Folic acid is essential for fertility; it helps line a woman’s womb with nutrients that nourish the womb and increase the chance for sperm survival. And Brussel sprouts are high in this critical element. Additionally, they contain phytonutrients that help optimize estrogen metabolism and support the body’s detoxification process. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is good for the body, as inflammation can interfere with many physiological processes, including conception.
Research shows that a deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects – without folic acid, the fetus’ nervous system cells do not divide properly. Consuming whole foods that are naturally rich in folic acid can help reduce the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. In addition to Brussel sprouts, consider these other foods rich in folic acid: dark leafy greens, papaya, lentils, avocado and beets.
Eat Your Sprouts: Shopping and Cooking Tips
- Brussels sprouts are available year-round but the peak-growing season is from autumn through early spring.
- If possible buy sprouts still attached to the stalk for optimal freshness.
- Brussels sprouts should be firm, compact and vivid green. Avoid those with holes in their leaves or you may find insects crawling inside the sprout.
- To prepare sprouts, remove stems and leaves; wash well under fresh water and soak in a bowl to remove any debris that may be stuck within the ball.
- However you choose to cook sprouts, cut an X shape into the bottom for even heating throughout.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts & Seven Ways to Love ‘Em!
Before you frown at the thought of biting into a bitter Brussels sprout, try these exquisitely seasoned sprouts. Seasoned with aromatic Harissa Spice Blend and coconut oil, these roasted sprouts are a mouth-watering surprise with almost caramelized bottoms and crispy on-the-outside, tender on-the-inside texture. Don’t miss the seven alternative ways to season and/or dip ’em!
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, outer leaves removed (6 cups prepped)
- 2 tablespoons organic sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon organic olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dry Harissa spice blend (paprika, caraway, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, garlic, peppermint, sea salt)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With a paring knife, trim off the ends of the sprouts and slice in half lengthwise. Remove any loose outer leaves. Place the prepped sprouts into a large bowl.
- Add the sunflower oil onto the sprouts in the bowl and stir or toss with hands until thoroughly coated. Add the Harissa spice and salt. Stir until combined.
- Spread the Brussels sprouts onto the prepared baking sheet in a uniform layer. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
- Roast the sprouts for 20 minutes, then flip with spatula, and continue roasting for another 5-15 minutes until browned to your liking. If you prefer very crisp sprouts, you can “overcook” these until very brown, but not blackened. Smaller sprouts will brown faster than larger ones.
- Drizzle with olive oil and quickly toss to coat. This infuses with flavor and moistens them a bit after roasting. Sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds if you have some on hand. Taste and add another tiny pinch of salt, if desired, and serve immediately – the hotter the better.
- Seasoning and Dipping Alternatives for Crispy Sprouts
- Drizzle with pomegranate molasses or balsamic reduction with pomegranate arils (very festive!) – you can skip the Harissa seasoning here.
- Garlic infused – try minced garlic cloves, garlic-infused oil, garlic salt
- Teriyaki sauce – pairs well with sesame seeds
- Barbecue sauce (sprinkled on or used for dipping)
- Coconut curry sauce or your favourite curry powder
- Sriracha or other hot sauce
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (or flavor of your choice)
- Ground toasted nuts or seeds like pecans or sesame seeds.
You’ve likely never heard of Calcium-D-Glucarate (CDG), a salt-based substance produced naturally by humans and animals and found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s most abundant in oranges, grapefruit, and cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale and cabbage.
When treating infertility, natural medicine physicians will use CDG to facilitate liver detoxification, a process directly linked to estrogen metabolism. According to Judith Thompson, ND, this is especially relevant for women who have conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis in which metabolism may be impaired due to a buildup of estrogen levels. In response to this “excess estrogen” the body perceives progesterone levels to be low and may respond by “thinking” it doesn’t have enough progesterone to maintain a pregnancy. Other medical conditions (e.g., damage to ovaries, ovulation problems) are associated with excess estrogen and thus can hinder pregnancy.
By supplementing with Calcium-D-Glucarate, the ratio of progesterone and estrogen can be brought into balance through optimal detoxification. There are no known contraindications, but CDG can affect how the liver metabolizes other medications. Therefore, it should be used under the careful supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
Infertility and Natural Medicine
Both men and women describe infertility as heartbreaking, more stressful than losing a job or getting divorced. Across the United States, approximately 7.5 million women age 15 to 44 have an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term; about 5 million men have a fertility problem.
Most male infertility is due to low sperm counts, poor sperm quality or sperm mobility. Other problems are similar to those women face, such as structural issues with the reproductive organs, anatomical conditions, hormone imbalances, genetic factors, and environmental toxins. “When it comes to uncovering the root cause of infertility,” says women’s health expert Dr. Judith Thompson, N.D. “a common misconception is that it’s hormone levels and if we adjust the hormones enough, a couple can get pregnant.” In reality, several interrelated factors influence fertility.
In assessing infertility, natural medicine physicians evaluate a patient’s overall well-being: the effect of stress on hormone levels; diet and exercise habits; exposure to environmental toxins; the function of the endocrine, digestive, and immune systems; and the unique design of a person’s reproductive anatomy and physiology. They evaluate the man’s sperm and test for hormone imbalances in men and women, as well as thyroid function, vitamin levels, and metabolic function. They then work with patients to correct imbalances and create an optimal environment for conception and pregnancy.
Five Ways to Enhance Fertility:
Nourish your endocrine system. Support the ovaries or testes, thyroid, and adrenal glands by eating organic, whole foods including nuts, seeds, fish, and avocados, as well as foods high in vitamin C. Oysters, rich in zinc, enhance male fertility and bolster a woman’s immune system.
Avoid GMO containing foods, as well as soy, which may have a negative effect on reproductive function in certain individuals. “It is important to avoid foods that are stressful to the body,” says Dr. Thompson. “One of the biggest culprits is coffee. It dehydrates and depletes vital nutrients from the body. It puts the body into a higher alert mode, which decreases the body’s ability to become pregnant.”
Make wise lifestyle choices. Forego high intensity exercises like hot yoga, Crossfit, marathon running, and triathlons. “Intense exercise puts the body into high stress mode. It sends the body the message that there is a lot of demand for resources and it is not a desirable time for pregnancy,” says Dr. Thompson. Opt for slow yoga, walking, swimming, and bicycling.
Don’t smoke, as it decreases oxygen to tissues and affects the placenta. Avoid alcohol. Make time to meditate because it relaxes all nerve signals and allows the body to function better.
Use quality nutritional supplements. The herb Aletris farinosa (aka True Unicorn) supports a toned uterus and minimizes possibility of miscarriage. Calcium-d-glucarate helps maintain a healthy estrogen and progesterone balance, increasing chances of pregnancy. Other supplements, including pre-natal vitamins, may be recommended by your health practitioner.
Establish strong emotional supports. Stress. Anxiety. Fluctuating emotions: they increase cortisol production, which can affect the ability to become pregnant and also interfere with a baby’s development. Seek out a counselor who specializes in fertility issues, a fertility support group, or a faith-based group to help you manage difficult emotions.
Support your spirituality. Whatever form your spirituality takes – attending church, participating with a nondenominational group, exploring nature, meditating, or being artistic – do something that takes you away from the daily to-do list and allows you to be fully engaged in the experience. “When this kind of heart-centered energy and awareness is present,” says Dr. Thompson, “it opens doors for new creative energies to come through, and creative energy is a big part of fertility.
“Working with fertility is about getting to know yourself and your needs – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, while healing the things that need healing and nurturing the parts that need nurturing.”
Affirmation courtesy of Louise Hay for when things are not going well. If you are having a bad day use this to keep you present.
“All is well, everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe.”
This post was inspired by a heated discussion I had with an acquaintance. He informed me that store bought mayo was a healthy food and is fine to consume when trying to lose weight. Now, I agree mayo traditionally has two ingredients – egg whites and olive oil. But these days if you peruse the ingredients list it reads very differently.
My response was mayo is full of sugar and additives and that is not supportive of a weight loss plan. He quickly cut and paste a mayo nutrition label to show me the 0g of sugar.