Flowers are blooming, baseball's in full swing...June is officially busting out all over. A fresh feeling of newness and rebirth is palpable, and babies seem to be on everyone's mind. It's easy to see where June gets its name (from the Latin iuniores, or "young ones").
For those couples feeling the spring fever to conceive their own baby, it's also a great time to start detoxing. Eliminating toxins now helps boost fertility while preventing dangerous compounds from affecting fetal development.
When you're preparing to conceive, some of the most important toxins to avoid and eliminate are heavy metals and xenoestrogens.
Heavy metals like mercury and lead can contribute to low sperm counts, low progesterone, breast cancers, and severe birth defects and developmental problems. Mercury is most commonly found in silver dental amalgams and large contaminated fish. Lead can be found in everything from old paint to lipstick to soil.
Xenoestrogens are chemicals that the body mistakes for estrogen. In women, estrogen must be in balance with progesterone, so too many xenoestrogens can contribute to a progesterone deficiency. Excess estrogen is also associated with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). But xenoestrogens don't only affect women. They can also damage the DNA of men's sperm, leading to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, or cancer. In addition, xenoestrogens can make babies more likely to suffer from behavioral problems or obesity later in life. Some common xenoestrogens are pthalates (found in PVC, personal care products, cleaning agents, and contaminated food), parabens (preservatives found in personal care products and contaminated food), BPA (found in soft plastics and the lining of most canned foods), food coloring, birth control pills, PCBs (industrial chemicals most often found in large contaminated fish) and DDT (a banned pesticide found in contaminated food).
Phytoestrogens occur naturally in foods. Still, they too can raise estrogen to fertility-blocking levels. The most common phytoestrogen is soy, and many natural fertility experts recommend that couples avoid it. Perhaps an even more compelling argument for eliminating soy is that over 91% of soy is now genetically modified - and GM soy and corn have been found to decrease fertility in animal studies.
Cleansing gives the body's detox systems a break from everyday demands, allowing detox organs like the liver to focus on safely excreting toxins like heavy metals and xenoestrogens. After detoxifying, couples can prevent further exposure by eating organic foods, choosing smaller fish, and selecting consumer products.
So as you spring forward towards parenthood, consider taking baby steps: start with a cleanse. Then you can get to the fun part.
- Mouni Nguyen, photo credit