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Clear and present danger of environmental chemicals – Part 2

By Oladapo Ashiru
06 January 2022   |   3:35 am
Sperm seems to be more sensitive to heavy metals and industrial pollutants than eggs. Many sperm abnormalities are linked to toxins. Most of these chemicals can be found in the atmosphere, on the ground, in cities, and the waterways.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

Men have a lot to worry about also
Sperm seems to be more sensitive to heavy metals and industrial pollutants than eggs. Many sperm abnormalities are linked to toxins. Most of these chemicals can be found in the atmosphere, on the ground, in cities, and the waterways. They have also been termed “repro toxicants” for their adverse effects on sperm development and maturation. Studies confirm male sperm counts are declining, and environmental factors, such as pesticides, exogenous estrogens (Xenoestrogens), and heavy metals, may negatively impact spermatogenesis (formation of sperm).

The top six environmental toxins to avoid:
1. Pesticides: Found on non-organic fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, and unfiltered tap water.
2. Formaldehyde: Found in air fresheners, deodorants, floor polish, and upholstery cleaners.
3. Bisphenols: Found in plastic containers and can leach into food and water.
4. Organic solvents: Petroleum-based liquids found in household products, electronics, car repair, health care, photography, agriculture, printing, construction, and cosmetics. Dry-cleaning chemicals, paint fumes, and much more. Occasional exposure to one or the other toxic chemical is not of concern. An accumulation of these chemicals is of interest over an extended period.
5. Don’t drink unfiltered tap water. Industrial waste and byproducts, pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, herbicides, and commercial cleaning products pollute our waterways continuously. Many companies are contaminating the water regardless of the Country we live in. Either there is no environmental law at all, or there are loopholes in the law, or there is no law for the XYZ chemical getting into the water.
6. Heavy metals are the most common repro-toxins reaching our water supply through industrial waste, jet fuel exhaust residue, and various other sources.

Pharmaceutical drugs are in tap water. Seventy-four percent of the US population takes prescription drugs. Because the drugs do not metabolize fully, small quantities are excreted via feces and urine and flushed away. Toilet water is often treated and filtered before being discharged into lakes and rivers, thereby re-entering the water supply. The trouble is, many drugs are not filtered out via the normal filtration process. Minute quantities of chemotherapy drugs, contraceptive pills, antidepressants, anxiolytics, anabolic steroids, HRT (hormone replacement therapy), heart drugs, etc., have been found in tap water.

Use a dual filtration system. Buy a double filtration water system that filters particles smaller than 1 micron (this will filter out the drugs and heavy metals). Use the filter in your shower and your kitchen. Shower steam contains the same chemicals, which you can end up inhaling and absorbing through your skin.

Aim to eat an optimal fertility diet
Your growing embryo will increase 20 million times during the first trimester of pregnancy. In the first eight weeks, your baby’s organs, hands, fingers, legs, feet, head, eyes, nose, ears, etc., are being constructed. To ensure the best possible foundations are laid down during this phase, you want to make sure there are plenty of building blocks in the form of the proper nutrients in the right combinations. If you have to eat fish, remove the skin with fat laced with toxins and heavy metals from the waters.

What does a fertility diet contain?
An optimal fertility diet is about what to avoid as much as what to include. A fertility diet should be as fresh as possible and organic wherever possible. Key elements are good quality protein sources (favor vegetable protein sources) and good fats.

What should you eat?
Organic meat in small quantities, small deep-sea fish like sardines and red snapper, organic legumes home cooked (not canned).

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit in season, organic where possible.

Increase your consumption of good fats and avoid dangerous fats. Good fats include monounsaturated fats in olive oil, polyunsaturated fats in oily fish and nuts, and mid-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil.

For cooking, use coconut oil or palm kernel oil, as they do not become unstable when heated.

For non-heated oil requirements (salads, etc.), use cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, and nut oils.

Avoid dangerous fats
Did you know that consuming trans fats hidden in foods such as; doughnuts, biscuits, lollies, candy, chocolate, chips, pies, fries, take away and thousands of other foods may increase your risk of infertility as much as 70 per cent? Scientists from the Harvard University School of Public Health advise women wanting to get pregnant to avoid all trans fats.

The sole purpose of adding trans fats to food is to extend its shelf life. To minimise your consumption of trans fats, be diligent about reading the ingredients and avoid the most likely culprits altogether. Trans fats are mainly listed as’ hydrogenated fat’ or ‘hardened vegetable fat’ or only ‘vegetable fat.’

Minimise animal-derived estrogens
Dairy products account on average for 60-70 per cent of estrogens consumed. Humans consume milk from cows in the second half of pregnancy when cows’ estrogen levels are high. We usually associate dairy and drinking milk with calcium and never think about what else we may be consuming along with the calcium (and dairy, by the way, is not the best source of calcium). Here is a list of hormones found in cows’ milk: prolactin, somatostatin, melatonin, oxytocin, growth hormone, luteinising releasing hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, estrogens, progesterone, insulin, corticosteroids and much more.

Do you think an excess consumption of all these hormones could disrupt your hormonal balance? You bet! The use of milk has been linked to some instances of male infertility. Excess estrogen and pesticide exposure have been linked to PCOS and Endometriosis. Studies have found higher concentrations of pesticides in cheese than in non-organically grown fruit and vegetables. The first line of naturopathic treatment I recommend for PCOS and Endometriosis is to minimise animal products’ intake. Animal products have high hormones, pesticides, and herbicides, known as endocrine disruptors. They play havoc with your hormones, and this can lead to anovulation. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, we have coconut milk, Tiger nut milk, and many more of excellent quality.

Avoid the two most common allergens
The link between food intolerances and anti-sperm antibodies is now well established. Studies have found that women with multiple allergies and food intolerances were more likely to miscarry. An overactive immune system is more likely to attack its body cells. From an immunological point of view, an embryo and sperm cell are foreign bodies. But Mother Nature was brilliant; she programmed our immune systems to distinguish between an everyday invader and a sperm cell or embryo. Th2 cytokines orchestrate a healthy and healthy immune response to embryo or sperm cells. They suppress your killer cells (that’s what they are called) to leave the embryo unharmed. Many pregnant women are sick wound healers because of this protection and can come down badly with a cold or flu. Your natural protection has been suppressed so that your baby can develop properly.

To be continued tomorrow.

Prof. Ashiru is the medical director, Medical Art Centre (MART) Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos; joint pioneer of IVF in Nigeria, adjunct professor of University of Illinois in Chicago, United States; and President, African Fertility Society.