Things to AvoidMutagens are substances and pollutants that you may be exposed to every day. These substances do damage on the genetic levels (sperm, egg, and embryo). Caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs, medical drugs, dietary mutagens, and environmental hazzards, are what you should look out for. Also check out other misc. things to avoid.
Sufficient levels of vitamin A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, folate, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and essential fatty acids help protect against mutagens that may cause damage.
Vitamin A, C, E, are potent in the difestive tract and continue their action in the blood and around cell membranes. They are antioxidants and help to limit damage by pollutants. An excess of vitamin A however can cause birth defects, so the recommended daily dosage is under 3000 IU.
Calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc are powerful antimutagens and reduce uptake of aluminm, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
Green Tea contains substances known as catechins that are powerful antimutagens.
Cholorella is considered to be an exceptionally broad spectrum antimutagen supplement. A freshwater algae that is a rich source of nutrients, chlorella binds to heaby metals and chemicals that have accumulated in the body.
Cilantro is a powerful heavy metal detoxifier, as well as pectin-rich foods such as apples, pears, and bananas.
Dietary fiber from friut, veggies, whole grains, oat bran, and legumes helps in the excretion of toxins from the body. Avoid wheat bran because it can block mineral absorption.
Low protein levels in the body create a situation where the production of DNA is impeded. Amino acids from protein are the essential building blocks of life. Protein intake is shown to be most important around ovulation, and up to the end of the first trimester.
Flavorings and additives appear in many prepared foods and drinks. Many dried fruits are sulfured. Salt additives in theory are not so bad but the amount used to preserve food plays a role in the upset of hormonal balances.
Aspartame (click for shocking article on aspartame) is likely to be found in any sweetener you put in your drink. Anything labeled 'diet' or 'sugar free', any gum or breath freshener, all will have aspartame as a sweetener. When the temperature of aspartame exceeds 30 degrees centigrade (86 F), which the body acomplishes quite quickly once it is ingested, the wood alcohol in it converts to formaldahyde (a poison used to preserve body parts) and then to formic acid which is even more toxic.
Aspartame may cause miscarriage because it makes the body have an immune reation to it, which can destroy the fetus.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) is found in a lot of food in Chinese or Mexican restaurants, or prepared foods. It has been shown to cause infertility in animals. It is also in chips, meat seasonings, and soups.
During your PregnancyIt is extremely important to avoid certain foods that you may have enjoyed pre-pregnancy. This is because many foods either contain harmful bacteria or environmental pollutants that negatively affect your baby. Listeria, salmonella, E. Coli and methyl mercury poisoning are among these harmful elements. Be sure to post a copy of our complete guide of foods to avoid during pregnancy on your refrigerator! Lastly, poor food safety preparation can also mean exposure to harmful substances.
Unpasteurized Products : ListeriaUnpasteurized products are made from raw milk; if the milk process was not performed properly and the milk is 'dirty', then it may be infected with listeria. It is therefore advised that pregnant women not consume the following unpasteurized products:
- raw milk
- soft cheeses : feta goat cheese, brie, camembert
- Mexican-style cheeses : queso blanco and queso fresco
- unpasteurized juice
Listeria is a serious threat: it has been responsible for 2,500 illnesses and up to 500 deaths a year. Some studies estimate that 30% of those deaths involve pregnant women and their fetuses. Listeriosis can cause miscarriage or premature birth. While 'dirty' milk may be contaminated with listeria, there are many advocates of the health benefits of Grade A Certified raw milk. Talk to your doctor to find out more about the benefits of unpasteurized milk.
Raw Eggs : SalmonellaAny dish containing raw eggs is infected with Salmonella. Avoid:
- raw eggs
- Caesar dressing
- egg nog (unpasteurized)
- Hollandaise sauce
- cookie batter
- homemade ice cream
Undercooked Meats : Salmonella, E. Coli, ToxoplasmosisPregnant women should avoid all undercooked meats. Remember to take precautions when preparing meats: make sure your steak has an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit and heat hamburger and pork to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid:
- deli meats
- hot dogs
- raw seafood, especially shellfish
- undercooked chicken or meat
Hot dogs can be especially harmful, and have even been found to increase the risk of leukemia in children if eaten more than once a month.
AspartameAspartame is a sweetener made by Monsanto found in many diet foods and available in packets to sweeten your foods. Be advised that aspartame has been linked to cancer as well as neuro- and immunotoxicity due to long term ingestion. Because of aspartame's bad press, Monsanto has come up with a new sweetener, Neotame. Neotame has not been sufficiently tested and is thought to be more toxic than its predecessor, aspartame; it contains carcinogenic ingredients, such as formeldahyde. Because aspartame contains phenylalanine, it can be toxic for certain children. Make sure the foods you eat do not contain artificial sweeteners. When sweetening foods, opt for natural sweeteners like honey or fruit juice.
Certain Fish : Methyl MercuryFish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, integral in the development of your baby's brain and vision. Yet, because of coal plant pollution, most of the world's fish population is contaminated with methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is a neurotoxin and causes neurological damage, developmental delays and learning deficits. Although the FDA has issued warnings on certain fish species, the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) states that independent studies have shown a need for more rigorous limitation of certain fish species.
- wild pacific salmon
- farm-raised trout
- farm-raised catfish
- fish sticks
- summer flounder
- mid-Atlantic blue crab
- canned tuna
- mahi mahi
- eastern oyster
- blue crab from the Gulf of Mexico
- lake whitefish
- blue mussels
- sea bass
- tuna steaks
Trying to get enough uncontaminated fish in your diet is understandable difficult; using a mercury calculator will help you figure how much mercury you're ingesting with your fish. You can also get other sources of the nutrients found in fish. You may want to make up for Omega-3s by eating crushed flaxseed with your breakfast or snacking on walnuts. While flaxseed and walnuts have about a fifth of the Omega-3s, it may be the safer option until pressure is put on industries that contaminate our waters. Pregnancy diets deficient in Omega-3s will result in children with behavioral problems and abnormal vision.
Farm-Raised Fish : PCBsAs if you didn't already have enough on your plate. Fish farming raises a number of health and environmental concerns. Farm-raised fish have significantly higher levels of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, for a number of reasons. Because PCBs embed themselves in fat, 'fatter' farm-raised fish are rich in this cancer-causing toxin. And while you may think the nutrients of fish even out the dangerous effects of PCBs, farm-raised fish are considerably less nutritious than their wild counterparts. This is because farm-raised fish don't have the opportunity to fulfill their natural and healthy diets. Therefore, stay away from farm-raised fish at the supermarket; farm-salmon is typically labeled "Atlantic" or "Icelandic", while wild salmon is named "Alaskan" or simply "Wild". Be sure to ask your fishmonger what waters your fish comes from.
Food AllergiesIf you or your family has a history of food allergies, it is advised that you stay away from peanuts and products that may contain traces of peanuts. Your fetus can be exposed to food allergens and may develop peanut allergy if he has a predisposition.
Food Preparation TipsEven food preparation needs to be handled carefully as improper handling of food can lead to infection or disease. Here are some tips to help you in the kitchen:
- avoid dented cans or jars that leak or don't 'pop' when you open them
- completely defrost foods, especially meats, prior to cooking; thaw foods in the refrigerator or in a plastic bag submerged in cold water; never thaw foods at room temperature.
- do not freeze anything that has been defrosted
- reheat food only once, then toss it
- when food shopping, avoid fish, meat and eggs that are not well refrigerated or kept on ice
- always wash your hands after preparing food, between foods and after the restoom
- avoid contaminating foods with each other
- wash raw vegetables thoroughly, as unwashed vegetables can harbor toxoplasmosis
Common Cooking HerbsThe following may encourage miscarriage (if used in therapeutic dosages):
Basil, Caraway seeds, Celery seeds, Ginger, fresh Horseradish, Savory, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Parsley, Tarragon, Thyme, Watercress.
Note: amounts commonly used with the preparation of food are generally regarded as safe (GRAS).
It also increases the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and pre-eclampsia. If males drink a lot of coffee prior to conception, the chance of premature birth is raised. Stick to green tea is a little fix is needed.
Smokers are more likely to be infertile, have lower estrogen and progesterone levels, a poor LH surge (causing irregular menses and ovulation), take longer to concieve, increased risk of miscarriage, bleed during pregnancy, low birth weight babies, thinner linings during IVF, earlier menopause, decreased sperm count, less motile sperm, more abnormal sperm, reduced testosterone, babies with congenital abnormalities and asthma. These conditions are somewhat dependant on the amount of cigarettes smoked.
It reduces the absorption of zinc and B6, increase the amounts of cadmium and lead in the blood, increase the excretion of folic acid, cause male impotence, 80% of alcoholics are sterile, cause chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm, atrophy of the tubes that carry semen, decreased sperm concentration, output, and motility, poor formation of sperm tails, increased sperm abnormalities, lowered testosterone levels, and damages the livers ability to process estrogen leading to accumulation which depresses sperm production.
Gin and tonics contain antimalarial drugs and should be avoided completely.
Marijuana. The chemical THC is structured similarly to testosterone, it fills the receptor sites where testosterone needs to attach. It is shown to accumulate in the ovaries and testes. It can effect the developing egg, disrupt ovulation, cause low sperm counts, poor motility, and increase abnormal sperm. Smoking one 'joint' can lower testosterone and libido for up to 36 hours.
Acne medication. Accutane is linked to miscarriage and serious birth defects.
Antibiotics. Some have major adverse effects to mother and baby. Some affext sperm production and motility.
Antidepressants. These interfere with the hormones of reproduction.
Antihistamines. Cough, cold, nasal sprays, sleep aids, all may dry up cervical mucus.
Diuretics. May also dry cervical mucus.
Expectorants. 'Guaifenesin' may be toxic.
Steroids. Cortisone and prednisone if taken in high doses prevent the pituitary from producing enough hormones necessary for ovulation. They also reduce sperm counts.
Motion Sickness pills. Can dry the cervical mucus.
Antimalarial drugs. Have been linked to abnormalities in embryos.
Ulcer and Gout drugs. Interfere with sperm production.
Antidepressants. Some can cause erectile difficulties.
Beta blockers. May cause impotence, and decreased sperm counts and motility.
Inhalers, sleeping pills, antiviral drugs, and decongestants, may also affect fertility.
Herbs. Burdock, Catnip, celery seed, chamomile, cohosh, fennel, juniper, pennyroyal, sage. St. John's Wort, echinacea, and Ginkgo may reduce sperm quality and penetration of the egg.
Each year it is said that we consume 11 pounds (5 kg) of preservatives and additives, and 1 gallon (4 litres) of pesticides.
Eat organic and drink from a quality water source.
Lead. Exhaust, industrial pollution, old water pipes, food grown near polluted areas, and some shampoos.
High levels build up if you are low in calcium, zinc, iron, and manganese. Cigarette smoking is said to raise lead uptake by 25%. Lead has been shown to have detrimental effects on almost all aspects of sperm. In women it also shows to be a factor at almost any stage of the reproductive cycle.
Vitamin C, pectin, and sulfur and nitrogen rich foods such as garlic, onions, cooked beans, eggs, and lots of water are all beneficial in the removal of lead from the body.
Cadmium. Miscarriage and embryo defects. Cigarettes, processed foods, some drinking water supplies, sewage sludge, and high phosphate fertilizers are the culprits for accumulation in the body. B6, C, D, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, and calcium are beneficial for this.
Mercury. Neurological and slow cognitive development. Pesticides, fungicides, industrial processes, dental fillings, swordfish, king mackerel, shark, tile fish and tuna are the culprits. No more than 170 grams of tuna should be eaten per week before and during pregnancy.
Aluminum. Destroys vitamins and causes long term mineral loss. Saucepans, indigestion tablets, antiperspirants, food additives, tea, and foods that come wrapped in foil are the items to avoid.
Copper. Water pipes, saucepans, jewelry, the contraceptive pill, and copper IUDs are to blame. Zinc and vitamin C can help detoxify your body of copper.
Phthalates. Found in soft plastics and childrens toys. They are now banned but are still found in some makeup products, toiletries, and perfumes. They are hormone disrupters.
Electromagnetic fields. Cellular phones, electric blankets, and hydro stations. May cause miscarriages.
Tampons. This is a topic every woman needs to research deeper. If you must use these, only unbleached 100% organic cotton should be used. Change them frequently.
Botox. Avoid use until further research is done.
Flying. Do not fly once pregnant, chances of miscarriage is greater, especially long flights. If there is a chance of being pregnant, the choice to not fly is probably the best one.
Radiation (x-rays, video display terminals)
Antihistamines, including Ephedra (Ma Huang), Osha root
Most laxatives, including flax seed, senna, aloes, castor oil, rhubarb, buckthorn, cascara sagrada
Diuretics, including Buchu, Horsetail, Juniper berries
pHisoHex (or anything else containing hexacholorphene)
Chemical stimulatnts and depressants (LSD, psychotropics, phenobarbital, barbituates, tranquilizers)
Epinephrine drugs (adrenalin)
Vaccines, anesthetics, mercury vapours in the dentist's office
Steroids and herbs containing steroid-like factors, including Agave, Ginseng, Licorice, Hops, Sage (this herb also decreases lactation)
Hormones (birth control, non-organic meats)
Excesses of vitamins A, C, D.
Heavy metals: lead, nickel, cadmium, manganese
Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. These are designs to disrupt the reproductive capacities of their target pest!
Fumes from paints, thinners, solvents, wood preservatives, varnishes, glues, spray, adhesives, benzene, dry-cleaning fluids, certain plastics, vinyl cholride, rubber tuolene
Contact with cat feces
PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyl)
Prolonged exposure to extremely high temperatures
Treatment of Infertility & IVF Support with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Vancouver
Dr. Spence Pentland, Dr. TCM, R.Ac, FABORM
Dr. Spence Pentland is a provincially licenced Doctor with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC,
& a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (click on letter credentials for more info).
His clinical practice in Vancouver has focused on the treatment of men's and women's reproductive health issues since 2004,
helping hundreds realize their dream of having happy healthy families.
Click below to learn more about
1. Dr. Spence Pentland's Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Treatment of Infertility in Vancouver
2. The IVF Acupuncture Group - a team of doctors specializing in providing quality, evidence-based acupuncture services for patients undergoing IVF in Greater Vancouver
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