Keep Cool with Chilled Nourishment

As temperatures rise here in Phoenix, chilled soups are a great way to cool down and utilize all the fresh produce that is available during summer months. I recommend using fresh local, organic ingredients whenever possible for the recipes listed here. Both of these chilled soups are great for a light lunch option, or a starter to your evening meal. Cucumber Avocado Soup

Serves 4

4 large cucumbers, cleaned and peeled, seeds removed

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 avocado, peeled and pitted

¼ c. chopped dill (optional)

¼ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 c. purified water

Put all ingredients in the blender and whir until creamy smooth. Pour into bowls and serve.

Additional notes: Cucumbers have a high water content which gives them diuretic properties, as well as cooling qualities in Chinese Medicine.

Spanish Gazpacho

Serves 5-6

¼ c. cold-pressed olive oil

6 medium fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large bell peeper, yellow or red, chopped

1 medium clove garlic

1 cucumber, seeded and chopped

4 basil leaves

1 T. Sea salt

1 large carrot, shredded

¼ c. apple cider vinegar

¼ t. Tabasco or sririacha to taste (for an extra kick)

Chopped fresh basil, chopped avocado, and/or parsley for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until blended but still chunky. Remove half of soup, and puree remainder well. Combine both mixtures, stir, chill for 1 hour and serve in individual servings.

This is a great spicy summer soup with healthy fats; the apple cider vinegar helps to reduce blood sugars as well.

Alcohol and IVF: Do They Mix?

I recently read a very interesting article by Rossi et al. “Effect of Alcohol Consumption on In vitro Fertilization,” published in the prestigious journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in January 2011, volume 117, pages 136 to 142. The authors looked at more than 4,700 in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles in more than 2,500 couples. Couples were given questionnaires to fill out regarding their alcohol consumption at the time of the IVF cycle start, not during the IVF cycle or pregnancy. The primary outcome that the authors were interested in was the live birth rate after IVF. They found that for men or women undergoing IVF, drinking four or more drinks per week prior to an IVF cycle is associated with a 48 percent higher risk for failed fertilization and a 21 percent lower chance for a live birth.

On the one hand, it seems obvious that alcohol might have a negative impact upon fertility. However, as the authors point out, while there is an enormous amount of evidence published on the adverse effects of alcohol consumption upon the fetus during pregnancy, there is not much data on the effect of alcohol consumption upon fertility. In addition, they theorize that perhaps couples undergoing IVF are not expecting to conceive without assistance and therefore they may not limit alcohol consumption prior to an IVF cycle, thinking that they will stop once they start their fertility drugs.

In general, infertile couples in this study reported less drinking than the general population – 45 percent to 66 percent reported consuming any alcohol at all, while 62 percent to 74 percent of the general population reports that they are current drinkers.

After I read this article, I started paying more attention to whether or not my patients were drinking. We tell all of our female patients not to drink at all during the IVF cycle, but we do not really say anything about drinking prior to the IVF cycle. We do not pay much attention to the guys at all, unless the wife brings up a concern about too much alcohol. But how much is too much? Until this study, there really was not much data out there.

To my surprise a lot of women and men are consuming significant amounts of alcohol. They have some idea that maybe they are drinking too much, but without their doctor saying something very specific, they really did not think about it too much. I found that many men and women — men more so than women — were drinking four or more drinks per week. Although many of my patients enjoy having a drink, most responded very positively to the recommendation to cut back to fewer than four drinks per week. For my female patients, I also asked them to abstain completely after ovulation (usually around day 14 if you have 28-day cycles). Yes, even the guys were happy that there was something they could do to help with the baby-making plan!

So, bottom line — no alcohol at all during the IVF cycle — definitely for women, and not a bad idea for the guys. Before the IVF cycle, alcohol seems to be OK in moderation. And moderation — at least according to this recent, large study — seems to be less than four drinks per week.


Written By: Serena H. Chen, M.D., IRMS Reproductive Medicine at Saint Barnabas, October 16, 2011

Sugar And Fertility: What Do They Have In Common?

Calling all you soda, candy, doughnut, cookie loving people.  I have a couple of questions for you. When you are feeling hungry and/or tired and in need of an energy boost at 3 or 4 pm, what do you do? Do you reach for a candy bar, soda, or sugary snack for that sudden boost of energy? That will definitely provide the instant boost of energy that you are looking for, but it will shortly be followed by a feeling of hunger, tiredness, and/or depression.  This is what we call the sugar roller coaster ride.  I am sure many of you have felt this; I know I have.

For me, the roller coaster ride on many occasions has left me feeling dizzy, headachey, and nauseous, but also left me feeling somewhat exhilarated.  Although the ride is quite fun at times, especially while you slowly creep up the big hill in anticipation of the BIG drop, the sudden plunge downwards leaves my stomach on the floor, and can make me feel yucky. The adrenaline rush felt for the 2 minutes usually leaves me feeling sick for about 2 hours. The sugar roller coaster that you are currently on is definitely something that is going to leave you feeling sick and yucky.  This ride can be the cause for many health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and infertility.

The Nurse’s Health Study, referenced in The Fertility Diet, by Jorge Chavarro, MD and Walter Willet, MD have proven that sugar, especially certain kinds of sugars, have a large impact on reproductive health.  Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition that can be brought on by insulin resistance, which is caused by the consumption of too much sugar. Insulin resistance equals hormonal imbalances. The body has to work overtime when you make the decision to have a soda for breakfast, white bread sandwich for lunch, candy bar for a snack, or white rice for dinner.

So you ask, what should I eat for my health, happiness, and reproductive health? The answer is complex - literally: complex carbohydrates/sugars (not simple ones) are the way to go.  My definition of complex carbs is fiber-filled food paired with a starch or sugar that exists naturally in nature. The less refined the carb, the better it is for you, and that goes for most foods.  For example, whole wheat and brown rice have the fiber needed for your body to digest the starch slowly so your blood sugar levels stay even. Even blood sugar levels should be your goal when making food choices everyday.  I know, after suffering from breakdowns in my own body, that complex carbs have helped me to not only resolve my dizzy spells, irregular periods, and moodiness, but I have more energy then ever!

Your body identifies simple carbs/sugars, such as white flour and white rice as sugars. There is no fiber, because it is taken out during the refinement process.  When there is no fiber medium, to help slowly digest the sugar the body goes into emergency mode and digests the sugars very quickly. The sugar provides an immediate boost in energy that your body thinks you require, because you just ate a fiberless starch.  Here is the 411 on how the sugar is processed by your body.

The body quickly breaks down the sugar into glucose and suddenly injects it into the blood stream.  Your blood sugar levels spike the pancreas releases large amounts of insulin. Each cell in your body is able to absorb the glucose, because of the insulin. Once the cells absorb the glucose, blood sugar levels suddenly drop.

Hence the roller coaster feeling described earlier. So think about this - if you fill your day with eating simple carbs, your cells over time will require more and more insulin in order to absorb the same amount of glucose, thus causing insulin resistance.

In summary, here are my top 5 picks for complex carbs (whole grains) and natural sugars to eat in order to enhance your reproductive health, along with regulating your weight, heart health, and just feeling great overall!

Top 5 Whole Grains Top 5 Natural Sugars
Brown Rice Maple Syrup
Buckwheat (Soba Noodles) Honey
Whole Wheat Pasta Brown Rice Syrup
Stoneground Whole Wheat Molasses
Quinoa Stevia (the green kind)


The Fertility Diet, by Jorge Chavarro, MD and Walter Willet, MD

Written by Kavita Jhaveri-Patel

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

Trying to conceive is an exciting time but it can also be a trying time if things aren’t going according to your plan. Many women tend to forget about their overall health and well-being until right before they’re deciding to try for a baby. This forgetfulness can hurt your chances of becoming pregnant.

Here are seven easy ways to improve your chances of becoming pregnant that you should start practicing before you decide now is the time to conceive.

Take care of yourself

Easier said than done most of the time, but watching what you eat and getting daily exercise has numerous health benefits.

Cook consciously

When you’re cooking, choose unsaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil. Take some time and read labels and limit your intake of processed foods and trans fat.

When it comes to prepping for meals, cut up veggies at night or on the weekends and freeze them in small portions so that when you need them, they’re easily within your reach and the work is done.

It goes without saying that to cook more consciously you should be making your meals at home rather than eating out. If you feel you’re strapped for time and options, then consider investing in a slow cooker. With minimal time and ingredients, you can whip together a fabulous home-cooked meal while you’re at work or running errands. There are also a ton of free recipes online to help you with your meal planning.

Buy more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to snack on

If you go to grab a snack and all you have in your house are fruits and veggies, then those are your only options. Makes snack time a little easier, don’t you think?

Many fruits and veggies can be eaten on the run while you’re out doing errands or working at your desk. It takes no time to eat an apple, peel a banana, peel a baby cheese round, or munch on baby carrots.

Adding more whole grains into your diet is as easy as choosing multigrain crackers, breads, and pastas.

Cook more vegetarian options

Beans are cheap and full of good-for-you fiber. They can be bought dry or canned and can be tossed in virtually any dish you make to up the fiber content and make the dish more filling.

Also, you can start small by switching out chicken broth for vegetable broth – the change doesn’t have to be immediate unless you want it to be.

Out of a seven day week, try cooking meat-free three or four of those days. If you begin to really enjoy the no-meat factor, then consider going vegetarian full time.

Make water your go-to for everything

Your body is mostly comprised of water, so it’s no secret that it works well in all aspects of your body. Water is fantastic at keeping you hydrated and giving you clear skin. It’s also extremely beneficial for helping to flush out toxins in your body.

To make toting water around easier, buy yourself a pretty water bottle or two and keep them within reach at all times. That’s how I cut out soda – I simply carried water with me everywhere and now it’s really the only thing I drink besides my morning cup of coffee.

Which brings us to our next tip…

Cut out excess caffeine

Coffee in the a.m. is fine, but drinking it throughout the day is not. Caffeine should be halted after twelve noon, this way you’re better able to calm down and fall asleep at a reasonable time.

Exposing yourself to soft drinks, tea, and coffee excessively could lead to headaches, heart palpitations, and overall restlessness of mind and body.

Keep yourself focused

Being present in your choices of food and health is important for keeping you on a healthy track. Simple things like making a list for food shopping, planning out your meals, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can become second nature when you slowly incorporate them into your daily routine rather than try and change everything at once.

Take up yoga or tai chi to help keep your mind and body balanced and aware of your decisions and goals.

  • The above seven ways are fantastic options for getting your body ready to conceive. Your best chances for a baby are when your mind and body are in a harmonious balance of health, calmness, and vitality.

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How do nutrition and acupuncture work together to enhance fertility?

Traditional Chinese Medicine expert Alex Goldberg explains how TCM, acupuncture, and what you eat can make it easier to get pregnant. Q: I get regular acupuncture treatments to help me conceive. My acupuncturist recently started talking to me about the role of nutrition – and she mentioned “dampness” in particular. Can you explain how nutrition and acupuncture work together in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help women get pregnant?

A: As an acupuncturist and herbalist my patients always want to know how nutrition affects their fertility. As your acupuncturist probably told you, nutrition is a very important part of TCM, but when I’m explaining it to my patients I usually like to start with the idea of dampness.

You can think of dampness as a kind of blockage in your body. That obstacle (which isn’t a real physical blockage, like a tumor, but an energetic blockage, according to TCM) means your body has to find other ways to work. Not surprisingly, if the blockage is in your reproductive organs that can make it a lot harder to get pregnant. Dampness can be created by either external or internal factors. Internally, it is directly related to the foods we eat. The main instigators include alcohol; fried, greasy, and spicy foods; cold and raw foods like salads, fruits, and vegetables; and the biggest culprit of them all – dairy, including milk, cream, cheese, and butter. (You can also watch this short video on dampness, created by Dr. Goldberg:

In TCM, the belief is that the spleen is the key organ in digestion. Think of the spleen as a cast-iron pot that cooks the food you eat. When you continually put food in your body that is cold or raw, your spleen has to “cook” the food before it can use its energy. By eating warm foods you are saving your spleen-energy, which will increase your body’s overall health.

If you eat a dairy food, like a piece of cheese, for example, you can see that it’s heavy and greasy, and even after you wash your hands after holding it you can feel a stickiness between your fingers. Also, when you take that block of cheese out of the refrigerator it’s at about 40ºF, but when you eat it you’ve added a chemical reaction – heat -- because your body is at 98.6ºF.  What happens when you add heat to cheese? It becomes delicious, but it also stretches out, becoming thicker, longer, and greasier, which increases its natural properties (dampness), which adds to that energetic blockage.

With the severe role that blockage already plays in fertility, I generally ask my patients to avoid dairy, and other dampness contributors, as best they can, during the month leading up to and during pregnancy.

Alex Goldberg is a licensed and nationally board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist with a private practice in Brooklyn, New York, Garden Acupuncture. He has studied with Randine Lewis, a premier fertility specialist and is the only TCM practitioner in Brooklyn who has had the esteemed privilege of learning directly under her tutelage.

Written by Lorie A. Parch

5 Mistakes Made at the Grocery Store When Trying to Eat Healthier

1) Shopping Without a List: Preparing a list keeps you focused on buying healthier, makes you less likely to impulse buy, and saves time.
2) Forgetting to Shop the Perimeters: The outside of the supermarket contains the main food groups needed to eat healthier. Shopping along the outside helps guarantee that you stock up on grains, fruits, veggies, dairy products, and proteins.
3) Skimping on Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, water and fiber. Water helps make you feel fuller longer which helps with weight control.
Tip: The deeper and more vibrantly colored produce is packed with the most nutrients.
4) Missing Out on Whole Grains: February’s issue of the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter notes that “consuming a diet rich in whole grains has been linked to reduced risks of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers.”
5) Ignoring Nutrition Label: Using labels helps us choose more nutritious foods by tracking calories, identifying ingredients and maximizing nutrients.
Tip: Pay attention to the serving size and calories per serving listed. A packed muffin may contain 300 calories on its label, but list its serving as half a muffin. That means that it actually has 600 calories a muffin (and who eats a half of a muffin?)
Extra Tip: Staying away from processed, packaged food is better all together!Written by: Healing Anthropology

The Fertility Benifits of Eating Organic

A healthy diet can help contribute to a healthy conception, but does it matter if the milk you drink or the veggies you eat are organic? Sometimes it does…There’s no shortage of advice on what you should eat when trying to get pregnant. Much less is known about how food—or more precisely the preservatives, hormones, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals lurking there—could interfere with your ability to conceive. To be on the safe side, some experts think now may be the time to go organic with at least some of the foods you consume. “The science is still inconclusive, but there is some suggestion that women exposed to persistent organic pollutants have more reproductive health problems that can lead to problems with fertility,” says Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., director of the Program for Reproductive Health and Environment at the University of California at San Francisco.One of the proponents of going green is Robert Greene, M.D., medical director of the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine of Northern California. In his new book, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility (Three Rivers Press, 2008), Dr. Greene notes that about 90 percent of our total intake of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, preservatives, additives, and antibiotics comes from the foods we eat. Most of these chemicals, he adds, are hormone disrupters, which interfere with the body’s hormone balance and can reduce fertility or lead to miscarriage.While organic foods are becoming more widely available, they still tend to be more expensive. If cost is an issue, Dr. Greene recommends focusing organic purchases on animal products (meat and dairy), which he says are likely to contain the highest levels of hormone disrupter chemicals. Dr. Greene also writes, “The most harmful BioMutagens are contained in the fat of meat and fish, so always buy lean and low-fat products.” Another good strategy is to take a good look at your daily diet, and then buy organic versions of the foods you eat most frequently.Among fruits and vegetables, levels of pesticide residues can vary significantly, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). Opt to go green at least with the fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be contaminated (see chart below).The IATP also advises that consumers buy produce from small, local farmers whenever possible. Not only is this produce generally fresher and more flavorful, but it also tends to harbor fewer chemicals than foods grown on large industrial farms. Whatever their source, fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed in cold water before being eaten. Washing can remove at least half of pesticide residues, as well as pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, which can cause illness.Through the foods you choose, as in all things, the goal is to maintain optimum health when you’re trying to conceive. “Anything you can do to improve overall health is likely to maximize your fertility and ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” says Louis DePaolo, M.D., chief of the Reproductive Sciences Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.Highest Pesticide ResiduesApplesGrapes (imported)NectarinesPeachesPearsRed raspberriesStrawberriesBell peppersCarrotsCeleryGreen beansHot peppersPotatoesSpinachModerate Pesticide ResiduesApricotsBlueberriesCantaloupeGrapefruitGrapes (domestic)HoneydewOrangesCollard greensCucumbersKaleLettuceMushroomsSweet potatoesTomatoesTurnip greensWinter squashLowest Pesticide ResiduesApple juiceBananasKiwifruitMangoesOrange juicePapayaPeaches (canned)PineapplesPlumsTangerinesWatermelonAsparagusAvocadoBroccoliCabbageCauliflowerOnionSweet cornSweet peasA version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Conceive Magazine .

Beverage for Urinary Tract Health

At ilumina Healing Sanctuary, I see patients with chronic urinary tract or vaginal infections and are caught in the cycle of antibiotic use without results. My favorite delicious, simple, and easy to make at home beverage can be a beneficial addition to your current therapy. Is it also useful for IBS, digestive disorders, constipation, bloating and gas as well as chronic yeast infections just to name a few.

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Eastern Nutrition&Detoxfication Program

Eastern Nutrition ProgramThis is a program that involves the energetics of food to create balance in the body. Learn the Taoist system of the 5 elements and the 5 tastes of food to balance your overall diet. Circumstances that influence dietary choices and habits such as convenience and emotions around eating will be discussed. Food choices, places to shop, and recipes are recommended as well. This program is an overall wellness program that includes nutrition supplements, exercise recommendations and stress management techniques. Three appoints are necessary to receive all of these facets to the program.Detox ProgramThis program is customized for the individual depending on their medical history and their energetic diagnosis. The detox diet includes a clean, balanced combination of foods based on Eastern nutritional principles. Along with the diet includes detox therapies to practice at home, supplements, and tea. The duration of this program is 10-14 days.The detox program includes two different detox plans. Both programs are a whole body detox which cleanses the liver, large intestine, blood, lymph, lungs, skin, and kidneys. One program is more specific to candida that includes a yeast free diet and supplements to clear the body of candida.For more information or to schedule an appointment please call.In Health,Dana Price DOM, L.Ac., Dipl.OM, FABORMilumina Healing Sanctuary7520 E. Camelback RoadScottsdale, Arizona 85251(602)957-2602