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Magnesium for fertility and pregnancy

I started my baby making journey at 35, just 1 month before Covid-19 hit. With limited knowledge and access to fertility clinics, after 6 months of trying, I decided to REALLY focus on how to achieve optimal hormonal health. My nutrients were somewhat depleted from many Covid afternoons of beer and wine drinking, coupled by morning filled with coffee, and an inconsistent unfocused diet. My stress levels were high from being under-employed with little vision of how my future would unfold. And all I really wanted for my future was to become a mom. So, the studious part of me started cracking the books.

There are several several factors that affect fertility, your menstrual cycles, and I truly believe you need to get the basics right first before you rely on “magic pills”. However, my clock was ticking so I simultaneously made attempts in spiritual, behavioral, stress, diet and supplements to help boost my fertility. To see breakdown of the basic MUSTS of fertility, see my article on: Lifestyle changes for fertility 35+.

I read several different articles and books and even scientific journals to try and self-diagnose my fertility issues. I’ll include a list of my favorites and references at the bottom or in the text as necessary. And really I do believe you should have a very healthy, varied diet to achieve optimum nutrition, and in addition to taking supplements, I have focused on improving my diet to include more of these specific nutrients, but I’ll save the food lists for another article.

OF COURSE EVERY SITUATION IS SPECIFIC, CHECK WITH YOUR CARE PROVIDER ABOUT EVERYTHING YOUR PLANNING ON TAKING OR ALREADY TAKING WHILE PREGNANT. I HAD ALL MY SUPPLEMENTS CLEARED BY BOTH A HOMEBIRTH MIDWIFE, AN OBGYN AND A MIDWIFE IN THE CLINIC.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a “miracle nutrient”. It supports so many bodily functions necessary to achieve balanced hormone levels meaning, an optimum menstrual cycle. And 80% of people are deficient in magnesium.

  • Magnesium supports sleep and relaxation. Taken before bed, it helps you to achieve a restful night’s sleep and combats stress.
  • Magnesium balances your sex hormones: it 1) balances Estrogen and controls FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which stimulate the ovaries to release eggs, 2) balances low-progesterone – a common symptom of short luteal phases (which I was having problems with) 3) relieves PMS symptoms because magnesium naturally drops before your period.
  • It reduces inflammation – increasing chances of successful IVF
  • Magnesium is necessary in several cellular processes that combat the effects of aging (like lowered fertility)

My story – I listened to a podcast on Fertility Friday called, “The Magnesium Miracle” by Dr. Carolyn Dean, which is also a book. Since I was having problems with short luteal phases, I decided it was worthwhile. I had a supplement in the house called MegaMag by Trace Minerals that my husband bought but never took because he didn’t like the taste. Every evening sometime after 7pm or so I put a dropper full of it mixed in with a splash of juice, soda water and stevia. And couldn’t taste a thing other than my yummy drink.

I think Magnesium reduced my changes of morning sickness

When I ran out of MegaMag I bought Sun Warriors Magnesium. I liked them both equally. I did this for about 2 months before I got pregnant. Of course, after successfully conceiving I had to look up all my supplements and decide along with my midwives, which ones I should still take. And to my very very big surprise, I had ZERO morning sickness. Upon researching this a little, magnesium is actually indicated to help reduce nausea in early pregnancy. So – I decided to thank my lucky stars that my magnesium levels we so high from taking the supplement.

Magnesium for Constipation (especially in early and late pregnancy)

Magnesium is also known for being a laxative (think epsom salt). However, most dietary supplements are now made to avoid this side effect. In the case of constipation (like in pregnancy), you may want to try a type of magnesium that helps relieve constipation (like magnesium citrate). Magnesium citrate helps pull water into your intestines from other areas of the body. So make sure you are getting extra water and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. It is also recommended by some to only take it as needed (try not to become dependent or take it every single day).

My story – In early – mid pregnancy, I became constipated. When my caregivers put me on Ferrous Sulfate – Iron pills, this became worse. Right away, I started taking liquid Calcium Magnesium Citrate with Vitamin D3, available at my local health food store, under the brand name Solgar. They have a few different flavors like blueberry and strawberry which are pleasant. I take 1 tablespoon at bedtime most nights. This specific combination of nutrients is great for pregnancy since Calcium is a key nutrient your baby needs to grow bones. The magnesium citrate helps with the transportation of calcium. It also stimulates a hormone called Calcitonin, which aids in the flow of calcium into the bones. Vitamin D3 also helps with the body’s absorption of calcium. So this supplement is 3x – helps you sleep, relieves constipation, and increases calcium stores and absorption.

Non-constipating iron supplements:

I’m going to write a quick post of avoiding & treating constipation in pregnancy, but quickly let me mention the wonders of taking Floradix. This was recommended to me by my homebirth midwife instead of my midwife at the clinic. It is a liquid, highly absorbant and non constipating iron supplement safe for pregnancy. I switched to Floradix Iron & Herbs in the middle of my second trimester and was no longer regularly constipated. On my follow-up iron level tests, my midwives said I was doing great iron wise for pregnancy and to keep doing what I was doing. Although floradix is more $$ than the iron supplements prescribed to me ($25/month v. free) I would gladly pay $1 a day to be regular! I’m now in my 3rd trimester and starting to get constipated again – so the magnesium is circling back into my weekly routine. Hope this helps!

Resources:

Magnesium and Fertility

https://www.uconnfertility.com/2020/02/boost-your-fertility-with-this-essential-mineral/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28869206/

Magnesium and male fertility

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-009-0057-8_69

Magnesium and morning sickness:

https://www.foxnews.com/health/preventing-morning-sickness-through-diet

Magnesium citrate:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322588#is-it-safe

More articles to come on the benefits of:

Zinc 8mg/day

Vitamin C

Fish Oil (Krill Oil)

L-cartinine

Acetlt-carnitine

L-arginine

CQ10

Vitamin B Complex

Green Drinks 1-2x a day – Spirulina, Chlorella

Yellow Maca

Men

CQ10 – sperm motility 100mg 2x/day

Vitamin C

Fish Oil

L-carnitine – 2g/day

L-acetly carnitine 1g/day

Lycopene

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My sourdough starter journey

I’ve caught the sourdough bug. But the problem is, I still haven’t wrapped my head around it completely. So I’ve been doing some experimenting. And this is basically my notes, journal, blog. Hopefully at some point, I’ll re-write this all to be instructional but for now. It is what it is.

How do I feed my starter?

At the moment I have a starter my friend gave me, which I keep in the fridge for a week at a time. It needs to be fed (which you can do when you bake a batch of bread) reserving some active, fed starter for next batch. But this week I still have bread left over from last week. So I’m trying to figure out how to just feed it enough to make sure it retains it’s activity enough to hibernate in my fridge another week. There are far too many conflicting ideas on the internet. So, I’m documenting my journey, my dough ups and downs. And I know soon I’ll figure it all out.

What is discard, when do I get it and what do I do with it?

To try and get the hang of it, I’m feeding them 2x a day, and observing them until they obviously double in size within a 4-8 hour window. Which is when they are supposed to be “ripe” for leavening bread. Each feeding so I can keep the amount of starter in the jar manageable, and not just growing exponentially, I have what is called “discard”, or less than fully active sourdough starter. Meaning, it contains wild yeast, it is sour, but it’s probably not in the state where it can leaven something by itself. Which is where – sourdough discard recipes come into play! You need to “discard” some of this flour & water mixture, so that you can replenish the remainder of the starter and keep a manageable amount of material in the jar, with minimal flour waste. Once your starter is active enough, and you use most of it for your recipe, you don’t really need to discard anymore. Unless you have too much to store.

How often and how many times do I have to feed my sourdough starter that was refrigerated?

What happens with different types of flour?

Feeding #1: Monday AM: My first step was to take the starter she gave me out of the fridge and separate it into 2 starters, one fed with equal parts by weight whole wheat flour and another fed the same ratio 1:1:1 with plain white flour. I did this because I’m curious how it reacts to whole wheat, and also because I want to make more whole wheat breads. After feeding them both, I noticed that they were active, but using the rubber band method, they rose, but didn’t double in size. Now I thought maybe it’s because I fed it 1:1:1 when the recipe she gave me calls for about 1:4 (flour):6 (water). This larger ration is supposed to give the starter more food for a quicker rise. Also maybe it didn’t double because I didn’t let it come to room temperature first? But there were no starter maintance articles I saw that talked about letting it come to room temperature before “counting” the hours to doubling.

Feeding #1.5 so after about 8 hours, discarded all but 1/2 cup of each (and made blueberry sourdough muffins with the discard). The strange thing was the whole wheat starter was more active than the white starter. So I decided to just add a little more water and flour to the white starter (feeding 0.5) but not the whole wheat starter – and I let them sit out over night (in the draft free oven) to see if they would rise more. It looked like they had, but they caved in over that time period and we’re back down in size.

Feeding number 2.5 Tuesday 8 AM: So in the morning I feed them again 1:1:1 by weight, but I always add a little extra water just because it the starter seems really stiff when do 1:1:1. This time they rose again nicely, but again didn’t quite double in size by the time 8 hours went by.

Feeding # 3.5 Tuesday 4pm: So I discarded all but .5 cups or about 100 grams of each again. And then fed them again 1:1:1 by weight. At this point I have almost 2 cups of discard. So I made up a delicious banana bread recipe (based on this recipe) to use the discard in. I put them back in the oven with the pilot light on intermittently and a thermometer. It’s between 70-80 degrees in there. After about 3 hours it rose to almost double, but not quite, and then fell back down again. Does this mean it peaked? Should I feed one more time?

This article talks about needing to feed up to 3 times every 8-12 hours to reactivate a refrigerated starter enough to leaven bread. But, the recipe my friend gave me, just has me remove 1/2 cup from fridge, has me feed it 1:4:6 (or 1/2 starter, 2 cups water, 2 cups flour) for 6-12 hours until that doubles or triples, and then has me build up a bread recipe from that the next morning. And it worked fine.

Observation Tuesday 9pm – after 5 hours into the 2nd feeding… Both failed the float test. They havent risen again. Do I leave them over night? It’s too early to feed them again? What are my next steps.

I left them out overnight Tuesday, fed them again first thing Wednesday around 8am. By about 11:30 they both passed the float test. 1 teaspoon in warm water! Hallejuah! I finally get it. It looked like they had risen almost half but not exactly. So I realized, “double” is not an exact. Almost double works too. I left them out, this time for 24 hours (since this is all an active starter needs) before the next feeding. The next morning, Thursday, I fed them one more time, let them sit out fot 1-2 hours and them put them in the fridge because I knew I couldnt keep up with feeding schedule for this weekend.

Saturday night, I took them out of the fridge to get ready to bake with them the next day. Within 1 hour of warming up they were already showing signs of life with no feeding! Hopefully I wont have to reactivate them with 3 feedings before they are ready to leaven bread. I am having a hard time with all this discard. I just want to keep baking!

So tonight, Saturday, I discarded all but 200 g from my white starter and 150 from my brown starter and fed again. Tomorrow I am hoping they are active and I have enough volume to make whole wheat buns and bread. (hopefully I have enough flour). And then I experimented with discard again.

I’m trying to make this recipe for cinnamon buns, but 1/3 discard is all it called for! That’s crazy because I am swimming in discard from my experiments last week. I doubled the recipe, and then replaced some of the flour and milk with more discard.

I am using this rule of thumb from King Arthur on substituing flour for starter in a specific recipe….

I’m using 8 ounces of ripened sourdough starter. So that means I need to reduce the flour by 4 ounces (to 8 3/4 ounces); and reduce the liquid by 4 ounces by eliminating the water (2 ounces), as well as 2 ounces of the milk

So for the double cinnamon bun recipe, I used these proportions. I will write out the recipe later if it is bomb.

So instead of 5 cups flour and 2 cups milk, in addition to starter, I used 3 cups white flour (18 ounces), 1/2 cup whole heat flour, 1.5 cups milk, 10 ounces whole wheat starter discard. well see how it turns out!

Sunday 4/11

Fed starters at 8pm Saturday night. For buns need active starter by 7pm, a total of 2 cups stater, feed white starter again at 3pm. For whole wheat bread recipe, need active starter around 2:30pm. Feed whole wheat starter around 10.

How long does discard stay good for?

up to a week in the fridge, indefinitely if frozen.

My goal is just to intellectually and tactically understand this process so I can use any recipe with confidence.

Resources:

https://www.breadandbasil.nyc/sourdough/sourdough-starter#discard=

Sourdough banana bread

This is a delicious recipe using active sourdough discard, ripe bananas, wholewheat flour, oat flour, flax eggs and coconut sugar. With stevia sweetened chocolate chips and farm grown macadamia nuts, this recipe is addictive. I made two loafs pans, and 3/4 of one was gone the first night, just me (6 months pregnant) and my husband.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Bread, Dessert, Snack
Servings 2 loaves
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 4 flax eggs each "egg" is 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water,
  • 500 g ripe bananas about 10 small, 5 medium/large
  • 1 large splash vanilla
  • 2 cups hydrated, active sourdough starter
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted, or liquid
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • macadamia nuts and chocolate chips to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl or stand-up mixer break apart bananas by hand. Add sugar, vanilla, and flax eggs and cream until well combined.
  • Add starter, oil, flour, salt, baking powder and mix until well combined.
  • Fold in nuts or chocolate chips.
  • Pour into 2 oiled loaf pans
  • Bake in preheated oven at 350° F for 60 minutes until knife comes out clean. If the tops start to get too dark, cover with foil.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Fertility lifestyle changes for 35+

A bit of context for my fertility advice for late 30s:

A few years ago I decided all I wanted out the next portion of my life was to have a child (or more). I was no longer focused on a specific career or income goal, I was recently married and living in the location of my dreams. Luckily, my husband and I both wanted children, whether or not we were ready for them. Married at 33, by 34 I knew I was tick-tocking. Although we lived a pretty healthy lifestyle I had some poor habits. So after our honeymoon I decided to start taking this whole pre-conception thing a bit more seriously. The first thing I had to do was quit smoking weed. I am a medical marijuana patient, using the herb primarily for a reoccurring knee pain and menstrual cramps, but I really liked to smoke a little weed with a little tobacco. A poor habit for a mom. And I really liked to drink multiple coffees a day and multiple alcoholic beverages at night. So, I decided to do a preconception cleanse called Purium Lifestyle Transformation. You can read more about this preconception cleanse in this article I wrote. As a note while I do advise the transformation for pre-conception cleansing, I don’t think the “lifestyle” program was what I needed for conception itself.

This definitely helped me kick the most important bad habits. But I still had work to do. After a few personal hurdles I started drinking again. I worked late managing and serving at a bar & restaurant. My coworkers and I would stay after work socializing and having a few drinks. I ate dinner late, then drank beers late, and then went to sleep late. Etc. So I kinda took off time from trying to be a good girl. But regardless my husband finally agreed to start trying to conceive with me.

That was Feb 2020. Then covid hit us in here in Hawaii on March 2020. It took a little time for him to come around again and we tried again for months, during what we thought was our “fertile” window based on the “Glow” App, you know the magic day 14. But months went by and I kept getting my periods. Then I took some advice from my OBGYN and a friend and started tracking my ovulation and my cervical mucus in August. Which by the way was a really bad month for me. I was under a lot of emotional stress. My summer babysitting gig just ended, my bar was no where near reopening and a friend I went to graduate school with was brutally murdered by her boyfriend leaving me in shock and wondering what I was doing with my life. I wanted to run home to Connecticut. I wanted to hide in my room and drink wine all day. And the only thing I really motivated me at all was wanting to have a baby. I didn’t care about anything else. In fact, one of the reasons why I didn’t go home to CT was because I knew my chances of getting pregnant there was zero.

So I stuck around, planned an anniversary staycation with my husband and used those ovulation strips I had been meaning to try. I had already been pretty good about updating my Glow App when I got my period. But I was bad about tracking how long it really lasted, how heavy the flow was, when I was spotting etc. But I knew my cycle was usually around 26 days. Of course, those past months I was trying to get pregnant I was using the “rhythm” method of my app which said my fertile days are right around the 14th. But when I used my ovulation strips, that August, It showed I was ovulating more like day 17,18. Which at first I thought that was fine, “yay! I’m ovulating”. But then bam! I got my period “on time” of my 26 day cycle. After some thinking, and research I realized this meant my luteal phase that cycle was only 8 days!!! Way too short to have successful implantation. Now, this could have been exacerbated by my unusually stressful month leading up to ovulation or it could have been this way all along. I wish I had started tracking when I first tried to get pregnant.

For the rest of August and September I began to research the hell out of fertility and try everything I could. I specifically looked into lengthening my luteal phase and increasing progesterone. As well as increasing cervical mucus and uterine lining. I read books (sometimes 2-3 times), I looked up lay articles, peer-reviewed articles, I listened to podcasts. I took notes. Whenever I saw a lot of crossover in my research I decided it was something worth trying.

Then, in September, I ovulated a little earlier day 16 or 17 with a 10 day luteal phase. So by this time, I am still pretty worried but it felt like maybe somethings I was trying were helping. Although there are varying definitions, a general one that I kept seeing was that Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) is an infertility issued defined by more than one luteal phase 11 days or shorter in a given year, and insufficient progesterone. At this point, I really wanted an infertility check up. But, I was now on MedQuest insurance, trying to switch providers, and waiting for all my records to be transferred from 3 different offices before they would schedule an appointment. So i really had no choice, but to believe my self-diagnosis with luteal phases problems, possible progesterone problems, scared my uterine lining was insufficient as well. Furthermore, I read in a scientific article that LPD only occurs in 3% of women my age. Great.

So I continued my investigative mission. I read more. I changed several things in my daily routine, diet, psyche, After really ramping up my fertility routines with dogmatic behavior and lots of supplements, finally in October I tested positive for ovulation on day 14. Meaning in my 26 day cycled I’d have at least 12 days luteal phase. Enough to have successful implantation, if my uterine lining was thick enough and hormones balanced enough.

Basically, I’m sharing this personal story to set the stage for why I sought the answers and went after the possible solutions I did. So for you reading that don’t know me, as I write this I am 13 weeks pregnant. I successfully conceived that last cycle in mid-October which still seems like a miracle to me given how messed up I thought my cycles were. Below my goal is to share with you everything I learned and believed to make a significnat impact. A lot of these things seems too basic to be true but I believe them to be soooooo important.

Now to the FERTILITY MUSTS! I call these MUSTS because I believe there are NECESSARY to put your mind and body into gear. After, I’ll talk about additional supplements I highly recommend and then other supplements and activities that I encourage.

While really all these things should be considered pre-conception. Before you start trying, these first 2 steps I recommend immediately if you’re even close to thinking about having a baby.

1. Stop hormonal birth control

As soon as you start to think you MAY want to conceive you should stop hormonal birth control. Duh. It is anti-fertility . During my quest for knowledge I listened to several podcasts on the show Fertility Friday by Lisa Briden, Author of “The Fifth Vital Sign“. There was a plethora of information on fertility and she is especially passionate about coming off of birth control. I hadn’t been on birth control since I was 20 so I skipped this research but there is a lot of information you should learn about. Hormonal birth control of course mixes up your hormones but it also nutritionally depletes you. Do your homework!

2. Track your menstrual cycle in detail

A second immensely important pre-conception step – Understand your body, your menstrual cycles, your hormones. Empower yourself and learn about how your amazing system works. “Taking Charge of your Fertility“is the best book I came across for this. I read it 4 times. You should start tracking your cycle before you think you want to conceive. There are a few important points here that are worth mentioning. The easiest way to track is with an smart phone app. But there are definite downside to that. I used an app and falsely believed for 6 months that I was within my “fertile window”. The app doesn’t account for how all women’s bodies are different and relies on the “rhythm” method that cycles are predictable and stable. You can also download paper charts, I always intended to try that but it just wasn’t practical for me.

  • The first day of your period is the first day of significant bleeding. If you are spotting before your period (or any time) note this in your chart or app. But do not count it as the first day of your period. If you are spotting for more than 1-2 days before your significant bleeding, this could be a sign that progesterone is low. You body wants to shed the uterine lining too soon. This was what I was experiencing in the few cycles I tracked in detail. I’d spot for at least 2 days and on top of that my luteal phase was short. So I started to assume I was having a progesterone problem. More on that later.
  • Mark how long your period lasts. If you period is too heavy and too long or too light and too short this could also clue you into potential difficulties. I noticed that my period was only lasting 2-3 days. So again, I thought crap! Maybe I don’t have enough uterine lining. Maybe it is thin, maybe (in the eye of Chinese medicine) I was blood deficient, meaning I didn’t have enough BLOOD and needed to build my blood. Of course, more on that later.
  • Take note of your cervical mucus starting around day 10 of your cycle. Pay attention to your underwear, when you use the toilet, when you wipe, the vaginal sensation (dry/sticky/clear/egg white/wet/lubricative). Sperm need cervical mucus. Your PEAK ovulation day is the last day you experience fertile quality mucus (slippery, clear, stretchy, egg white) OR have wet lubricative vaginal sensation. Again the Fertility Friday podcast and of course Lisa’s book are easy ways to learn more about how to track your cycles. But the holy grail of books on this subject with a LOT of instruction on how to track your cycles, determine when you are fertile and troubleshoot is “Taking Charge of Your Fertility“.
  • At least for a few months track your ovulation using ovulation tests. There are a lot of tests out there. Big range in prices. I opted for a test kit of 20 strip from CVS, generic brand for about $20. This allowed me to track starting on day 8 up to the beginning of my period if I needed. Or 2x a day if I really wanted. Sometimes the kits with just 5 or 7 may not be enough if your cycle is very irregular. The generic “cheap” one’s I chose shows 2 dark pink lines when you are ovulating similar to pregnancy test. For some people this may be too ambiguous. The line gets darker and darker as your luteinizing hormone (LH) levels rise.
  • I’ll admit I was confused several times because I would test positive 3 days in a row. And there was little literature out there about this. Basically, I chalked it up to catching the LH rise, peak and descent. The Glow app actually lets you take a picture of the strips and analyzes them for you. While this is kinda of amusing it can also falsely predict when you are ovulating. I noticed if it was a slightly lighter shade it would automatically mess up my predictions for ovulation and future periods. So I had to figure out how to turn off the predictions on my app. Basically with me, my ovulation days changed over the 3 months I tracked, but my period always came “on time”. Meaning my luteal phases wasn’t stable. (It is supposed to be in most fertile women). It is the follicular phase that more commonly varies. Again, if you have no idea what I’m talking about check out the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” from the library. Or just buy it. I ended up borrowing it 3 times over 1 year and lending it out to friends.

3. Keeping your stress in check makes your body feel safe enough to conceive.

I honestly don’t have too much to say about this other than it is really important! If you are in fight and flight mode, your body is not going to allow you to take on the extra added stress of building a baby inside of you. You body will naturally try to reserve everything it has for your body. Not procreation. Learn how to manage your stress. We’ve all heard it before but exercise, sleep, fun, eating well, relaxing activities, getting toxins and toxic relationships, situations etc. out of your life is a must. For me, I actually started seeing a therapist on facetime. He helped me focus on my goal (having a baby), worked with me to relieve my stresses in a practical manner (fix my house to make it baby ready, examine my finances and my relationships with others and myself). We focused on real-time things I could do to feel better and not worry without diving into my childhood trauma or poor adult decisions.

The next portion are my MUSTS when your trying to conceive (TTC).

4. Getting 8 hours + of sleep in a completely dark room

Your body needs sleep to produce hormones at the correct levels. Without sleep, your hormones are imbalanced, without balanced hormones, you cannot sustain life in the uterus. Not just any sleep, here are some important sleep guidelines:

a) you need deep restful sleep with an average of at least 8 hours. Ideally your in bed by 9 or 10 at night, rising with the sun in the morning.

b) Practice good sleep hygiene. Stop using electronics at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed to keep your eyes away from the bluelight which disrupt your circadian rhythm.

c) Keep your iphone, ipad etc. out of the bedroom or at least on airplane mode while you get ready for bed and sleep. Years ago I thought this was silly, then, I starting thinking its probably not a bad thing. But when I got serious about getting pregnant, I got serious about EMFs. No phone after 9 or before 6. Especially not in bed. I even put our wifi router on a timed outlet to turn off at 10pm and on at 6am to at least have part of the day free from some EMFs. You can read more about EMFs in this article on EMFs and TTC.

d) For me I think it made a huge difference to sleep in complete darkness! Black out curtains all the way. It took a lot of convincing my husband that it was essential because he doesn’t care for curtains and like the fresh breeze of an open window. But of all the things I changed to increase fertility I really feel like this one had a huge impact. This is because the hormone melatonin has an impact on your fertility, egg quality, and fetal development. In fact there is darkness/light therapy that systematically exposes women to darkness or light at certain phases of their cycles to improve cycle irregularities. I specifically became dogmatic about my sleeping in the dark routine because I read about how successful it is at increasing the luteal phase length. Here is a good podcast episode on Fertility Friday interviewing Joy De Felice about the important of light on the menstrual cycle.

5. Get regular exercise, but not too strenuous.

Now, again this has to do with stress. Exercise helps relieve stress but, if your body is under a lot of stress it will use its reserves for you, not for conception. If you are used to strenuous training, long distance running, etc., then continuing with the same exercise should be fine. But if you are just starting to try to conceive, starting a diet and a strict intense work-out routine may not be the best bet. Continuing with your current level of activity, and adding gentle strength training and walks, yoga, etc. Another fact I re-learned, is that you need enough body fat to produce hormones at correct levels. In my research I found some conflicting numbers for ideal body fat levels for conception, but 17%-19% body fat being at the low end of what experts considered ideal. Of course they always admitted that everyone’s body’s are different), which explain why gorgeous thin women have the cutest baby bumps.

To have more “fertility points” I realized I had to be ok with keeping on the extra pounds. This one was hard for me. I’ve always had body image issues, wanting to weigh and look a certain way, but not always attaining that in balance. But this past fall, I was definitely packing some extra pounds from my Covid world of decreased activity. I really wanted to lose 5-10 pounds, but because of my research on the subject I just left myself stay a little fluffy and kept those extra pounds. So I would consider your diet and workout goals if what I am saying resonates with you. I’m in the “normal weight/BMI” category and can only speak for myself. But, I realized starting a intense workout regime is not the condition my body would perceive as safe to grow a baby. Even though I felt chubby, my impedance body weight scale told me that at 132 pounds, 5″5″, my body fat was 17%. So I decided it was not the time to diet and try to loose weight. Instead I focused on getting my 15,000 steps a day, learning yoga and eating healthy.

6. Nutrition is really important.

First off, detoxing from conventional foods is important. I recommend a wholefoods diet, organic as much as possible, that is low in refined grains and sugars and high in vegetables, protein, and fat. One really big change that I made however, was from switching from a Western Diet culture view of raw fruits and vegetables, salads, low fat, low carb; to a Eastern Diet cultural view point. This was specifically focused on building my blood, in case my uterine lining was too thin, and balancing my hormones. In Eastern medicine, warm meals unlock the nutrients, as opposed to big cold salads, smoothies and raw vegetables. Also, animal fats are highly valued in moderation for providing the building blocks for hormone production. So I went off the Purium lifestyle diet style of shakes and salads, and endless cucumbers and celery and starting incorporating more cooked meals, warms soups, animals fats instead of shying away from them in choice of “healthier” alternatives. A few types of foods I included to specifically build my blood:

  • dark green leafy veggies
  • dark red and black foods like beets, molasses, prunes, berries, cherries, purple kale, purple bok choy, anything dark!
  • Probiotics in pill form as well as sauerkraut and kefir
  • Fats: butter,eggs, avocado, coconut
  • Proteins: red meat, fish, beans, eggs, lentils, organ meats (think Pate)
  • Other boosters: Bone broth, Bone Broth Powder, apricots, raisins, almonds, black sesame, dates, maca, chia, Bee Pollen

Also, it is important to decrease caffeine intake (yes, I’m 35 and I switched to decaf) and alcohol intake. This was hard because I really like beer and wine but really important to balancing hormones and replacing those “empty” calories with nutrition.

My top fertility supplement…

I do really believe you need to have the previously listed things in check before you even think that supplements will “fix” your cycles. But hell, I went for all of it all at the same time. Tick Tock Tick Tock.

The NUMBER 1 supplement I believed helped me get pregnant and lengthen my cycles is VITEX.

Chaste Tree berry. Every book, and every major article I read about fertility and short cycles, short luteal phases, fertility issues recommended vitex. Check out this article on the benefits of vitex on fertility. There is a lots of research on vitex – keep googling and be inspired. Vitex is known for regulating cycles, lengthening luteal phases, increasing progesterone production, and many more things.

The only thing I will say is that after 1.5 months on vitex I got pregnant. Yay! And I’m assuming it helped with my progesterone BUT because of this I was unsure if I should continue or stop it. Like everything else in pregnancy, it was not proven to be safe for pregnancy itself. The morning I took my pregnancy test, at 5 am alone in the dark, then popped my vitex, and then got a positive. And then I freaked out, looked it it up online for safety during pregnancy and tried to make myself vomit the pill up. Then I relaxed, convinced myself it wasn’t going to harm me or baby. But it was still really hard to get answers. The first OBGYN I saw had no idea what it was. The next midwife neither. And there were horror stories online forums of women who stopped vitex abruptly and miscarried. So I opted to slowly wean my self off it. Taking 1/2 pill a day. Then finally I spoke to the midwife who will probably deliver my baby and with confidence she told me to wean myself off as I had planned. 1/2 pill a day for a few weeks, then 1/2 pill every other day another few weeks , then 1/2 pill every 3 days etc. up until 12 weeks when the placenta takes over hormone production.

A few notes about Vitex. There’s different ways to take it. Some say during just the luteal phase. Others say from the end of your period to the first day of your next period (taking a break during your bleeding so that your body doesn’t get too used to it). Yet others take it all month long. They also say to start taking it before you try to conceive. And that you should know in 6 months if it is working. If you still want to keep taking it, they say to take a month off. It is a powerful herb. Obviously it is best to take under the guidance of a doctor/naturopath who knows what they’re doing. I choose to take it during my whole cycle except for 4-5 days during my period.

Ok – more to come. I have lots of other really beneficial supplements to try and a lot of editing to do.

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Homemade fruit, nut & seeds snack crisps

Yum! These are so so easy to make especially in big batches. Just blend up a variety of fruit and nuts that you have at home in stock, add some oats and dehydrate. Below I give you my recipe specifically for the ones I first made but you can substitute until your heart is content.

Homemade fruit, nut and seed crisps

katiestropicalkitchen
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 12 hrs
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 18
Calories 142 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Soak the chia seeds in water, stirring occasionally
  • In a food processor, chop the apricots and almonds, add salt and the bone broth protein
  • In a blender add the chia seeds and then bananas and vanilla and stevia pulsing until bananas are well incorporated
  • In a large bowl, mix the wet with the dry.
  • Spread out on dehydrator sheets about 1/4-1/3 inch thick
  • Dehydrate on high 167°F for 12 hours

Nutrition

Calories: 142kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 6gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 25mgPotassium: 290mgFiber: 5gSugar: 11g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Quinoa Yucca Veggie Burgers

I made this recipe for quinoa yucca veggie burgers when we had an abundance of cassava root and an abundance of quinoa from our original covid-19 stock up on protein rush. This recipe is great for making veggie burgers in bulk and then freezing a few for future snacking.


Ingredients for Quinoa Yucca Vegetable Burgers

  • 5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh herbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 cups cooked and roughly chopped casssava
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt or to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup or more gluten-free flour or not to coat

Steps for Quinoa Cassava Burgers:

1. Cook  the quinoa according to instructions 
2. Prepare and cook cassava
3. Meanwhile, chop onion, garlic, carrot, fresh herbs and sauté in pan until soft
4. In a food processor, blend cooked cassava, onion and herb sauté and egg and process until mostly smooth
5. Put cooked quinoa in large bowl and add cassava herb mixture from food processor mix well, season as desired
6. In a separate bowl add gluten-free flour or flour of choice. Place ⅓ cup mixture or so into bowl and form a ball, then squish into a patty
7. Then you can either pan fry, air fry, or bake your patties.
8. If your are using an air fryer I recommend 14 minutes brushed with coconut oil or sprayed with olive oil before and in the middle of cooking time before flipping 7 minutes into the cooking time
9. If you prefer to bake… bake at 425 and coat the pan in oil and brush the burgers in oil. You may then choose to flip halfway through baking at around 15 minutes.
10. If you are pan frying, they need about 3-5 minutes on each side to make sure the egg is cooked through. 

If you like this recipe you may like my….

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Vegetable Bean Loaf


This vegetarian bean load is pretty good for being so incredibly easy. And it is a great way to use all those beans you stocked up on! This recipe is adapted from the Spicy Bean and Lentil Loaf recipe from the book… “Vegetarian: The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook”. This is my quick and dirty recipe. Enjoy your own variations! 

 

Recipe for Vegetarian Bean Loaf

Ingredients and steps:

Sauté these first:

  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 carrot copped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • large handful fresh herbs like parsley, basil, dill, rosemary, thyme etc.

Then in a food processor blend…

  • sautéed veggies and herbs
  • 1 can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans drain and rinsed

After blended until smoother move to a bowl and add these remaining ingredients
½ cup breadcrumbs ( I use ½ frozen ends of loafs and ½ oatmeal)

  • ½ cup cheese (I use shredded Parm)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon or more to taste cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Bake at 350 degree in an oiled loaf pan for 45-60 minutes and serve warm or cold. 
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Fresh Corn Chowder (gluten-free, no milk, cream or cheese)

Looking for a corn chowder but don’t necessarily jive with dairy or flour? This corn chowder may be perfect for you! Of course it doesn’t have that heavy creamy taste to it, but it does have the chowder mouthfeel and the crunch of the corn and other veggies. That is what we are looking for right?

Tapioca starch is one of my favorite alternatives to flour when used in breading fish, veggies and chicken as well as thickening soups, stews, and my Big Island Beef Shepards Pie and my dairy free chicken pot pie

Anthony’s Organic Tapioca Flour Starch, 2.5lbs, Gluten Free & Non GMO

Recipe for fresh corn chowder:

  • 3 tablespoons butter (or substitute olive or coconut oil)
  • 2-3 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 4 medium carrots sliced and chopped fine (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium-large onion diced
  • 5 small-medium russet potatoes washed, peeled and chopped fine
  • 3-4 stalks of celery washed and diced ( you want the ratio of onion to carrot to celery to be similar, 1:1:1). And the potatoes and the corn will be the star of the show and will also aim to have 1:1 ratio between them.
  • 1 heaping spoon mined garlic
  • enough filtered water to cover veggies plus a little more (you are going to add in corn)
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated chicken stock (can use vegetable stock (bouillon) or chicken or vegetable stock).
  • 2 tablespoons or so fresh chopped thyme (I use a thyme like plant that grows in the tropics we call Stick Thyme).
  • 4 small fresh ears of sweet corn, corn cut off gently by rotating the corn as you cut with a small serrated knife.

Steps:

  1. Melt butter and sauté onions until translucent.
  2. Then add garlic, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes and stir frequently for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Next, add tapioca starch and stir several times to coat the veggies in butter/oil and tapioca starch.
  4. Then add water and bouillon and bring to a boil.
  5. Continue to boil 10-15 minutes until all veggies are tender.
  6. Add in thyme.
  7. The soup should be thickening at this point as the tapioca and the potato starch form a “creamy” broth.
  8. If it still seems to watery at this point, you can remove some of the broth and add another tablespoon of tapioca starch to it, wish and add back into soup.
  9. Once the broth is almost at its desired consistency (it will continue to thicken as the potatoes break down), add the corn.
  10. Let the corn cook for 5-8 minutes as you season the soup with salt and pepper and serve warm

This soup is lovely wish fresh chopped parsley added at serving time.

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Mamey Sapote

Mamey Sapotemamey sapote cross section

Latin Name and family:

Pouteria sapote; Calocarpum mammosum; Sapotaceae (Sapote family) Originated in Central America.

Other names:

Mamey or zapote colorado in Costa Rica, also called zapote rojo and nispero.

Mamey Sapote Physical Characteristics:

Elongated fruit with tapering ends, (foot ball shaped), the mamey can be about 3-10 inches in length and 3 inches and 5 inches in width. Mamey can weigh up to 6 pounds. The skin is thin, papery or scruffy and brown and it wrinkles and loosens when fruit is ripe. It has smooth, soft and creamy flesh. The color varies a little from from a pink-red or somewhat salmon colored. The black seed (usually just 1 seed) is elliptical about 1-2 inches long. The seed often contains a little sprout when ripe.

Taste and Culinary Use:

The flesh is delicious as it is, mamey sapote has sweet, creamy, smooth, almost like caramel or pumpkin pie filling. Many people add the flesh to smoothies, sorbets, and ice cream. The kernel is boiled and roasted and used with cacao in making chocolates, making confections and mixed with other ingredients for nutritional beverages. You can get more creative. Below are a few sites with some recipes:

 Here are some recipes:

http://www.virtualherbarium.org/tropicalfruit/mamey_sapote-recipes.html

http://www.kumuainafarm.com/mamey-sapote-the-mother-of-all-fruits/

Nutrition:

Actual nutritional value will vary with variety and growing conditions. However, the following analysis closely approximates other analyses found. 100 g of fresh mamey (about 1/8 of a fruit) has 107 calories, 1.0 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 28 g carbohydrates, 1.4 g fiber, 86% water, 22 mg calcium, 14 mg phosphorus, 0.9 mg iron, 6 mg sodium, 226 mg potassium, 60 IU vitamin A, and 23 mg vitamin C.

Harvest and Storage:

Pick mamey sapote when completely mature. For example, one can tell this by scrapping/lightly puncturing the skin with fingernail. The green flesh means it’s immature, while red or pink flesh means it’s mature. Additionally, a red tint may also appear on the skin. With mamey, you can pick while firm, it then let it ripen/soften for an additional few days indoors. When kept indoors to ripen, make sure you are checking for when the mamey sapote becomes softer to touch and gives a little (like an avocado), and it starts to wrinkle just a little. If it is too soft or over ripe the fruit will start to brown or blacken (also like an avocado) and will taste a bit off. When it is frozen, mamey sapote may hold its texture well. The ripe fruit should last a few days in the refrigerator.

Health benefits:

22-49% the RDI of Vitamin C and 20% the RDI of Vitamin A (Morton, 1987). 10% the Daily Intake of Fiber (Fisheries, 2008). It was traditionally used to treat gastric ulcers and dysentery (Morton, 1987) .

Mamey sapote growth patterns:

Mamey sapote grows in low to mid elevations in Hawaii (up to 2000 feet elevation). The mamey sapote trees are evergreens. Seedling trees bear fruit in 7-10 years. Grafted plants may start bearing in 1-2 years. Mameys grow to 60-100 feet tall. Frequently, the fruit ripens year round but often peaks in the Summer. They loves hot humid tropics. It takes two years from when it flowers until the fruit is ripe. Mature trees may bear 200 to 600 fruit per year.

Most commercial growers say that pruning is important because the mamey sapote is a vigorous tree and pruning helps contain possible tree damage and to ease the harvest. Generally, it’s a good idea to fertilize the tree a few times a year. However, if given a good start, frequent enough watering and some mulch the tree will be likely to still bear a large amount of fruit. Some common cultivars of mamey sapote are Pantin, Florida and Magana.

Pests: Specific pest problems may occur in some locations, but the mamey is generally regarded as having few problems.

Toxins: The white latex is an irritant.

Resources:

  1. Permacopia Book II. D. Hunter Beyer Dr. Franklin Martin.
  2. Hawaiian Organic growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992)Oasis Maui /inc.
  3. Miami Culinary Tours http://www.miamiculinarytours.com/mamey-sapote/#sthash.eAELzd5k.KujiA2sm.dpbs
  4. http://www.virtualherbarium.org/tropicalfruit/mamey_sapote-recipes.html
  5. http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_mamey_sapote.htm
  6. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg331
  7. http://www.rarefruitclub.org.au/Level2/Mamey.htm
  8. https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/sapote_ars.html
  9. http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_mamey_sapote.htm
  10. http://www.tfgsf.com/?page_id=556
  11. https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/sapote_ars.html
  12. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/news-pressroom-media-center/articles/artmid/515/articleid/647
  13. http://www.kumuainafarm.com/mamey-sapote-the-mother-of-all-fruits/
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Fudgy Beet Brownies

This chocolate beet brownies recipe is a modified creation of my good friend Thao and her cooking project and ideology, Apothe Cafe. She is an amazing chef, skilled in plant-based, vegetarian, vegan and generally dank and artistic healthy food. Please enjoy this recipe and provide comments on how it goes. Thao originally excluded all flour-like products from the recipe to make it paleo friendly, I however add in a little for some help with the thickening. You could also try using  coconut flour or almond flour etc.

Beet brownies recipe

yield: approx. 9 x 12 inch baking pan about 1 inch thick

equipment: immersion blender or other blender to puree beets

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium beets (2 cups pureed cooked beets)
  • 1/2   cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup (or more to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup tapioca flour, coconut flour, rice flour , cassava flour (each will give it a slightly different consistency but it will be delicious no matter what)
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder (unsweetened, raw organic is best : )

Steps:

  1. Wash, chop stem side clean and boil or steam beets until very soft (blunt knife enters easily), this can take 30min-1 hour. You can chop beets to speed up this process. Also, it is easier to skin/peel by hand them after they are cooked (and if they are whole it helps).
  2. Coat baking pan in coconut oil
  3. While the beets are cooking gather other ingredients…
    1. Melt or soften coconut oil if it is very solid (at warm temps like Hawaii this is not a big deal, but mainland in Winter this step is crucial).
    2.  Bring eggs to room temp (because cool eggs will make coconut oil harder, equally, you cannot add eggs to HOT coconut oil because it will cook them before they are fully combined in brownie batter
  4. Measure out dry ingredients
  5. Combine wet ingredients in bowl
  6. When beets are cooked, wash under cold water and peel. Puree with food processor, blender or immersion blender.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 F
  8. Add beets, wet and dry ingredients to bowl and combine
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  10. Cool and enjoy, center will still be soft, almost like mochi especially if you used rice flour.

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Soursop fruits (gravioloa) are the new super fruit

Soursop or gravioloa tastes better than its sounds, and possibly even better than it looks. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite fruits on our farm as it seems to fruit the majority of the year. Even our 3 year old tree puts out huge 8 lb fruits.

Latin Name and Family

The Latin name for soursop is Annona muricata. It is a species of the genus Annona and is in the custard apple tree family, Annonaceae. Other common names are Guanábana, Corossol, Graviola, Brazilian Cherimoya, and Brazilian Paw Paw.

Soursop taste and culinary uses:

Soursop tastes likes guava and pear, and has the aroma of pineapple. The fresh fruit is ideal to eat “as is” or raw, but it is also great for use in drinks, cocktails, and sorbets. You can eat the immature fruits fried or boiled, in soups etc. Alternatively, for the ripe flesh of the fruit popular recipes include soursop punch, soursop smoothies, ice creams, and even pies.

Check out this site for a few ideas: https://www.thedailymeal.com/best-recipes/soursop.  Furthermore, new leaf shoots can be boiled and added to other meat or vegetable dishes. However, please use caution to remove all seeds, especially before blending the pulp as the seeds of annona trees are toxic if ingested. Also, the leaves are used to make a tea which is gaining scientific recognition for helping prevent and reduce cancer.

Harvest and storage:

You can pick graviola once starts to turn soft and change from shiny dark green to dull light green and their spines are set further apart. If it ripens on the tree it will drop and bruise too much be salvaged for food. It must be handled with extreme care. The unripe light green fruits can be kept a few days at room temperature. Then, once they yield to a little pressure of your thumb they can be kept a few more days in the fridge.  In the fridge the skin will blacken but the flesh is still unspoiled. Hawaii scientists have shown that it is ideal for consumption for 5-6 days after picking it from the tree.

Health benefits:

Soursop is high in pectin and vitamin C and B. It is antiviral, anti parasitic, and scientific evidence is beginning to show that it may slow the growth of cancer cells and help to kill cancer cells. It helps with stomach distress, relieves cough and respiratory illness, depression, arthritis.

Soursop is known to contain alkaloids that may account for the relaxing effect people feel after consumption (Bourne, 1979), (Hasrat, Pieters, De Backer, Vauquelin, & Vlietinck, 1997). In Nigeria, they use the fresh juice as an anti-pyretic (reduces fevers). Additionally, in Dominica people eat the fruit to induce lactation. Furthermore, in Trinidad and Tobago soursop is used to provide useful quantities of a range of electrolytes to combat dehydration caused by acute diarrhea (Fisheries, 2008). For more information on the scientific evidence of soursops visit: http://www.thealternativedaily.com/graviola-fruit-for-cancer/amp/.

Characteristics of the soursop fruit:

The fruit varies in shape from somewhat oval, to heart shaped, and equally it is irregular, lopsided or curved. It ranges from 4 to 12 in (10-30 cm) long and up to 6 in (15 cm) wide, and averages around 4.5 lbs but may weigh up to 15 lbs (6.8 kg).

inside of a soursop

Soursops have a reptilian appearance, with soft, short and curved spines. The skin is dark-green when the fruit is under-ripe or immature. As it ripens it becomes slightly yellowish-green and soft. Soursop’s inner surface is off-white cream-colored. In the center is a soft-pithy core and inside it has smooth, hard, oblong-ish black seeds about the size of beans.

Growth patterns:

Although soursop is a relative of cherimoya,  it grows in the tropical lowlands (for example, less than 1,000 feet). They grow to about 25-30 feet tall. Most people select seed from delicious and ideal fruits for propagation, although some people prefer to air layering, budding or grafting. Soursops begin to bear fruit at 3-5 years old. The fruit may ripen year round but tends to peak in the middle of summer.

Other related articles:

If you like soursop you should try other fruits from the Annona family like my favorite fruit, the lemon meringue pie fruit, Rollinia.  Also, equally as famous as soursop although in a different family is the queen of fruits, Mangosteen.

Resources:

1.Permacopia Book II. D. Hunter Beyer Dr. Franklin Martin.

2. Hawaiian Organic growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992)Oasis Maui /inc.

3.https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/soursop.html

4. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-soursop-4285.html

5. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/can-graviola-cure-cancer

6. Bourne, R.K. and Egbe, P.C. (1979). Preliminary study of the sedative effects of annona muricata (sour sop). A West Indian Medical Journal, 28, 106–110.

7.Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries. (2008). Proceedings of the tropical fruits in human nutrition and health conference 2008.

8. Hasrat, J.A., Pieters, L., De Backer, J.P., Vauquelin, G. , & Vlietinck, A.J. (1997). Screening of medicinal plants from Suriname for 5-HT1A ligands: Bioactive isoquinoline alkaloids from the fruit of Annona muricata. Phytomedicine, 4(133–140)

9. Morton, J.F. . (1987). Fruits of warm climates. Miami, Florida, USA.