How Healthy Fats Support Fertility
Fats in Chinese medicine support the nourishment of your ‘Yin’. Yin is the most nourishing, feminine aspect of your body’s energy. Strong Yin is like a tree with a big, wide trunk. Very little can affect/impact/move/hurt a strong, grounded tree compared to a malnourished twig.
When I’m treating women trying to fall pregnant, the most common thing I see is some form of blood deficiency or yin deficiency. Thin women, type A personalities, careful about the food they’re eating, possibly vegetarian, sometimes suffering from an eating disorder, anxious, light periods, thin lining, delayed ovulation, mood severely affected with IVF medication, irritability before a period, overthinking, obsessing, mood swings, difficulty sleeping and always cold hands and feet.
I see all of these symptoms as a common pattern – deficient in Yin (and Blood). Building Yin also supports a sense of security, heaviness (or feeling grounded) and slowing. Yin calms the mind and provides grounding for anxious thoughts and overthinking. In medicine, healthy fats help make hormones and nourish your immune system.
When you have enough Yin, it is used like firewood for the body to provide energy (Yang). So much focus on improving energy comes from increasing Yang – add more caffeine, add more exercise, add more B vitamins…. When often the answer, is slow down and add more firewood like healthy fats, meditation, slow movement like yoga and warm tea.
Especially in cold climates, a diet increased in fat helps to keep the body warm. Fats digest more slowly than carbohydrates and proteins and also store fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) needed to keep the body functioning.
When women include more fats in their diet, I see their ovulation come forward (closer to day 14) on their BBT charts and a healthier luteal phase (pregnancy holding phase). I see more energy is first trimester and less symptoms, as well as improved mental health.
Having enough fat when you fall pregnant is so important to support the early weeks of the fetus, brain development and energy for mum and late in pregnancy to support baby’s development.
A high fat diet also helps male partners – sperm need fat to develop and move.
There are good and bad fats…
Good quality fats – good quality dairy if you can tolerate it, ghee, olive oil, seeds, nuts, avocado, eggs, grass fed animal fats, seafood, yogurt, flaxseed
Poor quality high fat diets increase inflammation in the body which may result in obesity, heart disease, liver disorders, diabetes and some cancers. Examples of poor quality fats include vegetable oils, margarine and shortenings. When trying to fall pregnant or maintain a healthy lifestyle, I would permanently eliminate these from your diet.
How I incorporate healthy fats into my family’s diet – cook in good quality olive oil or butter (would prefer ghee but can be expensive and hard to find), have full fat greek yogurt added to carbohydrate breakfasts like porridge, avocado, flaxseed oil in smoothies, add avocado in smoothies, olives, feta, sundried tomatoes in oil, good quality fatty meat 3 times per week, lots and lots of eggs.