Healthy wombs

Zinc and selenium are better for you than beer and potato chips.

By Jack Boulware
Published April 25, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

There's more than one way to start the day in Great Britain. One way is to wolf down a big breakfast of bangers, eggs and cheese, finish it off with several cups of sweetened coffee, work in front of a computer screen for several hours, then slide behind the wheel of a car for three more hours, drive to a pub and smoke through an entire pack of ciggies on the way to getting stinking drunk.

According to London's Daily Telegraph, if this sounds like your life, you're doomed to never have children.

Infertility is an increasing problem all over the globe. As couples fight to conceive babies, the odds against them continue to grow. Around 30 percent of couples now experience some form of unexplained infertility. But according to a new book by British nutritional therapist Marilyn Glenville, the answer is not in-vitro fertilization, which is expensive and prone to failure. Glenville insists that fertility can be enhanced by altering diet and lifestyle.

In other words, some of the staples of British life -- alcohol, tobacco, coffee, meat, poultry and milk products -- are thinning out the population.

"Our unnatural lifestyle, combined with the nutrient depletion of much of our food, has left many of us deficient in the vitamins and minerals we need for successful baby-making," says Glenville, author of "Natural Solutions to Infertility."

"If a woman is in optimum health, the quality of her eggs will be better and therefore the fertilization rate will be higher. Her womb lining will be healthier and therefore a fertilized egg is more likely to implant. And her hormone levels are more balanced, so she is less likely to have a miscarriage."

Glenville told London's Daily Telegraph that zinc and selenium are crucial nutrients in the proper development of healthy sperm and egg production. Other important minerals can be gleaned from drinking bottled instead of tap water.

In a three-year study, Glenville's program of dietary change was apparently responsible for successful births in 80 percent of couples with a history of infertility problems. The results are baffling even to Glenville's own associates.

"I wish I could tell you why it works," says Talha Shawaf, a consulting gynecologist who works alongside Glenville. "Whatever is happening seems to make the body more receptive to the embryo."

"Of course, there is no guarantee that this approach is going to work," warns Glenville. "But what have couples got to lose? Not only will their health improve, but they will also increase their chances of conceiving -- either naturally or with medical intervention -- having a good pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy baby." And once the baby's born, you can always go back to smoking, drinking, sitting and eating meat.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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