Not long ago I received a note from a holistic practitioner who works with fertility issues thanking me for helping her sort through some of the conflicting information on fertility foods and soy products. Her note made me realize just how contentious a subject soy is, even among experts in the fertility field. So I thought it might be useful to offer a quick summary of what I have come to in the last 15 years of observing my own, as well as my clients’ response to soy.
Over eighty percent of the women I’ve worked with as a fertility educator, wrestle with various levels of digestive difficulties. A large percentage battles impaired thyroid function.
The good news is that as we begin to view food-related adjustments not as restrictions but as a source of power, dietary changes become easy. A baby is the one shiny apple, most of us will do just about anything, to reach.
During the pre-conception cleansing phase—fresh, live, high-water-content, easily digestible combinations of fertility foods (see recipe section of The Fertile Female), a close attention to individual nutritional needs and a supplementation with specific high potency, absorbable fertility supplements—is where we begin.
My article Fertility Supplements documents some of my research on the link between supplements and fertility.
As far as soy goes, my clients do best with fermented soy products such as tempeh, tamari, miso and nato.
The protease inhibitors in unfermented soy foods, such as soy milk, tofu, processed soy cheeses, inhibit the key enzymes that help us digest protein and can cause bloating, intestinal disorders and impaired pancreatic function. Fermentation on the other hand adds beneficial microorganisms that help break down complex proteins into highly digestible amino acids and fatty acids.
Women who, like myself, have been diagnosed “irreversibly infertile” due to high FSH and low estrogen levels, and generally most women over 35, do well with incorporating fermented soy in their food plan. (The exception are women wrestling with fibroids and endometriosis who tend to be estrogen dominant and need to avoid soy products in general.)
Fermentation also deactivates the soy’s mineral depleting phytates and other anti-nutrients. Otherwise the impaired mineral absorption—of calcium for example—especially for women with fertility challenges such as depleted ovarian reserve, can be a serious concern.
Women with thyroid related issues have done well with a moderate amount of fermented soy, combined with iodine rich foods such as seaweed. (See the Hijik Joy Salad recipe and other fermented soy recipes in The Fertile Female.)
Of course, no fertility food adjustments or fertility supplements will “get to where the trouble is” unless our entire Holy Human Loaf cooperates with the repairative process. Which is why I passionately encourage using the Ovum tools around food to reveal the hiding places of our inner Orphans, learn to love them through the choices we make, and call on our Visionary and the Ultimate Mom to plan the menu of the day. When we do that, the perfect “fertility diet” unfolds for us one bite at a time.
Last night in our fertility food-centered TeleClass, we decided to make one Visionary-rooted change that involves food. I am letting go of the Organic Nectar Pistachio Gelato I’ve been attached to lately. It’s great stuff, non-dairy, agave sweetened and there is really nothing wrong with a treat, but just as an experiment, I want to see what comes up for me as I let go of it for a while.
Perhaps you want to embark on an experiment of your own, making one fertility enhancing food change as you plan your menu for tomorrow.
Whatever you ultimately choose to place on your dinner table, let go of guilt and eat it with pleasure and gusto, and it will become the most potent fertility food!
Copyright @ Fertile Heart 2010; No part of this document may be reproduced without the permission in writing of FertileHeart.com and Julia Indichova.