"You are what you eat" is a saying often bandied around but it wasn't until I reached my 40's that I realised how true it is (I know, I'm a bit slow).
Your body is, literally, produced from what we put into it. In the womb, we are made from the nutrients that our mothers take in but once we're in the outside world all cell renewal and growth can only happen if the body gets food and fluids.
Bodies can survive for a long time on not much - water and bread or rice if necessary but we can't thrive on that. You only need to look at pictures of people in war torn countries where there is no regular supply of food to see the results of malnutrition.
But you don't have to wait for The News to see the result of a nutrient-poor diet. Many people who come in to the clinic, although living perfectly safe lives, are undernourished and therefore not in the best health. It is obvious to those of us working in this field because we're on the look out for symptoms and we understand the link between a body strong in nutrients and fertility. However, we have grown up in a society where there is a disconnect between what we put into our bodies and what we expect to get out. Our food comes off white shelves, in plastic boxes covered in clingfilm with no traces of the soil it grew in or evidence of the it's origins. Food is marketed and chosen on how the packaging appeals to us, not on how it will nourish our bodies and minds. And yet we still expect it to get us through our busy days at work, long commutes, Body Pump or Spin classes and busy social lives and still have enough left over to help us conceive, or produce good enough sperm to conceive.
The latest evidence for a nutritious and healthy diet is to cut down on carbohydrates and increase healthy fats and proteins. Healthy fats come from nuts, seeds, olives, coconuts, oily fish, organic meat and full-fat organic dairy. Fats allow absorption of nutrients and feed the brain (1/6 of our brains are made up of Omega 3 Fatty Acids) and offer an effective slow-release energy source which in turn regulates insulin and our hormones. Most of these foods also offer some level of protein which are vital for cell building. Last on the list should be carbohydrates which only function as a quick-release energy source. If you stick to complex carbohydrates like brown rice, brown bread and wholewheat pasta then you're already doing your body a favour but it's vital to cut out white and processed foods because they offer nothing in the way of nutrients and only cause hormonal imbalances.
For those who want to know more - come and see our nutritionist Dr Jane Jamieson or look up Ketogenic diets online for some information on low carb eating. But most importantly, try to start looking at food in a new light - as a source of nutrients for your bodies, which should result in improved egg and sperm quality and great health of your future baby. Food can still be enjoyable and tasty, just make sure it's doing you some good at the same time.