Fertility Health

Episode 78 | The Fertility Triad–Food, Environment & Stress

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Welcome back to another episode of the Colorful Eats podcast! If you are planning to start or grow your family in the near to distant future, this episode is for you my friend. Today’s episode is all about what we’re calling the “Fertility Triad” and how to boost your preconception prep efforts by making some simple improvements in your daily life. We are sharing how the food you eat, the products you use daily and the stress you allow into your life all play a vital role in creating a super fertile body, or vice versa.

We’re breaking down each area of the Fertility Triad and giving you our tried and true methods for getting healthy prior to conception in order to improve your chances of conceiving naturally. And since we are all about giving you actionable content for real life, we are sharing just what to do to make some real changes in your preconception journey within each focus area.

Our dream is to help create healthier parents so that the next generation can thrive. That’s what preconception prep is all about and we’re so glad you’re listening today!

Highlight Reel:

12:25 | The fertility diet: What to eat and what to avoid

21:52 | Cleaning up your environment: beauty, skincare and cleaning products

31:57 | Stress and how to navigate stress

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Episode 65 | 30-day Simple, Nourishing Detox Challenge

It’s no secret that detox is a wonderful part of a healthy life, but often times in our detox obsessed media, it can be be taken too far, done incorrectly and even cause more harm than good. Our take is a bit different and we’re all about supporting and optimizing your body’s natural detox abilities while improving your food and lifestyle so more junk isn’t coming in.

But how do you know if you need to detox? What are the causes of toxin overload? And what symptoms is your body showing that may indicate that you need some intentional detox support? Listen in and we’ll share the juicy deets.

Since we are all about taking action and really making this content a reality in your own life, we’ve create a 30-day detox program for you, simple enough for anyone to follow. We’ll walk you through the daily routine to support gentle detox and new steps to add in each week to amplify your detox routine.

And to help a sista out ever more, we’ve create a freebie for you to help you stay on track and nourish detox the right way.  Click here to download your 30-day Simple, Nourishing Detox Guide!

Our goal is to encourage you to nourish your body with real food and non-toxic living on the daily while creating routines that support your body’s natural ability to detoxify.

Follow along our detox journey over on IG– @caroline__potter and @alowellness and join in on the fun by adding #nourishingdetox

Thank you Primally Pure for sponsoring this episode! Be sure to listen along to learn how you can get your free lip balm!

Highlight Reel:

06:58 | Why you need to eat real food to detox best

08:55 | Potential causes of toxicity

10:45 | Symptoms of toxin overload

15:35 | Daily steps for gentle detox

22:15 | Weekly detox steps

36:40 | Monthly detox action steps

Download Episode 65 in iTunes!

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Don't forget to download your freebie!  Click here to download your 30-day Simple, Nourishing Detox Guide!

For more information on how to get your body ready for baby makin' and create a stress-less conception story, join our brand-new email list for posts on healthy eating + living, upcoming events and programs and more!

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How I'm Healing After Miscarriage–Physically & Mentally

This miscarriage has been very different from our first, now over 3 years ago. My heart is still aching from the emotional aspect and my body is weary from the physical trauma, but my faith is stronger and I know without a doubt that the Lord is using it to encourage other women who’ve experienced this same loss, to connect us. It’s an odd feeling and even hard to explain, how I can go through such a rough season yet still see the joy and the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I’m OK with His plan.  

Miscarriage is odd in that you can grieve and mourn so hard over a little one you’ve never met. I like the way Emily from the Tethering Place explains the loss you experience with miscarriage, “The wave is coming again. A wave of tears and sadness and loss. An odd loss though, for can you lose something you never had? You never held? It is odd because nothing has changed and everything has changed.”

It’s so true. Like, painfully, heart-wrenchingly true. And that wave has hit me over and over the past few weeks.

But for my husband and I, this unexpected pregnancy (and loss) has allowed us to see that we DO want to grow our family. We thought we were happy with just our sweet little Elle, but out of this hardship, we know there’s more to come and I’m grateful, even in it’s yuckiness, that we had the opportunity to feel the realness of expecting again, making plans, dreaming of four.

So, in true Justine fashion, I am putting my best foot forward, seeking out the help and support I need to heal my body–physically and mentally–and get ready for conception in the future!

And in my last post sharing our story and my heart on miscarriage, I told you that I would keep you in the loop on my own health journey––the good, the bad and the ugly.

My greatest health goal at the moment is to heal my body because miscarriage is messy and hard and bloody. Gross, but true. There’s inflammation, internal stress (physically and emotionally), battle wounds of the heart, blood loss, hormonal chaos and all that good stuff that needs to be addressed and supported so that I am left in an even better place than before.

The flip side to this–avoiding the physical and emotional aftermath of miscarriage–is a body who’s left to fend for itself, scars that aren’t tended to that build up fear, resentment and pain, nutrients lost, hormones a mess, inflammation and lots of other imbalances that can affect my future attempts to create life from within. That, I am not going to allow.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years being in the holistic and alternative world of health is how important it is to be self aware and practice mindfulness in every area of your life...not just in what you put in your mouth. Being able to take a step back and look at myself–my emotional, physical and spiritual wellness–allowing myself to see, touch, feel and experience the hurt, the joy, the trauma...all of it...and know that I can make a difference with my own two hands, that I don’t have to sit in fear or whatever the negative emotion is forever, but that I can take action to move forward, to grow, to be better, to love well, to experience more joy and contentment is foundational to a healthy life.

This experience is no different. As hard and awful as it is, there is so much I can do to heal my body with my own two hands, with the help and support of gifted practitioners and the endless love of God. That’s so empowering and so so encouraging to me.

So here’s what I’m up to currently…

Building blood.

Last week, I had my first real acupuncture experience with a super cool friend of mine, Kerry Carlos. He’s a Licensed Acupuncturist and all about holistic wellness and is well loved by his patients. I have been reading a lot about acupuncture and the benefits on fertility health so when I ran into Kerry at the wellness center he practices in after a massage I enjoyed last week, we got to talking about what I was going through and he quickly talked me into how he could help along my preconception journey.

During my initial appointment with Kerry, he found that I am lacking blood post-miscarriage, my adrenals are very weak, my body is holding on to a lot of stress and anxiety, something about grief in my lungs aaaaaand I can’t remember what else because there was a lot going on (and I don’t quite understand all the chi stuff and energy flow and organ connections quite yet). He worked on my main concerns and we joked and laughed about it all, but I kid you not, when I got off that table, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. Seriously. I can’t wait to go back!

So in focusing on building blood specifically, I am taking some herbs that Kerry recommended to help with this as well as some other problem areas and I am focusing on getting in certain foods, specifically iron-rich foods to help generate new, healthy and strong blood.

That sounds weird...strong blood? But blood does a lot of important things like transport nutrients, oxygenate your entire body, fight off invaders, remove toxins, transport hormones and sooooooo so so much more. It’s important that it’s healthy...and strong.

Over the next few weeks (and I guess throughout my preconception, pregnancy and nursing journey because these foods nourish these phases as well) I'll be focusing on eating plenty of beets, beef, liver from pastured animals, and pastured, organic egg yolks. I’m also focusing on getting plenty of vitamin C along with these foods since vitamin C helps with iron absorption (think broccoli, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and strawberries...vitamin C superfoods!).

Overall, it’s important to nourish with a variety of vitamins and minerals so until I see my Nutritionist (yes, this Nutritionist has her own Nutritionist!) for more specific nutrient support, I’ll continue my prenatal and a few other supportive supplements.

Tonifying and draining my uterus.

This is an interesting one, huh? But it’s an important element of healing your future babe’s home. I am currently taking a Gemmotherapy that helps to tonify and drain the uterus (I also used this in my third trimester and totally credit it to my speedy labor and birth) and bovine uterine tissue (via supplement form people!) to nourish my own uterine tissue.

I understand this point may sound odd to some, especially if you’re new to the holistic world, but this is a big piece of my healing protocol and I’ll take both therapies morning and night for 6 weeks.

Addressing stress and giving my adrenals all the love.

Oh this is a big one. When I first started miscarrying, I had a lot of peace about everything and I still do, BUT there was a lot of physical and emotional stress that was goin’ down that I didn’t really realize. About a week after the initial news, it was like it all came to a head and I began feeling the acute symptoms of stress–chest tightness, a super short fuse, overwhelm, sugar cravings, etc.

I know my body well enough to understand what was going on and I immediately had to hit the pause button and take a chill pill. Massage, asking for help, all the essential oils and magnesium before bed to help me relax and sleep, adrenal support supplements, acupuncture, etc..

But this doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time to heal emotionally and to nourish the adrenal glands.  

This is one of the most important pieces of a healthy life, but it’s also one of the most challenging so this is always an ongoing focus. Stressors like miscarriage aren’t a chosen stress (like putting your kids in too many sports or taking on too much at work), they just come, without warning or invite. And they’re inevitable in life.

Stress management is at the top of my list because it sneaks in everywhere. Especially during this time of year. So each day I wake up and choose to take one thing at a time, to eat well and keep my blood sugar stable, to take my adrenal support (supplements), to say “no” when I need to, to create much needed quiet, alone time (#onlychildproblems), and to nourish my soul with God’s word.

It’s a process, but when you’re able to strengthen your body’s ability to deal with stress (and give it the rest to be able to do so), you kind of kick ass at life. It adds to your patience, your energy, your drive (in life and sexually!) and creates a new will to rock out life. No joke, having strong adrenal function is down right amazing.

So there you have it, a little inside look into my healing process. I am working on getting in with my Nutritionist in San Diego and I know we will be looking at thyroid function and sex hormones as these can cause issues with fertility and miscarriage. I have a pretty long cycle so I am looking forward to getting that in check and creating more balance from within.

If you have experienced a miscarriage this year, I am praying for your heart and your healing friend. I know it's awful and heartbreaking. I hope that sharing my journey of mourning and healing will help encourage you. 

Before I go–I just wanted to thank everyone who has been lifting Matt and I up in prayer, for all your kind and supportive words and your outpouring of love. We are more grateful than you know!

xoxo

Justine

 

For more information on how to get your body ready for baby makin' and create a stress-less conception story, join our brand-new email list for posts on healthy eating + living, upcoming events and programs and more!

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How Nutrition & Non-toxic Living Helped This "Infertile" Couple Conceive Naturally | A Testimony

Today I wanted to share a story with you, from a beautiful client of mine, Erin. It's one of those testimonies that leaves me in awe. It begins similar to so many other women's story. One of dieting and restriction and years of unintentional abuse that can leave a body in a bad, bad place. A place that makes starting a family an incredible challenge. The difference in Erin's story is that she decided to do something about it and used Nutritional Therapy and healthy living to change the direction of her (and her husband's) health journey in order to conceive naturally. When Erin emailed me to share she had become pregnant, I literally cried my eyes out! What a gift and what a powerful testimony. I am so grateful that Erin was willing to share her story with us and I hope that it encourages and inspires you to continue on your path toward a healthier body and better fertility! 

"My hormonal problems started long before I realized how crucial hormones actually are. When I was about 13, I became very body conscious and desired to be thin above all else.  At that time, I associated being thin with being healthy.  The thinner the healthier was what I thought, so I got very thin. I did so by eating less than I had ever eaten before and exercising as much as possible. I would eat an apple before school, a banana with a slice of fat-free cheese for lunch, and a salad with fat-free dressing for dinner. I feared fat in all forms. This behavior continued for several years and, when I look back, the saddest part for me is that I honestly believed I was “healthier” than my friends who were eating three normal meals. I thought I had accomplished something by eating less than 1,000 calories per day and was proud of myself.  

By age 14, my menstrual cycle had disappeared completely. This should have been a huge red flag that I was not, in fact, healthy but it did not bother me one bit. Prior to college, at age 17, during a physical at my pediatrician’s office, the nurse asked me when my last menstrual cycle was. I giggled and responded that it had been years. Her look of concern frightened me. The pediatrician, however, told me not to worry and prescribed me birth control pills to “bring on a period.” I started the birth control pill, got a monthly bleed and was happy to continue my restrictive ways. I wish so badly now that the pediatrician had done more investigative work and told me the importance of hormonal health.

Over the next years, I met my husband, went through college and dental school, got married and started a new job. All this time my nutrition and lifestyle did not change. I ate about 1,200 calories per day, exercised vigorously 7 days per week, and was under chronic stress from school and work. I often thought about wanting children one day, but I always seemed “too busy” to worry about it at that time.

When my husband and I decided we wanted children, I went off the birth control pill. To no surprise, my period did not return. After 8 months of no cycle, I went to the OBGYN and had blood work performed. At the age of 27, my hormones were that of a post-menopausal woman. I was diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, which means essentially my brain stopped communicating with my reproductive organs due to the stress signals it was receiving. My doctor informed me that my lifestyle had caused this and that I would never conceive on my own. He told me that, when we were prepared, he would refer us to a specialist for assisted reproductive technologies. I did not want this at all and was willing to change whatever I needed to make it happen naturally.   

I knew in my heart it was time to make some drastic changes. I did a great deal of research on Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and made lifestyle changes. I quit intense exercising, ate more calories, and stressed less. After 15 years of no period, my cycle returned, albeit irregular. At this point we knew it was game time for trying to conceive.

During my research on hypothalamic amenorrhea I came across several holistic health blogs, podcasts and books. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I do not know! Of course this led me down the path of more research as I learned exactly how critical our nutrition is to our own health and that of our offspring. I realized, my body was craving specific nutrients and minerals to build the healthiest DNA possible. I also learned that my husband’s health was just as important as mine, as he will be providing half of the DNA for our children.

In mid- 2016 one of the holistic health podcasts that I listened to, The Colorful Eats Podcast, did an episode on preconception health. I listened to that episode three times in a row and hung on every word. I was fascinated by the fact that my husband and I have the power to influence the health of our future children before I was pregnant! Changing what we eat and how we live our lives now could protect our future children from illnesses and give them a healthier foundation. This sounded like a no-brainer to me. Now that we knew it was possible to impact the health of our future children, we had to take every advantage of this opportunity.

Justine from Alo Wellness had mentioned on The Colorful Eats Podcast that she was passionate about preconception health. My husband and I discussed reaching out for guidance on our journey and decided to set up a pre-conception game plan with Alo Wellness.  We drastically changed many aspects of our lives from nutrition to sleeping to cleaning products.  My husband jokes we added the “B’s” to our lives… butter, bone broth and Beautycounter!

One of the simplest, most impactful changes we made was changing the products we use in our home. After learning how quickly the toxic chemicals from everyday products can enter our bloodstreams and influence our hormonal health, we were adamant on only using non-toxic products. I began reading about products on the Environmental Working Group’s website (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/). We purchased safer, non-toxic cleaning and personal care products. I did a beauty product dump and purchased all new products from Beautycounter.

We also made many diet changes. We focused on getting a balance of carbs, fat and protein with each meal as well as a variety of vegetables each day. We began taking whole-food based supplements rather than the synthetic supplements we had been taking for years. We added bone broth to our daily diet to promote gut health, which has been shown to be extremely important in overall health. Finally, we cut back on our caffeine consumption to support our adrenal health.  Amazingly, caffeine is no longer a daily necessity for either of us, but rather an occasional, special treat.

We implemented these practices religiously for 6 months before we went to see a specialist about our troubles conceiving. It turns out, while they were running tests, they told me I was already 6 weeks pregnant! I am currently 18 weeks pregnant and could not be happier. All babies are miracles, but I truly believe this baby is a miracle and a testament to the power of lifestyle changes that we can make prior to conception!" Erin, North Carolina

Wow, what an incredible testimony of healing and the power that real food and healthy living can have within your life and on your fertility journey. It's surely not always easiest route, but it's always worth it!

If Erin's testimony touches your heart and you'd like to create your own path to better fertility, naturally, I'd love to help support you! I support couples who are preparing for conception, are struggling with infertility issues or are looking to begin assisted conception and would like to get their bodies as healthy as possible. Learn more on our Preconception + Fertility page.

Have questions? Not sure if it's right for you? I'd love to schedule a time to talk and see if Nutritional Therapy can support you! Email justine@alowellness.com 

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Nourishing Our Baby Makers

“So, when do you want to start a family?” Straight from the lips of my wonderful husband last week. I have to be honest; his seriousness scared me. It’s not the first time we’ve discussed conception in our household, but it’s the first time it felt so real. For those of you who have been around the blog for a while may remember my post on getting baby ready about 2 years ago. Seems crazy, right? Not. At. All.

Nowadays, couples are taking conception very lightly. It is important to remember that bringing a child into the world is something that should be intentional with months, even years of preparation to ensure {to the best of our ability} that our offspring will have the best possible environment and nourishment to grow and mature into a strong, disease free human being.

fertility-and-conceptionWhen I say months, even years of “preparation” I am addressing both lifestyle and diet. The health of the mother AND father should be assessed and supported 6 months or more prior to attempting to conceive. It is a 50/50 split {believe it or not}, so optimizing the diet of both mother and father with nutrient dense, whole foods, eliminating environmental toxins and addressing stress management are imperative in preparing the body to create and nourish an embryo.

If you are thinking about taking the leap, I encourage you to take a look at these areas in you and your partner’s life. Here are some tips to consider and begin to implement into your routine…

Eat plenty of nutrient dense, whole foods. Grass-fed beef, liver, cod-liver oil, animal fats such as butter from grass-fed cows, tallow, duck fat, raw milk and cream, coconut oil, egg yolks, bone broth, lacto-fermented condiments and beverages and plenty of vegetables and fruits {preferably organic} are all-powerful, nutrient packed foods that support healthy sperm, womb and growth.  Taking a high quality, whole food prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement is beneficial and can be purchased in my office.

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Avoid processed junk foods, white flour, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated {trans} fats, sugar and corn syrups, soy, soda, alcohol, drug and cigarettes.  End of story.

Become aware of the toxins in your environment including cosmetics {lotions, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant and antiperspirants, perfume and cologne, etc.}, water, food, radiation, plastics, cans, bedding, etc. and begin to “detox” ASAP. It can be overwhelming at first, but it is important to realize we are being bombarded with toxins constantly and it’s our burden to bear {unfortunately, the industries aren’t protecting us}. Small changes add up in a big way so take an inventory of your possible toxic exposure and begin to make adjustments today. Most Americans {both children and adults} have 200-300 known toxins floating around in their bodies and your baby could be at risk of exposure.

Take charge of the stress in your life. Yoga, meditation, prayer, affirmations, exercise and even diet changes can significantly decrease your mental and physical stress and give you a means to help deal with it in a healthy way. What areas are causing you unwanted or unneeded stress? Can you eliminate these areas or figure out a way to work through them, to change your perspective? Make it a goal to “de-stress” in some way on a daily basis. Stress management is imperative to healthy conception.

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Conceiving a child is one of the most beautiful things in the whole wide world and I encourage you, if you are considering conception of your first or tenth child, to be mindful of your power in bringing a strong, beautiful and disease free child into this world.

If you are interested in learning more about how nutrition can optimize your ability to conceive and work one-on-one with me to help get those bods packed full of baby makin' power, please contact me via email or phone my office. I would love to help support you on your journey.

May your wombs {and baby makin’ parts} be blessed.

Justine Campbell + Alo Wellness

*I hope to not offend anyone with this information if you jumped into baby making like a bat-out-of-hell. I am only hoping to create awareness and encourage couples to be mindful of the power they have on their child’s future and health. It is going to take a paradigm shift, which will need some serious force, support and movement. Plus, it is never too late to make healthy changes at any point in a baby or child’s life. Begin to practice the above recommendations today or contact me so we can create a plan to rock out nutrition in your household!

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