More and more Nigerian couples are struggling with infertility. Although statistics released by the United Nations showed that Nigeria is growing in population, a lot of couples battling infertility issues still hope to achieve their dreams to have children. According to the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey, Nigeria has birth rates of over 5 per cent, yet over 20 per cent of couples are childless. Also, hospital statistics, although unconfirmed, revealed that about 45 per cent of all female consultations in clinics are about infertility treatment. Findings showed that the situation is worsening following fast changing lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Medical experts are worried that more people are becoming infertile due to their actions and inaction.
Are you battling infertility and hoping that someday you will have a child? How is your lifestyle? How often do you consume chemically grown and processed foods or fish? How often do you expose yourself to heavy metals such as mercury in fish? Are you a woman? What kind of cosmetics do you use?
Experts say eating too much of processed foods, especially those grown with chemicals or exposed to heavy metals, can lead to infertility.
They also identified technology, particularly the use of laptop by men, toxins in food and from the environment, bleaching creams, artificial sweeteners and obesity, among others, as factors that could decrease sperm count in men and fuel the growth of fibroids in women.
Many studies have shown how heavy metals can have serious impact on fertility. Heavy metals are natural components of the earth’s crust. However, to the body, they are poisonous substances even in very small quantities. Heavy metals enter foods and water supply through industrial and consumer waste, or even acidic rain.
Sources of heavy metals include alum, aluminium foil, animal feed, antacids, aspirin, auto exhaust, cans, ceramics, construction materials, cosmetics, dental amalgams, deodorants, drying agents, dust, pesticides, pollution, sutures with wound-healing coatings, tobacco smoke and toothpaste.
Others are baking powder, beer, bleached flour, colour additives, drinking water, hard cheese, milk products, salt, seasonings, vanilla powder, household detergents, insect sprays, preservatives and seafoods (especially mussels, oysters and shrimp).
Confirming this development in a chat with Sunday Vanguard, a reproductive endocrinologist and anatomy expert, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, explained that many foods that people consume are driving the human race to extinction.
Ashiru, also a Joint Pioneer of In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)/Test Tube Baby in Nigeria, noted that, apart from heavy metals disrupting metabolic function, common factors, such as exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, can affect reproductive capacities of unborn babies even up to the third generation.
He added, “Men put laptops on their thighs thus increasing the temperatures for spermatogenesis. The situation is the same with the cell phone that you put in your pocket which sends radiations into spermatogenesis. The cell phone also generates electromagnetic waves that create reactive oxygen species (ROS) and which alter the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)/genetic material composition of spermatogenesis. So we are by ourselves damaging our fertility.”
He regretted that apart from Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, foods, there are some foods in the country that are actually toxins. “When you take soft drinks for example, they have sweeteners. That artificial sweetener, which is aspartame, decreases sperm count.”
Ashiru, who is the Chief Medical Director, Medical ART Centre, Lagos, cautioned that couples should avoid stock fish or any large fish that may contain heavy metals like lead and mercury. “If you want to have a healthy baby, husbands and wives should treat their bodies the way they would treat their houses when expecting important visitors. What you must do is to clean up in preparation for the visit”, he said.
“When people eat large fish, they are taking in a lot of heavy metals from the ocean; mercury, lead and arsonic coming with them are damaging consequences of reproduction.
“Eating a certain quantity of vegetables also affects fertility. Vegetables are better when taken before 5 pm because the digestive system is still very active and they are also better if they are steamed to allow easy digestion; if they are eaten raw, they take time to digest. In the case of the mercury in the body, when it gets to the uterus, it is converted into titanic acid which is embryotoxic”.
Insisting that couples planning to have children should stay away from foods containing heavy metals, Ashiru recommended regular clearing and filtering of toxins and wastes (detoxification) as this allows the human body to work on enhancing its basic functions.
“We have realised that no matter how well you live, there are constant toxins that we produce generally by the way we eat and what we eat and there are also toxins in the environment. It is better you clean yourself out of these lifestyle modifications as a pre-conception process has been recognised by the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, FIGO, and the World Health Organisation, WHO. This is what the MART Life Detox Centre is doing”, he said.
While encouraging people to adopt the FX Mayer strategy for healthy living, Ashiru said, “We were created by God to live long. We were created to have children. When you eat food that was not grown in your own environment or swallow without chewing, the food stays in the intestine for 20 days and they stay that way which is toxic.
“In Nigeria, we have the first Mayer Centre in Lagos. Some people’s genes, regardless of what they do, still have babies but some people have very sensitive genes which make it difficult for them to have children. I have data that is going to be published; it shows that people who go through Mayer get pregnant with ease.”
According to him, it is not just enough to examine yourself medically when you are getting married, it is also important to do so when you are preparing for pregnancy.