Eating Nuts Boosts Fertility In Men, Research Reveals

Картинки по запросу nuts fertility

Nuts are high in vitamins and fibre, and there’s also some evidence they may be good for keeping your heart healthy. According to a new study, presented by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, eating nuts could also help improve male fertility.

Researchers from Rovira i Virgili University in Spain recruited 119 men aged 18 to 35, and divided them into two groups. One group ate 60 grams, about two handfuls, of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts with their usual diet every day, while the second group ate none.

They were followed up after 14 weeks, and those who ate the nuts had significant improvements in their sperm count, vitality, and motility, and morphology. In other words, they had more sperm cells which were a better shape and moved further, and faster. They also had reduced DNA fragmentation, which is a measure of sperm damage.Похожее изображениеThis comes after a study last year that found there was a significant general decline in men’s sperm counts— about 1.6% a year — in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand between 1973 and 2011.
Картинки по запросу nuts fertilityThe results “support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality,” the researchers said in a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona. But they also stressed that all the participants were healthy and fertile.

The study didn’t look into whether men with fertility problems would experience any benefits from the nuts. It’s also worth noting the research was funded by the International Nut and Dried Food Council.nutsandseeds-10-top-tips-for-male-fertility-by-healthista.com_-e1432723956284.jpg

According to the authors, the results are consistent with previous research which has shown sperm can be improved by diets rich in omega-3, antioxidants like vitamin C and E, selenium, zinc, and folate — all of which are found in nuts. Certain vitamins, such as zinc, have also been associated with later menopause, according to a study earlier this year.
But as for whether men should add nuts to their diet if they’re trying to have a child, “we can’t yet say that,” said study co-author Albert Salas-Huetos.Картинки по запросу Mediterranean healthy diet.“But evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception — and of course, nuts are a key component of a Mediterranean healthy diet.”

 

 

 

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5 myths about infertility

A diagnosis can alter relationships, lead to depression and anxiety, and threaten lifelong expectations of parenthood. Thankfully, medical advances such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) have made it possible for certain couples to conceive, but these treatments carry risks and are often poorly understood. Here are five common misconceptions.

Myth No. 1: Stress causes infertility

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An article on WebMD claims that doctors believe “the stress of actually undergoing infertility treatments can be so great it can stop even the most successful procedures from working.” Anyone who has personally experienced infertility has heard some variant on the advice : “Relax, you’re trying too hard. Just take a break and you’ll get pregnant.”

While stress and infertility can be connected, stress does not cause infertility or treatment failure. A meta-analysis of 14 studies with 3 583 women undergoing fertility treatments found that pretreatment emotional distress was not associated with outcomes.

Research showing an association between stress and infertility usually does not fully account for the indirect effects of stress, such as alcohol use, increased smoking, infrequent sex and dropping out of treatment.

Myth No. 2: Women are more likely to be infertile than men

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Because women get pregnant and men don’t, people often believe that infertility must be related to what’s happening in the female body. Historically, biblical writings, Egyptian papyruses and the medical texts of the classical Greeks show that infertility was a common condition and that women were primarily blamed.

These convictions formed cultural traditions and misperceptions that have lasted for centuries. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website correctly notes that infertility is not always a woman’s problem, it still incorrectly reports that in just 8 percent of infertile couples, the man is solely responsible.

In fact, men and women are equally responsible for an infertility diagnosis.

Myth No. 3: Science and healthy living have extended the biological clock

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In 2003, a 60 Minutes report found that educated professional women who intended to delay childbearing to pursue their careers had significant misperceptions about age and fertility, believing that medical treatments and good health could extend the biological clock well into a woman’s 40s and even 50s – an attitude that has also been found in undergraduate students.

Fertility clinics can also perpetuate this myth with well-intentioned but misleading statements, such as the Fertility Centers of Illinois’ assertion that “advanced medical technology . . . allows us to extend the biological clock for many women.”

Myth No. 4: In vitro fertilization works for most patients

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In an IVF procedure, a sperm and an egg are fertilized outside the body, and the resulting embryo or embryos are transferred to the uterus. Although it has miraculous promise, its success rates and stresses are largely misunderstood.

A study of 8 194 people from eight countries, including the United States, found that “close to 90 percent of the adults surveyed knew about in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but less than one-quarter of them knew about the chances of success of this assisted reproductive technology.”

OB/GYN residents have likewise been found to have unrealistic expectations and incomplete information about IVF, as have men who believed they were fairly knowledgeable about the procedure.

Myth No. 5: My doctor will tell me what I need to know about infertility

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A 2018 study found that 76 percent of women prefer counseling from their doctors when it comes to age-related pregnancy risks. Other research has found that a similar proportion of women believe that their providers are the best sources of information about reproductive health.

Medical professionals themselves concur that it’s important to have these conversations.

Yet these discussions rarely take place, and research indicates that gynecologists and nurses have gaps in their knowledge about issues such as the management of polycystic ovary syndrome and the impact of smoking and age on fertility.

Even when physicians do have the right information, many are reluctant to engage with patients for fear they might increase their patients’ emotional distress or be perceived as pushing childbearing.

Charred barbecued food could be contributing to infertility, study finds

Blackened barbeque meals and sugary foods could be contributing to infertility in women, according to an Australian study.

It is already well known that obesity can lead to difficulties ovulating, and therefore falling pregnant.

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Too much sugary and processed food could be affecting your fertility.

But scientists from Melbourne’s Hudson Institute of Medical Research have also discovered that having a diet high in sugary and processed foods may also be having an impact on conception.

The study examined the uterus cavity of 17 lean and fertile women, and 16 obese women struggling to conceive, and found that the obese group had “very significantly elevated” levels of a sugar by-product called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

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It can form naturally in the body, or through consuming sugary, processed and blackened foods.

Dr Jemma Evans, who led the study, said the sugar by-products impeded fertility by causing inflammation affecting the cells in the lining of the womb, making it harder for an embryo to implant.

“We also found that AGEs interfere with placental development, which may contribute to pregnancy complications,” Dr Evans said.

“This is the first time anyone has demonstrated in laboratory studies that specific toxic factors in the womb can compromise fertility.”

The findings could have significant implications for fertility treatments and the dietary advice offered to women planning to get pregnant.

People with high AGE levels may be told to forgo IVF and try changing their diet first. There are also drugs that could be used to force AGE levels down in older women who do not have time to implement lifestyle changes.

The study’s co-author Professor Lois Salamonsen said women hoping to have a baby could be told to avoid sugars and highly-processed and highly blacked food.

“If you really grill or barbecue food, the browner it gets the more AGEs there are there,” Professor Salamonsen said.

“So therefore one could advise that you don’t eat really heavily barbecued food, or heavily fried, or heavily grilled, but cook things more gently.”

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The research may also have implications for women with polycystic ovary syndrome, after another study found women with the condition (which can also cause infertility) had higher rates of AGEs in their blood.

“Intervening with a low AGE diet could improve the health of women with polycystic ovary syndrome,” Dr Evans said.

Infertility is a growing global phenomenon – thought to affect about one in six people in developed countries.

How to manage emotional rollercoaster of infertility

Becoming a parent is something many people hope for but for some, getting pregnant is harder than imagined and can take an emotional toll, especially when so many people around them seem to get pregnant with no troubles. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine offers advice on how to handle the emotional effects of infertility.

Infertility is defined as being unable to conceive after trying to become pregnant for at least 12 months. “Those who have been trying to conceive for quite some time can begin to experience some very understandable, normal and expected grief,” said Dr. Sohye Kim, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the division of reproductive psychiatry. “They feel that they are excluded from, or are somehow a unique exception to, this natural, exciting stage of life that other people get to experience. This can lead to significant emotional turmoil and, in some cases, clinically significant anxiety or depression.”

In addition to emotional distress, individuals dealing with infertility may feel as though it is running their lives. As months and years goes by, they realize that they have invested so much physical, emotional, and financial resources to their fertility. It is not uncommon to begin to schedule everything, from social engagements to time off from work, around their treatment. A lot of patients report that they feel stuck in this chapter of life, Kim added.

Braving through social media

Seeing other people’s success in starting a family can add to the already difficult emotions, especially when it’s all over social media. When people are grieving infertility, it’s difficult to feel excited about others’ birth announcements, gender reveals and baby showers. Instead, these events may intensify distress for couples who are already in the emotional turmoil of infertility.

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“It’s not that they don’t want to be happy for their friends or family, it’s more that it touches their pain too closely. To protect themselves, some people with infertility pull back from social engagements. This can lead them to feel socially isolated, while also struggling with guilt that they are not participating in their friends’ special occasions,” Kim said.

 

Communicating with your partner

In some cases infertility can place additional stress on the couple relationship. Couples can respond to infertility differently. One person in the couple may have intense emotional reactions, while the other person may primarily view it as a practical issue to tackle. If there is one person who is the primary contributor to infertility, that person may wrestle with guilt while the other partner may experience a very different set of emotions.

“No one understands the experience of infertility more than the couple themselves. If they can be in it together, feel it together, grieve together, openly share emotional reactions, and problem solve together, it can help counteract that sense of isolation and powerfully bring couples closer,” she said. Kim also suggests that this may be a helpful time to seek therapy if couples feels stuck in unhelpful communication patterns or heightened conflicts.

Getting through it

Kim also advises couples to remind themselves of and intentionally schedule in what brought them sense of joy and meaning outside of fertility.

She suggests making time to schedule dates and to rely on social support even when they feel like isolating themselves. “The importance of social support can’t be over-emphasized. It is tremendously helpful to find a small group of people they can trust and allow them to actually be part of their journey,” Kim said.

For individuals who know someone facing infertility, Kim says the best thing to do is to educate themselves on infertility before offering advice. “Friends and family often try to offer quick fixes. For people who have been dealing with infertility for quite some time, these quick fixes are often unhelpful and even hurtful. It’s meant well, but it is important to be aware that sometimes what these people need the most is someone who would walk alongside them without attempting to minimize or fix their pain,” she said.

10 Things to Know About Newborns

1. Baby may be, well, a little funny-looking.

baby sleeping

His head may be smooshed from his journey through the birth canal, and he might be sporting a “bodysuit” of fine hair called lanugo. He could also be puffy-faced and have eyes that are often shut (and a little gooey). After all, he just spent nine months in the womb. But pretty soon, he’ll resemble that beautiful baby you imagined.

 

 

2. Don’t expect rewards — smiles or coos — until about the 6-week mark.

baby

Up until then, you’re working for a boss who only complains! To get through the exhaustion and emotional upheaval, keep this in mind: your efforts aren’t lost on baby in those early days. “He feels comforted by his father or mother, he feels attachment, he likes to be held,” says Los Angeles-based pediatrician Christopher Tolcher, MD.

 

 

3. Give baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off.

mother bathing baby

If it’s kept dry, it falls off faster — usually within two weeks. Besides, newborns don’t get very dirty! If the cord does get wet, pat it dry. And if the stump bleeds a little when the cord falls off, that’s okay, too, as Alyson Bracken, of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, learned. “It scared me at first,” she says, but then she found out that, as with a scab, mild bleeding was normal.

 

4. The soft spot can handle some handling.

father holding baby“I was terrified of the soft spot,” admits April Hardwick, of New York City, referring to the opening in the skull, also called the fontanel, which allows baby to maneuver out of the birth canal. “Gemma had a full head of hair at birth, and I was initially afraid to comb over the soft spot,” Hardwick says. But there was no need to worry: “It’s okay to touch the soft spot and baby’s hair near it,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls. The spot may pulsate because it’s directly over blood vessels covering the brain.

 

5. She’ll let you know if she’s getting enough food.

baby drinking bottleBaby needs to eat every two to three hours — but if you’re nursing, it’s tough to know how much milk she’s getting. “The baby’s weight is the best indicator in the early days,” says Dr. Tolcher. Your pediatrician will check it within a few days of discharge. A newborn loses 5 to 8 percent of her birthweight within the first week but should gain it back by the second. Diaper-counting can also act as a gauge: her schedule those first five days is haphazard, but after that, you’ll see five to six wet diapers a day, and at least one or two stools.

6. Dry skin is the norm for newborns.

Applying lotion to babyInitially, he may be soft and silky, but that changes. “If you soaked yourself in liquid for nine months and then hit the air, you’d be dry too!” says Laura Jana, MD, pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. You don’t have to do anything about dry skin (it typically peels and flakes off), but if you’re so inclined, reach for a hypoallergenic baby lotion that is fragrance-free. Little pink bumps, diaper rashes, and even baby acne may also make an appearance. “Acne tends to last for a few months,” Dr. Jana says. “So get those cute newborn pics before one month!”

7. You don’t have to hole up at home.

swaddled baby smiling“Lead a normal life, but use common sense when you go out in public,” Dr. Tolcher says. Keep baby out of the sun, and avoid sick people (no toddler birthday parties!) and crowded enclosed spaces (such as the mall during the holidays). “Teach older siblings to touch baby’s feet instead of her hands and face, which will help prevent the spread of infection,” he adds. And make your older child the hygiene police, says Dr. Jana. He’ll love telling guests, “Don’t touch the baby without washing your hands.”

 

8. Babies cry a lot — that’s how they communicate!

baby cryingTheir piercing wails will let you know they’re hungry, cold, have a dirty diaper, or want to be held. These early “conversations” can be frustrating, but rest assured, you’ll get a better handle on what she needs in time. Laurie May, of Boardman, Ohio, and her husband quickly learned to read their daughter’s hunger signal. When they were brand-new parents, they set an alarm to go off every two hours to wake Carter for a feeding. “We did not need the alarm!” she says. “We love to laugh at that one now.”

 

9. Newborn babies also sleep a lot — but not for long stretches.

swaddled babyThose first three months are a free-for-all. Baby needs to eat every two to three hours, so you’re not getting much sleep either. “It does get better,” assures Dr. Altmann. “Most infants can sleep for six to eight hours by 3 months of age.” In the meantime, try to get baby on a day and night schedule: during the day, don’t let him snooze more than three hours without waking him to feed; at night let him sleep as long as he wants once he’s regained the weight he lost at birth.

10. The newborn stage is fleeting.

hand on back of sleeping babyStressed, tired, and lonely? Yes, those early days are hard. But they’ll soon be behind you. Barbara Evans, of New York City, says, “I wish I’d known how quickly the time goes.” The mom to Luella, 8 months, says, “I didn’t take enough pictures or keep notes!” Rabeea Baloch, of Sugarland, Texas, shares some veteran-mom experience: “With my first, I stressed over every single thing, from changing diapers to whether baby was crying more than usual. With my second, I just enjoyed holding her, smelling her, kissing her, and loving the time together.”

10 foods that boost male fertility

10 tips to increase male fertilityA good diet is so important for healthy sperm development, not only what you take in but also what you reduce and/or avoid completely. A great deal of interest is growing in the research of sperm quality and viability.  Quality is more important than quantity and it is now believed that men with a comparatively low sperm count can still be fertile if the sperm is in good condition.

Sperm is particularly vulnerable to free radical damage known as oxidative stress.  Free radicals are unstable molecules that are linked with cellular destruction and high levels endanger sperm function and viability.  Causes include poor nutrition, pollutants such as smoking, environmental chemicals  and poor detoxification processes by the body.

Semen normally contains antioxidants to protect sperm against free radicals and if in some way this natural defence system is impaired, the effect on sperm can be extremely damaging.   Therefore it is essential both to remove potential causes of free radical damage and to eat a diet high in antioxidants.

8 foods to eat more of…

1. TOMATOES

Картинки по запросу tomatoesTomatoes are one of the best food sources of the antioxidant lycopene. There have been several studies undertaken on lycopene and male fertility and it has been found to significantly improve motility (the sperms ability to swim), activity and structure of sperm.  Lycopene is more available in cooked or processed tomatoes, so use tomato puree for a real hit and add olive oil to aid absorption of this fat-soluble antioxidant.

 

 

2. WALNUTS

Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and according to a study by the Society for the Study of Reproduction eating 2.5 oz or around 75g of walnuts (about a handful) daily is linked with increased sperm vitality, motility and morphology. They’re a great way to add flavour and crunch to salads or as a nutritious mid afternoon snack to help manage blood sugar levels.

10 tips to improve male fertility3. PUMPKIN SEEDS

Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which plays an important role in sperm development and testosterone production. They are also rich in several other essential minerals and vitamins.  Choose raw, organic pumpkin seeds for optimal nutritional value and sprinkle into cereals, salads and smoothies.

4. LENTILS

Lentils are one of the richest food sources of folate (natural folic acid) which is just as important for male fertility as it is for female fertility.   It has been found that men who have a lower intake of folate from their diet have higher rates of chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm.  Lentils are also a great vegetarian source of protein and fibre.  Try Asian spiced lentils with grilled cod … a delicious and nutritious combination.

5. BLUEBERRIES

Blueberries are wonderful source of powerful, anti-inflammatory antioxidants including quercetin and resveratrol. Studies show that quercetin can help in maintaining healthy sperm parameters including motility and quality and resveratrol has been found to improve sperm count and motility.   Include a handful of blueberries daily, they’re delicious whizzed up in a smoothie or sprinkled over Greek yoghurt and topped with a little good quality granola and some chopped walnuts.

6. WATER

One of the simplest ways of improving sperm count and quality is to drink enough water. Semen is water based and increasing liquid consumption can help increase the ejaculate and improve sperm production.   Ensure it is more water that you are consuming, caffeine is a diuretic and soft drinks may be linked with lowering sperm counts.

7. POMEGRANATES

Pomegranate has long been considered a superfood due to its high 10 ways to increase male fertilityantioxidant content which can improve blood circulation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower inflammation.  Research shows that pomegranate causes surges in testosterone, improves sperm quality and increases sex drive and mood in both sexes.   A Turkish study showed that rats fed pomegranate juice daily for seven weeks showed an increase in the production of antioxidants that help protect the vulnerable fatty acids in sperm against oxidation.  Drink a glass of good quality, 100 per cent pomegranate juice daily.

8. DARK CHOCOLATE

Dark chocolate is a rich source of the amino acid L-arginine which studies show can increase the volume of ejaculate and improve sperm count and motility. The darker the chocolate, the better – try the delicious bittersweet 85 per cent dark chocolate … a little goes a long way.

 

…and 2 things to give up

1. CAFFEINE

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Although studies seem to show that caffeine does not adversely affect sperm count, the ability to swim or the shape of the sperm, an American study found that higher caffeine consumption appears to reduce the chances of a clinical pregnancy during IVF.  So (both partners) try and keep to one (decent) cup of coffee daily.

2. DIET DRINKS

Research shows that aspartame (sweetener widely used in diet drinks) is linked with lower sperm count and can contribute to sperm DNA damage.   Don’t rush out and buy the full fat version though as the high sugar content is not good news and research shows that men who consume more soft drinks of any kind tend to have lower sperm counts.

 

by nutrition consultan, Isabelle Obert

How to get ready to be a dad

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There is plenty of good information about how women can improve their chance of falling pregnant and having a healthy baby. But what about fathers to be? Well, research now shows that the father’s age and his health at the time of conception also affect the chance of his partner falling pregnant and the future health of the baby. Here is what you need to know about how to get ready to be a dad and give your baby the best start in life.

Age and fertility

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Unlike women who are born with all the eggs they will ever have, men continue to produce sperm throughout life, which means that they can potentially reproduce into old age. But, the quality of the sperm men produce seems to decline as they get older. Partners of men who are over the age of 45 take longer to fall pregnant than partners of younger men and are more likely to have a miscarriage. And while they are rare, autism and other mental health problems are slightly more common in children with older fathers. So, if you have a partner and want to have children,
sooner is better than later.

Obesity

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Most people know that being obese increases the risk of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. But many are unaware that obesity can lower a man’s fertility. This is likely due to a combination of factors including hormone problems, problems with erection and/or other health conditions linked to obesity.

Paternal obesity can also affect the health of the baby. This is because obesity influences the environment where sperm mature and this can change how the genes that are passed on to the child from the father at the time of conception function. Changes in genes in response to the environment are called epigenetic and they can affect the health of the baby at birth and in adulthood.

Men and women are twice as likely to make positive health behavior changes if their partner does too. So, a joint approach to losing weight and increasing physical activity by partners who want to have a baby will improve their chances of achieving this goal. Getting support, setting realistic goals and giving yourself enough time to achieve them, learning about nutrition and healthy eating, and exercising regularly increases your chance of losing weight and keeping it off.

Smoking

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Cigarette smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals that cause damage to all parts of the body, including to sperm. Just like with obesity, smoking changes the environment where sperm mature and this can lead to socalled epigenetic changes which increase the risk of health problems in children born to fathers who smoke. Heavy smoking (>20 cigarettes per day) by fathers at the time of conception increases the child’s risk of childhood leukemia.

There is no safe limit for smoking, the only way to protect yourself and your unborn baby from harm is to quit. But, quitting can be difficult and you may need support. Speak to your doctor for advice and information about helpful resources.

Environmental toxins

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As part of daily life and in some work environments we are exposed to many toxic substances and pollutants. Some of these can affect a man’s sperm and his fertility and also potentially his children’s health and development. Environmental factors that are known to have a detrimental effect on reproductive health include pesticides, heavy metals, some chemicals, harmful plastics, radiation, recreational drugs and anabolic steroids. If you and your partner plan to have a baby, talk to your doctor about how you can avoid exposure to substances that might affect your reproductive health.

Main points to remember

Картинки по запросу men fertility

  • If you and your partner want a baby, the sooner you start trying the better
  • Being in the healthy weight range improves your chance of having a healthy baby
  • If you smoke, quit and improve your and your baby’s health
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals at home and at work.

 

Eating rules for a surrogate mother

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Pregnancy is a very important process, because it is necessary to create for the embryo all the conditions for its growth. And one of the important components is the mother’s nutrition. Along with food substances that are necessary to ensure that the fetus can receive the necessary “building materials” in time and develop fully, come into the female body, and the woman’s body can easily endure this special condition.

It is important not only to try to provide the woman and child with all necessary things with the help of nutrition, but also to minimize the ingress of harmful substances into the body, which can somehow harm the baby. Therefore, when the services of a surrogate mother are used in the reproductive program, special emphasis is placed on nutrition issues. A surrogate mother must follow a number of rules which relate to the diet, the foods and the way they are cooked.

Peculiarities of the menu

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The nutrition for a surrogate mother should be rational and include products that contain the right amount of essential substances. It is very important that the body receives enough vitamins and trace elements, and proteins, fats and carbohydrates are consumed in the right proportion to each other. All this is necessarily discussed and prescribed, what food and in what quantities should be used.

Both for the woman who bears her child, and the surrogate mother, it is necessary to exclude from the menu a certain set of products, including: canned food, smoked products, semi-finished products, mushrooms, alcohol, carbonated drinks.

There are also products, the use of which should be limited. These are, for example, confectionery and other foods high in sugar, pickled foods, spicy foods, foods that can cause allergies.

The diet of a pregnant woman or a surrogate mother A woman in this critical period of life needs not only to eat the right foods, but also to observe a special diet:

  • Eat often and slightly. At the same time the meals should be five times a day in the first half of pregnancy and 5-6 times a day in the second half of pregnancy.
  • Cooking from fresh foods and eating freshly prepared foods.
  • Drink plenty of liquid. A woman must satisfy the daily need of the body for liquid. This is about 35 g per 1 kg of weight. So, if the weight is 60 kg, then 2 liters of liquid must be consumed per day. But this rule is canceled in the last weeks of pregnancy, when the amount of fluid should be limited to 0.8 liters.
  • When cooking, give preference to steamed, baked, boiled and stewed dishes.
  • Make a menu in such a way that in the morning more meat, fish and cereals are eaten, and in the evening mostly dairy and plant products.

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All this is important not only for surrogate mothers, but also for women who are bearing their child.

Proper nutrition gives strength and energy, helps pregnancy to pass easily, and allows the child during the period of formation not to lack the necessary substances.

The EU fertility rates

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France and Sweden have the highest fertility rates in Europe but births across the EU are less than needed to replenish the population naturally, the bloc’s statistics agency said on Wednesday.

Spain and Italy had the lowest birth rates, with countries in southern Europe, which has suffered most from economic problems in recent years, generally lower than those in the north.

Across the 28-nation European Union, 5.148 million babies were born in 2016, the last year for which figures were available, compared to 5.103 million in 2015, Eurostat announced.

Overall the total fertility rate was 1.60 births per woman, well short of the 2.1 live births per woman that Eurostat says is “considered to be the replacement level in developed countries”.

France led the way with a fertility rate of 1.92 births per woman, followed by Sweden (1.85), Ireland (1.81), Denmark and the United Kingdom (both on 1.79), the figures showed.

Spain and Italy were the lowest on 1.34 births per woman, followed by Portugal (1.36), Cyprus and Malta (both 1.37), Greece (1.38) and Poland (1.39).

Germany, where the rate is 1.59 births per woman, noted a record number of babies in 2016 at 792,131, boosted by an increase in births by non-German women following large numbers of migrant arrivals.

The federal statistics authority Destatis, who released the figures Wednesday, said while German women had some 3.0 percent more babies, non-German births increased 25 percent.

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Declining birth rate

Women in the EU had their first child on average at 29 years old, with the youngest in Bulgaria (26 years) and the oldest in Italy (31 years), Eurostat said.

The highest shares of births to teenage mothers were in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

Finland led the way for large families with one in ten mothers having their fourth or subsequent child.

Europeans have been having fewer children for decades, and a slight rebound since reaching a low of 5.0 million in 2002 has largely stalled since 2014.

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Eurostat said in a statement last year that the 2.1 replenishment level was the “average number of live births per woman required to keep the population size constant in the absence of migration.”

Migration is a political hot potato in the European Union with right-wing parties making gains in elections in Italy and Germany recently on the back of anti-immigration platforms.

The issue has been sensitive since the 2015 migration crisis during which more than one million refugees and migrants came to Europe, many of them fleeing the war in Syria.

Here is an interactive map, with more detailed information, interactive world fertility and health statistics 2017:

https://esrimedia.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=15e767cd077443e3a7777f328d85f5f0

Folic Acid Is A Super Vitamin For Pregnancy. Here’s Why

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Once a woman finds out she’s pregnant, the questions begin.”What should I eat?” “What should I remove from my diet?”—the list of answers can be long. So how do you cut through the noise to decide what’s best for your baby and for you?

All of the science and research points to following a healthy balanced diet that provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals from whole and minimally processed sources to best support the baby’s growth and development. Increasingly, there’s more of focus on what you “can’t have” as a pregnant woman. But as a registered dietitian, I tell my clients that what is consumed is as important as what is not consumed.

Often our diets don’t meet our bodies’ nutritional needs—pregnant women need more of certain vitamins and minerals to help support the growing baby. Prenatal vitamins and supplements enriched with vitamin D, calcium, DHA, and other pregnancy-specific nutrients can be immensely helpful in prepping the body to be ready to conceive and supporting it throughout the pregnancy. Finding a prenatal with sufficient folic acid or to supplement with folic acid separately before getting pregnant is particularly important.

What is folic acid (and folate)?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate, and folate naturally occurs in food. Folic acid can be found in fortified foods and supplements. For women older than 19, the recommended dietary allowance for folate is 400 mcg daily. During pregnancy, the recommendation increases to 600 mcg daily and during lactation decreases slightly to 500 mcg.

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Folic acid and birth defect prevention.

In the first weeks of pregnancy, embryonic development is fast and furious. Nerves are configured, organs begin to grow, and the neural tube forms, laying the pathway for later development of the brain and spinal cord.

If the mother is unaware of her pregnancy, she may also not know about her own nutritional deficiencies. At this developmental stage, a folate deficiency could result in a defect in the neural tube, a structure that becomes the baby’s spine. Neural tube defects (NTDs) are birth defects that negatively affect the spinal cord, spine, and brain. When the neural tube isn’t properly formed, it can result in spina bifida or anencephaly, two of the more commonly known NTDs.

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When to take folic acid supplements.

In an effort to mitigate the adverse effects of having insufficient amounts of folic acid, the U.S. government began to require the supplementation of folic acid in grain-based foods in 1998. This was a public health measure to increase the population-wide consumption of folic acid as a widespread tool for decreasing the risk of NTDs. When someone consumes folate in food, the body uses energy for absorption in the gut, and it passively diffuses across the cell membrane. So when it comes to women who are of childbearing age, recommendations focus on supplementation along with dietary intake.

So women of childbearing age are recommended to supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid at least one month before conception and during the first four weeks of pregnancy, which can prevent up to 70 percent of NTDs. The risk for NTDs is highest during the first few weeks of the pregnancy. Once the neural tube is closed, the protective effects of folic acid supplementation wear off. Because the neural tubes close so early in pregnancy there are worldwide public health recommendations that strongly encourage all women in their childbearing years to supplement with 400 mcg folic acid daily to reduce the risk of NTDs. When it comes to folic acid, timing of supplementation is key to reaping its protective effects.

Some research suggests that vitamin C may boost folate absorption as a result of the protective antioxidant properties of vitamin C, so try taking it with your vitamin C or vitamin-C-rich foods.

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Whole food sources of folate.

Any woman who is thinking about getting pregnant should know the CDC’s recommendations and begin taking a prenatal vitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid at least three months before trying to get pregnant. This preconception time is a wonderful moment to re-examine and to take a good look at what is being consumed on a regular basis while continuing to incorporate well-balanced whole and minimally processed foods that provide an array of vitamins and minerals. It’s a great way of showing your body and growing baby some love.

When thinking about obtaining folate from food sources, fresh is best. Because folate is a water-soluble vitamin, it can be subject to easy degradation. This means that supplemental folate may be easily broken down and/or become unstable as a result of extended storage and being exposed to heat such as in cooking, so keep that in mind when preparing your folate-rich foods. For the veggies, I would recommend shorter cooking times and methods that do not leach nutrients from the food. The most bioavailable plant-based food sources of folate are spinach, black-eyed peas, and fortified breakfast cereals. Liver provides more than 50 percent of your daily value for folate in one serving.

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According to the USDA, here are some high-folate, whole food sources:

  • 3 ounces of beef liver 215 mcg/serving
  • ½ cup boiled spinach 131 mcg/serving
  • ½ cup black-eyed peas 105 mcg/serving
  • 1 serving fortified breakfast cereal 100 mcg/serving
  • 4 spears of boiled asparagus 89 mcg/serving
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce 64 mcg/serving
  • ½ cup avocado 59 mcg/serving

 

by Maya Feller, R.D., M.S.