is something that can be done as a family or with friends. It is a health choice that is beneficial for everyone, not just those with PCOS (if you have children they can eat the same as you, just let them eat freely of healthy carbohydrates rather than limiting their intake).

  1. Any type of exercise is better than no exercise

If all you can do today is just go for a walk then it’s better than nothing – you are still having a beneficial impact on your hormones when you exercise, even if weight loss is not achieved.

  1. Set realistic goals

If you can’t stick to a strict regime as outlined in the exercise section above, just do what you can. Any sort of increase in physical activity is better than none.

Set a goal of something you can do that is easily achievable. Once you can stick to that for 3 weeks, set a higher goal. For example, if you currently walk for 10 minutes per day, increase this to 15 minutes. Or get a pedometer and increase your daily steps by 2000 each week.

  1. Prioritise it

One of the excuses you might give yourself is that you simply don’t have time exercise and prepare food. This is when you need to sit down and make a list of all of the things that take up time in your life and prioritise which ones are going to make you the happiest. Chances are that being healthy is going to be near the top of your list.

Other things might have to take a back seat in preference of your health.
You might find that some things can be combined. For example, seeing friends and exercising could be rolled into one on some days. Preparing food and family time are other things that could be done together. How you shape your life is up to you but one thing is for sure: if you don’t prioritise time for weight loss, it won’t happen.

Need more help?

Losing weight can be really tough, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Some great choices are personal trainer or exercise physiologist, naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, acupuncturist and psychologist or counsellor. All of these professionals can help you tailor a plan that is most effective for you as an individual and help keep you accountable and motivated along the way.

Josephine is currently offering free 10 minute consults to everyone. These sessions give both practitioner and patient the chance to see if the therapeutic relationship is a great fit, as well as to get you started on the path to feeling better, whether that be prescriptions on the day, referral for testing, or simple extras that you can incorporate to support yourself even more. 

Book in with Josephine to get started > bookings > Naturopathy > Free 10 min consult

What’s driving your food story?

Food Relationship with Jane Holland at The Melbourne Apothecary

January. The month that should be renamed ‘Try-a-new-diet-ary’. 31 days of shiny good intentions, dosed with ramped-up ‘health’ marketing schemes, and laced with a sprinkle of post-holiday guilt… One 2019 UK study * estimated 26 million people start a weight-loss diet on the turn of the New Year, but 87% (or almost 9 out of 10) will break these new eating ‘habits’ by January 12th… Sound familiar?!

The truth is, even when we KNOW it is nonsensical to change our way of eating at 12.01am on January 1st, so many people still attempt to do so! Driven by marketing campaigns, societal ideals, or the compelling conviction of a colleague who lost ‘10kg last year on keto!’, we are addicted to the idea that controlling or manipulating our eating patterns will somehow alter our bodies, and therefore our lives.

Food lifestyle changes – yes or no?

Unfortunately, these diet trends are often cleverly marketed as ‘lifestyle changes’ when really, they are just another set of rules and restrictions that prevent us from understanding our individual body’s cues and getting radically honest about the real drivers of our behaviours that determine how, when, why and WHAT we eat.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that we simply throw away all guidelines without the support of a qualified practitioner, nor ignore research and data about what foods and nutrients support specific conditions. Nor am I suggesting that it is a bad idea to reflect on what we are consuming and make choices that are nourishing and support vitality! What I am suggesting however, is that understanding the RELATIONAL aspect of eating, including our own relationship to food, our bodies, and the systems in which they are created, is the foundation upon which real and lasting change can occur. And it is often overlooked when we are making decisions about our health.

Action VS Thought Patterns

We tend to think that if we change the ACTION, we will experience the results. And while this may be true if we desire a short-term shift and have the willpower to follow the ‘rules’, it does not focus on WHY that behaviour occurs in the first place, nor give us freedom and spaciousness to make different choices in the future. Our ‘food story’ is often intricately bound up in childhood memories, cultural narratives, and familial patterns. Our body carries the impact of these stories and it is not until we are willing to explore, enquire and untangle them, can our body respond and find its way back to its most natural state of being.

Untangle your food shame

My focus as a holistic nutritionist is to support you in understanding your WHY, and to create tools that allow you to untangle and explore the stories that keep you bound in cycles of body shame, diet confusion and the mistrust of your own intuition. As a degree qualified health practitioner, I draw on current scientific research and work with you to achieve what it is you desire to FEEL, allowing you to create a safe, nourishing, and spacious connection to food, eating and your body.

Now THAT feels like a New Year’s Resolution that lasts…

 

Written by Jane Holland, respected holistic Nutritionist at The Melbourne Apothecary, renowned international retreat facilitator, adored Deep Sleep Yin Yoga teacher.

 

Book in with Jane to understand and reshape your food story, create a healthy relationship with your food and body, and create eating habits that feel right for you.

 

* source: https://inews.co.uk/category/news/health

Identify your Unique Fertility Needs

Sage King Unique Fertility Needs Fertile Ground Health Group

What’s your Fertility Plan and do you know how to identify your unique fertility needs?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. 

Over these 6 weeks we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the next 6 weeks. 

I am excited to embark on this journey with you. Let’s get started!

Part One: Identify Your Unique Fertility Needs

In the same way that we are all our own unique individuals, no two fertility journeys nor pregnancies are the same.  It is important for you to identify what your family plan looks like, taking into consideration your age, who your fertility plan involves – who is providing the egg (you or your partner?), who is providing the sperm (you or your partner? Sperm donor – known? Clinic recruited?), who will be carrying the pregnancy and in which timeframe you wish to try to conceive. 

Age & egg quality

For individual’s trying to conceive, age is something that is spoken about regularly. I see frustration in many of my patients when age is spoken about and I understand that frustration because, well, you know the impacts of age on fertility. While age is something we cannot change, thorough preconception care can positively influence your egg quality and reduce the impacts of biological age as much as is possible. 

Statistics show a decline in fertility from 35 years of age, with a further decrease after 40-42 years of age. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2014; Fertility Society of Australia, 2018) Individuals assigned female at birth are born with all their eggs and research now shows that egg quality can be positively influenced in the 100 days before ovulation. (Fertility Society of Australia, 2018)

If you’re 34 years old or younger, you’re fortunate enough to have at least 12 months to undertake a thorough preconception screening and treatment protocol. 

If you’re 35 years or older, your time to conceive considerations are a little different. If you’re wanting to try to conceive within the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months, it is essential you undergo a thorough preconception screening for your individualised preconception care as soon as possible to maximise your time to influence your biology in a positive way. The more time, the better! In some cases, the best opportunity to conceive involves using donor eggs, however this is something that is determined on a case by case scenario and takes many factors into account.

Timeframe of starting your fertility journey

Have you considered the time in which you want to start trying to conceive? Considerations include your age, sourcing a sperm donor and individualised preconception recommendations. It is good to start with an estimated time frame. The time required to optimise your health for conception will become clearer once you’ve undertaken a thorough preconception screening. 

The minimum recommendation for your optimal preconception screening is 3 months. However, some of my patients have more time-sensitive scenarios where we will tailor their treatment protocols to support where they’re at in their fertility journey, whilst closely monitoring their pathology and working alongside their fertility specialist.

Questions you might want to consider
  • What does your timeframe of trying to conceive look like? 
  • Do you have an age in mind of when you want to start your fertility journey or have children? 
  • Given the information you know now, has this changed or become clearer? 
  • Will you need support in trying to improve your cellular health and egg quality due to your biological age? 

Maybe you’ve already started your fertility journey and unfortunately are yet to achieve conception. No matter what your circumstances, preconception screening and care is the best way to optimise your…

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.

MA’s love letters – June 2021

MA Love Letter June 2021

We’ve been receiving MA’s monthly love letters from The Melbourne Apothecary since the beginning of 2020. These letters contain links to a variety of life enhancing freebies that our fabulous practitioners are constantly creating to help you cope during COVID and beyond.

The letters are also a fantastic and charismatic resource that share all the goings on within both The MA and Fertile Ground. So we thought we’d best share them with you here so that you can join in and receive the monthly intel from our delightful and ever wisdomous MA. Please enjoy.

Hello and a wonderful crisp sunny June to you!

I feel really thrilled to write to you this month (ahem – I feel thrilled every month actually because I just LOVE connecting with you about my favourite thing – health 🥳 ). I have 3 fabulous things to share.

Free preconception series
Firstly, this month Sage King, one of our expert fertility Naturopaths, has put together a 6 part article series designed to help you navigate your fertility journey and create your Fertility Plan. And what a wealth of information this is. I have had the privilege of sneak peeking a couple of Sage’s articles and I can tell you they are off ⚓️ the ⚓️ hook ⚓️ with information about options to proceed and succeed when creating your healthy family 💕

The way Sage writes is so comprehensive AND YET so digestible and clear. Find out more about what this series covers and then go ahead and register to receive all the freebies.

👉Sign up here for the Free Preconception series

World Environment Day
Saturday the 5th of June is World Environment Day 💕 🌏 💕 This day is designed to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment – which is SO glorious!🦚🐍🦧🦩🦥🕸🦜🐊🦓🦔🦙🐇🦕

I recently watched David Attenborough’s latest film, ‘A Life on This Planet’. It was completely motivating and deeply eye opening  👀  beyond the level that my plant farming, naturopathic, chemically free, environment loving eyes have been opened before…

The result? We started a Sustainability Action Group at Fertile Ground and The MA – SAG for short (because SAGging is what my heart ♥ does when I think of the health of our planet and what will happen if we, personally and as a community, don’t take greater responsibility for our daily actions that contribute to the devastation of this world).

Fertile Ground and The Melbourne Apothecary already have deep values of sustainability and supporting climate action ✨ 🌏 💓 however after watching this film📽we stirred into even greater action to identify all the ways that we must DO BETTER in the clinic – our revised mission being helping people to make healthy babies — AND a healthy planet for them to live on!

So please see our MA instagram posts to check out what we’re identifying and changing in the clinic to do better ourselves, and perhaps you’ll find some motivation and inspiration therefor things you can do at home to help healthify the planet even more too♥️

Food cravings?
The third thing I want to touch on is food cravings. It’s lockdown again here in Melbourne, and if you’re a person you are likely feeling emotions about that.😧😪😶😡😩🤨🧐🤯

Many of us use food as an emotional buffer🧀🌭🍕🥖🍔🥞🍫🍷

When things get a bit emotionally intense (hello the last 1+ years of COVID…)it’s a good idea to get some support around healthy eating ESPECIALLY if you know that you have a relationship with food that you’d like to change for the better, or one that becomes topsy turvy during stress.

Read this bang on article from Jane Holland, our MA holistic nutritionist, all about diving under the surface of food cravings. Remember that Jane is available for free 10 minute consults to you if you want to connect with her and find out how you can begin to create a healthier relationship with your food.

Read Food Cravings – what are you really craving? With Nutritionist, Jane Holland

Love & Wooly Jackets
Your MA💕

Do you need Preconception Screening?

Preconception Screening by Naturopath Sage King

What’s your Fertility Plan and do you need preconception screening?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. Below you’ll find Part 2 – “Do You Need Preconception Screening?” If you’ve already read article 1 feel welcome to skip this intro and get stuck into part 2 below. If this is, however, your first time finding out about this series – please read on to learn what it’s about, how it can help you and what to expect over the coming weeks.

Over this free 6 week article series we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the 6 weeks of this series. 

I am excited to be on this journey with you. If you’ve already registered for the whole free package, take a sneak peek at part two below and check your inbox for the arrival of your full comprehensive article for this week (week 2).

If you’re just finding this free series now and would like access from part 1 all the way to part 6 – simply register here for your free access to the whole package.

Part Two: Do You Need Preconception Screening?


Before we jump in to preconception screening, it’s important to understand what your optimal preconception window is, why it’s important, what medical preconception screenings are available to you, and how naturopathic clinical assessments and further pathology investigations provide us with key information to tailor your treatment plan to complement your fertility journey. 

 

Your Optimal Preconception Window

As we touched on last week, the optimal preconception window for both egg and sperm quality is approximately 3-4 months. This is because although individuals assigned female at birth are born with the basic cells that will eventually form their eggs, these follicles do not contain eggs ready for fertilisation. In order to develop eggs required for fertilisation, they must go through what’s known as ‘maturation’ and this process takes approximately 100 days. So the egg released during ovulation each month actually started maturing 3-4 months ago! (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2014; Fertility Society of Australia, 2018). This means that given 3-4 months of tailored preconception care, you can positively influence the health and development of your ovaries, follicles, and the eggs maturing and growing inside. 

Similarly, when it comes to sperm health, preconception screening and care is just as important as egg quality. Sperm also undergo a process of development ready for ejaculation, and take nearly 90 days to be produced from scratch to the time they are ejaculated. So the sperm trying to fertilise an egg this month was already being produced 3 months ago! (Rowley, et al., 1970)

But what if time is not on my side?

For many of my patients, time is of the essence with their fertility plan; due to age, their partner’s age, and if they’re about to/are already undertaking IVF. Time considerations will also vary for individuals wishing to freeze their eggs due to egg freezing not being recommended for individuals older than 38 years of age. If this is you, in these circumstances, I still recommend preconception screening so we can use this information to tailor a treatment protocol to complement any stage of your fertility journey. By implementing key dietary, lifestyle, nutritional, and (where indicated) herbal medicine interventions, I can support you at any stage of your fertility journey. However, if time is not on your side and/or you are currently undergoing IVF, our treatment protocol aims to support your egg quality & endometrial receptivity in the background so that should you be unsuccessful, we have begun to positively influence your egg and sperm quality throughout this window putting you in a better position than before.   

 

Preconception Screening and Your Health Team

It can be really overwhelming knowing where to start with preparing to conceive. Some of my patients come to their initial consultation with blood test results referred by their GP for general health, nutritional status, immunological markers, cervical screening, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening. If their fertility specialist has referred them for further testing, I review these test results too. 

While it requires some organisation and commitment, pathology testing provides us with very important data about your health status. If you have already had preconception testing performed, how long ago did you have them conducted?

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.

Ten Fertility Enhancing Foods

Ten fertility enhancing foods

Let’s talk about the top ten fertility enhancing foods. Of course, there are a number of foods that are great for fertility and health, however there are some that are indeed more super than others. Getting the basics of healthy heating right is the most important step. From there you can integrate some nutrient dense superfood options that are still commonly over looked by many people.

There is a lot of talk about superfoods and all the amazing things they have to offer for just about every conceivable human ailment and worry. From Cacao to Gubinge, Maca to Goji and Acai the promises include increased fertility, cures for cancer, recovery from all sorts of disease, anxiety and woe. Certainly these foods have so much to offer and definitely can be considered to be powerful, nutrient dense foods with super qualities. However, they fall short of being miracle foods. No amount of goji berries is going to make up for the 2 or 3 coffees or cokes you might drink in a day, or if you gorge on junk foods week after week. If you haven’t got the basics covered, superfoods are not your miracle cure-all for a modern-day poor lifestyle.

Get the basics right first

While superfoods can be fantastic, we (naturopaths and nutritionists) are big believers in the necessity of getting the basics right. Eat whole, live foods that are as close to their fresh form as possible, preferably locally grown or even better straight from your garden. This includes veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, pulses, grains, meat, fish and dairy. Often it’s the unassuming, simple whole foods that actually have incredible super qualities that should be taken advantage of daily.

Consider blueberries, salmon, oats, green leafy veggies and garlic just to name a few. To be super, food does not necessarily need to be exotic. For example, eating a seasonal diet ensures that the foods you do consume are as fresh as possible and are consumed when they are picked – not after they have been stored for a year or two. Truly super eating is actually quite simple. The foods we most commonly refer to as superfoods (spirulina, maca, goji, acai, etc.) are really just the cherry on top!

Superfoods are a useful and highly beneficial addition to your diet. But of course, as always, there is no quick fix and no way around eating the basic ‘super’ foods with every meal, everyday for ultimate health and a fertile life.

Tips for daily essential top 10 ‘super’ foods for fertility and health

 

Chia seeds

Chia is an important addition to your diet if you aren’t already eating it. It’s gluten free and as well as being high in fibre, it absorbs water to form a gelatinous texture that is soothing and healing to your digestive tract. Chia contains eight times more Omega 3 than salmon, more calcium than dairy, is high in iron as well as vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants. Best of all, chia seeds are a complete protein and contain all 8 essential amino acids. Athletes find Chia seeds improve endurance and hydration as well as maintaining blood sugar levels. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons daily.

Blueberries

These little bundles of joy are packed full of antioxidants! Blueberries are low in sugar (a low GI fruit) and so are great for women with PCOS or people trying to lose weight. They are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, manganese and Vitamin K. Best of all, they taste delicious. Be careful to choose organic with berries as they are commonly sprayed because bugs really like berries too. Look for local berries as many berries available in major supermarkets have been shipped from across the globe (often China), which makes it harder to ensure the freshness and quality of your final product.

Green leafy vegetables

Include silverbeet, spinach, rocket, kale, lettuce, parsley, coriander, mint, etc in your diet. These foods are a good source of fibre as well as being high in important vitamins A, B, C, K and folate. They are essential for women who are preparing for pregnancy or are pregnant as they contain folinic acid, which is the most absorbable form of folate. Maximise your daily intake with a green smoothie during the warmer months.

Eggs

Free range, organic eggs are one of your best sources of protein, vitamin D, B12, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. Yes, they contain cholesterol, so if it is a problem for you, take fish oil at the same time to lessen the absorption of cholesterol. Also, as part of a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in healthy fats, a little cholesterol is required. Cholesterol has been painted as the bad guy but it’s also what our hormones are synthesised from. If cholesterol is an issue, check with your naturopath about how to use food to regain control.

Yoghurt

Organic, full-fat, unflavoured yoghurt contains calcium, good fats and ‘friendly bacteria’ to keep your digestive system healthy. Have a serve of yoghurt daily to keep your immune system strong.

Quinoa

While technically a seed, quinoa cooks up like a grain and unlike most (even whole) grains, quinoa is a complete protein. That simply means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It also contains more fibre than other grains and is rich in essential fatty acids, iron, lysine (great if you suffer from cold sores), magnesium, B2 and manganese. Quinoa is also gluten free. It is a significantly better grain choice than pasta or even brown rice due to its protein and nutrient content.

Salmon

One of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. It’s also high in protein, selenium and B vitamins, especially B12. Eat salmon with the bones for the added bonus of calcium. Most of the salmon in Australia is farmed but the best source is Huon Tasmanian salmon. Locate your nearest Huon stockist.

Oats
High in soluble fibre, oats eaten daily have been shown to lower and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure. They improve bowel function and are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and selenium – all the best nutrients for fertility. Oats are also considered to be a ‘nervine tonic’ in herbal medicine, which means they are useful for calming and nourishing your nervous system.

Walnuts

Researchers from UCLA in California found that men who ate a couple of handfuls of walnuts (75gms) a day saw improvements in their semen quality. They found improvements in sperm motility and morphology and the suggestion is that it was due to walnuts being a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (an Omega-3). Other benefits with these great fats include improved brain and heart health. Be sure the walnuts taste fresh and are organic.

Remember, superfoods are a useful and highly beneficial addition to your already amazing diet. As always, there is no quick fix and no way around eating the basic ‘super’ foods at every meal, everyday for ultimate health. Get the basics right and build from there.

MA’s July 2021 love letter

July 2021 Love Letter

Welcome to MA’s July 2021 Love Letter. We’ve been receiving MA’s monthly love letters from The Melbourne Apothecary since the beginning of 2020. These letters contain links to a variety of life enhancing freebies that our fabulous practitioners are constantly creating to help you cope during COVID and beyond.

The letters are also a fantastic and charismatic resource that share all the goings on within both The MA and Fertile Ground. So we thought we’d best share them with you here so that you can join in and receive the monthly intel from our delightful and ever wisdomous MA. Please enjoy.

Hello hello,

I hope this July 2021 love letter finds you healthy, warm and feeling loved. Word on my MA vine is that there are 2 wonderful projects beginning to blossom in our town. I would love to invite you to be a part of either one in whatever capacity you like.

These projects really align with my desire to help to enrich our community, enhance collaboration, and support sustainability (because as I’m sure you’re aware, there is no Planet B).

Project 1 – Brilliantly Upcycled Beautiful Baby Apparel
(or BUBBA for short)

This is an initiative brought to you by the wonderful minds of the Fertile Ground Health Group team. The way it works is that everyone is welcome to bring in and donate any beautiful baby apparel that they no longer need (for newborns – apparel to suit up to 12 month old babies). This apparel will all then be available for any patients of Fertile Ground to take and use for their budding family.

This is an opportunity for you to either share apparel you no longer need, or receive lovely new baby apparel with and from people who not only share your health values but have also likely shared some similar struggles as you too.

By being a part of this initiative in any way you will be contributing not only to a circular economy (less waste), but also to rampant happiness on all sides.

If you would like to donate baby apparel, please drop it into the reception team at Fertile Ground when you’re next nearby. Feel free to write a little love note to accompany your clothes – we will be sure to pass it on.  And if you’d like to pick up free upcycled baby apparel for your growing family, please ask at Fertile Ground’s reception when you’re next in too.

Project 2 – Shared Holistic Health Library

You may have noticed the gorgeous library of health, fertility and self help books that lives on the wall of the upstairs waiting room at Fertile Ground. 

Did you know that it’s a shared library? Meaning – you are most welcome to take a book or two, read them and bring them back/keep them when you’re done. You’re also welcome to add any health / fertility / pregnancy / baby / self help related books you have at home that you wish to recirculate into the community. Take a wander through the Holistic Health Library next time you’re in.

Love & Snowflakes

Your MA 💕