by Debbie Leigh, Naturopath
A common question when people are considering becoming pregnant is “Why would anybody detox?” The response may be “I watch what I eat and exercise fairly regularly. I only break out to eat junk food and have a drink occasionally.” My answer is that a detox will not only make you feel well but you can have a greater chance of having a positive outcome. Many of my clients who have been tested and were found to have toxic chemicals in their systems, have not been aware of this until testing or have not had any idea of when they were exposed to it.
Substances that are toxic to our bodies such as Aluminium, Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Mercury and Nickel can have an antagonistic effect on essential vitamins and minerals found in our foods and over time, can have a negative impact on our health and fertility. A common form of aluminium is found in antiperspirants and especially sprays which can be inadvertently inhaled. Aluminium can reduce zinc, vitamin C, magnesium and calcium and thus can cause mineral loss from our bones as well as cause skin problems and gastrointestinal dysfunction.
Many toxic minerals can also cause endocrine disruption and this can have a dramatic effect on our fertility. Shellfish, coastal and river fish and large fish have been found to contain high levels of Mercury which may reduce selenium, zinc, vitamin C and methionine. This can result in menstrual disturbances, reduced ovulation and mitochondrial dysfunction. The eggs of older women are particularly vulnerable.
Heavy metals and some toxic substances that have not been used for years can still take a very long time to break down, if ever, and may be present in our local or work environments. Clients can get help in testing for and clearing these substances. It can be difficult to identify the source. For example, it could be from insecticide residue, cleaning products, dust from home renovations e.g. from lead paint. Lead has been found to affect calcium, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc leading to reproductive failure, slow infant development, and damage to sperm, sterility and impotence.
Even some hair colouring and lipsticks used today can contain lead. Other factors such as new vehicles and new furniture can give off higher levels of chemicals such as formaldehydes. While not life-threatening, this can have an impact on the parent’s fertility as well as the health of a new born child. We encourage prospective mothers to address the possibility of environmental exposure as well as products that will be safe for baby at the baby planning stage rather than after baby is born.
Making significant changes to your lives before pregnancy helps to ensure a safer environment for your new baby. Among other things we recommend you take time to source fresh food markets, organic butchers and use environmentally friendly products around the home.
Preconception healths checks often fail to go beyond ensuring women have immunity against Rubella Virus, Hep B and screening for some general sexually transmitted diseases. It is preferable to have a much more detailed blood screen to test for thyroid hormone levels, Vitamin D, auto-immune factors and folic acid, as well as testing for heavy metals. Either hair analysis or urine analysis can be an excellent way to determine whether heavy metals have accumulated in your body. If detoxification is required there is a quick way to test urine to measure toxicity levels. These tests can be arranged at the clinic. There are a range of herbal products and vitamins and minerals that can be prescribed to ensure your body is in peak optimal health and clear or reduce heavy metal accumulation.
If a couple have an established fertility failure and require IVF assistance it is recommended that they also follow a preconception protocol to ensure a better outcome and healthy baby.
Back to my original comment, should I detox? Even after consultation and testing if you are fortunate enough not to require a detox we can assist you to maintain your good health. While there are no guarantees in life it is always worthwhile to set yourself up for the best possible outcome, a healthy baby.