Guest of the Month: Dr. Nat Kringoudis on 'How to be Your Most Fertile Self'.
By Amy Crawford
Hormones can do crazy things to the best of us ladies – one minute we're as cute as pie/butter wouldn't melt in our mouths, the next we're full of irrational arguments (come on ladies, be honest), banging headaches, tender breasts and abdominal pains. Now it's no secret that I'm (currently) childless but that doesn't mean fertility should be any less important to me, or those of us who are not currently looking to make babies. Being fertile is a whole lot more than kids – it's about being at your optimum health.
Six or so months ago, I made the executive decision to discount the advice I had been given by my gynecologist (the advice was that the contraceptive pill was my ONLY option in terms of sorting out my hormone issues long term) and booked in to see Dr. Nat Kingroudis of The Pagoda Tree. Within a couple of months of seeing Nat my hormones rectified themselves and my body reached a happy equilibrium, the natural way and the pharmaceutical company lost it's monthly sale. Now I'm not saying the pill isn't for everyone, but please be your own healthcare advocate. Make sure you know what you’re taking and why you’re taking it and whether or not it is the most suitable option for your own personal needs. Western medicine can often be very one eyed, I’m simply encouraging you to broaden your view.
Without further ado, I am so very excited to introduce Dr. Nat Kingroudis to you all today.
How to be your most fertile self.
Tell us about what you do.
Where do I start!? Ok well, I'm a Dr of Chinese Medicine (Herbalist and Acupuncturist), a natural fertility educator, speaker and author. I'm also the producer and co-host of Healthtalks, the web health series. I am the owner of The Pagoda Tree, Melbourne's home of alternative therapies for fertility and health! Oh and I'm a mum and wife!!
What are the top two misconceptions in your industry?
The fertility industry is riddled with misconceptions. My mission is to change the way people view the word 'fertility.'' Fertility isn't just about babies, but having a thriving reproductive system free from issues like PCOS and Endometriosis or other hormone imbalances.
One of the two big misconceptions is that if you have such conditions (PCOS/Endo etc) that you will have issues falling pregnant.
The other is that the pill is entirely safe – so many women have troubles whilst on and then after coming off the pill, it’s insane but we're living at a time where these a pill for this and a pill for that and women seem to find comfort in that. Unfortunately that isn't necessarily a safety net! So helping women be well informed and understand their own health better is my goal.
What can you offer someone who is not geared towards making babies?
Everything! I created my Debunking Ovulation ecourse by default. But what I realised is that I needed to reach out to young women to help them understand their bodies better and to help create awareness around alternatives to treatment of gynecological problems. Band-aid approaches that the current medical models use, just don’t work!
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine differ from western medicine in terms of what it offers for fertility?
Much of what western medicine offers around fertility is an approach of fixing symptoms and not the root cause. They know only to use the pill or invasive surgery as the solution for almost all gynecological issues. Reality is, the pill isn't actually solving anything but rather putting a big band-aid over the problem and of course when problems are left untreated, they manifest and only become bigger problems once the blanket is lifted.
Understanding the root cause of illness is key. Symptoms are just signs, nothing more – in fact I often find symptoms more useful than blood tests! If we can figure out what our bodies are actually telling us, then we can treat the root cause – which is most often gut health. i.e acne, period pain, irregular menstrual cycles, PMS etc are all signs the bodies hormones are imbalanced. The pill will never ‘rebalance’ hormones but rather, do the complete opposite. We know that if a woman has had hormone imbalance before taking the pill, the imbalance will be far worse when she stops taking it. This is treatable in most instances and the key to solving help problems long term.
What are your top 3 health tips?
- Be in bed by 11pm – the body rejuvenates most before midnight.
- Stress less – work out exactly what's worth stressing about and why. Chances are, it's not worth the bother.
- Eat for wellness. Let food be thy medicine!
What is an ideal 'day on your plate' for optimum fertility?
I'm an egg woman. Breakfast generally revolves around eggs in some form. Lunch is very often a soup or stew or some fish with greens and fermented foods thrown in for good measure. Dinner is mostly fish with veggies or roast veggies with organic grass fed meat.
My principles are:
- Protein and therapeutic fats at every meal
- Always organic where possible
- If it doesn't serve me, I go without!
- I limit grains and avoid gluten at all costs. Both place a lot of load on the gut.
- Keep sugars to a minimum.
Favourite "fertile" recipe?
So basic and so delish, not to mention all the maca is there to balance hormones!
The Super Fertile Slice
2 cups of medjool dates
1 cup of buckinis
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
½ cup goji berries
1 tbs maca
For the topping
The darkest rawest chocolate you can find. I love the blackout variety.
In a food processor or thermomix, combine dates and coconut. Once combined, add in buckinis and goji berries and only blitz a few times to mix through. The base is best rough.
Press into a small baking dish or loaf tin lined with baking paper and allow to set in the fridge.
Melt the chocolate using a double boiler until runny. Pour over the top of the slice and allow to set.
Note: Loving Earth is a great place to look for buckinis and maca.
What are your thoughts on the effect of stress on our bodies?
This is the modern day illness. Stress is a huge factor in regulating hormone function. It affects how the thyroid and adrenals work. Typically our adrenals are designed to release cortisol in short bursts when stressed. But stress wasn't supposed to be a constant run in the background type of daily occurrence – our bodies are set up to cope with stress like "there's a freakin' huge grizzly bear over there so run for your life" kinda thing and the response is that the body shuts down, the blood gets rapidly sent to your arms and legs (away from your internals) and you can run like the wind. But when we are in a constant state of stress, the adrenals go into over drive – producing much more cortisol which affects progesterone since both cortisol and progesterone compete for the same receptor sites in the body and cortisol will always win. The end result of this is high oestrogen levels, which go on to cause all kinds of issues like infertility, menstrual irregularities, amenorrhea and hormone disruption. It's especially important for women to understand how this affects them and their long-term health – right through to menopause!
So you see – stress is a disaster!
When life gets hectic, what do you do to help yourself relax?
Getting out into the sunshine with my family is one of my most favorite things to do! I also really enjoy being social – so to relax I might have a dinner party! Might sound like I've gone mad when I say such things but I find it super relaxing!
Tell us about your gentle body cleanse, and why it is so important. How does it differ from other cleanses out there?
Ha! I'm glad you asked! I never intended my gentle body cleanse to go as crazy as it has! It’s a vegan cleanse which I don’t generally advocate for a long term vegan diet simply because there are key elements in meat that aren’t found in anything else necessary to balance hormones – but it can be good to give the digestive system some down time so it’s focused around several elements.
Cleansing the liver and the gut via supplements, probiotics, a cleansing drink and eating very easily digested foods. It is literally like a good old chimney sweep for the gut! What I find is on the back of the cleanse, peoples gut function is improved, they feel great, have more energy and continue to maintain a new level of wellness. It’s super!
What is one thing you do for your health every single day without fail?
Eat for wellness. We are in control of what we eat – nobody else can perform this task. I aim to constantly fuel my body for wellness. And the other thing I do everyday – kiss my kids. Does wonders for the soul!