The Hemp Connection + women's health

Which is better for fertility, losing weight or eating well?

One of my biggest frustrations with dietary advice I see for PCOS, is that the first word out of anyone's mouth regarding the issue, is"lose weight". I don't disagree, for some women there are hormone issues related to weight that are important to consider. Extra weight, while it does not CAUSE PCOS, does tend to worsen existing symptoms. Additionally, for the lean woman with PCOS, and there are many, it's simply useless to recommend weight loss as a fertility strategy. It certainly doesn't help your credibility to only have this advice to offer.

Now research suggests that how you eat, especially if you're unnecessarily restricting, in your perinatal years, has far reaching effects. It could hurt the baby you're trying to have, to restrict excessively during the time you are trying to conceive.

Researchers in this study used genealogical records in Finnish churches and plotted births against information about agricultural trends, mainly crop yields for rye and barley). The time period they researched was the 18th century.
The analysis consistently showed that individuals who were born in a year in which crop yields were low (in other words, when they were in the wombs of women who were not eating adequately), had a strong predilection to not bear children as adults. Babies born in years in which there was a bumper harvest would have at least one child later in life.

Bottom line: How you eat affects how your child reproduces. Rigid dieting may not interfere with YOUR fertility, but it's a short sighted strategy. It may prevent you from becoming a grandparent.

A side note: the two crops studied in this research, barley and rye, that promoted fertility, are both gluten-containing. So for those of you who are restricting gluten who have not officially confirmed that you have trouble with gluten, you may be barking up the wrong nutritional tree. Best not to restrict a food unless you are absolutely sure you do not tolerate it.

If you eat well, learn to deal with stress in ways other than binge eating and dieting, and if you are carrying extra weight when you include these changes in your eating style, chances are you WILL lose weight. But you will be better nourished and better able to create a healthy baby.

If you're going to work as hard as you're working to conceive…don't you want the end product to be as healthy as possible?

Ian J. Rickard, Jari Holopainen, Samuli Helama, Samuli Helle, Andrew F. Russell, Virpi Lummaa. Food availability at birth limited reproductive success in historical humans. Ecology 91:3515–3525

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Which is better for fertility, losing weight or eating well? + women's health