Sweet Potatoes & General Health
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite staple foods. Easy to use, appealing to almost every palate, and extremely versatile —it’s pretty difficult to screw them up. They come in a variety of colors, including white, purple, and shades of orange (also referred to as "yams"), and a slight range in sweetness and flavor.
In addition to being delicious, sweet potatoes have an outstanding reputation for supporting overall health.
- Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes have been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve our response to insulin.
- Phytosterols (a class of plant compounds that compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive tract, a good thing) support the excretion of excess dietary cholesterol and have been reported to support digestive function and play a key role in the prevention and management of duodenal and gastric ulcers (especially important for people who have taken / currently take NSAIDS regularly in their lifetime and who may become prone to these types of ulcers).
- Sweet potatoes (especially those grown organically and in good quality soil) are an extremely rich source of vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, manganese, copper, and a variety of B vitamins.
Lifestyle Habits & Fertility
When talking about optimizing fertility there are, in addition to dietary changes, a few lifestyle factors that both mom- and dad-to-be should consider in order to increase their chance of successful conception.
- Exercise - Regular, moderate exercise provides extensive benefits to the mind and body, and it has been suggested to increase overall health and wellness including fertility, for both partners to exercise regularly.
- Slowing down - Get the most from your food by eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and making space for your mealtime. Don’t rush it!
- Smoking - Hands-down. Research has repeatedly shown that in order to optimize the chances for successful conception, both male and female should abstain from smoking.
- Stress - It is so important to reduce stress when trying to conceive because the physiological effects of stress are vast, and can affect almost every system in place for ovulation and conception to occur. The nutrients listed below will all work to fight the damaging effects of stress, and support those systems, but learning to slow down, and make choices that prevent stress are also recommended...(which will also help maximize digestion so you can actually break down and absorb the nutrients from your food).
- Meditation - Spend at least 1 minute every day completely relaxed with a self paced or guided meditation. After about a week, increase to 5 minutes, then 10. Try it for up to an hour if you have the time.
Nutrient Composition of Sweet Potatoes
Below I've listed out the nutrients found in significant quantities in sweet potatoes, and their effects on enhancing fertility, either directly or indirectly.
- B6- Hormone regulator; Increases progesterone, which brings estrogen into balance.
- Beta carotene- Plant-based precursor to vitamin A, which helps to regulate adrenal function and protect against estrogen-dominant conditions (endometriosis, ovarian cancer). One serving of sweet potatoes provides between 300-700% DV of vitamin A (depending on the size and the source).
- Vitamin C- Bolsters the immune system and neutralizes free radicals (which can be caused from a variety of sources including stress, fried food, physical or emotional trauma, nitrates and preservatives, air pollution, smoking, alcohol) before they can cause damage to surrounding cells.
- Magnesium & potassium- These two electrolytes balance the nervous system, which helps to reduce stress, improve sleep, and lower high blood pressure. Magnesium balances progesterone, which affects menstruation, ovulation, blood flow to the uterus, and stabilizes fluctuations in blood sugar (roller-coaster blood sugar can damage ovaries). Because magnesium is also a natural muscle relaxer, deficiency has been shown to cause spasms in the fallopian tubes which can prevent egg implantation.
- Anthocyanin- Along with other antioxidants, anthocyanin fights inflammation throughout the body (one of the causes of infertility and reproductive dysfunction is due to chronic inflammation).
How To Incorporate Sweet Potatoes Into Your Diet
For a full list of my recipes containing sweet potatoes, click here. Adding more sweet potatoes to your diet is easy! Swap out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes when making french fries, chili, or mashed potatoes. You can also slice sweet potatoes and use instead of bread as toast, bake them into treats, and use as pizza crust. You can also puree steamed sweet potatoes, freeze into cubes, and use in your smoothies. Just a quick search on Google or Pinterest will provide countless ideas and recipes.
That's all for today!
From my plate to yours,
Impact of lifestyle factors on reproductive health. (click here)
Sweet potatoes - World's Healthiest Foods. (click here)
The effects of cigarette smoking on male fertility. (click here)
The importance of magnesium on fertility. (click here)