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Elements of Health

Fertility, your hormones and why choose full fat dairy

Trying to balance hormones or hoping to get pregnant? Avoid those low fat dairy products we’ve all been encouraged to go for and choose the full fat ones instead.

In recent years we have seen much more recognition of the connection between hormonal balance, fertility and nutrition. A connection which has long been understood in the world of farming and animal breeding and much of it is now widely known, however this piece of information seems to be a new, little publicised and very interesting discovery.

A long term research project from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health studied more than 18,000 women looking at the effects of diet and other factors on the development of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Each of these women said she was trying to have a baby. Over eight years of follow-up, most of them did. About one in six women, though, had some trouble getting pregnant, including hundreds who experienced ovulatory infertility—a problem related to the maturation or release of a mature egg each month. When comparing diets, exercise habits and other lifestyle choices with those of women who readily got pregnant, several key differences emerged.

One of these was the effects of removing fat from dairy products. A fascinating finding from the Nurses’ Health Study is that a daily serving or two of whole milk and foods made from whole milk—full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and, yes, even ice cream—seem to offer some protection against ovulatory infertility, while skim and low-fat milk do the opposite.

The results fly in the face of current standard nutrition advice. However they make sense when you consider what skim and low-fat milk do, and don’t, contain. Removing fat from milk radically changes its balance of sex hormones in a way that could tip the scales against ovulation and conception. Proteins added to make skim and low-fat milk look and taste “creamier” push it even farther away.

The depth and detail of the Nurses’ Health Study database allowed us to see which foods had the biggest effects. The most potent fertility food from the dairy case was, by far, whole milk, followed by ice cream. Sherbet and frozen yogurt, followed by low-fat yogurt, topped the list as the biggest contributors to ovulatory infertility. The more low-fat dairy products in a woman’s diet, the more likely she was to have had trouble getting pregnant. The more full-fat dairy products in a woman’s diet, the less likely she was to have had problems getting pregnant.

All this perhaps goes to underline a wonderful piece of advice I was given once “If your granny/great granny wouldn’t recognise it – don’t eat it” A point particularly brought home to me when I first witnessed American spray on cheese??? Just because they can make it doesn’t necessarily mean we should consume it.

Amanda Ross Elements of health

Amanda specialises in removing believes, blocks, fears and traumas which may stand in the way of achieving your goals. This process has been used effectively by some clients wishing to conceive.

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