Families aren’t what they used to be. Sure, the drama may still be the same but the number of kids has definitely changed. There are a number of reasons for our declining birth rate, including, perhaps surprisingly, our diets.
The declining U.S. birth rate may redefine the American family in the very near future. A recent Pew study suggests that the declining birth rate may be due, in part, to the economic conditions of our country, but diet may be a less obvious cause. "I believe that the reason for the declining birth rate in the U.S. is largely due to the increased infertility rates particularly amongst well-educated Caucasian women," says Adrienne Hew, a certified nutritionist based in New Jersey. "Many, if not most educated women in the U.S., follow strict low-fat or vegetarian diets, making them prone to infertility due to an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and progesterone."
Millions of American women intentionally take oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy but millions more may be unknowingly preventing pregnancy with the foods they eat. Popular low-fat and vegetarian diets could be doing more than expected. "Animal fats are necessary for proper hormone production," says Hew. "This imbalance is further exacerbated by the high soy consumption in this country. This includes soy fed to animals, leaving behind high concentrations of phytoestrogens in meat, eggs and milk. In this way, soybeans work as a birth control pill."
Like today’s birth rates, today’s child-bearing generation is much different from that of the past. Changing definitions of family and shifting priorities may very well contribute to the shrinking family phenomenon. "For others who choose not to have children, it may indeed be that they don't want to ‘grow up’," says Hew. "Compared to past generations, many adult Americans enjoy the freedoms of not having children and may be consciously choosing not to have children so that they can save more money and enjoy more freedoms."
If you think your diet may be contributing to infertility and want to make a change, Hew suggests the following action items:
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