How Your Diet Affects Your Reproductive Success

At least 6 million people of reproductive age in the US (that's 7.4% of the population) are struggling with infertility. For many in this group, the cause of that infertility remains somewhat mysterious, only adding to the frustration. Meanwhile, we continue eating processed foods, living stationary life styles, and enjoying all the other perks of the modern world. But our reproductive systems didn't evolve in an environment where vegetables came in cans and "work" meant sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. Actually, our bodies adapted to a vastly different environment many thousands of years ago, where fresh vegetables and meat made up the bulk of our diet.

That's why some health practitioners are starting to back the notion that what you eat effects your reproductive success. There's data to support it too: In a recent (2009) study of 223 women who were unable to conceive, 23 % of women had vitamin deficiencies (specifically, Vitamin B12). If you think about it, the correlation between diet and reproductive success is not that surprising. females have to support a fetus for nine months; a body won't take on that task until it knows it has the proper nourishment.

Iron, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Vitamin D, and amino acids DHA and EPA are all crucial to prepping the body for conception. But don't run to the supplement store just yet. Many supplements are made with cheap fillers and low-quality ingredients, despite whatever dramatic claims might be on the bottle. The best way to prep your body for pregnancy is to eat nutrient-rich foods. Think: egg yolks, salmon and other fish, grass-fed beef, organic meats and vegetables, etc. To make it simple: eat Paleo! Your body will thank you and it can only help your chances of conceiving.

Part Two: How To Include Carbs Into Your Diet.

First off, I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving. While you all know I endorse a Paleo lifestyle, I will admit that I myself ate my fair share of carbs last Thursday—and lived to tell the tale. Hopefully my last newsletter helped you to understand important role carbohydrates play in both physical and mental health. But an informed decision to include this macronutrient into your balanced diet is only the first step. Now, the questions you're probably asking are: which carbs are the healthiest? How can I incorporate them into my diet with maximum results? And finally, how do I know what exactly what my carb-intake should be? This last question is perhaps the most important, as a lot of people tend to mentally misconstrue how much of a certain food group they are ingesting. Do you know what are the recommended daily allotments of carbohydrates for someone of your age and weight? Have you ever kept track of the grams or percentage of calories you are receiving from carbs? 

As I explained in part-1 of this 2-part series on carbohydrates, something as basic as carb-intake can have an effect on health conditions from depression and lethargy to digestive upset and athletic performance. Keeping a balanced diet is undeniably one of our most valuable roots to good health. So, I have written the following newsletter to expose just which carbohydrate-containing foods offer the most benefits, like increased energy, healthier sleep patterns, etc., and I have included an easy process to help you calculate your own individual, optimum carb-intake based on health conditions, exercise level, age, weight and other factors, so that you can all get the most health benefits out of your diet.

If you’ve been shying away from carbohydrates until now, I’m guessing that’s because you think they make you gain weight. And that’s true—in some cases. If you generally eat very low amounts of carbs but binge on pizza or bread every once in a while, you will probably find that these slip-ups do add on some pounds. Don’t blame carbohydrates as a whole though; blame the refined and processed carbs that constitute America’s favorite junk foods. Carbs must be incorporated into a diet strategically and thoughtfully in order to avoid the harmful side effects that can result from ingesting certain refined carbs, like sugar and white flour. Following are some charts of diet-friendly foods and the amount of carbs (in grams) they contain. If you want to know more about which carb-containing foods to keep and which to toss, take a look at the November newsletter (click here). 

The moral of the story is that, when you’re choosing which carbohydrates to eat, please choose carefully; i.e. go for fruit, not chips. 

Knowing which carbs to eat is only half the work though. The next step is figuring out how much of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates—something that will ultimately be a result of personal factors and preferences. The following information is meant to help you customize your own diet in a way that can have you feeling your best; it just takes a little diligence and patience.

Step 1 is to assess what percentage of carbs will work best with your life-style and weight goals. First, look at any diseases or health conditions you may be suffering from. For example, if you have diabetes or small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, you are going to want to start off in the low-carb category. If you have adrenal fatigue, are breastfeeding, or are a moderate to heavy exerciser, you’ll probably want to start at a moderate carb level. There are many other conditions that can affect how well your body receives carbs, so please be sure to assess your overall health when deciding what amount of carbs might work best for you. If you have multiple conditions that require opposite amounts of carbs, you should consider working personally with a practitioner. 

If you don’t have a condition that places you in a particular spot on the carb-intake spectrum, the best place to start is with a moderate carb diet. I suggest keeping a food diary in order to keep track of any symptom regression/improvement. Ultimately, the best indicator of carb-intake is how you feel, e.g. good, bloated, weak, etc.. Based on this diary, you can experiment by increasing and decreasing your carb percentage until you find a level that benefits you the most.

Step 2 is to figure out how many calories you should be eating each day from carbohydrates. If you know what your daily calorie-intake should be, simply multiply it by your target-percentage of carbohydrates. The following chart details what percentages constitute which carb-levels (low, moderate, high), as well as which populations would benefit most from each level:

 If you are unsure how many calories you should be consuming each day, you may want to search the web for an online calorie calculator. Otherwise, 2000 is a reasonable number to start with. So if you want 20% of your calories to come from carbs, multiply .20 x 2000 = 400. This is the number of calories you should be getting each day from carbohydrates. If you don’t feel like counting calories you can divide this number by 4 to figure out how many grams of carbohydrates you should be eating each day. 400 / 4 = 100g of carbs a day. Based on the first few charts, we see this goal can be met by eating a banana and an apple between meals, ½ a head of romaine lettuce in a salad for lunch, and a sweet potato with dinner, for example. 

If this process sounds a little too mathematical to you, you can also use the basic rule of thirds, which requires your plate to be 1/3 protein, 1/3 starch, and 1/3 low-carb vegetables and tubers. Following this rule will put you somewhere near the moderate-carb level.

I would like to stress that the diet calculation process as a whole is somewhat imprecise and for most, it will take some experimenting. Start in a moderate position unless you have one of the aforementioned health conditions, see how you feel, and adjust your carb-intake from there. My final advice is to please give each stage of your experimenting a fair amount time for your body to acclimate. If you eat only 10%-15% of calories from carbohydrates and you start feeling sluggish, have a harder time shedding that last pound or two of fat, or aren’t sleeping as well, you might need to consider slightly raising your carb-level. If you’re eating 30% or more of calories from carbs and you notice weight gain or digestive upset, you should consider a moderate or low-carb diet.

Remember: patience is key. There’s no miracle diet or one-size-fits-all approach. But, if you do give your diet the time and attention it deserves, the results should be well worth it.

Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.

Discover Your Personal Paleo Key

Discover how hundreds of people lose weight, gain energy, and get healthier with my simple, practical and individualized Paleo Key program.

Your body needs a diet that is tailored to you. Each body is made up of a unique genetic blueprint which contributes to who we are on the inside and out. The Personal Paleo Key can help you discover YOUR dietary blueprint.

There is no “secret formula.” Restrictive diets like The Zone, Atkins and the South Beach Diet may work temporarily, but they are not healthy lifestyles. The Key to success with Paleo is that it works for you, forever.

The 3 Keys to Paleo success are:

4 Reasons Fitness and Health Experts support the Paleo Diet:

  1. it's backed by scientific research
  2. it's based on the newest discoveries about human biology and genetics
  3. it's rooted in a diet that humans safely and healthily ate for thousands of years
  4. it works for all kinds of people from children with food allergies to athletes to working moms

3 Reasons Why the Personal Paleo Key is the best Paleo Diet approach

1. There's a lot of controversy about the “right” way to do the Paleo diet.

            Some say no dairy, others say dairy in moderation.

            Some say eliminate sweeteners, others say sweeteners in moderation.

            Some say count those calories! Others say mind those protein, carb and fat ratios.

            Some say certain grains are OK, others say no grains ever again!

            There is no “right” answer.

2. The diet is not tailored to your needs, goals and life

            “I run marathons- can Paleo still work for me?

            “I want to lose weight- what's the best way to do that for me?”

            “I'm a working Mom- what's the most efficient Paleo approach for me?”

            Each person is different.

3. It's hard to follow Paleo without support and guidance

            “What are the obstacles and how can I overcome them?
            “Where can I learn about the foods I can and cannot eat?”

            “When will I start to feel better?”

            “When will I start to lose weight?”

            “Where and how do I start?”

            Expert guidance will support your individual needs.

PERSONALIZATION is the answer. This is why the Personal Paleo Key works for others, and why it will work for you.

The Personal Paleo Key works for people who

  1. want a change
  2. know the crucial role nutrition plays in making that change
  3. understand change doesn't happen with the blink of an eye and will spend the 2-3 months it takes to do it right

The Personal Paleo Key works for people because they know

  1. their body is unique
  2. their history is unique
  3. their circumstances are unique
  4. their genes are unique

Each individual requires an individualized diet.

Here's my take on the Personal Paleo Key...

After practicing for over 13 years and working with hundreds of patients, I am confident that I can find a Personal Paleo Key that works for you. With expert support and easy-to-use tools to keep you on track, we will find your Key to health and wellness.

Why should you listen to me?

My name is Gary Merel, Digestive Health Specialist. I am a graduate of the New York College of Healthcare Professionals with an M.S. In Oriental Medicine. I have a Certification in Enzyme Nutrition from the Loomis Institute in Madison, Wisconsin and am a guest lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School. I have over 13 years of helping people just like you find their way back to health.

A history of food allergies in my family encouraged me to study holistic medicine. I never wanted anyone to go through what both my mother and father experienced.

At Digestive Health Ann Arbor I now practice Functional Medicine which is

The Personal Paleo Key is an easy-to-follow 3-step program:

Step 1: Refresh

This is the way we feel after a good night's sleep. By removing certain foods we can rejuvenate our bodies to prepare for the healing process to come.

Step 2: Restart

Once your body has a much-needed refresher, you may restart to eat some of the foods from Step 1 to see if your body responds favorably to them.

Step 3: Recalibrate

In the third and final step we tailor your diet to fit you, based on Steps 1 and 2. In this way you will have some basic and reasonable diet guidelines that you can live with, for the rest of your life.

3 Reasons why the Personal Paleo Key Can Save you $1000s of dollars:

  1. It's YOUR Paleo Key, designed to work for you and no one else.

Conventional medicine believes in a one-size-fits all model, but not every key works in every lock.

  1. The Key fits your needs, depending on the circumstances of your life- it can CHANGE to fit YOU.

Very few medical practitioners have the freedom to engage in dynamic functional medicine. Their “new” solutions involve the latest medications that don't work and may lead to secondary health conditions.

  1. You get not only the Key but all the tools needed to tweak as you see fit.

At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we believe that YOU have all the answers you need already. We're just here to help you on your path to find them.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does the Personal Paleo Key include or require blood tests or lab work?

The Personal Paleo Key will teach you a scientific method-based process for discovering what works and doesn't work for your body. While Digestive Health Ann Arbor offers blood tests and lab work, it is possible to create a customized diet without these services if you are willing to put in the time and energy. Of course, we will be there throughout the process to support you as you need.

I have a specific disease, condition or chronic illness. Can the Personal Paleo Key cure me?

The Personal Paleo Key is not meant to be a substitute for care from a medical professional. However, finding your Key will help you to optimize your nutritional health which will inevitably strengthen your body in many other ways. Many health issues directly correlate to nutrition.

How long until I see results?

You will likely see results immediately. However, it takes at least 90 days to really personalize your diet. To truly give the Personal Paleo Key a go you need to invest at least three months. The 3 phases take time.

Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.