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36 Albany Street
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 3QH
United Kingdom

0131 629 1529

NFC Essentials online shop


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Practising what we preach

Rachael Forrest

butternut squash curry.JPG

I'd just heated up my 'left-overs for lunch' when one of our lovely therapists suggested I should take a photo of my food and blog about it.  To be honest, such things don't occur to me and I don't think I have ever taken a photo of food before - whether it's my own concoction or something I've ordered, however, in the interests of getting up-to-date, I have now done just that. Excuse the photo, it may not be up to Instagram standards!

It made me think about what we eat here at the clinic.  We are, after all, aiming to promote health and fertility but what people say isn't always what they do.  Amongst the therapists who work here, and not all are fertility related, we have a couple of vegans, meat eaters, some dairy free, one (me) who follows a ketogenic eating pattern (low, but not no, carbs) - that's for blood sugar balancing, not for weight loss - and some raw cacao fans.  Every one of us is conscious about what we eat and we take care to balance our foods but none of us are fanatical. I would say all of us are relatively healthy and we each exercise in our own ways - some more regularly or intensely than others.  We stick to the 80/20 rule - if you're doing 80% right then the odd piece of cake, bottle of wine and slobbing day are not going to do any harm.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say they'll do some good as it removes any pressure and is much more realistic (especially over Christmas!).

Most of us at the clinic work long days and bring our own food in with us.  It gets too expensive to keep buying lunch when you're in the middle of town.  As I said, I try to keep my carb intake low so that my blood sugar stays balanced and it's made a massive difference to how I feel.  The bowl of food in the picture is my own recipe of 'butternut squash curry'.  Basically, heat some coconut oil with cumin seeds, garam masala, chilli flakes and some turmeric until sizzling then add the diced and skinned butternut squash pieces with some garlic.  Let them brown a bit and then add either water or tinned tomatoes (water in this one), veggie stock pot/cube, frozen spinach and peas (you can add anything you want at this stage).  Once the butternut squash is soft I turn the heat off and stir in coconut cream/milk and then dig in.  Butternut squash still contains carbs but has a low glycemic index and it's filling so great for a Winter's night.  The coconut milk adds essential healthy fats which also keep you feeling satisfied for longer.

Can red wine really help you get pregnant?

Rachael Forrest


Ladies, a recent US study has found that '5 or more glasses of red wine per month had only a positive effect on women's fertility' - so is this cause to relax and celebrate with a bottle of Rioja? 

Unfortunately not.  As well as being vague about the number of glasses recommended (after all, '5 or more' has no upper limit!) the research goes on to emphasise that it's the antioxidant content of the red wine that is the important factor and we know that antioxdants can come from many, non-alcoholic, sources like blueberries, red grapes and cocoa.  The antioxidant involved is called Resvertrol and is better consumed via good quality dark chocolate and a bowl of berries.  Wine, as well as containing alcohol, is made from grapes which is a crop known to be most highly exposed to chemicals in the form of toxic fertilisers. 

That doesn't mean you should never drink wine.  In my opinion sticking to the guidelines (two glasses of wine per week) is fine and if you can get organic wine, even better.  We all need to celebrate, relax and socialise and to try and stop life happening while you're trying to conceive only leads to stress and resentment.

But be careful what you read ... headlines like this can be misleading and we're all guilty of only heeding the parts we really want to hear.  This study was small (135 women) and there are lots of other factors involved.  I love red wine as much as the next person but stick to adage of 'everything in moderation' and you'll be on the right track.

All about quality

Rachael Forrest

We spent 10 years treating fertility patients and recommending supplements before realising we really wanted to provide a product that we could completely believe in and honestly promote.  Although we always recommended high quality supplements to our patients they were never quite as good as wanted them to be so we enlisted the help of our nutritionist Dr Jane Jamieson (PhD) to formulate something really wonderful.

It took a year or more of planning and trials before we got what we wanted - our lovely NFC Essentials range.  They are perfect for anyone with fertility issues but I also give them to my teenage daughters, take the Vitamin C whenever I feel a cold coming on and take the Fish Oils when I run out of my Women's Formula.  I know they're doing me good because I can feel it and patients feel it too - it's not just wishful thinking on our part.

In the course of her research, Jane travelled to New Jersey to visit the growers of the food that goes into our supplements and was shown the process of binding food to minerals and vitamins.  Last year, I went down to Gloucestershire to visit Oriental & Western, our suppliers who bottle up the supplements and send them out to patients.  

That means that any time anyone orders one of our supplements from this site, we know where the food has come from, how it gets into the capsule, how the capsules get into the bottle, who puts the label on and who send them out to you. I like that and it makes us feel secure because we've seen it with our own eyes.  It might seem a small thing but as a provider of products, it is important to us that we provide the best and that we can believe it what we do (I've worked in PR before and I know from experience, it feels awful to have to sell something you don't believe in yourself).

In the clinic if I am recommending supplements to patients (and I usually do), I offer them alternatives so that they're not feeling coerced into buying from us.  Solgar and Viridian are both 'high end' ranges but they are still highly processed products.  Most people have bought or considered Pregnacare or Boots own brand but I recommend reading the labels (as with all things) and becoming more away of what's in what you're buying.  At a fertility conference recently, couples were being given sack-fulls of a well known male supplement for free but one look at the ingredients would have shown them that they contained sugar and talc - not useful for sperm improvement and detrimental to general health.  

In summary, with supplements, you really do get what you pay for.  Look at the ingredients and check for additives and bulking agents.  Look at where they come from and who is producing them.  If you are going to invest money on supplements then make sure you get the best quality so you're body doesn't have to work to eliminate half of the ingredients.  And get in touch with us if you have any questions!