The Baby or the Treats

Some Foods that we eat on a daily basis are not so good for our health. At a time when we are trying to get pregnant they may be detrimental. Many foods contain phyto-chemicals that lock up minerals, making them unavailable to the body. Sugars can have an effect by tying up vital B vitamins in aiding digestion at a time when the ovaries have more need of them. These foods we know as anti-nutrient foods as research shows that they are not helpful to our health, especially at a time when we are trying to create a new life.


Certain substances which we regard as ‘foods’ have detrimental effects on our intake of nutrients as they can act as diuretics and take them from the body, or they may block their uptake. These are caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and heavy metals.

“Research has shown that women who were heavy coffee drinkers before pregnancy (7 or more cups per day) had, either before or after adjustment, almost a doubled chance of difficulty in becoming pregnant compared with the women who drank little or no coffee (less than 1 cup)”. Caffeine is also found in colas, tea and chocolate and some painkillers. The other chemicals associated with caffeine are theophylline and theobromine, both of which are known to be nervous system stimulants. Caffeine robs the body of thiamin (B1), inositol, biotin, zinc, calcium and iron. It does appear to have an effect on ovarian function. Either avoid or use only weak coffee at weekends.
“The risk of endometriosis was roughly 50 per cent higher in women with any alcohol intake than in control subjects in research. In the body we know that alcohol is converted into fat for storage and that fat cells in turn produce oestrogens. Moderate alcohol use may contribute to the risk of specific types of infertility”. Alcohol robs the body of the vitamins A,D, E, K, all the B complex group and magnesium. The latest research suggests that women should give up all alcohol if they want to become pregnant. Women who drank less than 5 units a week are twice as likely to get pregnant as those who consume ten. Dr. Tina Kold Jensen at the National University Hospital in Denmark reported the research in the BMJ. Women had the best chance of conceiving when they did not drink at all. . It was felt that alcohol disrupted the ability of the fertilised egg to implant in the womb. So although women conceived the body would abort the pregnancy.
“Current and past smokers have reduced gonadotrophin- stimulated ovarian function. Tobacco exposure is associated with decreased oestrogen, and decreased numbers of oocytes. Smoking has an adverse effect on ovarian function”. “The other startling research suggests that women with prenatal exposure to their own mother’s cigarette smoking had reduced fecundability, that is they found it less easy to become pregnant themselves”. By smoking you may be damaging your future daughters ovaries and her likelihood of a pregnancy may fall or even fail. Nicotine robs cells of vitamin C, B1, calcium and the whole B complex family. For each cigarette smoked the body uses 25mg of vitamin C! New research reported at the American Chemical Society had found a by-product of cancer-causing chemicals known as NNK in the urine of babies born to mothers who smoked. These compounds passed through all the babies cells and were present in 22 out of 31 samples from newborn babies whose mothers smoked, while none were found in the urine of babies whose mothers did not smoke. Knowing the endometriosis cells behave in a similar way to cancer cells women with endometriosis may wish to refrain from smoking before and during pregnancy and lactation.
Heavy Metals
A diet that is rich in calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron and zinc protects us from the bad effects of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Lead is known to be mutagenic causing abnormalities in the foetus. This being the case contact with these metals should be avoided where possible. Lead is found in paints and petrol. Cadmium comes from cigarettes. Dr. Bryan Hallewell, Advisor to the Environmental Health Agency UK on toxic metals warns that “In the face of mounting evidence of danger and an absence of evidence of safety, it is my duty to advise that the use of mercury dental amalgam tooth fillings in the mouths of women who are pregnant should be discontinued”. “Mercury is seen to cause birth defects and nervous system disorders and it is best to avoid dental fillings whilst pregnant”. “Copper in excess can also cause problems in the liver and digestive tract”. “The total dietary copper intake by males and females was positively associated with the consumption of chocolate foods”. Eating an excess of chocolate can be a problem for some. High copper correlates to high oestrogen which women with endometriosis and those attempting pregnancy need to keep in balance.
Sugar and aspartame
The brain requires a continual supply of glucose to fuel up the cells. Excess of sugar in the diet ties up essential B vitamins, chromium and zinc, and stops them from working where they are needed in the reproductive system. Low blood sugar levels due to hypoglycaemia, may cause symptoms such as dizziness, tremors, double vision, confusion, incorrect speech and depression. Aspartame sweetener may aggravate hypoglycaemia. Phenylalanine can stimulate the release of insulin, which could provoke a bout of hypoglycaenia. When women are trying hard to lose weight and use more aspartame products in may reduce further their blood sugar level.
Mono sodium glutamate and hydrolysed vegetable protein
We know that 44 per cent of the British population never cook and use only processed foods for their meals. Many of these foodstuffs will use flavour enhancers such as MSG (E621), and aspartame (NutriSweet). Researchers found decreased levels of growth hormone, prolactin and lutenising hormone in animals exposed to MSG. Glutamate passes across the barrier of the placenta and enters the foetus bloodstream. Animals that were exposed to MSG were short and often overweight and had difficulty with reproduction. MSG and aspartame have been shown to cause an early onset of puberty in female rats. Other research has also shown that small doses of MSG can stimulate the hypothalamus to secrete large amounts of lutenising hormone, which controls reproduction and the onset of puberty. MSG appears to cause immature neurons in the hypothalamus to become reorganised, such that they disrupt the secretion of vital reproductive steroid hormones.3 Research at the University of Mississippi Neurosurgical department found that MSG had caused the ovaries to shrink causing reproductive problems.

Obviously for women with reproductive problems and those who are attempting pregnancy or are pregnant, it would seem to be important that MSG, aspartame and other excitotoxin foods are avoided. Eg. avoid salad dressings, packet foods labelled 'natural flavouring, or 'spices' or 'hydrolysed vegetable protein', chips, sauces, rice dishes, gravies. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E (olive oil, avocado), appear to afford some protection against damage. Magnesium is also protective so eat more broccoli and spinach.
Edible-food-like Substances
Much of the manufactured foods of today contain compounds made in laboratories. These are what Michael Pollan terms 'edible food-like substances. His advice is: Eat food, Mostly Plants, Not too much.

As human beings our ancestors have eaten foods from wild animals and plants for millennia before nutritional scientists came along. Try to avoid foods where the main ingredients list reads like a list of chemicals. Eat only foods that will rot, not those cram full of additives to make them last a few years. He says that 'if it came from a plant, eat it, if it was made in a plant, don't'. You should choose to eat rainbow coloured meals. Eat animals that have been pastured grazed, not those kept in sheds fed on pellets. Reduce meat intake and eat some fish instead twice a week. Eat nutrient-dense foods not high calorie foods.

To have a baby is one thing, to have a healthy baby, which will grow to be a healthy adult is the goal. The health of the egg, sperm and womb lining is dependant upon your nutrient intake, from the freshest food you can buy and eat.
Phytic Acid
Phytate is the storage form of phosphorus found in the outer layer of cereal grains. It attracts calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and combines with them so that they are not able to be absorbed by the body. If you eat an excess of wheat, soya this may mean that you are unable to absorb these minerals which are crucial to fertility. Keep intake of wheat and soya low.