A fertility secret about Butternut Squash!
Although a fruit, butternut squash tends to be used as a savoury vegetable.
I imagine that the majority of people have at least once in their life tried some butternut squash. But I also imagine that the majority probably aren’t aware that it has a fertility health secret: one that relates to sperm health.
Squash is high in Beta-carotene that produces Vitamin A at more than 200% of the daily requirement from just 100g of squash! (1)
Beta-carotene intake has been linked to increased sperm motility as reported in a study (2) published some years ago in Fertility and Sterility (3).
When a nutrient increases motility of sperm, it will likely do so by increasing the energy of the sperm. If the sperm have more energy, they can function more efficiently and this is the same for female eggs too.
Along with the beta-carotene squash also contains a higher ratio of Omega-3 compared to Omega-6, further helping support sperm and egg health.
It’s not surprising then that the Chinese have used pumpkins, Squash, and other forms of gourds (often called ‘Nan-Gua’) as part of their diet for several thousand years – and mostly to support energy (Qi).
The seeds are also used in Chinese medicine to treat intestinal parasites (4).
- Treat Qi Deficiency
- Treat Dampness
- Treat Mild Blood Stagnation
- Clears Toxicity
- Treat Intestinal Parasites
Qi is the word used in Chinese Fertility Medicine to describe energy, life force, or vitality inside and outside the body.
Qi is the non-physical aspect of your body that makes all of your organs and systems work.
This means that it’s vital for the function of all aspects of your fertility, and pregnancy health too. When your Qi is deficient your body struggles to function efficiently, and this can lead to a variety of fertility issues.
When Qi becomes more severely deficient you will likely present with hormone imbalance, typically with reduced Progesterone, Testosterone and/or FSH levels. In some cases, the FSH can rise and present itself as being elevated, due to the ovaries or testes being underactive and sluggish (tired).
Dampness is the word used in Chinese Fertility Medicine to describe an overabundance of negative types of fluids that have accumulated in the body.
This includes: mucus, phlegm, or water accumulation (edema) that build up over time in different areas of the body.
A variety of fertility issues can arise from having too much Dampness including: immune disorders, fluid retention, circulatory issues, bacterial and fungal overgrowth, and other inflammatory diseases.
Reducing dampness can take some time, but the physical effects you receive will be worth it!
Blood Stagnation refers to poor circulation of blood throughout the body.
This can manifest in any aspect of the body but is prevalent in many male fertility and also gynecological issues.
There are 2 main causes of Blood Stagnation:
- A genetic clotting disorder that directly causes the blood to clot more easily
- A Blood Deficiency pattern where the blood is weaker and cannot flow efficiently, causing it to become stagnant
Healthy Blood flow is vital to nourishing all the cells in your body, which include egg and sperm cells.
If blood flow reduces it may cause male and female fertility issues that typically present with either an obstruction in the flow of blood or fluids, or the development of a growth or mass.
Vitamin A: Is necessary for the growth and repair of many body cells including bones, teeth, collagen and cartilage. It’s also involved in cell differentiation where cells become specific types of cells such as a liver cell or a blood cell. This is vital for the development of your healthy baby. Supplementation does not offer balanced forms of Vitamin A.
Vitamin B1: Thiamin is involved in the production of energy through the breakdown of sugars and carbohydrates. This is important for cellular health, which may also influence the health and energy of sperm and egg cells. It’s also important for energy support during pregnancy.
Vitamin B3: Niacin as with most other B vitamins is involved in energy production within the mitochondria of your cells (the powerhouse of the cell). Pregnancy requires good levels of niacin, as does breastfeeding.
Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine is involved in breaking many types of chemical bonds and is a component of many enzymes – which are involved in breaking down foods and substances, and also regulating steroid hormones.
Vitamin B9: Folate is an important nutrient for general and fertility health. It’s involved in the creation of DNA as well as the building of proteins, and many other important functions including the healthy development of your baby’s’ spinal cord. During pregnancy folate also supports the growth of the placenta and helps to prevent several types of birth defects, especially those of the brain and spine.
Vitamin C: For fertility health Vitamin C is important in the process of absorption and also in its ability to support the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. This nutrient is really helpful in protecting sperm and egg cells from free radical damage, which can damage the DNA of the cell and may lead to morphology issues – in sperm and eggs.
Potassium: Is an electrolyte which counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure levels – another important element for pregnancy.
Phosphorus: Is an element that plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is essential in our diet and particularly in children when growth and development occurs.
Magnesium: Supports a healthy immune system as well as keeps bones strong. It is also great for stress, and combined with vitamin B6 can help induce sleep and alleviate symptoms of bloating and weight gain associated with PMS.
Manganese: is a naturally occurring mineral which aids in the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors, and sex hormones.
Iron: Is a mineral that the body uses to carry oxygen in the blood and plays a key role in strengthening the immune system and helps regulate body temperature.
Calcium: Calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones, support heart health, and for optimal function of the muscles and nerves. It is also required alongside Vitamin D to aid in its use throughout the body.
Copper: Copper is essential for overall health and is involved in many processes in the body. It cannot be produced by the body and must, therefore, be consumed through food. Copper helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption.
Season Available: September – October although found all year round
How it’s typically cooked: Butternut squash can be roasted, steamed, mashed, added to soups, stews or casseroles, or pureed and made into soups and sauces.
Cautions: This is generally a safe food, but there are cases of some squash being very bitter, which indicates a particular type of toxin. If you notice that a squash tastes bitter it’s best to discard and use another one.
(2) Fertility and Sterility
(3) Semen quality in relation to antioxidant intake in a healthy male population. Piotr Zareba, M.D., M.P.H.a,b, Daniela S. Colaci, M.D., M.Sc.c, Myriam Afeiche, Ph.D., M.P.H.c, Audrey J. Gaskins, B.S.E.c,h, Niels Jørgensen, M.D., Ph.D.d, Jaime Mendiola, Ph.D., M.P.H.e, Shanna H. Swan, Ph.D.f,g, Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D.
(4) Xiao, S. H.; Keiser, J.; Chen, M. G.; Tanner, M.; Utzinger, J. (2010). “Research and Development of Antischistosomal Drugs in the People’s Republic of China a 60-year review”
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