Posts tagged Women's Health
Pregnancy and Fertility Friendly DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash

If you've read any pregnancy books or food safety articles online, you've probably been admonished to "thoroughly wash all produce" more times than you can count. That's because as healthful as fruit and veggies are, they can harbor not so healthful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. All of which could make you and your baby sick.

Fortunately, cleaning produce is not difficult to do at all. Honestly, a thorough rinsing with clean water, followed by drying with a paper towel is pretty darn effective for most produce. But there's something even more effective.

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Mediterranean Lifestyle Basics for Optimal Fertility

Next month is my second favorite month of the entire year (October for some inexplicable reason has always held the top spot in my heart.) I love May! For one, May is Mediterranean Diet Month. It’s also the month our attention turns to mothers and motherhood. And if you didn't know, I'm kinda obsessed with maternal health and women's health in general. Mother's Day serves as a reminder of the amazingly complex ways a mother’s body shaped her child before, during, and after her pregnancy.

At first glance, a connection between the Mediterranean lifestyle and maternal health isn’t readily apparent. But if we look at the research, we’ll find the former has the potential to positively affect the latter.

Before we dig into the impact the Mediterranean lifestyle has on fertility and maternal health, let’s define the Mediterranean lifestyle. 

What is the Mediterranean Lifestyle?

The Mediterranean lifestyle includes the delicious and healthy eating pattern, a focus on fun functional movement, and the social habits of the traditional Mediterranean way of life. There’s plenty of research which details health benefit after health benefit related to following the Mediterranean lifestyle.

The healthy eating pattern is all about eating:

  • plant based meals full of fruit, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, herbs, and spices.
  • ample amounts of healthy fats from olive oil, seafood, nuts, and seeds.
  • limiting red meat and refined sweets

The other equally important parts of the lifestyle include:

  • weaving enjoyable movement throughout our days
  • spending time with people we like and love
  • participating in activities that light us up

It’s pretty clear why the Mediterranean lifestyle is associated with improved health. And good health is one of the cornerstones of optimal fertility.

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Making Peace With My Period

Warning, oversharing ahead...

I lay on the floor, behind our orange velvet couch. Curled up like an infant, I gripped my belly in pain. My only thoughts, "I'm dying, I don't want my mom to worry. I'll just die here behind the couch." Melodramatic much?

My mom found me. And it turned out I wasn't dying. I was just having my first period. Oh!

Now, before you judge me, my mom, or the California school system, just know I had already read and reread the menstruation pamphlets from my pediatrician's office at least 10 times. My mother had already had "the talk" with me. And my teacher had already walked us through the wonders of puberty.

But somehow, everyone forgot to tell me how much it might hurt. And I failed to connect the dots. Blood in cotton bloomers and cramps = period, not death. Good to know.

After our first meeting, I was afraid of my period. I dreaded its arrival. Excruciating pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting certainly didn't fill me with the warm fuzzies.

Unable to use tampons, I had to wear bulky pads. Which may have been ok if I wasn't an active kid. In the SoCal heat, a bulky pad was far from comfortable.

It wasn't until I was 19 that I was able to successfully insert a tampon. While the menstrual product problem was solved, the painful cramps and tummy upset continued to kick my butt.

My PCP offered me the usual: birth control pills and NSAIDs. Though I turned down the BCPs, I happily accepted the suggestion to pop painkillers at the first sign of my period.

First I tried Midol. Total waste of time and money. Then Tylenol. A little better but I needed more. Finally, I tried Aleve. It worked like a charm... until it didn't. 

After years of bliss, Aleve turned against me. Suddenly, it stopped alleviating my pain. Worse yet, I would vomit nearly immediately after I popped that once magical little powder blue pill. 

I was 26. I had suffered for 15 years. And I was over it.

Tired of the pain, tired of missing work, and tired of assuring people I wasn't pregnant when I inevitably upchucked at work, I finally took matters into my own hands. I turned to the three things that never fail me in a crisis: prayer, Google, and PubMed.

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Pregnancy Nutrition Guide

My obsession with women's health nutrition began as an obsession with prenatal nutrition. So putting together this guide was a bit like being reunited with an old pal.

Food and nutrition during pregnancy are uber important. What you eat during this time affects how you feel, your health, and the health of your baby. Not only that, food can also be a powerful ally in your quest to remedy some of the not so pleasant pregnancy symptoms.

So whether you're experiencing constipation, morning sickness, heartburn, all the above or none of the above, food is your friend during this time. 

I hope this info helps you make food choices that support a healthier, happier pregnancy. Plus, simplifies the often overly prescriptive and complicated advice women are given about nutrition during pregnancy.

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New Seafood Recommendations for Pregnant Women

Recently, the FDA and EPA released new advice about how to safely eat seafood if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, fish and shellfish have gotten get a bad rap when it comes to preconception and prenatal nutrition. While it's true that some kinds are high in mercury, it's equally true that fish and shellfish are bursting at the seams with health benefits.

Many women have chosen to or been advised to completely forgo seafood to avoid being exposed to too much mercury. Fortunately, you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can avoid high levels of mercury and eat fish, too.

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How Stress Affects Your Fertility
"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. - Ovid

Last year really kicked my butt. The stress from all the changes, some good, many not so good, negatively affected my hormonal health. The wonky periods and acne I experienced over the summer proved that.

While I wasn't TTC, I'm still WTT, I'm fairly certain if I had tried, it wouldn't have gone as I would have hoped. Hormones and periods gone awry usually aren't a sign of optimal reproductive health. Quite the opposite. 

The connection between fertility and stress in all its forms, whether psychological or physical, is complicated. The, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" question comes to mind. Which comes first? Does stress lead to difficulty conceiving or does difficulty conceiving lead to stress? 

I'm going to go with both.

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Healer Heal Thyself: My Journey Back to Health

One of the things I really want for this blog is for it to be a place of complete transparency. I refuse to pretend I have all the answers. I refuse to pretend I'm living out my recommendations and the benefits of them, while secretly gorging myself on chicharrones and looking and feeling like crap ran over by a dump truck. This is a no judgment, no faking the funk, own your mess place. 'Cause that's where healing starts. 

Alright, time to share my plan to practice what I preach and truly Live Fertile.

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