An optimal environment prior to conception prepares your body for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. But, with numerous products containing pollutants and toxins, staying away from harmful substances is sometimes easier said than done.
Dr. Sally Warren, Ph.D, and Board Certified Naturopath speaks about frequently used products that may be adversely affecting the health of both parents – and eventually – the baby, and how to limit exposure to them.
Daniela: We have with us today Dr. Sally Warren from Metro Integrative Pharmacy in NYC, here to provide insight on preparing your body for pregnancy. Good afternoon and welcome to Dreaming of Baby, Dr. Warren. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today! Before we start with our discussion, it would be great if you could introduce yourself and tell us a little about your experience in this field.
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Thank you for inviting me to chat with you! I am a Board-Certified Naturopath and Holistic Health Practitioner. I am a Practitioner at Metro Integrative at Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, and a professor at Kingdom College of Natural Health. I have been advising people on health and health education for many years.
Daniela: Thank you for this introduction Dr. Warren. We’re definitely in good hands! Going straight to today’s subject, what should be taken into consideration at the very start of planning the parenthood journey?
The effects of pollutants and toxins on fertility and pregnancy
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Well, there are so many areas and things to consider, from age, finances, health etc. However, for this chat, lets focus on some things that may not have been in the list of consideration and which may adversely affect the health of both parents and ultimately the baby. Diet, exercise and emotions play a huge part – also the pollutants and toxins around potential parents. Food choices we can control, and we also need to control our choices of body care products, laundry detergent, coffee, and even house hold cleaners. People need to understand that everything we put on our bodies, including clothes, can have an effect. Exposure to pollutants can have an effect on people’s ability to conceive. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can have an effect. PCBs is a group of organic compounds used in the manufacture of plastics, as lubricants, and dielectric fluids in transformers, in protective coating for wood, metal and concrete, and in adhesives, wire coating and so forth. Even sunscreen, face creams, and make-up can have an adverse effect.
“Exposure to pollutants can have an effect on people’s ability to conceive.” Dr. Sally Warren
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Canned foods, BPA’s from plastic, pesticides from vegetables and fruits can be harmful. So, wherever possible, choose natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice to make a start on cutting down on chemicals in your home. Choose organic fruits and vegetables. Choose clean and non-paraben make-up – stay away from preservative-laden shampoos and nail polish.
Daniela: Focusing on body care products, detergents and household cleaners, what are the ingredients that those on the path to parenthood should be keeping away from?
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and have the ability to take on the characteristics of estrogen. Every person, male or female, produces estrogen, too much of it definitely has an impact on fertility. Estrogen regulates hormones in both men and women. When hormones are out of balance, the chances of creating healthy eggs or healthy sperm is reduced. Look for products without paraben as part of the ingredients. Check your ingredients list on everything! They are in so many products now.
“Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and have the ability to take on the characteristics of estrogen.” Dr. Sally Warren
How long does it take for the body to be rid of toxins?
Daniela: That’s very good to know. Once a couple decides to try to conceive, for how long should they ideally keep away from such toxins prior to trying for baby? In other words, how long does it take for such toxins to leave the body?
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: It takes at least two or three months to clear out of our system. It’s good to do a cleanse and “detox” to clear from fat cells – where the body can store toxins.
Daniela: And would you suggest specific toxins testing at the end of the three months?
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: People can do Liver Enzyme Tests If they are in the high side of the normal range, it can be a clue pointing towards the presence of environmental toxicants. Hair analysis tests show the levels of toxic heavy metals, such as: Aluminum, Arsenic, Antimony, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Uranium, and Strontium. Serum Blood Tests are also available. There are different types of blood tests, it’s best to ask your OB-GYN for advice.
Daniela: Thanks for this insight. In your experience working with couples wishing to conceive, what do you find is most common in terms of toxin exposure?
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Working with couples wanting to start a family, I always advise doing some type of cleanse for lead or other heavy metals. The toxic load could increase their chances of having a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a child with a birth defect. These metals can also affect a baby’s brain development. A liver cleanse can help, and cilantro is a herb I recommend for the metal cleanse. Liver is where everything has to be filtered through, so a liver cleanse for both prospective parents is important.
The best lifestyle prior to pregnancy
Daniela: Based on our discussion then, how does the ideal run-up to a pregnancy look like, lifestyle wise?
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Clear up the diet, kick the alcohol, and if smoking – PLEASE stop, there are some helpful herbs and homeopathic remedies to cut the cravings for both. Heavy metals are in both alcohol and tobacco products, as well as toxins. Start to get into a good habit of sleep, de-stressing, and nurturing time – for both of you, treat yourselves to great healthy foods, habits, and relaxation. Learn to give each other massages – get some great natural oils, with essential oils that relax – or book a regular massage at a spa. Tell them you are cleansing to start a family – it is a great way to get rid of toxins from the body. Guys, do not go and sweat it out in saunas – or hot tubs – it is not good for sperm health. Clear out all toxic cleaning products in your home. We cannot avoid the pollution outside our home, but we can cut down, clean out and replace the things within our control.
“Clear out all toxic cleaning products in your home. We cannot avoid the pollution outside our home, but we can cut down, clean out and replace the things within our control.” Dr. Sally Warren
Daniela: What a great overview, thank you, Dr. Warren! It’s been a pleasure discussing with you this important subject. On a final note, is there anything else you wish to share with our readers? What would be that one piece of advice that you’d always share with parents on the path to parenthood?
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: The psychology of parenthood is a personal journey for two – research, take advice, live as cleanly as possible for the best start for your family. But the most important thing is to support each other in this process, since you are about to experience one of the greatest and most challenging, rewarding and life-changing experiences. Never forget to cherish each other from the very beginning.
Daniela: Thank you, Dr. Warren, that is indeed sound advice! Thank you for your time today and for the insight you have shared with our readers!
Sally Warren, Ph.D, Board Certified Naturopath: Thank you for inviting me – it has been a pleasure!