Scroll Top

Interview on nutrition and fertility with miss balance

Entrevista a Miss Balance

New year, new challenges. It’s common to start the year with a list of resolutions or dreams you want to fulfil. At Ovoclinic, we know that both exercise and nutrition are in our patients’ lists of resolutions. So we’ve decided to start this first month of the year with a chat with one of our collaborators who specialises in clinical and digestive nutrition and hormonal health in women. We’re talking about Lara, or as she’s known on social media: @missbalance.

MOTHER AND SPECIALIST IN CLINICAL AND DIGESTIVE NUTRITION, BUT PARTICULARLY IN HORMONAL HEALTH AND FERTILITY. WHAT MADE YOU SPECIALISE IN NUTRITION AND FERTILITY?

After more than 10 years focusing on weight loss and sports nutrition, I ended up specialising in digestive health out of necessity, as at the practice we were encountering more and more issues that could be improved by focusing on this factor. Personally, I’ve been suffering from hormonal imbalance since my 20’s, and this was also reflected in digestive problems, so everything I recommended to my patients had been tried and tested in my own life.

Some time later, I decided I wanted to be a mum, and that was when I realised it wasn’t so easy and that I needed to optimise my hormones, digestive health, lifestyle and supplements. Within a few months of following my plan, I’d achieved it, and I remember the gynaecologist being amazed at how good my blood test results were after my first check-up. The pregnancy and the birth went really smoothly, and I was so fascinated by the whole process that I wanted to focus more on women’s hormonal health and breastfeeding advice to help other women and their partners during this important time, when it’s so easy to feel lost.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON CONDITIONS YOU SEE RELATED TO HORMONAL HEALTH?

There are many women who suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and endometriosis, as well as thyroid or prolactin disorders. One of the main objectives is often to improve insulin resistance, enrich the diet with antioxidants and phytochemicals (beta-carotene, polyphenols, isothiocyanates), and reduce inflammation. A good approach will improve body composition and microbiota, and consequently, hormonal health.

AT OVOCLINIC, WE KNOW THAT A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE (REST, SPORT, DIET…) IS KEY TO ACHIEVING A HEALTHY PREGNANCY. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WOMAN OR COUPLE UNDERGOING IVF TREATMENT?

For me, there are 3 basic essentials: ensuring a good intake of both soluble and insoluble fibre, daily exercise combining aerobic and strength training, and last but not least, improving stress management, as it’s fundamental to our emotional and hormonal health.

Regarding fibre, we should prioritise whole grains, oats, buckwheat, fruit, vegetables, legumes, seeds and resistant starch. All of these will help to control blood sugar and stimulate the secretion of hormones that regulate appetite and the blood lipid level, as well as taking care of our microbiome.

Strength training is essential for the creation of new mitochondria, which are our energy factories, and cardiovascular exercise improves blood circulation, the delivery of nutrients to the cells, and the removal of waste products from the body.

Stress management is crucial, given the society we live in. Each person will have to find the technique that suits them best, but by simply disconnecting from external stimuli for a while each day – even if it is just 10 minutes in airplane mode – will reduce our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and everything will start to function better.

ONE OF THE METHODS YOU USE IN YOUR NUTRITIONAL PROGRAMME IS TO WORK ON GUT HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH TOGETHER. WHAT RELATIONSHIP IS THERE BETWEEN THE TWO?

I’d say they have a very close relationship indeed. The central nervous system and the enteric nervous system (brain-gut) are connected, and the microbiota is a fundamental part of this dialogue.

To give just one example, one of the substances that most influences mood is tryptophan, which we must get from our diet because it’s an essential amino acid, which means that the body can’t produce it.

Tryptophan is converted in the gut into serotonin, the happiness hormone. 90% of it is synthesised in the gut, and a deficiency can affect our emotions, causing depression and other psychiatric disorders. A balanced gut microbiota is essential for the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin to take place. But if there are alterations in the microbiota, tryptophan will be converted into other substances that cause inflammation and achieve the opposite effect; anxiety. There are many other factors involved, but it’s clear that diet is fundamental to improving our microbiota, and in turn, our emotional and hormonal health.

WHEN A COUPLE IS TRYING TO CONCEIVE, THE MAN ALSO PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE. HAVE YOU NOTICED A GREATER MALE PRESENCE IN YOUR NUTRITION SESSIONS OR PROGRAMMES?

Fortunately, more and more couples are coming together to improve their diets. The man provides 50% of the genetic material, and it’s recognised that lifestyle and diet determine sperm quality. However, I see lots of women who feel frustrated and helpless as they try so hard on their own to make all the changes to their diet and lifestyle. I always encourage couples to attend at least one of the nutrition sessions together.

ONCE A PATIENT GETS PREGNANT, IS THERE A MORE SPECIFIC DIETARY PLAN FOR THE NINE MONTHS OF PREGNANCY AND THE BREASTFEEDING PERIOD?

Yes, I always explain to my patients that we’ll do our best to provide a 5-star hotel for the baby during the 9 months of pregnancy! We know that babies are exposed to bacteria in the womb that will form part of their future microbiota. I talk a lot about the first 1,000 days of life, which are decisive for the future health of our children. These 1,000 days start from the moment of conception until the age of two. Diet is therefore vital during this period, because it will determine the microbiota, and consequently, the child’s health during their early years and throughout the rest of their life. Many couples take the opportunity to form good habits during pregnancy and prepare themselves to be the best example for their children when they start complementary feeding at 6 months.

To finish up, I’d just like to take this opportunity to encourage prospective parents to be as well informed as possible about breastfeeding and what their children’s diet should consist of, as unfortunately, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there. 

Related Posts