'Be Fruitful': How to maximize your fertility

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Is today's lifestyle making it harder for woman to get pregnant?

In her new book "Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child," Dr. Victoria Maizes presents a practical and hopeful approach that can help adults who wish to conceive. 

Dr. Maizes told Good Morning Arizona's Kaley O'Kelly that women today face more challenges to fertility than their mothers and grandmothers ever faced. Those challenges include new birth control methods that allow women to delay childbearing; unprecedented cultural pressure to be thin and, on the flip side, epidemic obesity.

Dr. Maizes, who serves as Executive Director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, uses an evidence-based integrative medicine approach.  She recommends an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables and fruits, whole fat dairy, low-mercury and low processed fish, high-glycemic index carbohydrates and animal protein.

"There are a number of foods that you do want to eat," she says. "You want to make sure you get enough vegetable protein, you want to be eating Omega-3-rich fish, and lots of vegetables and fruit."

She says one thing you can do to maximize fertility is to take a few months before you conceive to make sure you are following healthy habits. That can have an effect on how easily you can become pregnant.

"It depends on who you've been up until then," she says. "How healthy have you been? How much of a fast food eater have you been? Especially if you're someone who's not eating a particularly healthy diet, it's really great to take six months to clean up many of your lifestyle habits, including your diet."

In her book, Dr. Maizes also carefully outlines what to look for in a preconception supplement, including folic acid, iodine, iron and fish oil supplements.

"It's critical for every woman of childbearing age to be taking a multi-vitamin that has folic acid in it," she says. "It helps prevent neural tube defects, it helps prevent heart defects, cleft palate; it helps prevent miscarriage. And once the baby's born it helps prevent childhood cancer."

Dr. Maizes also shares a variety of strategies to reduce exposure to environmental toxins that are commonly found in our food, water, and personal care products.  These environmental chemicals are endocrine disruptors that can alter hormonal functions, reduce fertility, and raise the risk of neurological damage and other health problems in the fetus.

She tells us there's a database on the website of the Environmental Working Group that lists toxins and chemicals that are present in our everyday items.

Dr. Maizes also covers easy to learn mind-body therapies such as breath work and meditation as well as spiritual practices including ceremony and prayer. She also helps clarify methods of healing systems like traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

For more information you can visit Dr  Maizes' website.