What You Need to Know About Fertility Detoxes
What's A Good Detox If I'm Trying To Get Pregnant?
If you've been struggling to conceive it may be a good time to go back to the drawing board and start fresh with a fertility-boosting detox. We're not talking the latest wellness detox they sell at your barre studio, or the cayenne pepper cleanse your G.B.F swears by before his drag shows. We're talking an egg nurturing, ovary enlightening, hormone stimulating FLUSH must. And how soon before TTC should you detox that magnanimous conception warrior bod of yours? 3-6 months says Allison Martineau, Founder of Sweetpea Nutrition, a fertility-focused nutrition practice based out of Toronto.
Bird & Bee Founder Mo had the pleasure of asking Allison all the pressing questions we know our TTC birds have. Her answers = amazing. Enjoy warriors, and hit those pre-battle-figurative-sweat-lodges with gusto!
M: Do you feel stress and anger leaves a 'residue' in the body that might be helped by detoxing?
A: Absolutely! Stress is rampant in our modern world and it is common for our nervous system to always be in a state of fight or flight, where it prioritizes survival systems over things like digestion, sleep, and reproduction. One example is that the body uses progesterone to manufacture cortisol in the adrenals during periods of stress. Progesterone is also needed by the body for successful ovulation and hormone balance (not to mention carrying a pregnancy). Addressing this stress and finding ways to minimize or work with it are the first step, but gentle cleansing and detox can also help.
(Birds: if "relaxation" is a distant memory or a too common bit of advice that warrants your best stank face (more likely), then try our Big Chill, a pro-conception guided relaxation, that is of course, free). XO
M: Before talking to you, I began to 'freestyle' my own detox and bought milk thistle pills and fermented chlorella pills - are these good for detoxing? I heard anger affects the liver and these seemed to be good for the liver, yeah, no?
A: Both of these are great options for detoxing and liver support. Chlorella also has the added benefit of significantly reducing the transfer of maternal dioxins to fetuses, so, therefore is helpful into pregnancy as well.
M: Are there any other supplements or ways you recommend to detox at home?
A: First step is to reduce your toxic exposures by trying to buy more organic food, eliminating known endocrine disruptors from your home and opting for more natural beauty and cleaning products. You then want to mobilize fat stores to release stored toxins using exercise (high-intensity bursts or resistance training), sweat, green tea or a short term (3-day max) juice fast. Then you want to optimize nutrient intake to support phase 1 and 2 liver detox. A clean whole foods program that is nutrient dense and ideally organic is best. Hydrate adequately, ensure lots of vegetable fiber in your diet and supplement with chlorella and milk thistle for detox support. Other supplements for overall health and egg quality can also be included, and are discussed below.
M: Are there any foods that are good detoxers?
A: Cruciferous vegetables, garlic, berries, citrus fruit, high-quality protein, turmeric, and rosemary are specific foods known to be helpful with supporting detox. You should also aim for your overall diet to be whole foods based, organic if possible and varied to ensure adequate nutritional support.
M: What do you think about activated charcoal? Does it only bind to toxic metals or might it also interfere with medications us conception warriors are on by binding to them and making them less effective? We spend piles of cash on med's, so we wouldn't want anything that compromises them!
A: Activated charcoal can definitely affect oral medications. If taking any oral meds then take the charcoal at least 1 hour after taking the meds.
M: Any cautions against detoxing we should know about?
A: You can absolutely go too far with detoxing. Avoid the detoxorexia mindset; we want to work to change what we can control so we can worry less about the things we can’t. Also, just because a chemical is inside of us, does not automatically mean it is harmful. Everything is a chemical and not all chemicals are inherently bad. Lastly, nutritionally you need protein for your liver to detox, so any prolonged juice cleanses/fasts that are solely based on fruits and vegetables are not recommended.
M: What other reasons might someone consider detoxing before beginning TTC or an IVF/IUI?
A: Detox can help reduce the toxins in your body. Many chemicals circulating are known endocrine disruptors and can impact egg quality, as well as negatively impact your overall health. Our bodies are constantly detoxing, however, we can help support them with this by reducing our exposure, so the body has less work to do, and then supporting our organs nutritionally.
M: In terms of timing for a good detox, how far in advance of an IVF, IUI, or TTC cycle should someone detox?
A: Aim for 3-6 months before TTC, since you will be mobilizing toxins and we want to make sure those get out of the system before you become pregnant. If you want to actively try to conceive then I would focus more on decreasing toxic load and supporting your liver with liver supporting foods and supplements mentioned above, but would avoid any intensive efforts to mobilize stored toxins.
M: Is it something we should do once or something we can do continuously? For example taking a few supplements with the rest of our herbs, prenatals etc?
A: A more aggressive detox can be done once prior to TTC, however taking certain supplements, chlorella, prenatal, etc, reducing our toxic burden and including fertility boosting foods and foods that support detox can be done in the long term.
M: What do you think of the Whole30 diet when TTC? Seems to me like cutting grains out is no bueno unless I'm missing something?
A: Some people are sensitive to grains, so for them, I generally recommend either reducing their grain consumption or soaking/sprouting grains prior to consumption. However, for most people cutting out the processed grains and possibly gluten are the main factors and will improve any issues. Some women may also want to screen for celiac disease, as recent studies have shown an increased prevalence of celiac disease in women with unexplained infertility. Most whole grains are great to include in your diet though and I don’t see a reason to exclude all of them. You generally want to aim for whole grains (gluten free unless you know you are not sensitive to gluten) and carbohydrates that are lower in glycemic load such as quinoa, buckwheat or beans and legumes.
M: What do you think of sensory deprivation floats? I recently started doing them and they relax me like a massage-valium-post-orgasm combined. In other words, I like them! There are huge levels of magnesium taking in dermally. Do you think it's okay to do in the middle of a cycle because of the sudden high levels of magnesium and salts?
A: You could always check with your health care practitioner to be sure, however, it sounds ok to me. I think it could be very beneficial as it gives you Mg, a mineral many are deficient in, and clearly, helps you relax.
(Allison Martineau, BHSc, MSc, has over 10 years experience working in health and nutrition. She has a passion for sharing her nutritional strategies with expectant and new families to make cooking and eating for health during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods simple and convenient. Allison runs a nutrition practice called Sweetpea Nutrition in Toronto.)