The Chinese have been treating fertility issues for over 5,000 years. Just as Traditional Chinese Medicine assesses each patient individually and adjusts treatments accordingly, it also makes individual dietary recommendations to balance energies and restore health. The ability to conceive is greatly influenced by our environment. What we eat, our sleep patterns to our stress levels all impact the balance of our energies. Energy (Qi) in Traditional Chinese Medicine is our bodies’ vital energy, which traverses our anatomy along channels, or “Meridians.” There are 12 main meridians in the body and 8 extra meridians containing over 2,000 acupuncture points. The acupuncture points are areas of dense “qi” energy, which is activated by use of a fine acupuncture needle or acupressure with one’s fingertips. Historically the Chinese have used Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas to restore a woman’s body back into balance to help create a viable environment for conception. In addition, the Chinese also placed great importance on nutrition in nurturing and supplementing deficiencies and sedating excess in the body.
So what should we eat, Traditional Chinese medical practitioners who specialize in fertility will be able to customize your diet based on your Chinese diagnosis. The following will give you an example of what foods may be right for you from “The Infertility Cure” in which Randine Lewis, Ph.D. beautifully describes the role of Traditional Chinese Medicine in fertility.
For women who are suffering from low back weakness, soreness, or pain, or knee problems; ringing in their ears, prematurely gray, vaginal dryness, dark circles around or under your eyes, night sweats, prone to hot flashes, Traditional Chinese Medicine would recommend a diet that would nourish what we would call yin (fluid) in the body: A diet rich in wheat germ, tofu, millet, barley, rice, amaranth, asparagus, black beans, kidney beans, red beans, string beans, mung beans, bean sprouts, eggplant, beets, seaweed, chlorella, and spirulina. Also, make sure to eat plenty of fresh organic fruits.
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Do you have lower back pain premenstrually? Is your low back sore or weak? Are your feet cold, especially at night? Are you typically colder than those around you? Is your libido low? Are you often fearful? Do you wake up at night or early in the morning because you have to urinate? Do you urinate frequently, and is the urine diluted and/ or profuse? Food that would help benefit these symptoms and increase fertility are: consuming warm and nourishing foods, consume at least 1 serving of hormone-free meat or animal products each day. Include grains like oats spelt, sweet brown rice and quinoa. Eat walnuts, black beans, lentils, and adzuki beans. Cook with peppers and warming spices and herbs such as anise, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, basil, rosemary, dill, caraway and cumin.
Are you often fatigued? Do you have a poor appetite? Is your energy low after a meal? Do you feel bloated after eating? Do you crave sweets? Do you have loose stools, abdominal pain, or digestive problems? Are your hands and feet cold? Do you bruise easily? Are you prone to feeling heavy or sluggish? Are you more tired around ovulation or menstruation? The following are foods that will help benefit your digestion, decrease these symptoms and aid in your fertility. Consume mostly organic vegetables that are steamed, sautéed or lightly cooked instead of raw. Do not eat raw, cold foods. Do not consume ice-cold beverages, or put ice in your drinks. Avoid ice cream and Popsicles. Do not eat refined carbohydrates like white bread or pasta. Avoid any food made with white flour. Simple starches are converted to glucose immediately after ingestion and become sugar as far as the body is concerned, which can injure the digestion.
Some general foods that help build the Essence which in Chinese Medicine is equivalent to our DNA and essential in reproduction are: black beans and legumes, kelp, parsley, spirulina, chlorella, or blue-green algae, wheat germ, wheat grass, walnuts, yams, lycium fruit, raspberries, string beans, oysters, clams, lobster, crayfish, wild rice, black sesame seeds, corn and royal jelly.
Royal jelly, a food of infant bees and the sole food of the queen bee, is made by nurse bees that chew pollen and mix it with secretions from glands in their head tops. Taking royal jelly is like taking a megavitamin. Most of the vitamins necessary for proper reproductive function are found in royal jelly. The substance contains all of the B-complex vitamins, as well as twenty-two amino acids, magnesium, zinc, and antibacterial and antibiotic components. It is also rich in the nucleic acids RNA and DNA.
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Some of the our staple “all American” foods can actually be inhibiting our fertility. For example, the Chinese believe that the consumption of dairy products in particular milk can inhibit fertility. Several studies show a negative correlation between milk consumption and fertility. According to a 1994 study done at Harvard Medical School and cited in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in countries where milk consumption is highest, women experience the sharpest age-related drop off in fertility. (The Infertility Diet, Reiss,1999)
Eat organic produce as much as possible. The average person in England consumes about 1 ton of pesticides in their food every year. Consuming this amount of poison can have a profound effect on our general health as well as our fertility. To play it safe one should stick to foods, which are organic, chemical free, hormone free and additive free. Be certain to buy organic when purchasing spinach, peanuts, raisins, strawberries and peaches which are estimated to contain over 25% of the average American’s pesticide intake. (The Infertility Diet, Reiss, 1999)
Traditional Chinese medicine strongly advises individuals struggling with their fertility to avoid cold raw foods such as ice cream, salads, ice drinks, raw vegetables and foods straight out of the refrigerator. The cold properties of these foods deplete and weaken the digestive energy slowing down digestion and causing cold to enter the uterus. It is recommended that you consume your fluids room temperature, steam or grill vegetables, and avoid ice cream all together.
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that food is medicine, and it is important to eat as purely as possible. Take time to eat meals, relax and focus on which foods make you feel good. In looking for a Traditional Chinese Practitioner make sure to find someone who has a Four-year degree from an accredited school.
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