Fertility Friday Archives - Awaken Your Health
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Cruciferous Vegetables: How to use them to help balance hormones

Cruciferous veggies are nutrient powerhouses! Those of you that have
been in recently have most probably heard me speak about the “Brassica”s
a lot, trying to sneak them in to staple recipes (Cauliflower mash on a
Shepherds pie; Broccolo and Almond soup, etc) to support hormone clearance.
The Brassicas are a family of vegetables that include broccoli, cabbage,
cauliflower, bok choy, rocket, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, watercress,
turnips, kohlrabi and horseradish. These vegetables are particularly
powerful thanks to their glucosinolate content, which gives them their
delicious peppery and slightly bitter taste. When glucosinolates are
broken down through chewing, chopping, blending and digestion, an enzyme
called mironase is activated that converts the glucosinolates to
indole-3-carbinol. It is indole-3-carbinol that gives cruciferous
vegetables their punchy hormone regulatory effect.


How does indol-3-carbinol impact hormone levels?

The liver plays an important role in manufacturing and clearing hormones
in the body. When the liver is not functioning optimally – rather than
being cleared out, hormones can recirculate through the body and lead
to hormonal excesses and imbalances. It is therefore essential that
when a client is experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances such as
acne, PMS, menorrhagia, menstrual disorders, low energy, weight-gain
etc. that we restore optimal liver functioning.

This is where cruciferous vegetables and its powerful constituent
indol-3-carbinol come into play. Indole-3-carbinol supports the
liver’s detoxification process through stimulating the enzymes
required to remove toxins and hormones from the body. Indole-3-carbinol
has been shown to selectively bind to oestrogen receptors, which has
a regulatory effect on oestrogen levels in the body. This regulatory
‘balancing’ effect is therefore beneficial in both individuals with
low and high oestrogen.

How to use cruciferous vegetables therapeutically

It is important to first determine whether your symptoms are due hormonal
imbalances and if hormonal clearance and liver support is necessary.
Speak to your health care provider to determine if this is you.

For mild cases of hormonal imbalance, aim to eat 1-2 cups of cruciferous
vegetables daily, lightly cooked to reap it’s full benefits.

Examples include:
· Warm chicken and rocket salad with blanched asparagus
· Asian stir-fry with cabbage and broccoli
· Roasted Brussel sprouts tossed in garlic, lemon and olive oil
· Sourdough toast with smashed avocado and sauerkraut
· Slow cooked pork with a shredded cabbage slaw
· Broccolini frittata with a side of sauerkraut.

For more severe or longstanding conditions, supplementation may be necessary.
Again, this is best determined by your nutritionist or naturopath so
be sure to run it past them first.

A word of warning…

If you suffer from an underactive thyroid then be sure to slightly
cook your cruciferous vegetables. These veggies contain goitrogens,
which is a natural compound that inhibits the body’s ability to use iodine,
an essential element required for the formation of thyroid hormones.
Lightly cooking cruciferous vegetables will significantly reduce the
levels of goitrogens.


A Brassica a day can certainly do wonders to keep the Doctor away 😉

Tabitha & Madeleine


The Gut Microbiome: What is it and how it affects your baby’s health


I recently had the pleasure of watching Dr Natasha Cambell McBride speak at
the Conscious Club and the MINDD Forum in Sydney. For those of
you who are not familiar with her work, Dr Natasha wrote the revered book,
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).
Her book primarily focuses on the gut’s microbiome and how it profoundly
affects our mental and physical health. Dr Natasha mainly works with children
with autism and has had great success in improving and even reversing the
condition in many of her patients. For more information please visit her website.


So, what is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is the body’s residential bacteria that are primarily found
in our large intestine—around 2kg of bacteria in total (see Catalyst for more information).
Think of your large intestine as a hollow tube and the bacteria as a barrier or coating
that lines the inside. As food passes through your intestine, this bacterial barrier has
many functions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Aiding in the breakdown of food, resulting in easily digestible and absorbed
    nutrients— this prevents larger, undigested food molecules from entering
    the blood stream
    that can result in inflammation and an immune response.
  • Synthesising nutrients including vitamin K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12,
    folic acid and various amino acids.
  • Protects the body from foreign pathogens and toxins by providing a
    physical barrier as well as producing various anti-bacterial, anti-viral and
    anti-fungal substances.
  • Strengthens the intestinal barrier—The bacteria increases mucin in
    the gut, which provides a protective coating for intestinal cells. The bacteria
    also tighten the gap junctions between the cells in the large intestines and prevent
    conditions such as leaky gut.


Symptoms and disorders that can result from altered gut flora or dysbiosis include:

-Bloating                                         -Low Energy                          -Autism
-Constipation                                  -Anxiety                                 -ADHD
-Cramping                                       -Depression                          -Dyslexia
-Diarrhea                                         -Bipolar                                 -Eczema
-Food intolerances                          -Schizophrenia                     -Auto-immune conditions
-Poor immune function                                                                 -Recurrent infections


Why should I care about my gut health when trying to
fall pregnant and how will
it affect my
child’s health?

As you can see, a healthy gut microbiome is very important. In fact, we cannot
live without it! An unborn baby has a sterile gut in the mother’s womb. The moment
the child passes through the mother’s birth canal, he or she ingests their first
dose of bacteria from the canal, which will provide the foundation for
the child’s gut microbiome. The child will continue to build and shape their gut
flora through their food intake (breast milk/ formula) and environment. The first
months of the child’s life are essential in creating a healthy gut microbiome,
which will consequently impact their health for the rest their lives.

It is therefore critical that the mother has a healthy gut flora as possible when giving
birth,as this will get passed onto the infant. Furthermore, the repeated use of antibiotics,
baby formulas, antibacterial soaps and cleaning products can alter the child’s
gut flora and contribute to a dysbiotic state, potentially resulting in
the conditions mentioned above.

Unfortunately, changing your gut flora is not as simple as taking a probiotic
and once lost, some strains of bacteria may never return. This is why it is
essential to get it right from the start!

What needs to be done?
Ideally, the mother and father need to address their gut health prior to the
birth of their child. This may involve testing for parasites and other infections,
investigating any food intolerances, determining if gut lining is damaged and
reviewing diet and other environmental exposures that may be harming the
gut microbiome.

Specific foods that are fantastic in promoting optimum gut health include:

· Bone broths
· Fermented vegetables
· Prebiotic rich foods: garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, asparagus, bananas
· Yoghurt
· Kefir
· Warming soups and stews
If you are planning on falling pregnant, are about to give birth or are experiencing any of the conditions mentioned above, be sure to book in for a consultation to address your gut health.

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha & Madeleine



Fertility Friday – Cinnamon



The cooler weather calls for warming spices, of which cinnamon is our favourite.
Not only does this delicious spice impart a warm and slightly sweet dimension
to meals, but it is also a host of many amazing health benefits. The three
active chemical compounds found in cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde, cinnamlyl
alcohol and cinnamyl acetate – are responsible for its widely researched
therapeutic effect. At AYH, we frequently request patients to increase their
consumption of cinnamon as an aromatic digestive, as a warming circulatory
stimulant to promote blood flow to reproductive organs, and to support
balanced hormone responses. When it comes to fertility, here are our
top 4 fertility-enhancing effects of cinnamon:

1. Lowers blood glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity
A  2007 study showed that the intake of 6g of cinnamon per day
(a heaped teaspoon) reduced blood glucose levels by improving the insulin
receptor function and consequently insulin sensitivity. This effect will therefore
help prevent pre-eclampsia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, all while regulating energy
levels, promoting regular ovulation and balancing reproductive hormones.
This is particularly beneficial for our patients with PCOS.
2. Improves circulation
The warming and blood thinning effect of cinnamon increases circulation
in the body. Good blood circulation ensures that ample oxygen and
nutrients are nourishing reproductive organs, enabling them to function
at their best.
3. Reduces inflammatory
Cinnamon is generous in it’s proanthocyanidin content, and this
antioxidant is particularly beneficial in dampening pain and inflammation
associated with experiencing endometriosis, period pain and ageing.
4. Anti-spasmodic
The antispasmodic effect of cinnamon makes in not only an excellent
spice to aid digestion and calm stomach cramps, but is also useful in
relaxing the uterus and easing period pain.

One teaspoon per day is recommended to reach a therapeutic effect.
Supplementation is also available for more sever cases. Book in for a
consultation to determine the dose necessary for you.

Simple ways to increase cinnamon consumption
  • Enjoy a warm cup of cinnamon tea (we love Pukka’a cinnamon and                                       licorice tea) or spice up your nut-milk hot chocolate as a treat!
  • Add a teaspoon to your morning porridge or smoothie
  • Sprinkle on top of natural yogurt with stewed apples / pears and                                            some nuts for an afternoon snack
  • Add to curries and casseroles
  • Coat sweet potato in coconut oil and cinnamon for a delicious side dish
  • Add to baking such as a almond meal cookies and quinoa flake &                                          coconut topped  apple crumble


Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x and Madeleine