The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is responsible for exciting the egg sacs in women’s ovaries. When this hormone interacts with egg sacs (follicles), it causes them to grow, thereby increasing estrogen levels and making women more fertile.
But sometimes there’s an overproduction of FSH, which isn’t good. When a woman has high levels of the follicle stimulating hormone – a condition known as high FSH – this means her follicle count is low. Some believe that high FSH is good because it means there are more egg sacs being stimulated, but this is usually false. The real reason more hormones are produced is because the pituitary gland that creates the hormones tries harder to compensate for low follicle count. Essentially, the woman’s body thinks that if more FSH is produced, more follicles will be created.
High FSH is normal for women going through menopause and for those who have already experienced menopause, but it’s abnormal for other women. This abnormality has caused a natural movement led by fertility experts, health professionals and researchers to find different kinds of food that fight high FSH.
The five foods you see below have been proven by experts to increase estrogen levels and follicle count.
YAMS: Makers of Twins
A study conducted by the University of Ibadan found that the high rate of twins birthed by women in Africa’s Yaruba tribe is linked to yams. Yams, similar to the sweet potato, are plentiful in the Yaruaba tribe’s diet. According to the study, 1 of 4 women in the tribe has fraternal twins compared to the 1 of 40 average. It’s also known that a twin pregnancy is a huge indicator of fertility. If you happen to follow this diet, do not forget to look for a double stroller with car seat for infant and toddler as your chances of getting pregnant with twins will be high!
This study confirmed what fertility experts already know: yams contain something called dioscin that promotes healthy estrogen levels.
Note: Too much dioscin can negatively impact women’s cervical fluid by making it “stickier.” Ultimately, this makes it harder for sperm to reach its destination. Experts suggest women eat yams in the first half of their menstrual cycle to reap the greatest fertility benefits.
MILLET: The PH Balancer
Millet, a wheat- and gluten-free grain, helps decrease high levels of acid in the body. By doing this, it restores a balanced PH level in the body that creates great conditions for healthy female hormone function. As a bonus, millet also balances blood sugar and insulin levels.
Although millet isn’t as common as wheat, you can usually find it in places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other grocers that promote healthy eating. In addition to coming in standard cracked and pearled forms, it’s also available as flour. For many women, flour is the easiest way to make delicious dishes containing millet.
SOY: Sperm Killer, Follicle Friend
Countless studies have found that soy products decrease sperm levels in men. However, soy products – specifically fermented soy products – have the opposite effect on women fertility.
According to Julia Indichova, founder of Fertile Heart, her clients have done best with soy products like tempeh, tamari, miso and nato. These are fermented foods. Indichova warns future mothers against eating non-fermented foods.
“The protease inhibitors in unfermented soy foods, such as soy milk, tofu, processed soy cheeses, inhibit the key enzymes that help us digest protein and can cause bloating, intestinal disorders and impaired pancreatic function. Fermentation on the other hand adds beneficial microorganisms that help break down complex proteins into highly digestible amino acids and fatty acids,” says Indichova.
Note: Indichova has helped hundreds of once infertile women become pregnant and has received many success stories from women over 40 with high FSH.
GREEN TEA: The Liver’s Sidekick
Surprising to many, the liver plays an important role in how estrogen is controlled and balanced. Its purposes go beyond filtering out harmful things that enter the body.
Antioxidants, nutrients and caffeine in green tea make the liver more efficient at handling estrogen. What this means is higher, more consistent levels of estrogen. In other words, the estrogen that’s created by the female body stays around longer.
Note: If you’re body doesn’t respond well to caffeine, steep a fresh tea bag in a hot cup of water for 20 seconds. Afterwards, take the same tea bag and put it in a new cup with fresh hot water. Since the majority of caffeine is released during the first 20 seconds of steeping, this process lowers the amount of caffeine consumed.
LEAFY GREENS: Folic Acid Galore
Not only is folic acid an essential nutrient, but it also increases fertility in women. This has been confirmed by thousands of success stories and studies done by fertility experts. In fact, there’s one website that’s completely dedicated to covering leafy greens and fertility.
On the My Fertile Food website, you can get fertility friendly recipes that contain leafy greens and other goodness.
Perhaps one of the most simple and delicious recipes is the Spinach, Banana, Walnut Smoothie that calls for two handfuls of fresh spinach, two handfuls of chopped walnuts, one banana and one cup of organic apple juice.
Robert Gibb is a researcher and writer who writes about big ideas and topics related to healhtly lifestyles, fitness and yoga. He believes one of the most beautiful things in the world is a happy, healthy woman.