We have touched on nutrition many times before in these blogs as a means to increasing fertility. Not only is your and your partner’s health extremely important, but the healthy lifestyle choices and adjustments you make now while you are trying to conceive will have enormous health benefits for your child(ren) down the road. That being said, the information in the following blog is of value to everyone.
Many awesome things came out of the 1970s, but one of them applies particularly to nutrition. The Natural Foods Movement became popular in North America and parts of Western Europe at this time – a focus on natural foods free of artificial ingredients, hormones and pesticides, refining processes, artificial colours and flavours, chemical processing and the like.
With the birth of the Natural Foods Movement came a growing awareness of the negative health impacts and harmful chemicals being added to so many of the store-bought and processed foods being eaten. To this day and now more than ever people are paying attention to what they are putting in their bodies - including their fat intake.
The consumption of good, healthy fat is an essential component to a healthy balanced lifestyle. The trouble for most is distinguishing between the good and the bad. Some people may cringe at the thought of ingesting fat as a health benefit; convinced that any fat is detrimental to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. This could not be further from the truth.
The good fats I’m talking about mainly refer to two primary polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids known as linoleic acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an Omega-3 fatty acid). The body cannot produce these acids naturally, so it is therefore essential that they be consumed on a daily basis in food or supplemental form. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good for your overall health as they work to lower your cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. Eating healthy fats is central to all aspects of a healthy lifestyle – it improves cognitive function, keeps you happy by managing your mood swings and fights fatigue. It even lends a hand in weight control and/or loss if used properly.
Here are some examples of GOOD monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (Omega-3 and Omega-6):
When I say “bad fats” I am referring to trans fatty acids (also known as hydrogenated fats/oils) and saturated fats. Quite a few years ago now, it was made public that trans fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. We now see “trans fat free” all over the place. But what are trans fats really?
Trans fats (or hydrogenated fats) are created when manufacturers infuse oil with hydrogen to help increase the shelf life and flavour stability in food. While it makes food taste good and last longer, it offers absolutely zero health benefit. French chemist Paul Sebatier discovered the hydrogenation process in 1897. An example of food produced from this process is margarine. A good way of differentiating between good and bad oils is to consider their physical properties at room temperature. More often than not, good oils tend to be in a liquid state at room temperature (like canola oil) while bad hydrogenated oils are usually in a solid, more rigid state at room temperature (like that of margarine or shortening).
"Hydrogenation, which is used to turn oils into margarine, shortening, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, produces trans-fatty acids, which are twisted molecules. Twisted, their shape changes, and they lose their health benefits and acquire toxicity instead," - Udo Erasmus, author of “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill”
According to the FDA, our trans fat intake should be as low as possible. Yet North Americans still manage to consume 30-40 grams of trans fats per day.
... So why do we consume so much trans fat?
There are several arguments out there.
First of all - it’s easy. Trans fats can be found in over 40% of all processed foods found in a supermarket. Ready-made, processed foods may taste delicious, but believe me, your body is not a fan.
Secondly – it’s cheap. Many people tend to fall prey to marketing schemes, in-store promotions, catchy commercials and one thing important to all of us – deals. Everyone loves a good deal, and attractively low prices for food are no exception.
We need to stop and realize that while the costs of consuming these products may not be affecting our wallets and bank accounts, they are most definitely affecting our health. Consuming trans fats contributes to major health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
Here are some examples of BAD trans fatty acids (highly processed and hydrogenated foods). Trans fats are found in the majority of the following:
When in doubt, follow Canada’s Food Guide To Healthy Eating - Click here to view!
Ask Questions & Make Healthy Choices – When out for dinner, ask about the trans fat content in the foods on the menu. Try to avoid fried foods. When you do indulge, try to eat foods that have been fried with healthier oils and with oil that has not been used more than 2-3 times. Lower your trans fat intake by eating more fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grain products and nuts.
Read Labels – Read the nutritional information on everything before you buy it. Since 2005 is has been mandatory for manufacturers to include trans fat content in the nutritional information factsheets on product packaging. Selecting products with labels that bear “trans fat free” is the main goal. Important key words to look for and avoid are obviously “trans fat,” but it may also appear as “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil.”
In conclusion, it is so important to differentiate between the good and bad fats and adjust your diet accordingly - especially if you are trying to increase your fertility. And don’t forget, this applies to both men and women. As you know, diet and exercise are the MVPs in the game of optimizing your fertility and sperm health.
That being said, everyone needs to heed the warnings of consuming trans fats. Try to consume as little of them as possible to decrease the associated health risks and increase your health and wellness.
It's not always easy to incorporate enough of the GOOD fat into our daily diets. Life tends to get a little hectic at times ... and that's where supplements come into play. We have some products available to you that are rich in Omega-6 and Omega-3, like our Evening Primrose Oil supplement and our PregnancyPlus Omega-3 Prenatal supplement. Click the hyperlinks to learn more about each of these great products!