Fertility in the Modern Age
Human fertility today is in a bit of a crisis. It has not gotten to the point that alarm bells are ringing, but many couples have an incredibly difficult time conceiving in this day and age. About 15% of couples today are considered infertile, meaning they have been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success. In addition, men’s sperm health, quality, and quantity have declined drastically over the past few decades. Coupled with hormonal birth control effects for women, fertility barriers are becoming increasingly more common. There are many reasons for this, so let's start with the main issues:
Specifically endocrine disrupting chemicals are the most pervasive. These chemicals can result in estrogen dominance, including in men, and drastically disrupt normal physiological functions, especially relating to fertility. There are toxins that can disrupt ovulation, cause endometriosis, PCOS, erectile dysfunction and infertility. The names for a couple of these toxins are phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens. These are most often found in plastics, which are completely ubiquitous in our world today. It is very difficult to reduce exposure to these chemicals, but a good start would be to eat and drink out of only glass and ceramic, filter your water, wear clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, hemp, etc., and have furniture, bedding, etc. made of natural fibers, so they do not off-gas harmful chemicals.
Many of us are shocked to hear that the air quality inside our homes is likely worse than the air quality outside, even with cars driving by, airplanes flying over head, and industry emissions polluting the air. Indoor air quality is a concern with all the chemicals off-gassing from our furniture, floors, walls, gadgets and gizmos we fill our houses with. This can be very harmful for respiratory health and wellness. An easy way to fight this is to have only natural, non-off-gassing items in your home, as well as numerous houseplants that filter the air naturally.
With all the WIFI, cell signals, and general radiation produced by modern communication technologies, our bodies are not sure how to handle these stresses. Men who are exposed to cell phone radiation all day have been found to have a 50% reduction in sperm count, a 28% increase in developing a tumor, and a 34% reduction in sperm viability. In addition, EMF’s disrupt the calcium channels in your cells, and can lead to numerous health problems, including abnormal tissue growth and sub-optimal cellular communication and functioning.
The food of today is most often a highly processed mess of chemicals and garbage ingredients. The vegetable oils and added sugars are especially toxic to the human body, directly resulting in chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and all forms of neurodegeneration. To fix this issue, we need to eat pasture-raised animals from nose-to-tail, and try to eat mostly in season and local fruits and vegetables when available.
Our lives today are completely out of balance with what our bodies have evolved to handle over the past 2 million years. We are meant to be outdoors in nature, breathing clean air, constantly moving, getting plenty of sunshine, and eating natural, whole foods. Today we are almost never outside, primarily sitting on a couch or at our desks, eating processed foods, and in a highly stressful, artificially lit environment. The lack of movement and exercise is having a profound negative effect on our health. In addition, the artificial light that is overly skewed toward the blue end of the spectrum drastically reduces our bodies ability to produce melatonin and get a proper amount of quality sleep. The stress and meaninglessness of modern day life also reduce our overall health, and thus, our fertility. Some fixes to these issues are to schedule in daily walks outside in the sun, try to stand more, perhaps using a stand up desk at work, drink clean, filtered water, have meaningful connections and conversations with people face to face, and consider blue light blocking glasses once the sun starts going down.
Lost Ancestral Knowledge for Fertility
Historically, numerous cultures around the world had traditional foods and knowledge they would share with young couples preparing to conceive and for pregnancy. Today, much of that knowledge has been lost and is not passed down through generations. Luckily, researchers have examined these fertility foods across cultures around the world and have documented their findings. An overarching theme we have found among the many cultural foods for pregnancy include an emphasis on fat soluble vitamins.
Populations near the ocean, such as the Eskimos from Alaska would consume fish eggs to maintain fertility. These eggs are rich in vitamins A, D and K.
Native American ancestors would favor the organs over the muscle meat, especially the liver. The liver is the single most nutrient dense and bioavailable food on the planet. They would also consume the bone marrow whenever possible.
Herding cultures would consume raw dairy products, including fresh milk and butter, which provided the fat-soluble vitamins to increase the absorption of all minerals in the food.
Fat Soluble Vitamins are Key for Fertility
Just to go into a little more detail on the importance of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, we will discuss their sources and applications to fertility and health. These vitamins are critical to human health, fertility, and the development of a healthy fetus. The true forms of these vitamins are found almost exclusively in animal foods. Plants often have the pre-cursors to vitamins, such as beta-carotene, which are converted into the actual Vitamin A in the human body, but in minuscule amounts and are thus not an adequate source for fertility. Vitamins are also much more bioavailable in animal foods than plant sources, meaning the body actually absorbs and uses them properly.
The true form of vitamin A is called retinol, and the best source of this critical nutrient is liver. Vitamin A is important for eye health, and is critical as a regulator to drive the growth of sperm, eggs, and the growing fetus. A lack of Vitamin A can result in impaired sperm health, and an improper development of the placenta. Vitamin A also helps the immune system and is key in cell differentiation.
Vitamin D is best obtained from the sun, but can also be found mostly in seafood, including fatty fish, fish roe, and cod liver oil. This vitamin is critical for the immune system, bone health, cardiovascular health, the prevention of gestational diabetes, and other aspects of pregnancy. Vitamin D also drives the creation of healthy sperm, eggs, and the placenta. D is also key for a healthy testosterone level.
This vitamin is a major antioxidant in the body, helping protect the cell membranes from degradation from reactive oxygen species. This helps boost all aspects of health, as every cell in the body has a cell membrane. This vitamin is found primarily in grass-fed animals.
Specifically Vitamin K2, which is found primarily in animal foods and natto. Vitamin K works in conjunction with A and D to maintain bone health, prevent the calcification of arteries, keep your heart healthy, and improve overall health by improving the body's utilization of Vitamins A and D. K2 is found in grass-fed butter, milk, beef, salmon roe, liver and egg yolks.
In addition to the fat soluble vitamins, some additional critical nutrients for fertility are the Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA, found in fatty seafood and salmon roe; choline and folate, found in egg yolks and organ meats; and iron, zinc and magnesium, found in grass-fed meat. Magnesium can also be found in healthy mineral waters, such as Gerolsteiner.
With all of these dangers to our health and fertility, it can seem overwhelming to even try to overcome these difficulties. However, there are some concrete steps you can take to help make yourself healthier, and more fertile in the event you want to have a child.
Our first step for our own fertility journey was for Lindsay to go off hormonal birth control three years ago. Female birth control is incredibly dangerous for women’s health, and absolutely makes it much harder to conceive. Lindsay stopped her hormonal birth control in January 2017, and in place started using the Natural Cycles App, which uses your basal temperature at waking to time your cycle. It is highly accurate, regardless of what modern medicine tells you, if you use the app correctly. By measuring her temperature each morning, she was able to determine which phase of her cycle she was in, which five-seven days of the month she was fertile, and when she was not. Lindsay was able to use these three years to allow her cycle to normalize and her hormones to balance, while still utilizing a form of natural birth control. This worked extremely well for us, as we did not get pregnant for three years, and then when we decided to start trying to conceive in 2020, we got pregnant immediately on January 7.
The next step we took was starting the ketogenic diet at the end of 2017. Again, regardless of what modern medicine tells you, the keto diet can be incredibly helpful for hormonal balance in men and women, and thus, excellent for pregnancy. There are endless anecdotes of individuals who appear to be infertile, then start the ketogenic diet, and within months become pregnant. All of the healthy saturated fat and cholesterol are incredibly healing to human hormones, and truly help balance your body and your fertility. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do keto. We ate a whole foods, healthy ketogenic diet. This means we sourced our animals from White Oak Pastures, which is a regenerative agricultural farm of the highest quality. From them we ate 100% pasture raised chicken, turkey, duck, pork, lamb, goats, beef, as well as many organs, specifically liver, heart, bone marrow, and tallow. The best foods for fertility are liver, bone marrow, and tallow, because they are so rich in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and they are also highly bioavailable in animal form (meaning your body can easily absorb the nutrients). In addition, about one year before we started trying to conceive, we started taking Ancestral Supplements products, including the Organ Blend, Bone Marrow, Tallow, Brain, and several others. This was to obtain the organs in adequate amounts, and to consume organs we couldn’t buy or just did not have a palate for. Organs do have a unique flavor, so if you are unable to eat them, taking Ancestral Supplements whole organ extracts is a great alternative that we fully embraced.
Lastly, to combat the issues with EMF’s, Nic started wearing Lambs Underwear, which is an EMF blocking underwear. It has a silver mesh lining, and thus blocks EMF, and is anti-microbial and anti-odor.
Some things we have always done is try to buy organic cotton clothing and sheets, minimal off-gassing products, use natural and non-toxic cleaning products, filter all the water we drink, have an air filter for the indoors, and have many plants throughout the house to naturally filter the air.
To sum everything up, fertility is becoming a challenge in our modern world, but by eating a healthy nose-to-tail animal based diet, reducing EMF exposure, eliminating harmful toxins and pollutants, drinking clean water, exercising, getting sunshine and fresh air, spending time in nature, connecting with family and friends, and eliminating endocrine disrupting and artificial hormones, we can reclaim our health, our fertility, and our humanity. We realize we were extremely fortunate to able to conceive so quickly, and also realize that for many that is not always the case. We also realize that there are many barriers facing our generation today that didn't exist before. So these are just some of the numerous (and cautious) steps we have taken to ensure our own fertility, as well as Lindsay's and the baby's health for pregnancy.
Last, we would love to hear from you! Reach out and tell us your own fertility story, or if you are having issues conceiving and want to talk about it, we are here for you.