Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fertility, Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkot

Rosh Hashanah passed but we can always talk about fertility on this blog, right?  In the last post, I mentioned that on Rosh Hashanah we eat foods symbolic of ideas we wish to bring in with us to the new year (fertility, abundance, sweetness, life...).  The symbols for Fertility and Lifecycle feature proudly on many tables. Fertility is also a major theme of Rosh Hashanah as it is thought that the Matriarchs (Rebecca, Rachel, and Sarah) and Hannah, all of whom were infertile for many years, all had their prayers answered during the month we celebrate Rosh Hashanah. This year I became partcularly intrigued with this concept and loved seeing how some of the symbolic foods may also help women get pregnant, from a nutrition standpoint.

Fish: Fish are an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance due to their fertile abilities.
Some people say an accompanying phrase "May it be your will that we be fruitful and multiply like fish."
Fish oil supplements have also been shown to help balance blood sugar levels in women with PCOS and can sometimes help with unexplained infertility. There is also some research indicating that fish oil may prevent allergies and asthma in toddlers when taken in the last trimester.  Talk to your doctor about dosage. The protein and fat in fish at a meal is also really helpful to control blood sugar in PCOS patients who are having trouble getting pregnant.  Read this post for more info on carbohydrates and PCOS.  Stear clear of fish high in mercury and other toxicities, read here for more info.

Starfruit and food cut/baked into star shapes: In the spirit of the blessing given to Abraham,  "I will exceedingly multiply your seed as the stars" (Genesis 22:17)."  Starfruit are also a great source of Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is really important for women with Luteal Phase Defect who are having trouble getting pregnant due to low progesterone levels. Food should be your first source (hence, BeyondPrenatals).  It has been shown to increase progesterone levels during the luteal phase of your cycle (Ovulation through menses) and help with fertility.  Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and may help with sperm count and motility.

Pomegranates and other fruit with lots of seeds: The many seeds represent abundant fertility. The shape and red color of the pomegranate also symbolize the womb, along with the fact that the entire fruit consists of the seeds of life. Red symbolizes the blood of life and has the same root (Adom) as the hebrew word for man (Adam). The pomegranate has very high levels of antioxidants, which prevent subtle oxidative "stress" to the body, making it important for fertility, pregnancy, and the fetus, not to mention sperm health.

Round foods: Circular foods such as chickpeas and hard-boiled eggs represent the cyclical nature of life and are eaten at meals to welcome new babies as well as mourners.  They are also said to represent the longing that babies have to be sheltered in the womb.  I often use chickpeas as add-on's for PCOS patients to help slow down the rise in insulin when consuming carbohydrates, even healthy sources, such as buckwheat, brown rice,  barley, and wheat berries.   Plant proteins have also been shown to increase fertility in a recent Harvard study.   Roasted chickpeas make a great snack for fertility.  Enjoy this recipe while thinking about fertility and lifecycle.

Roasted Chickpeas Two-Ways

Open, drain, and rinse two cans of BPA-Free Eden Organic Chickpeas.
Or Soak a bag of dry chickpeas overnight and drain the next morning (no need to cook!)
Place the contents into two bowls, coat lightly with olive oil.
In one bowl add Corriander, Cumin, Sweet Paprika, Cinnamon, Allspice, Ginger, Cayenne Pepper.
In the other bowl add Agave, Basil, White Pepper, Cinnamon.
Mix well.
Spread out in two baking pans lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 40-1 hr depending on preference of chewiness or crunchiness. Enjoy! Store in airtight container.

For the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, I found two traditions, which I was previously unaware of:
Lulav Loosening and Etrog Eating.

May this time of year, which we celebrate the birth of the world, bring forth the birth of healthy children.

To your health and happy New Year, Debra


  1. I thought it was B6 that helps with a short luteal phase. Never heard about Vitamin C though. Here is an article about B6, I've started to take it this cycle to help with my 9-11 day LP, we'll see what happens.

  2. I found your blog while searching for an article for a client about Suzanne Colson's biological nurturing for laid back nursing.
    I love your ideas about fertility, food, and parenting!