Friday 26 April 2019

Trouble conceiving? Load your plate with sauerkraut - and then have more sex

'Ladies, get the sauerkraut on to your plates - if it can possibly help you avoid unpleasant and expensive IVF treatment, it's worth a shot'
'Ladies, get the sauerkraut on to your plates - if it can possibly help you avoid unpleasant and expensive IVF treatment, it's worth a shot'
Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty

Every time you open a newspaper or turn on the TV these days, some 'expert' is telling you that all of your problems are due to an unhealthy gut - and that includes infertility.

Google "healthy gut" and over 50 million results come up. Healthy gut cook books are being printed by the minute.

We're being told to drink gallons of apple cider vinegar, eat kimchee, sauerkraut and kefir. The bone broth our grannies tried to force down us is now being hailed as the holy grail of a healthy gut.

According to experts, a leaky or unhealthy gut is the root of all evil. Many experts are now speculating that auto-immune diseases occur when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Some of these diseases include: rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's, and ulcerative colitis.

According to Emma Cannon, also known as the 'Baby Maker', a healthy gut can also help solve fertility problems.

Ms Cannon founded the Fertility Support Clinic in 2004 and has always championed a more natural approach to conceiving.

"One in 28 babies is born to women over 40," Ms Cannon said, "but we're told you only have a 5pc chance of getting pregnant every month when you're 40, so where do these statistics really come from? Science would have you believe our fertility falls off a cliff at 38, but so many other factors come into play. We don't all decline the same way at the same time."

With singer Janet Jackson becoming a mother at 50 and 64-year-old Julia Peyton-Jones giving birth recently, older mothers are sitting up and taking heart.

Irish women, who are leaving it later than any other nationality in Europe to have children, are struggling with fertility in their late 30s and 40s.

A 2015 Eurostat survey found the majority of women in the EU give birth to their first child in their 20s, whereas in Ireland more than 50pc of women were giving birth to their first child in their 30s. Ireland is also above the EU average for first-time mothers in their 40s.

According to the WHO statistics for Ireland, one in six couples now has fertility issues, and IVF is the solution that so many desperate couples turn to.

But with an average cost of €5,000 per round of IVF and only a 20-30pc chance of success, it leaves a lot of couples out of pocket and childless.

In her new book, 'Fertile', Ms Cannon emphasises that IVF isn't the only answer for couples trying to have a family. She suggests that any woman could find her fertility better boosted through acupuncture, making simple dietary changes and having more sex.

"A lot of what I'm doing is about cultivating good health. Often people are prioritising everything but sex. They've created a joyless life for themselves and they're doing endless yoga or furiously juicing and that isn't working either. Our medically supervised clinic takes a holistic review of all the physical and lifestyle factors affecting your fertility and suggests a path forward," she said.

Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have. As women get older the quality of their eggs diminishes. By the age of 40 a woman's chance of conceiving every month is about 5pc.

But with couples settling down later in life and increasing numbers of women focusing on successful careers, or being the main breadwinners in their households, a lot of couples are leaving it until much later to have children.

For many, the expense of IVF is prohibitive and for others it's unsuccessful. Ms Cannon is offering a more holistic approach to getting pregnant but her clinic also works in conjunction with couples who are having IVF to increase their chances of conceiving.

Her approach is practical. "I do not focus on eating 'superfoods', nor do I advocate restrictive fad diets or counting calories. Instead, I look at the diet and lifestyle as a whole and guide clients toward making healthier food choices and lifestyle changes. We should choose foods to eat that make us both happy and healthy," she said.

Ms Cannon firmly believes that the impact a healthy digestion, metabolism of nutrients and regulation of the immune system can have on fertility is profound.

The modern lifestyle does not support fertility, says Ms Cannon. Couples need to switch off their phones and laptops and start having more sex.

The good news, MS Cannon says, is that for women over 40, IVF isn't the only route they can take.

"With leaps forward in our understanding of our bodies, eating one's way to fertility may be the most productive route of all."

Ladies, get the sauerkraut on to your plates - if it can possibly help you avoid unpleasant and expensive IVF treatment, it's worth a shot.

Irish Independent

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