Guest: Gabriela Rosa
Guest Bio: She’s an author, researcher, keynote speaker and natural fertility specialist.
Health Professional Radio
Katherine: Thanks for listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Katherine, and today I’m joined by Gabriela Rosa. She’s an author, researcher, keynote speaker and natural fertility specialist. Today, we are talking about boosting fertility. Welcome to our show.
Gabriela Rosa: Hi there, Katherine. Thank you so much for having me.
Katherine: To start off with, Gabriela, would you be able to tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to start natural fertility and health solutions?
Gabriela: That’s a great question. I’ve been in private practice for over 13 years now. I guess my training is as a naturopath, and I also have a master’s in reproductive medicine and human genetics.
So my approach to treating fertility and fertility problems is very much grounded on empirical evidence and also very much on the latest scientific evidence, but with a slant of really understanding where it is that the patient is coming from. I think that there’s a lot to be said—these days, there’s so much about evidence-based medicine and how we should always only be looking at the scientific research and so on.
But I think there is so much to be said for the thousands of years of empirical evidence about common-sense things that people have since forgotten, that they need to be looking and doing, looking at and doing. For example, things like just going out in the sunshine and reducing stress and reducing chemical mode and toxicity. Those are such things that people almost forget in this day and age – because we are in environments that are so toxic.
But the reason that I decided to start, I guess, Natural Fertility and Health Solutions was because when I trained as a naturopath, all those years ago, the options were very limited, for what to do once you graduated. It was about trying to figure out, what is it that you want to do with your degree and how are you going go about it?
At that time the only options that I really had were to go and work in a health food store, just prescribing vitamins and supplements over the counter and not really having very much to do with patient care at all, or become a massage therapist, or venture into what was very unsuccessfully done … also, was what I was told while I was training, by my teachers and so on, which was to become a naturopath and see patients face-to-face. So it was almost like that was a third option, but I thought, “This is what I trained for. This is what I want to do, and I’m just going to back myself and do what I believe I can do.” And so, all those years later, I’m still doing it. I’m loving it, and I’ve been lucky enough to be very successful in it, so it’s been great.
Katherine: Yeah, and you’re right. You have a thriving community online on your … you’ve built a community of women, mainly, predominantly women. Also you’ve developed some programs as well. Can you tell us a little bit about the 11 Pillars of Fertility and your other programs?
Gabriela: Yeah, sure! So the 11 Pillars of Fertility is actually what underpins all my programs. They’re the 11 almost areas that I always look at when I’m looking at treating a couple that is presenting with fertility problems. I do have a program that’s launching soon called the Fertility Alignment Program, which basically, as the name suggests, it’s all about making sure that all these areas are aligned and that they give the best possible results as far as helping the body to recreate itself almost. You know what I mean?
What’s fascinating is that the body recreates itself every 120 days practically. Every single cell in the body is a new cell within that amount of time, and curiously, that’s the amount of time that it takes for hemoglobin, our red blood cells, to form, but also for the sperm to form and the eggs to mature. So it really has a profound impact on our sex cells. So the reason that I developed the 11 Pillars as an underpinning of my program is because I observed in practice that there were areas that people needed to look at and that often they weren’t looking at to optimise their fertility.
Once we put the things in place that were important for really helping the body to be in balance as much as possible, it was amazing what flourished as far as their fertility was concerned. So that’s really how it came about. Now, I can run through the 11 pillars if you like. Would you like me to do that?
Katherine: Yeah, if you don’t mind.
Gabriela: Sure. So the 11 pillars, the way that I see it and the way that I’ve classified it is: looking at diet as the number one, making sure that we’ve got all the things in place. I just want to do this very quickly because we can be for an hour talking about this.
But essentially we’ve got diet, looking at a dairy-free, gluten-free, unprocessed, organic, protein- and vegetable-based and low-glycemic and good-fat diet. Now, it might sound like cliché, a lot of naturopaths recommend gluten-free diets and dairy-free diets for everything. But in this particular case, in fact I’m not one of those. In general practise, when people come to see me, I don’t recommend gluten-free, dairy-free diets. In fact I recommend that they eat a variety of foods and a very varied diet.
But when it comes to fertility, it is quite an important thing because dairy can be quite mucus-forming and mucus formation in the fallopian tubes or the epididymis is the last thing that you want, because it will impact fertility negatively.
The other aspect is that it can impact immune functions for people that are even in the slightest sensitive to it, and that’s the same problem with gluten. Gluten is quite allergenic and there are lots of research studies these days that show that women who are sensitive to gluten actually are more likely to be infertile and have recurrent miscarriages. So that’s the reason for that approach I guess, and that’s very much … I’ve talked very much, in great detail in my book ‘Eat Your Way to Parenthood’ about diet and what should be done there.
Then the second pillar is exercise and really figuring out what is it that people should be doing. My approach is that they should be doing something on a regular basis, about six days a week, 30 to 60 minutes, and really just making sure that … it doesn’t have to be extreme and exertion-full exercise. I mean walking often is something that can be quite good, just for making sure that blood sugar regulation is at its best and so on. So exercise is going to be key.
Then of course we’ve got sleep, and sleep is paramount for pretty much every single thing that the body does. The regulation of reproductive hormones depends, and is absolutely I guess dependent, on making sure that enough sleep is in place and that you have good quality and quantity of sleep. Melatonin levels, as you know, rise. Melatonin helps to improve egg quality. So it’s a quite a key aspect of an optimum fertility process I guess.
Then we’ve got fluid balance and fluid intake, making sure that we’re taking the right types of fluid in and avoiding the not-so-great types of fluids. Things like alcohol, soft drinks, fruit juices, coffee and tea. Even … I mean decaf is probably worse in the case of coffee and tea. But avoiding those things is actually going to be a really great step towards optimum fertility. So those are things—and then of course putting in your clean, filtered water and having your organic vegetables and organic vegetable juices, with very little fruit put in there will be quite ideal.
Pillar number five is stress and figuring out what do we need to do about that and what is it that we need for good work and life balance and relaxation and so on? So that’s a really important part, and we certainly could talk so much about stress on its own and its impact on the hypothalamus and the pituitary and the adrenal and ovarian axes. But I think we better leave that one for another time, Katherine, otherwise we’ll be here forever. [laughter]
And then of course we’ve got the nutritional supplementation side of things. I view nutritional supplementation actually as … some people are quite against nutritional supplementation, but I view it as an insurance policy. We need to make sure that we’ve got the good, basic, cellular building blocks for optimum fertility. What I find often is that the people that come to see me in my clinic, they are so depleted in these nutrients that they can’t absorb it. A lot of nutrients, you actually need those nutrients in order to absorb them from your food.
Without even going into the situation that our food is so void of nutrients these days anyway, but the fact is that if they don’t have the nutrients, they can’t absorb those nutrients even if they were there. It’s something that I find is quite important to address.
Then of course we’ve got environmental challenges – and this is a really big area, because it looks at toxins and pollutants and recreational substances, social drugs, prescription medication. You name it … radiation. So this kind of fits in quite a lot of things that bombard the body on a day-to-day basis and that need to be addressed if we are to have optimum fertility and just general health in the long-term.
So these things can come at us from so many different things, from home renovations to hobbies to professional hazards to even cooking utensils. Who would have thought that using the wrong pots and pans can give you or create an infertility picture? If you’ve got too much plastic or aluminium – or even Teflon has been shown to lead to miscarriages and infertility.
So those are the basic things that people don’t really think about, what they put on their skin and what kind of deodorant that they use and what types of toothpastes that are going to impact their thyroid function. So truly looking at all of those different things that will make a big difference. And of course we’ve got what I call the whole body wisdom, and it’s looking at different metabolic processes that go on. From metabolic syndromes to increased homocysteine and immune function and obviously immunological fertility problems and allergies and … structural issues come into display as well.
Even dental work – having a mouthful of amalgam fillings is going to have a negative impact on fertility. But then the question is, is it always right to remove those amalgams while someone is preparing for a conception attempt? The answer is no. So it’s really being quite considered and balanced in what needs to happen and doing what it takes to be able to figure out whether that is a wise clinical decision, to do something like that. But it’s certainly something that needs to be put down for being looked at, if you know what I mean.
Then of course, number 9 and 10 are looking at female and male reproductive health, and that’s reproductive health in particular. You probably could tell that over … I mean we are up to 10 and we haven’t even talked about fertility yet. [laughs] This is where we start talking about fertility – because everything else is so important and it really does underpin whether the body’s own natural fertility will be optimum or not.
So then we start talking about women’s and men’s hormonal balance, sperm health, egg health and egg quality, charting, and so on. So that’s the way we talk about those things, and then finally of course – and this is what I think really cannot be underestimated – is that mind-over-matter aspect. It’s the ability to have the emotional baggage and blockages removed from a situation and have almost a sense of resignation and acceptance, that “I may never conceive but I will do everything that I can in order to do that.”
I find, in my clinic, the patients or the couples that come in and they say, “You know what? Whatever happens is whatever happens. But I’m really going to do the very best that I can in order to get this to happen,” are the ones that are most successful, whether they conceive or not. I think that that really does make a huge difference. But making that time and space for life management and de-cluttering and … just emotions and physical space, I think is quite important. It’s certainly something that we look at in all our programs.
Katherine: Thank you for sharing those 11 Pillars of Fertility with us. And you’re right. There are so many factors that some people don’t think about. Your programs have shown to increase the odds for couples undergoing IVF and ICSI procedures by as much as 47.1% which is nearly 50%. I mean that is a great outcome and a great success. You’ve got a lot of success stories as well over the years. So can you tell us a bit about how … there are couples that are seeking IVF and they’re probably not … I’ve heard of couples that they are still smoking and doing all sorts of things, and they just think IVF is a one fix for them.
Gabriela: Yeah, it’s the silver bullet, but it’s not, and that’s the problem. Look, I have absolute – and I want to make this very clear. I have absolutely nothing against IVF. I think IVF is a wonderful technology. I think for the right couple and the right situation and at the right time, it is absolutely incredible, and it does so many wonderful things, obviously creating a healthy baby being the most important of them. But this is what I find and this is what I believe – I believe that couples today are being herded to IVF before they do anything else about fixing up their general home, if you know what I mean.
So before they put in place the 11 pillars, they’re being told, “You know what, you’re 35, that’s it. You’ve got to go to IVF. There’s no other way, just go.” They’re not given advice. They’re not giving counselling about what their diet should be like, how they should be eating, how they should be exercising, how they should be sleeping, how to balance them, how to address their emotional and stress levels. All of those things are almost neglected during that process of being told, “Yes, you have to go and do IVF.”
Your point is so valid. I see people in my clinic – and in fact I saw somebody last week who is still drinking alcohol, still drinking coffee, and they’re up to their egg collection and embryo transfer stage. There are so many research studies that show that even one glass of alcohol a day or even one cup of alcohol a day will negatively impact the ability of the embryo to implant by 50%. And these people are still drinking alcohol and drinking coffee.
That’s because nobody really said to them, “Look, this is something that you need to stop.” Even if – and let’s just put it this way, because I’m sure there will be some people listening to this and going, “Oh, the evidence is not strong enough,” or whatever. Even if that is the case, if you’ve got a person who has been trying to conceive for five, six, seven, ten years, as I’ve seen in my practice, wouldn’t you do absolutely everything it took if you knew that there could even be a tiny little possibility that that’s going to negatively impact their chances?
A lot of my patients, they’ll say, “Yes, I would do whatever it takes. If you tell me that I have to stand in the upside form for 24 hours, [laughs] in order to make sure that I’m going to get pregnant, I’m going to do that.” Obviously there is no evidence for that, Katherine, but there is evidence that coffee and alcohol will definitely make a difference. So basic counselling in those areas I think is so important and so lacking. I think that’s also why our IVF support program is so successful and it helps so many couples – because it really does make a huge difference.
Now, the biggest thing – and this is one thing that I must make very, very clear – the best results, whether people are coming in for natural treatments and they want to try and conceive naturally without the use of IVF, or whether they’re wanting to optimise their chances of conception through IVF. The minimum amount of time that you need to put these strategies in place for them to really make a difference is at least 120 days.
So people can certainly come in and do remedial work. Looking at: what are the things that immediately, if I stop doing, I’m going to improve my chances? And there are plenty of those. As we talked, alcohol and coffee is just one of them.
But the absolute improvement that you will notice in that 50% improvement and to making sure that you do take home that healthy baby that you’re wanting, it’s going to be in that 120-day process involving both prospective parents. That’s going to be the key, and I’m very clear with my patients about this. Whenever I’m seeing people in the clinic that are coming in for this kind of treatment, I’m very clear at helping them to understand the very big importance of making sure that these areas are addressed for that minimum amount of time that it takes for the body to regenerate and heal itself.
Katherine: Right. Thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing all of this information with us. I’m glad you’ve given us some concrete parameters. I think a lot of people are wondering, how long will it take? So thank you very much for that.
Gabriela: My pleasure.
Katherine: For people who would like to know more, you can go to naturalfertilitybreakthrough.com or naturalhealthboost.com. Thanks again, Gabriela.
Gabriela: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.