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All posts by Alicia Johnson

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If You Have A Friend With Infertility, You Have To Read This

Do you have a friend who is trying to conceive?  Take a minute to read some stats and remind yourself that she is probably struggling way more than you think.  Give her a hug before that next baby shower.  Call her and ask her how she is doing when her sister gets pregnant.  Offer an ear, a hug, and talk to her about getting help when she needs it.  Don’t judge when she is angry with other moms or feels resentment.  Give her a safe space to express it.  Chances are (85% of the time) her husband is not agonizing like she is, so he may not be giving her the support she wants.

  • 48% of women report that infertility is the most upsetting experience in their lives. (take a minute to consider how many upsetting experiences women have)
  • 11% of infertile women meet the criteria for having a major depressive episode (this is debilitating)
  • 1/3 of all infertile women are clinically depressed
  • 80% of all chronic health problems are exacerbated by stress, so they may be experiencing other health problems from the stress.
  • Women with a history of depressive episodes are twice as likely to report subsequent infertility than women who are not depressed. This stat probably has to do with the fact that women with hormone problems are often depressed.  The take away is this:  chances are good that the depression and fertility are intimately woven together and she needs a friend.
  • Women who have a depressive episode before IVF have a 13% pregnancy rate, compared to those who do not have a depressive episode who have pregnancy rate of 29%. If she won’t get help for herself, maybe she will do it for the pregnancy.

female-friends-comforting-each-otherDepression associated with infertility is comparable to depression associated with terminal illness.  You may not be able to understand, but you can be there.  Many women with illness or grief report their friends and family not being there simply because they don’t know what to say or do.  Say something.  Do something.   Your friend / sister / co-worker needs you to be the one to offer some support.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Lifesaver for Little Childhood Illnesses

It’s that time of year! If you are worried about your kiddo getting sick, remember that there are tons of safe natural therapies that many people have not ever heard of. I created a short email series to help parents learn about home remedies to use. I learned these things from my 9 years of being a mommy and a provider. I did the best research I could on what doesn’t cost a lot but works really well. If you want to learn a little more,you can just email my office and ask receive the email about acute illnesses.It’s more than I can fit into one post. The one that I am MOST excited about this year was a really good find. Many of you know that I have recommended NAC for your kids to drain little ears, to thin mucus, and help with colds or coughs. The problem is that it tastes TERRIBLE and if they can’t take a pill, they couldn’t do it.

NAC is the component of breast milk that helps thin the mucus and keep little noses and ears unclogged. It is such a safe natural way to help thin theirmucus.

Finally, after literally years of looking, I found a company in Canada that makes a kid friendly version! It is called Pharma NAC. I am really happy to have some on the shelf and to be able to tell you about it!

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2 Things You Have to Know About Exercise and Fertility

If you are trying to have the best hormone levels possible, pay attention to 2 things.

First, don’t over exercise! Calorie restriction combined with heavy exercise causes huge drops in hormone levels.  The right balance of hormones is critical for normal cycle, normal fertile ground for the baby, and normal egg release.  If you think you might be exercising too much but you are not sure, consider a blood test to evaluate your levels.  You must be absolutely certain that the person reading the results knows HOW to interpret hormone levels with respect to optimal health.  If the doctor can’t tell you what a good estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH, and LH level is, find someone who can.

photo-of-pregnant-woman-doing-her-exerciseSecond, don’t overdo the abdominal!  We want really good blood flow to the pelvic organs.  Studies show that overdoing the abdominal workouts actually restrict blood flow to the pelvic organs.  When you are trying to get pregnant, focus on whole body activity.

When your hormone levels are important to you, avoid the very trendy extreme exercise routines.  They will make it much harder to have a baby.  The CDC recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ activity per day at least 5 days per week.  Strength training should also be included two days per week.  These are reasonable recommendations that should give you an idea of whether you are doing too much or not enough.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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happy-thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day

I am so grateful for so many things.  I have the wonderful experience of watching interesting, funny, intelligent, motivated people heal their lives from the inside out.  My patients enrich my life every day.  Each night I go home to a loving family, my cute bunny “cupcake”, and sweet little dog “sprinkles”.  I feel so incredibly fortunate that this year, I don’t have to look very far for things to appreciate.  Sometimes life brings you circumstances that make you try a little harder to look for the good.  Remember to take time to be mindful and notice what you are grateful for this year!

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Chemical Exposure and Fertility

If you unexplained fertility problems or your partner has problems with low count / poor morphology, this one is for you.  It is important to note that toxicity impacts men even more than women when it comes to fertility.  That said, women must pay attention to how many things in our environment disrupt our hormone systems.  Want to be horrified?  Read this wiki entry on the topic:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocrine_disruptor

If not, read on…

Research shows that exposure to certain solvents, chemicals, and metals can destroy your fertility.  Some women are exposed to estrogenic chemicals like inks, plastics, and fragrances at work.  The EPA indicates that indoor air quality is the most consistent threat to your health, so control what you can at home.  Pollution from carpeting, paneling, cabinets, flame retardants, etc.  releases endocrine disruptors into the air.  That means stuff that will change your hormone system.  Be aware of what you bring into your home.

Reduce exposure to cleaning products when you can.  There are cheap easy alternatives.  While some people can break chemicals down and excrete them effectively, others are less genetically able to do so.  Regardless, it is a good idea to minimize exposure to chemicals.  Clean with vinegar and water whenever possible.  I also like to clean with Castile Soap.  It’s great for scrubbing bathrooms.  Trader Joe’s sells a cheaper version, and my bottle will usually last a whole year.  If you need to paint, spend a little more on the non-VOC paint.  Do not spray for bugs and weeds around your house., or find green alternatives.  Find alternatives to pest control.  Avoid purchasing new carpet or particle-board material and build with natural materials.  Synthetic materials contain flame retardants that release into the air for years after being installed.

Concerned about pollutants in fish?  Check out this site to see up to date info on safety.  www.edf.org.  You need to be aware of how often it is safe to eat your favorite fish.  When in doubt, eat wild caught only.

Surprisingly, the easiest thing you can do at home is take off your shoes.  That is free, and think about all the pesticides, weed killers, and other sprays you leave at the door.  It is a very simple way to keep outdoor chemicals out.

Another simple trick at home:  Incorporate plants that promote clean air:

Indoor-plants-that-promotes-clean-air

Mass Cane                               Pot Mum                            Gerbera Daisy                     Heart leaf Philodendron

Ficus                                        English Ivy                          Marginata                            Chinese Evergreen

Peace Lily                               Bamboo Palm                     Warnecki

Green Spider Plant               Janet Craig

Book suggestions:

            The Nontoxic Home & Office by Debra Lynn Dadd

            The Chemical-Free Lawn by Warren Schultz

Of course, there is a lot of information about chemical exposure and fertility.  This blog grazes the topic for awareness.  If you think this is a problem for you, you should speak with someone more on the topic.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Broccoli Without Bloating?

I made a discovery recently that I am very excited about. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage are my favorite veggies. But alas, if I eat the smallest amount, I get a substantial amount of abdominal pain and I look like I am 6 months pregnant. Recently at a nutrition seminar, I was learning about people that have abnormal sulfur metabolism and molybdenum deficiency. My wheels started turning. Molybdenum helps your body process sulfur / sulfites, so would it help people who can’t digest broccoli without discomfort? Well, last week, I cautiously decided to eat cauliflower and took molybdenum. About a half hour later, I hear “did you eat a WHOLE cauliflower?”. I began to think maybe I made the wrong decision. But I survived. The next day, a whole head of broccoli. The next day, a bag of Brussels sprouts. Next on my list: too much cabbage. I am so excited I want to share it with the world! Not everyone would be this excited about being able to eat broccoli, I know,  but I hated having to avoid it. I hope at least one poor soul out there who can’t eat broccoli is happy to read this!

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Infertility From Dairy or Gluten?

I have seen patient for fertility who have gotten pregnant very quickly by making simple dietary changes. Two surprisingly easy adjustments would include cutting out dairy and gluten IF you have digestive problems.

Gas and bloating are signs that your food may not be digesting well.  This may be due to food intolerances, stress, or an imbalance in your intestinal flora.  It could also be a sign of a problem with dairy or gluten.

photo-of-foods-with-glutenGluten is found in most baked goods and all products that contain wheat flour.  A significant problem with gluten will manifest as gas or diarrhea following wheat products.  If you are bloated constantly, this may be a concern for you.  Problems with gluten can interfere with nutrient absorption.  It is believed that the nutrient deficiency is the cause of the resulting decreased fertility.  If you have problems with bloating and are trying to conceive, take gluten out for 3 weeks and see if your digestion changes.  If it does, leave it out.  You may also notice changes in joint pain, skin problems, fatigue, sleep problems, and metabolism.

photo-of-dairy-foodsDairy can also interfere with fertility if you have trouble digesting it.  The sugar found in milk and dairy products is called galactose.  Many women are unable to turn galactose into usable energy. When galactose is not broken down, it circulates in the blood. The galactose is harmful to the ovaries and the unfertilized eggs.  Development of unfertilized eggs may be impaired by the sugar from milk.  In general, studies show that one serving of dairy FAT (no more, no less) may be beneficial for fertility; the lactose can actually be harmful.  Many people find that a wide range of health conditions are improved from removing dairy from the diet.  The most common problems that benefit from removing dairy include ear infections, sinus infections, IBD, asthma, and allergies.  Many people who suffer from those conditions don’t realize that the dairy may also be interfering with fertility!

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Carbs that Prevent Morning Sickness

During pregnancy, you need to make sure you are getting “slow” carbs, not “low” carbs. That means the carbs that are slower and more difficult to digest will give you more sustained energy. If you don’t get the right balance of calories, you are likely to experience more nausea, fatigue, headaches, weight gain, and swelling. Focus first on breakfast. Adding a small amount of beans will do the trick for some. What about those on a paleo diet? Skip the beans and grains, and go straight to root veggies and winter squashes. Incorporate those foods into breakfast first. A portion size is between 30 and 40 carbs at a time. Fruit, processed flour, sugar, and cereals are not slow burning carbs. While you don’t need to cut them out completely, they are not doing you any favors with your energy. If you are constantly craving carbohydrates, make sure you are getting 70 grams of protein in a day and plenty of whole food fat. If the carb balance isn’t enough, make sure you are hydrated. For some pregnant women, that takes up to a gallon of water per day. As always, a good probiotic during pregnancy is worth its weight in gold. Consider adding other fermented foods to add to the digestive health. Treat constipation. If all of that still isn’t helping, you may need to look into food sensitivities. Some patients even report that having H. Pylori (a stomach infection) made their morning sickness worse.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails? It’s free, and organized for your convenience. Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series. This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Is Meat Killing You?

Is meat naturally bad for you and something that should be avoided?  Is it causing heart attacks and arthritis?  Brain diseases and depression?  The answer is yes and no.  To answer that, first let’s consider the meat we are eating.  I am often recommending that humans focus on eating food natural to a human diet.  But what about meat?  What is the cow/chicken/fish you are eating having for dinner?  Your diet can have a dramatic impact on your body composition, and the same is true for that cow or chicken. Make sure you are purchasing grass fed, grass finished beef.  This means that the cows have not ever been corn fed.  Stated simply, imagine the fat composition of a human who has eaten all corn chips every day.  Compare that to a person who has only eaten salad.  Different bodies, right?  The animal’s diet makes a huge difference.difference-of-grass-fed-meat-from-grain-fed-meat

Historically, the nutrients in fat (fatty acids) looked vastly different.  The omega 3:6 ratio was about 1:1.  Now it is more like 1:20 in most Americans’ diets. Because of that, we are seeing a horrifying increase in inflammatory diseases and heart disease.  Many health experts recommend that you take a fish oil pill to balance that out.  Just take a minute to process that.  Instead of recommending that we eat foods with a natural fatty acid balance, we are trying to tip the scales by swallowing fat in a pill.  You can spend just a little more on the grass fed meats, wild caught fish, grass fed butter, and pastured omega eggs and actually have the right nutrients in your food so you don’t have to take the pill.  Personally, I stopped taking fish oil years ago.  I am not against it, but I do think it seems a little crazy to eat all the wrong foods and then try to make that balance right again with a capsule of oil.  I will take a high nutrient grass fed butter high in Omega 3’s any day.  I buy my grass fed meats right from the farmer at the Kansas City River Market and spend little more than I would at the grocery store up the street.  Despite a family history of high cholesterol, tests always show great results even on a high fat diet.  I would argue that animal products themselves are not bad for you, but the way we raise and process those products can be very detrimental.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Meat, Cancer, and the Bacon Craze

The paelo and keto movements have glorified bacon, sausage, and other high fat processed meats.  While it is true that saturated fat may not be the main cause of heart disease, that doesn’t mean that bacon is good for you.  

Regular intake of processed meats is bad for your digestive tract. The curing process changes the meat and produces carcinogens.  Whole natural meats with high vegetable intake seem to be safe.

Vegetables have a protective effect on the digestive tract.  

The studies that are being publicized indicate that the biggest problems come with high processed meat diets without vegetables.  I think it is important for parents to realize that bacon and deli turkey are processed meats and can’t be the only protein their child eats.  Lots of meat without veggies will put you at risk for colon cancer, which is a real and serious risk.  Don’t totally jump on the paleo bandwagon and think that bacon wrapped ham is healthy.  It isn’t good for your digestive tract.  Grass fed meats in reasonable portions AND veggies seem to be a much safer choice than ham and pepperoni.  A “paleo” diet is one that mimics a diet your ancestors would have eaten:  Real Food.  Your ancestors didn’t eat hot dogs and Brauts.  So listen to the info that is coming out and remember that it isn’t new.

Processed foods are often bad for you.  Vegetables are good for you. 

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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