How Diet Can Affect Your Fertility

Expert Q&A: Kirby Hendricks

Today we celebrate World Food Day. The theme for 2020 is: “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.”  In light of this, we feel it is extremely important to highlight the importance of changing your lifestyle and eating habits if you are struggling to conceive; Nourishing your body in the correct way can significantly increase your chances of falling pregnant.

Last month was PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Awareness Month, which is important to mention as this is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.  If you are overweight or obese, you may see a dramatic improvement in the ovulation rate and normalization of insulin levels by reducing your body mass index (BMI).

Regular menstruation cycles and ovulation will often return to normality, which will increase your chances of falling pregnant.

Kirby Hendricks

We sat down with Kirby Hendricks, HART’s Registered Dietitian who specialises in Women’s Health, including PCOS and Endometriosis, to ask some key health questions regarding PCOS and weight-loss:

For someone struggling with PCOS and infertility, what is your advice in terms of nutrition?

If you have PCOS, one of the most significant ways you can impact your chances of conceiving is eating a diet that supports healthy sugar/glucose and insulin levels.

High insulin levels can drive testosterone production, especially in the ovaries. As a result, this can prevent estrogen from rising and ovulation from occurring.

Incorporate good, healthy fats and lean protein in each meal to balance your insulin and glucose levels throughout the day. Also, be sure to eat a diet with a high amount of vegetables to ensure your body gets the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants it needs to build a good-quality egg.

What food groups should one avoid when battling with obesity/weight gain while trying to fall pregnant?

It’s important not to let nutrition be a stressor for you and to know that perfection isn’t required to make changes that will transform your health.

My goal is not to look at foods as either good or bad, but rather to learn to make the best choices daily. 

Food choices often come naturally when you are armed with nutrition information, and you’ll feel at your best when you focus on eating real, whole foods. Sugar, dairy, and gluten will be foods to consider limiting, especially if you are battling with intolerances or autoimmune diseases aggravated by a specific food.

If someone is concerned that they may have PCOS symptoms, what would you recommend they start to do nutritionally to start rebalancing hormone and insulin levels? 

I would test, don’t guess, with PCOS, a variety of different tests are helpful to run. When looking at nutrition, it is the foundation for balancing blood sugar levels and balancing hormones. Focusing on three nourishing meals per day is the first step: Healthy protein, good healthy fats, and fibre from your vegetables.

Although every eating plan is different and tailored for your clients, what would a generally healthy meal plan look like to you with someone battling PCOS?

It’s all about balance; my approach involves teaching women to structure meals to stabilize their blood sugar for hours. I also focus on non-food indicators, e.g., sleep, stress management, exercise, to name a few. This will play a huge role in sustaining your lifestyle and nutritional changes.

You have a 12x week online program specifically targeted to those with PCOS issues – can you tell us a little more about this?

This program is a 3x month program with me, designed to help you understand your type of PCOS and how to manage it with nutrition and lifestyle modifications. It is more of an education program that empowers females to know how to manage their unique PCOS symptoms. 

The program is filled with plenty of wellness guides (to track not only your cycle but mood and more); it includes a 7-day meal plan and recipes (plus additional recipes), a personalised shopping list, and more.

I will be running this program every 3x months, so be sure to get on the waiting list to avoid disappointment. The next enrollment starts in mid-Jan 2021. 

Do you have any advice for someone struggling with weight issues and or PCOS?

PCOS is a complex condition, and it will be in your benefit to see a skilled practitioner or who has a specific focus on PCOS.

What supplements would you recommend for women suffering from PCOS? 

I work in a particular order when treating PCOS, which effectively determines what supplements I will recommend at which time.

That being said, I am not a fan of supplementing a broken nutrition foundation.

I often suggest some essential nutrients: inositol, n-acetylcysteine, omega three fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D.

To find out more about Kirby and to book an appointment with her, get in touch