Eating for Fertility: Graduate Story with Jodie Brandman Graduate Story We chat to Jodie Brandman, ION graduate and Nutritional Therapist, about how dietary and lifestyle factors can support fertility What initially inspired you to study nutritional therapy? “I was working in psychology and it just didn’t feel right; I used to watch women with really severe mood imbalances being made to eat cake and walking around with litres of cola, then being dished out medication to help their mental health…I thought there had to be another way. “Around the same time I had my own digestive issues, so I started to read about how food could affect the body. Eventually after a few years of trying different psychology jobs and going on some short weekend nutrition courses, I decided to pack in my job and take a leap of faith into the nutrition world. I actually met someone on a bus who told me about ION and that was it!” What did your focus turn to reproductive health? “I started to suffer from really horrific periods where I would vomit nearly every month, and then I had a fertility scare where I was told I would need an operation if I wanted to conceive. I wanted to find out as much as I could about helping myself naturally and started to get really excited about this field of research. “As always, what you focus on you attract, so I started to get lots of fertility enquiries and I loved working with my clients so much that I made fertility and women’s health my whole focus. I also ended up falling pregnant naturally and having a really healthy pregnancy and birth.” How did you use nutritional therapy to support your own fertility? “I carried out hormone and genetic tests, tweaked my meals, added in some quality supplements and also learnt about my fertility signs, which I feel no one speaks about enough! There was also the lifestyle side of it too where I addressed my mind-set and whole vibe!” Are them some conditions that make it more difficult to conceive? “There are definitely some conditions that can affect fertility [PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis or hormone imbalances] but I think as long as you know what you’re dealing with and you give yourself enough time to put in the work, then there is always hope! I always believe there’s a reason for why pregnancy isn’t happening and it’s just about getting to the root cause and supporting the body.” What dietary factors can support fertility? “There are so many factors that can support fertility, but the key ones are blood sugar balancing, getting in the right vitamins and minerals, bringing down the stress response physically and optimising gut and liver health. “[In terms of blood sugar balance] stick to whole foods like starchy veg, fruit and whole grains for your carb content and avoid sugars and white pasta and rice; have protein and fat with every meal to slow down the release of blood sugar, eat within 1.5 hours of waking and don’t skip meals; and include omega-3 from oily fish, and cinnamon to help naturally balance sugar levels.” What lifestyle factors can support fertility? “Stress and toxins are the biggest lifestyle barriers to fertility so making sure you get your mind and body calm, and pull out unnatural products from your life, is really important. “Top tips include stopping the caffeine; caffeine in itself actually drives up cortisol so even though it’s waking you up initially, long term it’s just going to drive stress further. Opt for more gentle exercise; forget endurance sports or spin classes, you want to be focusing on walking, swimming or yoga. Try meditation; scientific studies have shown that meditation can bring stress levels right down. Go to bed before 10pm and ensure you’re getting enough sleep, as this is when the body repairs. After 10pm, your cortisol picks up again. Finally, look into your levels of magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C, which can all get used up when you’re stressed.” For more advice, visit Jodie's website or follow her on Instagram @jodiebrandman ION is a leading provider of accredited nutritional therapy training, established in 1984. ION’s BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy is validated by the University of Portsmouth. Be part of a growing community of nutritional therapists and build a rewarding, flexible career helping others to make positive lifestyle changes. Start your journey today and find out more about studying nutritional therapy here.