Paleo Diets and Increased Fertility

May 24, 2011 · 37 comments

fertility

Over the years, I’ve heard numerous stories of women giving up a processed food lifestyle and going to Real, WHOLE foods, and then finally being able to conceive. Here’s a story related specifically to the Paleo way of eating from a reader friend, Shelly…

“Six months ago I joined a gym and everyone there was talking about Paleo eating.  I’d just come off a year of Weight Watchers and was learning to maintain my goal weight. After two months of listening to them, I stopped drinking all sodas (diet or regular) and haven’t missed it.  Eventually I started modifying other small goals in my eating habits and in November I did my first Whole30 (30 days strict Paleo – no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no sugar, no processed food of any kind).  I lost about 3 more pounds, but combined with my workouts, I lost body fat, built muscle, lost inches, my acne disappeared, and I felt great all the time. (I also started sleeping better – no lights at all in the room.)

The gym invited me to meet Robb Wolf at a NASA JSC lecture in mid-October and I started my first Whole 30 (strict 100% Paleo eating for 30 days) the next week.  I actually surprised myself by successfully completing it a few days after Thanksgiving.  My workouts improved dramatically and I felt great.  I went 90-10 for most of December – at least until Christmas – and started another round of Whole30 in January, the day after my 40th birthday.  Three weeks later, I found out I was pregnant!  When I told my trainer, he laughed and said he’d heard Robb Wolf talk about how fertile the women in his gym are when they’re eating Paleo.  Apparently eating “caveman style” is supposed to naturally resolve a number of fertility issues.  I’ve never had fertility issues, but clearly we didn’t abstain on a day we should have – and there’s no room for error when your body is in good health.  So, this is fair warning that a Paleo diet increases your fertility and there may be a surprise if you’re not 100% faithful to your NFP or other birth control method.

I will admit that I have not kept up with my Paleo eating during morning sickness and exhaustion. I’m just too tired to be in the kitchen and the smell of meat cooking turns my stomach.  Now that I’m approaching my 2nd trimester and the nausea is lessening, I’m looking forward to getting back on plan.

I encourage everyone to check it out. There are great websites to help, and if you’re interested in getting kids to eat Paleo, check out the Everyday Paleo website. I’m not very strict with my own kids, though they know what’s allowed and what’s “special” instead of being “everyday.”

Here’s her post about the shock of finding out she was pregnant:)

I told her that on one hand she inspires me to keep up the lower carb lifestyle.  (Less sugar especially…) On the other hand I’m a little afraid to, LOL!  What I notice personally when I’m eating fewer starches and sweets is that my hormones are much more level all month long.

I’m curious if any of you have noticed a difference in your hormones since eating more Real Food or eating a Paleo diet?

Shelly

Thanks for sharing your story, Shelly!

Shelly is one half of the sisters duo found at Of Sound Mind and Spirit, writing about their Catholic faith, family life, conservative politics, pro-life issues and books they love to read.   Shelly enjoys a successful career as a Certified Archivist. Her publications include the award-winning Through a Night of Horrors: Voices from the 1900 Galveston Storm. She lives in Texas with her husband and two horse-loving, song-writing daughters.

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  • { 36 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jen May 24, 2011 at 2:16 am

    I’ve never eaten Paleo, but I started eating NT about 3 1/2 years ago, shortly after my son was born. I was 38 then. :) My husband and I married later in life; I was 37 and he was 34. We wanted 2 children, but didn’t know if it would happen. I was really beginning to wonder when my son turned two. I’m happy to say that our second son was born this past December, when I was 41!

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    2 Musings of a Housewife May 24, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Wow, that is so interesting. I really REALLY want to go Paleo but I love my carbs and sugars SO SO much. But my weight that I lost when I went gluten free has crept back on as the carbs have crept back into my diet. I truly believe it is the most healthful way to eat.

    On the other hand, I do not want to get pregnant, but this is great news for those who do. :-)

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    3 Julie May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Interesting you should write this article, I have been researching the Paleo eating lifestyle. My husband and I have just started a low carb eating plan for health reasons and I am wanting to know more about it and modifications of it. For my birthday I have put on my wish list the “Everyday Paleo” cookbook. I am way over the hill as far as having children goes, but at 58 years old I’d like to be around and have the energy to chase grandchildren!

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    4 Tim Huntley May 24, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Hey Julie,

    I am giving away a signed copy of “Everyday Paleo” on June 1 – the winner being picked from the people who leave me a comment on my “June Fitness Goals” blog post. Just write a single June fitness goal for yourself (it need not be something too difficult).

    …Tim

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    5 Ellen Hahn May 24, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I was eating a paleo diet and faithfully using birth control when I conceived – maybe the baby I am carrying now is the one in a thousand that manages to sneak past BC, or maybe s/he is a result of my increased paleolithic fertility. If the latter is the case, I am infintely grateful to Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson for teaching me about paleo eating! I have had absolutely no negative symptoms during the first 19 weeks of pregnancy – no nausea, no heartburn or digestive upsets, minimal fatigue – and I wonder if the fact that I am even stricter paleo now is to thank for my good health and, it seems to me, very balanced hormonal state.

    As far as other hormonal issues, the acne that I had dealt with since middle school disappeared entirely when I went paleo – even now if I drink milk it will flare up again immediately, although I can handle cultured dairy.

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    6 Leanne May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I do notice that I get really moody on days when I eat grains/sugars. We are mostly archevores and just working to kick the bread and processed sugars out of our diet (the season for slushie mochaccinos has begun and made it super, super hard to completely abstain!).

    I’m a doula and my birthwork actually was the first step toward real paleo wisdom: birthing in a physiological normal way (tho, not completely eschewing modern medicine, just not using it if it’s not needed). And I’m getting interested in how paleo/primal foodways support all stages of a mother’s life (conception to pregnancy to birth to postpartum).

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    7 Martha May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

    What is an archeavore?

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    8 Auntie M May 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm
    9 Martha May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    thanks!

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    10 christine May 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

    absolutely! i actually just posted last night about my food and fitness journey. i too have had a major clear up of acne, but also found that all my cravings have disappeared, i’m satiated after a meal, i never snack between meals anymore, i’m just not hungry. i think clearer, i’m more focused, i feel better overall. if i go off diet, i feel horrible and cravings instantly kick back in, acne reappears and i’m sluggish feeling. quite amazing how a small indiscretion can make you feel. real food is powerful. (i love your blog though i never comment, but this post struck me)

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    11 Amber May 24, 2011 at 11:14 am

    My hubby and I we knew we wanted to try for kids soon after we got married. I talked him into not fighting it since (being 36) I thought it could take a few months. In the months preceding my wedding I was already eating (as best as I could) Real Food and learning NT, etc. And reading Real Food Media blogs ;-) I was faithfully taking CLO and coco oil every day and got him off of anything soy (he was drinking soy milk!!! BLECH!!! but now he loves his raw milk). Much to my shock, I conceived 2 weeks after the wedding. This was in early December… I’m due 9/9 :-)

    Ultimately I have nothing to compare to, I had never tried to get pregnant before and my hubby and I waited til we were married for intimacy so I have no idea if we would have been that compatible beforehand. So it could have happened that fast regardless, and ultimately God is the one in charge of these things but I am positive that the steps I took before the wedding certainly helped!

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    12 KitchenKop May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    LOVE that story. :)

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    13 karyn May 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I’m going Paleo in order for my NFP to work better. My cycles are crazy long as well as some other “funny things” on the chart. But I’m hoping the Paleo diet will help straighten things out. So Shelly’s story is inspiring – that healthy eating can improve your fertility so that you can conceive or so that you know when to abstain in order to avoid pregnancy.

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    14 Auntie M May 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I apologize that this will be long! I can attest to some measure of fertility success through a whole food, paleo-esque diet. I’m 36 now, and struggled with fertility for several years. Unfortunately, my two pregnancies (2005-2006 and 2007) both ended in 2nd trimester losses. I have a host of risk factors, and apparently have a progesterone problem as well as an incompetent cervix. The first time, I got pregnant after a two-week veggie and fruit only diet, and the 2nd time I took fertility drugs.

    In 2008, I started looking into more whole foods as a lifestyle, and by fall 2010 was convinced that I needed to start taking FCLO and got my husband on it by December of 2010. After my past two losses, my husband and I decided that we were not going to risk another pregnancy, and we applied for adoption. As of January, 2011, we had been waiting for a year, with 2 years left on our home study. We both continued to take the FCLO and other supplements, and we worked our way into a more paleo lifestyle, too.

    Early in March, I discovered that I was pregnant, completely unexpectedly. Unfortunately, paleo/whole foods can’t fix all of my risk factors, so I’m on bedrest, took progesterone, had a cerclage, and will start progesterone shots this week. However, I think the paleo/whole foods/low carb diet plus the cod liver oil kick started something. I’ve never gotten pregnant without some sort of intervention, so this was a complete shock; like I told my OB’s nurse, “I don’t know how this happened. I mean, I know HOW it happened, but I don’t KNOW how it happened.”

    I’m not out of the woods yet. At 16 weeks this week, I need to make it past my previous record of 23 1/2 weeks. I continue to eat a better diet than ever before. I rarely update my blog, but here’s the basic story: http://filesofnk6.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/here-we-go-again/

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    15 Jen May 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I wish you the very best, and pray that you have a successful pregnancy! :)

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    16 KitchenKop May 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Auntie M – I’ll pray for you, please keep us posted!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    17 Auntie M May 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I’m home all day, so I will try to keep you updated. :) And I can use all the prayers I can get, so thank you.

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    18 Auntie M January 18, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Since this has been more active again, I wanted to quickly update. My daughter was born October 13 of 2011, had open heart surgery when she was 6 days old, came through with flying colors, and is now a seriously active 15-month-old!

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    19 KitchenKop January 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Woohooo, thank the Lord!! That’s awesome news! :)

    Thank you for sharing!

    Kelly

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    20 Katie @ Wellness Mama May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I can attest to this also, both from personal experience (due with #4 in a couple of weeks, and oldest is 4 yrs) and from working with clients (on nutrition and NFP).

    With clients, I recommend some other changes besides just a paleo type diet (though that is an important part) and I’ve seen natural methods work MUCH better than conventional ones.

    It is incredibly frustrating to me to see women have to go through painful and expensive interventions to get pregnant, when so far, I’m at 100% success with helping women improve health and conceive naturally (including women with PCOS, endomentriosis, anovulation, over 40 etc!).
    Thanks for spreading the word on this!

    @ Auntie M – best wishes for an easy, healthy pregnancy and delivery!

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    21 Auntie M May 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks. I know that Jimmy Moore had interviewed a reproductive endocrinologist who’s had great luck with PCOS patients just by changing their diets, so the dietary change thing is surely a bigger fix than Conventional Wisdom would like to think. http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/3821/dr-michael-fox-on-low-carb-for-fertility-episode-454/

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    22 Kim - The Nourishing Cook May 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    This is a great story Kelly, thanks for sharing! 20 years ago when I was starting to try to conceive, I wish I had known about Paleo. Although my lack of conceiving led me to adopt beautiful twin girls, which have been a huge blessing. But also thanks for the warning, because now that I’m following paleo I will have to be careful not to have another little one, when our two are so close to leaving the nest. :)

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    23 Laura May 25, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I am laughing so hard reading this! I have already been on GAPS for a while, but recently got much more consistent at taking FCLO and butter oil, as well as lots of healthy fats (tallow, ghee), using some paleo recipes. Well, we got a huge surprise a few days ago when I took a test because I was suspicious. Hello, baby #5!!! Conceiving was previously something we had to TRY so hard for. :-D

    I was a tad annoyed at first, because I finished weaning my 16mo just as I conceived, and I had planned to do some cleanses and work more on healing my gut so I don’t get a 5th colicky baby (sigh), but annoyance gave way to joy pretty quickly. ;-)

    Maybe the way I eat now will help me be more energetic during this pregnancy. I can hope, right? (Bracing myself against morning sickness …)

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    24 KitchenKop May 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Congratulations!!! I’ll bet your diet will make a HUGE difference for your baby’s tummy, and you just might have your easiest baby yet! :)

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    25 Laura May 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Oh, I hope so! Thanks! My 4th has been a wonderfully calm baby other than the colic. He’s 16 months and a joy to everyone around him. I hope I will have enough energy to keep up with 2 very little ones and 3 bigger ones (10, 7, 7).

    BTW, I’m a huge fan of your blog, I just lurk mostly because I have so little time to post. :-) Keep doing what you’re doing!

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    26 Laura May 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    And let me just add that increasing the healthy fats has done wonders for my mood. It makes me think that I can overcome the pregnancy grumpies this time. Can it be done? We shall see. I had already commented to my husband, before we knew about the baby, that my emotions were feeling so evened out compared to usual, and that I should probably make sure I get extra butter each day to keep myself this happy. :-)

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    27 Perla January 17, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I had a miscarriage in November of 2012 and they did the D&C. I started Atkins Induction two days before the new year. Mind you, it was almost 2 months and I was still waiting for my first menstrual cycle to begin. A week into ketosis and I started my period again. I am so happy because now I can try to get pregnant again and I’m going to stick to eating low carb throughout my pregnancy to make sure my baby survives this time.

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    28 KitchenKop January 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Perla,

    So sorry about your loss. :(

    Have you seen this about eating well when pregnant? Just some more good tips for you:

    http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers

    Kelly

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    29 Nicole January 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Oh I love this! I’m going to really look into trying this diet. I’m 42 and want another baby – maybe this is the ticket….I’d like twins….think it will help with that?!

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    30 KitchenKop January 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I don’t know about that, LOL! Try googling it, I think they *are* ways to increase the likelihood of twins, but I’m not sure how well they actually work. I’m pretty sure only God can make that happen! I always thought twins would be fun, too. :)

    Kel

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    31 Angi March 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I’m surprised no one mentioned any negative effects. I’ve been trying to conceive for almost a year now, and started eating NT about six months before starting. I recently started doing a very low carb diet/somewhat Paleo diet, but then I started hearing stories about women on low carb diets having their hormones all messed up. A couple people said that it cut off their breast milk after giving birth. I think paleo must be really good for some people, but other women seem to need carbs to keep their hormones balanced. For myself, I’ve allowed myself to eat a small amount of properly processed grains.

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    32 KitchenKop March 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    That’s a very good point and I’m glad you brought it up. We are all different! :)

    Kelly

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    33 Julie January 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I was prescribed a Paleo diet by my neurologist after learning I carried 2 copies of the ApoE4 allele- putting me at high-risk for Alzheimer’s. I’m almost 52 years old, have been in confirmed menopause for 3 years, and have resumed menses. All gynecological cancers have been ruled out. I’m having the worst cramps right now; I’m too old for this. LOL. To be honest (despite the hassle) I’m thrilled with my renewed health. THIS could be harnessed to help older women trying to get pregnant.

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    34 KitchenKop January 10, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Wow, now THAT is very interesting. Could you share anything you’ve found as far as more information on Paleo and Alzheimers?

    Thanks!
    Kelly

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    35 Julie January 10, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    My neurologist is Dr. David a Petlmutter, author of NYT bestseller “Grain Brain.” In the book, he makes a pretty compelling case for a Paleo Diet to prevent many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s…the resumption of menses is just a bonus ;-)

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    36 KitchenKop January 11, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Thanks Julie!!!

    Kel

    Reply

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