Boy, do I wish someone had told me how important a healthy microbiome is for pregnancy when I was young and impressionable! Although would I have listened? – Maybe not. Years of miscarrying and fertility treatments in my mid-twenties brought me to my knees as the desire for a baby overshadowed every other part of my life. No one seemed to have a solution except to head to the fertility clinic to find out why I was ‘broken.’

In a world of instant gratification, where there is a pill available to seemingly “fix” almost anything, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security about the future of one’s fertility.

Did you know that when a baby goes through the birth canal they swallow a big gulp of their mother’s vaginal bacteria? This exposure inoculates the baby’s microbiome for life. That’s right, you pass along your gut flora (bacteria) to your children…the good, the bad and the ugly, and as science continues to confirm, the health of our microbiomes has much to do with our overall health.

The human body wants to be in balance, so by following my top 5 recommendations you will not only be re-balancing your microbiome, but you will be setting yourself up to conceive naturally and give birth to a healthy and happy little baby.

1. Awareness – Remember, it won’t all happen all at once, and that’s ok. Now is the time to start familiarizing yourself with your microbiome. What are the key factors that affect its balance? Alcohol, drugs (prescription, over the counter, and recreational), environmental toxins, household and skincare products, diet, stress, sleep, and exercise are all big influencers. Start to take action on the things that you can change.

2. Remove/Reduce Harmful Foods – Remove or reduce foods that support the proliferation of bad bacteria in the gut, and start to detoxify your body

· Sugar: the number one enemy to the body. Eliminate sodas and any fruit juices or sugary sports drinks with artificial flavors and colors.

· Processed Vegetable Oils (canola, soybean and corn are some of the worst offenders): Dining out exposes you to rancid vegetable oils in salad dressings and fried foods. Try cooking with coconut oil, butter, or ghee.

· GMO Foods: The majority of our corn and soy in this country are genetically modified, so choose organic when possible.

· Pesticide-Laden Foods: Look for organic whenever possible. Familiarize yourself with the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen:

3. Introduce Optimal Foods – Introduce foods that will promote the proliferation of the good bacteria in your gut. Colorful vegetables and fruits are essential. Healthy fats, raw and fermented dairy, fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles, bone broths, pastured meats and wild caught fish, sprouted legumes, and traditionally prepared sourdough bread are all a good choices.

4. Reduce Stress – Permission granted for self-care! Abusing your body will only set you back. No guilt, no justification necessary – you only get one body, so take care of it, daily, and remember your thoughts create your reality, so think positively.

5. Heal Your Gut – If you are struggling with heath issues, and perhaps a leaky gut, then take time to heal before having children. Look into the GAPS Diet to truly reset your body for optimal health.

Once you dive into your new way of life you won’t look back. Remember, maintaining good health is a lot easier than trying to regain it. Knowledge is power – If you can start to educate yourself now, and make small changes daily towards a healthier lifestyle, you will set yourself up for success. It’s an individual decision to be healthy, and I’m saying to you, decide! Decide to be healthy. Be a leader in this movement – the future generations are counting on you!

To see what Hilary is cooking up every day head to her Instagram @liveyumyum.