Natalie’s belief in the benefits of alternative therapies saw her establish her own Women’s Health and Natural Fertility practice in Melbourne, The Pagoda Tree, in 2003.
The birth of Natalie’s first child – daughter Olivia – further fuelled her love for natural health and home living and revealed to her an entirely new treatment perspective – integrating the western medical approach with alternative therapies, Chinese medicine and natural fertility methods.
Natalie’s expertise is in women’s health and fertility, specifically supporting women to become mothers. Her knowledge in fertility and natural medicine has been featured in many publications, including Marie Claire, Cosmo Health, Cosmo Pregnancy and Body + Soul, and she has appeared on The Morning Show as their Natural Health expert.
There are many do’s and don’ts often offered as kind words of advice – some seem logical and others can be a little scratchy. Supercharging your fertility loops back to how we look after ourselves day to day, and there are certainly some key players when it comes to supporting your hormones, your health and your reproductive ability. The perfect time to get clued up on good health is in preparation for conception, but equally we can all benefit from supporting hormone health, not just in the lead up to pregnancy but for overall wellbeing.
Frequently, I’m quizzed as to the importance of diet and lifestyle for wellbeing. To me as a practitioner, what we contribute to our body daily is paramount. It can set us up to thrive or it can be our undoing if we can’t care for ourselves in the simplest sense. What’s more, our bodies quickly show us when things aren’t working well. Often the first in the line of fire is our reproductive system since it’s not essential for survival. Whilst some changes we’re about to dive into are seemingly small, tallying it all up can have mass impact on your fertility.
Let’s face it – overhauls can be overwhelming, but making small adjustments day by day can see you and your partner on track with ease. It’s about making it work for you and feeling the benefits. Applying these basic diet and lifestyle changes can see your fertility on course in as little as 3 months.
Our bodies rely on us to make good choices when it comes to nourishment. Without certain nutrients, our hormones undoubtedly suffer. I suspect our hormones on the whole took a nosedive with the now outdated low fat food movement. Over the course of three decades we starved our bodies of the essential building blocks of our hormones, fats and proteins. It’s vital that good fats like nuts, seeds, oily fish, and avocado are plentiful in our diet alongside quality proteins found in eggs, meats and some legumes and plants. These work alongside micronutrients found in fruit and vegetables, seeds, grains and meats to constantly top up our vitamin and mineral stores and keep our hormones happy.
It’s not just about what you can add to your diet but equally what needs to move to the ‘less’ list. There are a few prime offenders that can really disrupt hormone function.
Alcohol mimics our body’s own oestrogen, which in high amounts can cause mayhem with fertility and hormone balance. For women, more than two glasses per week may affect ovulation. For men, excess consumption will certainly influence sperm quality (around three alcohol free days per week with no more than 2 glasses in a sitting). It’s important to enjoy life whilst being mindful of what may be taking you off course and adjust accordingly.
Soy is a phytoestrogen, which like alcohol, mimics oestrogen. Soy in it’s natural form, prepared alongside meats and vegetables or fermented, is a great source of protein however sadly, soy has made it’s way into almost all processed foods and is generally genetically modified. It’s a disaster for hormone health and best consumed in low amounts.
Welcome to living in the time of the stress epidemic. Stress affects us all in various ways and it’s important to learn and understand how you can turn pressure into a positive influence. Stress will lead to hormone imbalance and indirectly increase oestrogen levels in the body, which can affect both sperm health and menstrual cycles. Understand that stress is much more than a pending deadline or financial strain – it is eating nutrient lacking food, not sleeping well, emotional upset, poor detoxification and ongoing issues like pain. Start simple when it comes to getting control over stress – begin with being conscious around where your stress is and what you can do to start to switch things up. It can be as simple as recognising your stress to set you on the road to making changes.
Exercise is one fabulous way of helping you to utilise your stress hormones, however it’s important to understand that excess exercise and consistent high intensity exercise will place further strain on the body, repeating the stress response. Low to moderate intensity exercise is best – it also helps to keep weight under control (alongside good nutrition). Weight can certainly influence the body’s ability to reproduce – just as little as 4kg can be all that’s standing in between you and your more fertile self especially in cases of known hormone imbalance like Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and Oestrogen Dominance.
Not only is it considered exercise; it’s a healthy part of any loving relationship. Sex helps relieve stress and releases the feel good hormones important for keeping wellbeing in check. The pressure of conception can only add to the list of stressors. How often is enough? Keep it ‘regular,’ whatever that means for you and your situation. For those needing to improve sperm quality (alongside the factors we’ve discussed here), frequent sex is a must to move out abnormal forms and make way for new healthy sperm. Many couples fall into the trap of forgetting to have sex post ovulation. Exercising your reproductive organs right throughout the month helps to support implantation and keep the uterus lining well nourished.
We don’t all need to complete a ‘detox’ but your body’s ability to cleanse and convert your hormones properly begins with a well working detoxification system. In a perfect world this wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but we live at a time where pollutants, water quality, toxins and chemicals in our homes (cleaning products, body products) all contain chemicals which are known endocrine disruptors and can certainly influence our hormones. There are a few easy changes you can make with regards to your body running a little cleaner;
Drinking plenty of clean filtered water can make the world of difference. Not only will your body benefit from being hydrated but it helps with detoxification too.
Consider switching your cleaning products to greener alternatives. Bleaches and chemicals can really play havoc with hormone health and again can mimic oestrogen leading to imbalance.
Including plenty of green leafy vegetables to support detoxification.