Modern society and the world we live in are busy, fast-paced and quite frankly full of toxins. Food, stress, lifestyle and genetics all affect our fertility and overall health. Fortunately, holistic wellness practices can help reverse and prevent the damage done by such factors. Small, committed practices in our daily lives can help enhance fertility and foster a healthy body and hormonal balance. These practices, as a byproduct, will influence overall health on the whole. Note: fertility refers not only to one’s ability to conceive, but the balance and health of one’s reproductive system at any given time. So don’t fear! While these fertility-boosting practices can be super beneficial to a woman trying to conceive, they won’t get you pregnant on their own. They will, on the other hand, support the cultivation of a balanced, healthy and fertile female system.
- Flip it upside down.
Practicing yoga can prove tremendously beneficial to balancing hormones and maintaining a healthy endocrine system. Inversions in particular benefit fertility and hormones immensely. They also support the lymphatic and circulatory systems, promoting vital detoxification and cell regeneration. Viparita Karani, legs up the wall, is not only divinely helpful for the endocrine system, it is also delicious on the low back, promotes restful sleep, healthy digestion and better circulation. Supported bridge pose, headstand, shoulder stand and plow pose are also excellent inversions for hormone balancing. Be sure to learn the latter three from a qualified yoga instructor so as to practice them safely.
- Nosh on fertility foods.
Food is truly our best medicine. Some fertility foods include pastured whole eggs (eat the yolks!), bananas, wild salmon, olives, avocados, organic almonds, sweet potatoes, oysters, decaf green tea and full fat pastured and organic yogurt and cottage cheese. While you’re busy noshing on these hormone pleasing eats, be sure to avoid hormone offenders such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates (essentially crummy, packaged junk foods), conventional meat and dairy, and high mercury fish.
- Eat more fat.
Do away with the fear of fats! Fat free diets are toxic to the endocrine system. Fats and cholesterol act as carriers for our hormones. Be conscious of consuming enough essential fatty acids. By “essential” this means our bodies do not make these fats, we must consume them through our diets. Omega-3’s and 6’s must be consumed in proper balance. Olives, nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews), seeds (flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin), full fat high quality dairy (grass-fed yogurt, cottage cheese, butter), oily fish (wild and low mercury only), cold-pressed extra virgin coconut and olive oil, raw organic cacao, avocados. Contrary to popular belief, consuming more healthy fat does not increase stored fat, and it actually does the opposite. Balance meals with a healthy fat, high-quality protein and unrefined carbohydrate. Fun fact: it takes just two weeks to change the quality of fat in our body. By eliminating harmful fats and replacing them with whole food, high quality fats, our bodies’ fat composition can change from “bad” to “good” in just 14 days. Miraculous.
8 hours a night. Every night. No excuses. Make it a priority. Practice a few of the inversions from tip one. Avoid stimulants late in the day. Put away electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. Invest in an eye pillow to block out all ambient light while you sleep. Make your bedroom into your sanctuary. Develop a pre-bed tranquility practice; think long, smooth, deep breathing, with an exhale twice the length of the inhale to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the relaxation response; gentle stretching; journaling; reading in bed; calming music and a few candles. Don’t be afraid to lie in bed for a while before sleep. I like to tack on an extra 30 minutes to account for the time it takes me to fall asleep so that I can rest and slip gently into slumber happily rather than rolling around stressing out about the sleep I’m losing during this time. Sleep is our time to repair, rejuvenate and rebuild. Our cells are replaced and our internal organs detoxify in the night. Aim to be in bed by 11pm when the detoxification process begins. Have a glass of water sometime in the hour before bed to help the body flush toxins in the night, and have another glass upon rising to replenish the water lost during your 8 hours of beauty sleep.
- Stress less.
I know, I know. Easier said than done. But it’s really the most important tip; it ought to be number one. Practices to help diminish stress are yoga, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), moderate aerobic exercise, journaling, therapy, quality time with friends and family, being around animals, time spent in nature (as often as possible! This one is super important for the female system and resetting hormones; getting in touch with Mother Nature), reading and plain old vairagya, non-attachment. The latter, a yogic principle as presented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is the practice of releasing attachment. I propose you harness this principle in every aspect of your life. Even in the balancing of your hormones! Remaining detached from the outcome to our endeavors goes against our natural inclination, especially in our ambitious culture. But it’s imperative. By remaining passively detached, we keep our power. We keep our spirits inside our bodies, as Caroline Myss would say. We hold onto our valuable energy and remain grounded regardless of the result. We still do our best, we still give our sincerest effort, but we remain firmly rooted in state of passive disregard if things don’t go our way. Refusing to stress benefits our digestive, immune, circulatory, endocrine, reproductive and nervous systems. By maintaining a general sense of calm in all we do, we train our minds not to react to stress the way we always have, drastically reducing the amount of damage stress can do to the body.
Holistic wellness is beautiful because it’s completely in our hands. We can heal our own bodies. Our bodies, in fact, are magnificent mechanisms of healing, constantly rebuilding and restoring on an hourly basis. We are constantly changing, cells incessantly being repaired and remade, health at our very fingertips. Harness that power. It’s yours. You are the master of your own ship and your own hormones, as it were. The body is a temple; make yours an oasis of wellness, a vessel of tranquility, harmony and ultimate health.