Trying to conceive over 40: how diet can help | Nourish with Melanie #37

Trying to conceive over 40: how diet can help | Nourish with Melanie #37


Once upon a time I felt like Peter Pan! I never wanted to grow up! But, working as a fertility dietitian and
being reminded over and over again how much of an impact age has on the health of our eggs
has been a huge slap in the face. We can’t change our choices of years gone
by, but we can change what we eat now to help improve the health of our old eggs. And, as a forty plus women, I’m allowed to
say that (although I still hate it!) So, to hear my dietary tips on getting pregnant
after forty, stay tuned! I spent my fortieth birthday in Spain, specifically
the beautiful San Sebastian, and I have to admit, I went there for the food! I’d heard that it was amazing, and now, after
my first-hand experience, I can report that it was the best food that I, personally, have
ever eaten, anywhere in the world! San Sebastian is known for its gastronomy. From home-grown, seasonal vegetables, to delectable
pinchos (which is the local name for tapas), to ‘caught-that-day’ seafood….ohhhh, my
mouth is salivating just thinking about it. Now, the reason that I’m reminiscing about
my trip to San Sebastian, other than the fact that it was one of the best trips of my life,
is that the local diet there is the ideal diet for optimising conception for us gal’s
who are in our naughty forties. Let’s discuss the key ingredients. Firstly, you’ve got fresh, organic vegetables. I remember having lunch in this particular
cafe overlooking the water.. every mouthful was sumptuous, and no wonder! The waiter explained that he had hand-picked
the tomatoes from his uncle’s garden that morning! You can’t get any fresher than that! I can’t find the words to tell you how good
they were! Even a simple salad of lettuce, tomatoes and
beans tastes amazing when they’ve been homegrown and freshly picked. Now, I know that it’s tricky to grow all your
own vegies when you’re running a busy life, but try to do the best that you can. Maybe for you the goal is just to eat more
vegies full stop? Or, if you are already a good vegie eater,
could you consider buying your veg from a local farmers market instead of from the supermarket? Or, maybe you could just grow a few items. I’m the worst gardener ever, but I’ve still
been able to grow lettuce, tomatoes and some herbs! The reason that freshly picked vegies are
a better choice is that they contain higher levels of anti-oxidants. And, antioxidants are one of the best tips
for protecting our eggs from damage. You see, one of the main reasons that it’s
so difficult for us more mature ladies to conceive is that so many of our eggs are unviable
due to chromosomal damage. Now, I admit, just because you start eating
more veg doesn’t mean that you’re going to miraculously have heaps of healthy eggs, but
it does make SOME difference, and when we’re over forty, and have less than a 5% chance
of conceiving, every little bit counts, right? San Sebastian is also well-known for it’s
seafood. Anchovies, cod, oysters, freshly-caught tuna…all
delicious, and all a good source of omega- 3. Now omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation and is
one of the best dietary strategies for boosting the heath of our eggs. The other key benefit of all of this seafood
is that it’s one of the richest dietary sources of iodine. A lack of iodine can impact our thyroid hormone
which is a common cause of miscarriage. The words taste like vinegar coming out of
my mouth, but the statistics show that the chances of having a miscarriage are greater
than the chance of having a baby for us women over the age of forty. The main reason for this is chromosomal abnormalities,
but uncontrolled diabetes and thyroid problems are other common causes… which is why we
need to do everything that we can to reduce the risks. So, let me ask you… how often are you eating seafood? If it’s less than twice a week, I challenge
you to change that. Preliminary studies suggest that a decline
in a class of proteins, called sirtuins, may be one of the major causes of infertility
in older women. But, there’s good news.. foods rich in polyphenols
are believed to activate our sirtuin genes. So, which foods are rich in polypheonols? Well, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, dates
and spinach are some great polyphenol-rich choices that we often find both in San Sebastian,
and at home. But, there are other foods, which are rich
in polyphenols, but have found to be NOT beneficial. Wine, for one and coffee, for two. Research suggests that the rates of miscarriage
significantly increase for women who drink more than three alcoholic drinks per week
or more than two cups of coffee per day, so I’d highly recommend that you do minimise
your intake of these until after your baby is born. In addition to amazing, fresh food, the lifestyle
is fantastic in San Sebastian. It’s all about sun, sand, surf and siestas! Unless you[‘re heading out of town, there’s
little incentive to drive, or even take a cab, when you can walk or cycle… which obviously
helps to increase incidental exercise.. And nightclubs aren’t just for young ones,
but for the young at heart. Which is my favourite form of aerobic exercise. All this exercise is great for maintaining
a healthy weight, as well as for preventing or treating insulin resistance which can often
be a problem over forty. Insulin resistance is where the body’s cells
don’t respond normally to the hormone insulin, which then has a domino effect on our fertility
hormones. So, regular physical activity is a great benefit. Furthermore, the fresh sea air, and afternoon
siestas are great for reducing stress, which has also been found to be beneficial for fertility. The exact mechanism behind stress reduction
and an increase in fertility remains unproven, but studies suggest that there is certainly
a link. So, now you have one of two choices… Either pack your bags and head to the Mediterranean,
or, start living a Mediterranean lifestyle at home. Either are good choices! If you’ve been to Spain, I can’t wait to hear
your foodie stories in the chat box below. And if you haven’t, I assure you, it’s a must
to put on your bucket list! Now, for those of you who are new to Nourish,
I have a little gift for you! I’ve created a nutritious and delicious fertility
meal plan. All you have to do is go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility
to download it. And, make sure that you subscribe so that
you get access to our weekly fertility and prenatal dietary tips! See you soon!

2 thoughts on “Trying to conceive over 40: how diet can help | Nourish with Melanie #37”

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