These are some of my articles that have been featured in The Press. I’m a food columnist for a local daily The Oxford Eagle and a regular contributor to IndiaCurrents, a magazine that caters to the Indian diaspora .
When Darwin used the term ‘survival of the fittest’ he didn’t mean anything about the good looks or bank balance; he was counting your children. If you raise children that have babies, you are what nature calls ‘fit’. You have successfully passed your genes to the next generation and in terms of survival, you have won.
With the exception of certain ethnic and racial minorities, many people today enjoy access to the basic necessities of life, food and shelter; and to a wide variety of luxuries, such as entertainment and travel; than people did two hundred years ago. Therefore in Biological point of view, it surely is incorrect to insist the postponement of marriage, the delay in having children, and decline in birthing from four to one. When young people are at the peak of fecundity, they invest in graduate school rather than in nurseries; spend their income to buy laptop, cellphone, tablet, Wii, sports cars, gourmet meals rather than baby food and strollers. Educated elites are planning to have children only after reaching their thirties. One can safely argue that they are responding to something other than a naturally selected tendency to rear as many children possibly can. Ironically people who can have the most children are having the fewest or none!
Besides, there are a billion people in the world today who crave a second income, a second car, and a second house more than they crave a second child. Cultural selection (not natural selection), has brought us to this point, and both natural and cultural selection will lead us to another level. The pressure that makes us to have few or even no children is actually a strategy that leads to greater reproductive success at foreseeable future. And nature will force us to seek impossible measures to fulfill this most fundamental need of human life. On the flip side, immigration rate is swelling, adoption is secretly forced and more and more technology (IUI, IVF, ART, GIFT, CISI) is used to bring babies into this world.
In the recent years, infertility treatment has risen by 25% over the past five years in the US alone. More and more women are turning to desperate and expensive methods of treatment in order to get pregnant not knowing there is a free and simple alternative available elsewhere. While problems in conceiving can be attributed to a specific complication in certain cases, a healthy and nourishing diet can significantly boost your fertility and increase your chances of conceiving. Human fertility depends on factors of nutrition, sexual behavior, culture, instinct, endocrinology, timing, economics, way of life, and emotions. No diet can ensure that you will become pregnant. However, no one can deny the fact that human fertility is highly influenced by lifestyle and diet. A good nutrition may give you the extra edge to conceive.
Eat your way to pregnancy You are what you eat, there is no getting away from it. What you eat and how you live has an impact on every aspect of your health. And food and love has been bedfellows for centuries. Ages before there was any understanding about the nutritional facts, folks were making connections between food and fertility.
Ayurvedic Preconception Care begins with the right partner! Since it is highly impossible to chose a right partner according to one’s physiological conditions like vatta, pita and kappa in present scenario, we can skip to next level. The emphasis is made on a balanced diet for the couples. The first step is to detoxify the body (panchakarma). It insists on saatvic diet (food that aids good digestion). A diet rich in whole grains and organic produce to promote digestion and assimilation. How well we assimilate food into the body is the first step in producing healthy sperm and eggs.
Way of Life A healthy weight is one of the best things to increase a woman’s chance of conceiving. If you are above the BMR weight and don’t get much physical activity, daily exercise can help improve fertility. But don not overdo it, as too much exercise can interfere with ovulation. Think of a balanced meal each time. Limit saturated fats, trans-fats, refined sugar and salt. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and nicotine. Alcohol lowers female fertility and increases birth defects in babies. Try to aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep and keep yourself stress-free.
Food for Fertility The foods most likely to enhance fertility are the fresh organic vegetables and fruits containing rich supplies of antioxidants. Include a selection of produce to your diet. Like, Green: avocados, broccoli, herbs, key limes, olives, mangoes, spinach, sprouts and watercress. Red/Orange: apples, beetroot, capsicum, carrots, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potato and tomatoes. Yellow: bananas, capsicum, mangoes, lemons, melons, saffron, squash and turmeric. Dark color: blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cloves, olives and plums.
Ayurvedic Fertility Treatment (Garbhadhan Samskara) speaks about some health tonics and fertility boosting herbs. Namely, Chyvanaprash is a traditional Indian nutritional elixir made from around forty different herbs, ghee and honey. Its main ingredients is Amla (Emblica officinalis), a powerful antioxidant. It has long been used in India to promote immunity, strength and fertility. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a powerful fertility enhancing herb. Ashwagandha (Withania sominfera) is a highly rejuvenating herb that promotes fertility to both men and women.
Though it is very important for women to consume a healthy diet and stay fit in order to plan a baby, but it is also equally essential for men to have a balanced diet. As the diet and the lifestyle of men affects their fertility and health of their future babies.
Foods to boost libido: Almonds, asparagus, strawberries, bananas, mangoes, peaches, figs, dates, chocolate, red meat, greens, eggs, seafood and herbs can increase libido. Asparagus rejuvenates the reproductive system both for men and women. Indian Moringa oleifera (drumstick greens and flowers) and dark leafy vegetables (kale, collard and amaranths) are useful in increasing libido. Purple onions, garlic and red chilies are best libido enhancers. Almonds are great for increasing sex drive. Dates restore sexual drive, increase endurance and improve overall vitality. Ginkgo biloba is considered beneficial in the treatment of male impotence. Zinc rich shell fish (crab, oysters and shrimps) and tree nuts (pecans, cashew nuts) are good in improving overall vitality.
Diet for Dad-to-be Think of square meals. Include plenty of whole grains, lean protein, low-fat-dairy and more of colored vegetables and fruits. Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in helping conception.Both zinc and selenium play an important role in conceiving. Low levels of zinc and selenium have been linked to poor sperm quality and a reduction in the sperm’s motility. Food sources of zinc and selenium include lean meat, baked beans, and selenium can be found in tree nuts, bread and eggs. Folate (vitamin B9), is important for men to make healthy sperm and is the naturally occurring form of folic acid. There is a small amount of evidence linking a diet rich in this vitamin to higher sperm counts. Folate-rich foods include green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and sprouts. Folate can also be found in pulses, potatoes and oranges. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with folic acid. Antioxidants may improve the quality of the sperm by decreasing the number of free radicals that can cause cell membrane damage. Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables will give you plenty of antioxidants.
If you have begun taking extra care with what you eat while trying to conceive you may want to take a closer look at the pots and pans that you cook your food in too. New research reveals that women with the highest levels of Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their blood (150%) are more likely to have difficulty conceiving a child. Perhaps, the nonstick cookwares are one explanation for declining fertility. It may be wise to keep non-stick pans away from men too. The chemicals used in non-stick coatings are linked male infertility.
© 2010 Malar Gandhi, All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.