GMO Foods and Infertility

Graphic courtesy of the Non-GMO Project

Graphic courtesy of the Non-GMO Project

After my blog post on Clean Eating and how it can affect fertility, I thought with all the recent media attention on the Monsanto case that I address the issue of GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) and GMO foods. While GMOs have been around for decades, just recently studies have been done on the potential affects of GMOs and the public has become more aware of what they are.

First of all, what is a GMO? According to the Non-GMO Project, “GMOs are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”

So, what do GMOs have to do with fertility? The blog, Holistic Squid, mentions several studies that show GMOs do have a negative effect on animals, including  a three-generation study of hamsters in Russia where the hamsters were nearly completely infertile after being fed GMO soy for three generations. A study from 2005 showed that rats fed a GMO soy diet has low sperm quality.

Because the studies are so new, it’s hard to say for sure what effect GMOs are having on humans now or what negative effects they may have in the future. But for those trying to conceive, eliminating GMOs can be a small step that can have a big effect on helping them get pregnant. I would suggest that each person take the responsibility to research GMOs and decide for themselves whether or not to include them in their diet. Lots of resources are popping up on both sides of the debate that offer helpful information so you can decide what’s best for you and your family.

Here are some resources to get you started:

http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blogger/cindy-bailey/2011/04/12/genetically-modified-foods-may-affect-fertility

http://www.fertilityfactor.com/could-genetically-modified-foods-be-responsible-for-your-infertility.html

http://www.saynotogmos.org/

http://www.betterfoods.org/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/etc/links.html

Key to Conceive Partners with Nehemiah Vision Ministries

This year, in honor of RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week, Key to Conceive is partnering with Nehemiah Vision Ministries to promote the health of women here in the United States and in Haiti. Every year, RESOLVE, the National Infertility Organization, hosts a week-long educational campaign to promote infertility awareness. This year, National Infertility Awareness Week will take place April 21-27.

DSCN0570To celebrate those who have overcome infertility, Key to Conceive will be donating 25 percent of all sales during National Infertility Week to Nehemiah Vision Ministries. NVM is a non-profit, international organization focused on transforming the lives of the people of Haiti through education, social assistance, health and spiritual development. NVM’s mission includes a Christian academy, children’s home and a sponsor-a-child program.

Just like NVM, Key to Conceive loves children and wants to see each child, whether here inphoto(5) the United States or in a foreign country, receive the love, guidance and basic necessities they deserve.

Key to Conceive promotes solutions to those currently dealing with fertility issues and strives to empower couples to achieve pregnancy and parenthood. We also believe in NVM’s mission of empowering the Haitians to rebuild and thrive.

If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, we encourage you check out the Key to Conceive  website, which is full of helpful information on trying to conceive, the conception process and infertility issues.

Talking to Your Kids About Tragedy

This was not the blog I had planned to write today, but after the events in Boston yesterday, it seemed appropriate to share what was on my heart. As a runner myself and one who has been involved in many different race events, this terrorist attack cut too close to home. It was too easy to be there in my mind, too easy to picture my family cheering me on across the finish line, too easy to experience the devastating end, just plain too real. But it WAS real and the many runners, families, supporters, reporters and first responders will go on living very different lives after yesterday. So how do those of us who weren’t directly affected by a personal loss deal with the pain of this tragedy, and often more importantly, how do we help our kids deal with it?

I found many different sources relating to this topic, but one in particular that I found most helpful was from World Vision. These tips were actually written a couple of years ago in response to the images seen of the destruction from the  earthquake and tsunami in Japan. However, they can be used to guide you through talking to your kids about yesterday’s bombings at the Boston marathon or any other tragic event they witness.

Talking to kids about tragedy

Talking to children about tragedy is a job most parents would love to avoid. If only our children did not need to hear about things like this past week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But of course, they do hear. And they are full of questions: Could this happen to me? What’s going to happen to the children? Can I do anything to help the children I see on TV?

World Vision US, a Christian humanitarian relief organization with staff on the ground in Japan now and in numerous other relief responses each year, suggests eight ways to make a tough job a little bit easier.

1. Start by listening.

Find out what your child already knows. You can then respond in an age-appropriate way. The aim is not to worry them with the devastating details, but to protect them from misinformation they may have heard from friends or disturbing images they may have seen on television.

2. Provide clear, simple answers.

Limit your answer to the question asked and use simple language.

3. If you don’t know the answer, admit it.

If your children ask questions that you can’t answer, tell them so, and then do some research to try and help them sort it out. If they ask “Why did this have to happen?” don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” If you are part of a faith community, the reassurance offered there can be invaluable in helping your child sort through the truth that awful things happen.

4. Follow media reports or online updates privately.

Young children in particular are easily traumatized, and seeing or hearing about the horrifying details of the quake may be more than they can cope with. Adults, too, should ensure they are dealing with their own emotions by talking to others, so they can continue to respond well to their children’s needs.

5. Concentrate on making them feel safe.

When tragedies occur, children wonder if the same event could happen in their hometown. If it was an act of nature that could not be repeated in your area, tell children that. Placing themselves in the situations of victims is not all bad—it is a sign of empathy, an essential life skill, but watch for signs of excessive worrying.

6. Give children creative outlets.

Some children may not be prepared to speak about what they have heard, but may find drawing or other creative activities helpful to deal with their emotions and stress. Their drawings can be helpful starting points for conversation.

7. Model involvement and compassion.

Tell your child that, as a family, you will be helping the people in Japan by giving a donation to a reputable charity such as World Vision.

8. Give your child a chance to be involved.

Being involved in the solution will help relieve some of their anxiety. Invite them to contribute to the family’s gift by giving something out of their piggy bank.

We may not be able to personally understand the pain that those who were there are facing, but we know One who does. From the Key To Conceive Family, we are praying for Boston and those affected by the senseless tragedy. Jesus said, “Here on the earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, The Key To Conceive Family, Summer 2012because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The Key ToConceive family, Tri Indy 2012.

Clean Eating for Fertility

When New Year’s Day 2013 rolled around, my husband and I started discussing new year’s resolutions. We’ve never really made big resolutions in year’s past, but this year we resolved to start eating clean. Some minor health issues arose at the end of 2012, and my research showed that a clean diet may help fix those issues.

The Four Food GroupsWhat exactly is clean eating? Basically it is ridding your diet of preservatives, additives and other processed/junk food. Eating clean involves eating lots of food straight from nature, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choosing meats that come from grain-fed and free-range animals. It means reading labels and avoiding food with ingredients you don’t recognize or cannot pronounce and eating foods with fewer ingredients, ideally three to six ingredients.

What does clean eating have to do with fertility? As Krissy has shown us through her blog posts, what we put in our bodies can affect our fertility. Studies have shown that eating a balanced diet, which clean eating encourages, improves your chances of conceiving. According to an article from the Daily Beast, “Can Food Make You Infertile? Foods to Eat and Avoid”, many processed foods lead to lower sperm counts in men and ovulatory infertility in women.

Not only is clean eating a great way to live overall, it may improve your chances of conceiving! For more information on clean eating, check out The Gracious Pantry, The Eat Clean Diet or my personal blog, Eating Clean and Saving Green.

Food Allergies

Photo of Allerbling Medical Bracelet

Photo of Allerbling Medical Bracelet

I don’t know about you, but it was RARE to know someone with a food allergy when I was growing up. In fact, I can’t think of anyone that I knew who had any food allergies as a child. I have read a few different viewpoints as to why it is believed there are an increasing number of food allergies, but I will leave that to the experts. This article’s purpose is to explain what food allergies are and to educate mothers and fathers (and parents-to-be) about the best ways to handle them.

I will begin with a quick overview. A food allergy is an attack by the body’s immune system on a normally harmless food protein that it thinks is a germ (such as bacteria or viruses). The immune system produces an abnormally large amount of an antibody called immunoglobulin E- IgE for short- and it fights the “enemy” by releasing histamine and other chemicals which trigger the allergic reaction (FARE website).

The most severe allergic reactions can result in anaphylaxis, a sudden drop in blood pressure that can be fatal if not treated quickly. When children are diagnosed with one of these allergies, doctors will prescribe epinephrine, an auto-injectable medication that reverses the symptoms of anaphylaxis (Web MD). This has to be carried with the child at all times and can be administered at the first sign of symptoms. Peanut, tree nut and seafood allergies are the most common types that cause anaphylaxis. Most other food allergies, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, etc. may cause hives or other less severe symptoms that can be treated with an antihistamine.

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), 1 in 13 children are affected by food allergies. That is a staggering number meaning that many parents are having to learn to deal with their children’s allergies everyday. How can you know if your child has a food allergy? Like many other families, we suspected our daughter had a food allergy when her face and hands swelled and reddened after helping me in the kitchen. We were making a dish using pecans and quickly realized something was wrong. Fortunately she did not swallow any nuts and we were able to stop the reaction with Benadryl. We were careful to avoid pecans for months following, but then discovered that walnuts also caused her to swell and redden after making Christmas cookies. We then had her allergy tested and were prescribed an EpiPen Jr. to carry.

We are so thankful to have discovered her allergy without much incident, but now we live a strangely different life. We read labels on everything and know the difference between “may contain tree nuts” and “produced in a factory that may contain tree nuts” and “produced on equipment used for tree nuts”. My purse is twice as heavy with a bottle of Benadryl and an EpiPen Jr. The most difficult change, however, is that our daughter cannot enjoy any of the same snacks or treats her friends do at preschool. Each day a friend brings a special treat to share with the class and she has to have the boring snack mommy provided that stays in the closet of the classroom. This doesn’t sound so bad to me- obviously I know the true consequences of eating that homemade cookie accidently “laced” with almond extract-but she just sees fun cookies on her friends’ plates’ and pretzels on hers. Life with allergies can be different, but here are some great ideas to help make life with allergies simpler with little ones.

Cook more allergy-free treats at home with your child. My daughter loves baking, and as long as it comes from my kitchen, I know it is safe!

Carry a special pouch or bag with the EpiPen and Benadryl. Our daughter’s is fun and girly so she wants to take it with her to parties, etc.

Find any number of fun and stylish medical bracelets to alert others of your child’s allergy. Try allberling.com, mediband.com/kids and starallergyalerts.com.

Google “Food Allergy Apps” and find one that can assist you. They now have apps that can do everything from scan a food item’s barcode and alert you to potential dangers to help you find a restaurant that can accommodate your child’s allergy.

Pink or Blue?? Parents take gender reveal to a new level

Long gone are the days when parents-to-be used a simple phone call, email or updated Facebook status to let the world know the gender of their baby. Today, gender reveal parties and over-the-top gender reveals are a big pregnancy trend. Here’s a look at a few of the most popular:

Gender Reveal Cakes–When a couple goes in for their 20-week ultrasound, they ask the ultrasound tech to write the baby’s gender on a piece of paper, seal it in an envelope and the couple takes the envelope to their favorite bakery. The bakery makes a cake with either blue or pink cake and filling, decorating the outside of the cake plain white or in neutral colors. When the couple cuts into the cake, they find out whether they will be having a boy or girl!

Photo courtesy of cakesdecor.com

Photo courtesy of cakesdecor.com

Gender Reveal Parties–Going along with the gender reveal cakes, some couples plan a whole party around the gender reveal, including cutting the cake as the focal point of the party. The gender reveal parties also include friendly betting where guests guess the gender before the big reveal, party games that revolve around the gender reveal theme and specially-themed drinks and food.

Photo courtesy of ohphoto.net

Photo courtesy of babyvernon.blogspot.com.

Gender Reveal Photos–Another trend is to have a professional photographer capture the moment the couple finds out the gender of the baby through creative photos. One of my favorite ones is having a box full of either pink or blue balloons and the couple opens it up to find out the sex of their baby.

Photo courtesy of vol25.typepad.com.

Photo courtesy of vol25.typepad.com.

What do you think of the gender reveal trend? Any creative ideas you have done or plan on doing for your own gender reveal?