It is important to eat for health when trying to conceive, particularly foods rich in plant nutrients. Amazingly, plants can take energy from the sun and produce these colorful foods that have so many beneficial actions in the human body. The effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in enhancing fertility is likely due to its richness in antioxidant plant nutrition.
Producing quality sperm and eggs requires lots of cellular energy. The processes of making energy, removing toxins and killing infections create chemicals in the body called reactive oxygen species, better known as ROS. In order to keep ROS in balance, the body requires antioxidants. Antioxidants are important as we age, as they protect cells, like egg and sperm cells, from damage. If ROS become too burdensome, they start to damage and age cells, including the cells responsible for sperm and egg development. To counter this potential damage, there is a powerful cellular signaling protein known as Nrf2, that promotes the production of antioxidants. During times of chronic stress, (lack of sleep/infections/poor diet/life stress/toxins), Nrf2 gets depleted and cells do not get the signal to produce these beneficial antioxidants.
Fortunately there are several nutrients that promote Nrf2 production. Broccoli sprouts and other members of the cruciferous vegetable family (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage) have key nutrients, like sulforaphane (SGS) that provide Nrf2 support, as well as enhance hormone balance and detoxification. The sulforaphane (SGS) in broccoli sprouts is a potent Nrf2 promotor, helping cells tackle these oxidative stressors. Broccoli sprouts other super powers include the ability to kill viruses, reduce inflammation and boost natural killer cell function. Natural killer cells (great name, right?) are one of the body’s first lines of defense when tackling infected or cancer cells. Due to so many life stressors, aging and infections, natural killer cell levels drop, setting people up for chronic infections and illness. Using food as medicine, like broccoli sprouts, can help to replenish these vital cells.
Adding flavorful broccoli sprouts, as well as other members of the cruciferous family, to your smoothies, soups, salads or as a side dish is a great way to boost Nrf2 power, aid hormone balance, support general detoxification and enhance immunity. From an energetic stand point, sprouts have that new life mojo, which is another great way to boost your body’s fertility forces!
And of course~organic foods are more fertilicious, so eat organic whenever you can!
And as always, be well.
Bousquet, J., Cristol, JP., Czarlewski, W. et al. Nrf2-interacting nutrients and COVID-19: time for research to develop adaptation strategies. Clin Transl Allergy 10, 58 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13601-020-00362-7
Yu J-S, Chen W-C, Tseng C-K, Lin C-K, Hsu Y-C, Chen Y-H, et al. (2016) Sulforaphane Suppresses Hepatitis C Virus Replication by Up-Regulating Heme Oxygenase-1 Expression through PI3K/Nrf2 Pathway. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0152236. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152236
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