Co-author Janette Roberts chats about the Better Babies Books

janette Roberts, Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist, talks about the Better Babies book series which she co-authored with Francesca Naish.

There are four books in the Better Babies series:

The Natural Way to Better Babies; The Natural Way to Better Pregnancy; The Natural Way to Better Birth and Bonding; The Natural Way to Better Breastfeeding

An Interview with Janette Roberts about Reproductive Health

On 14 February 2011, Janette Roberts, pharmacist, nutritionist and best-selling author, discussed Natural Fertility Management with Jeff Croucher from Pure Health Direct on 99.7 fm local radio. Click on the video links to watch a video recording of the session or read the transcript of the discussion below.

Reproductive health is under threat, as well as being increasingly medically managed, with conception, pregnancy, birth and breast feeding, no longer unfolding naturally and easily. So what’s the answer? My guest today is Jan Roberts, pharmacist, clinical nutritionist and best-selling author. Jan, tell us a little bit more about yourself…

Well Jeff, I began my pharmacy career way back in 1967. I was fifteen years in community pharmacy, before frustration with band-aid medicine led me to a diploma in clinical nutrition. Along the way I heard of Foresight – the UK-based Association for the Promotion of Preconceptual Care ( It was their work that prompted the preparation I did before my own pregnancies and it was the benefits that I saw that inspired my work for the last thirty years. That work has been promoting PRECONCEPTION HEALTHCARE as the way to improve fertility and to prevent miscarriage and other reproductive problems. But more importantly PRECONCEPTION HEALTHCARE is the logical, elegantly simple way to ensure a really beautiful bright happy healthy baby.

Well that sounds like something that’s vitally important today when we see so much infertility, so many miscarriages, premature births and so many kids with asthma and allergies, AD/HD and so on.

It’s never been more important than it is today Jeff! Infertility rates are on the rise, one woman in four will have a miscarriage, labours are frequently long and require medical intervention, breast feeding periods are much too short and we have an absolute epidemic of kids with subtle and not so subtle health issues. All of this represents a very inauspicious start to family life. For some, it represents a lifetime of heartache and hardship. Of course the cost to the community and to health care systems is impossible to quantify.

No doubt about the cost to the community Jan, but another concern is that with increasing rates of reproductive problems and so many kids with these various health issues, they come to be accepted as the norm. But you’re saying we can do something to reduce these statistics?

Absolutely Jeff, and the story starts before conception and it starts with both prospective parents. They’re in this quest for a really healthy baby together! I want to make that really clear! This approach is not about an IVF specialist, obstetrician, midwife, or hospital delivering your perfect baby. It’s not about ultrasounds or other pre-natal diagnostic screening ensuring the 100% product.

So you’re saying that the system can’t be held responsible for ensuring optimally healthy babies – the responsibility really lies with prospective parents:

That’s right! This is about two prospective parents committing to giving their family the very best possible start in life.

Well Jan that’s a really exciting opportunity for anyone who plans to become a Mum or a Dad at some stage!

I think so Jeff – and it’s not really as hard as it sounds, nor as ‘out there’ as some people think. Farmers and stock-breeders know all about preconception care. They would always ensure their breeding stock is in optimally nourished and non-stressed condition, and the human population would do well to keep that in mind.

Jan, you say optimally nourished and non-stressed condition for prospective parents – can you please elaborate on that for our listeners?

In a nutshell preconception healthcare means an abundance of all the basic building blocks – that means vitamins, trace elements, essential fatty and amino acids, purified water and complete absence of anything that may be potentially toxic!

Preconception healthcare must involve both partners equally! The program MUST BE COMPLETED and in place for at least 4 months before conception. THAT DOESN’T MEAN ‘Cutting down on cigarettes” or “reducing alcohol” during that critical 4 month period! They need to have QUIT already because sperm take up to 116 days to form and the egg is susceptible to damage for 100 days prior to ovulation. The bulk of what needs doing will involve the couple’s own actions, but sometimes they’ll need help from a practitioner.

Jan – let’s talk for moment about the basic building blocks. Obviously the primary source of those building blocks will be a wholefood, organic diet, but that’s often a tall order in today’s society so what are your thoughts about supplements?

Jeff, healthy food grown on healthy soil is my mantra for prospective parents, but you’re right that’s a tall order for many people, so while supplements can never take the place of a really healthy diet, they’re absolutely essential for both partners during that critical 4-month period. In fact, I say the longer you take a robust combination of all the vitamins and trace elements before conception the better. The reasoning behind it being – The needs during reproduction are so critical – a diet that may support adult life may be completely unable to support healthy reproduction _ Time is short (that’s particularly the case for older women) – You have to make up for multiple nutritional deficits caused by a refined Western diet, unhealthy lifestyle habits and and exposure to toxicity

That sounds to me like a prospective mum needs a lot more than folic acid and iron which seem to be the standard fare prescribed by GPs and obstetricians.

ABSOLUTELY right – in fact single nutrients are definitely not recommended. Folic acid for example is part of the B-Complex group – it never occurs alone in nature and shouldn’t be taken alone. In the case of iron, inorganic iron supplements can cause a deficiency in zinc, which is the antagonist mineral.

Zinc deficiency? Jan I read somewhere that zinc is the most important trace element for the woman about to become pregnant. Is that true?

That’s a pretty good assessment of the importance of zinc, but zinc deficiency is also considered to be the most widespread deficiency in the Western world! In fact a CSIRO study showed that 67% Australian men receive below RDA of zinc, 85% Australian women receive below RDA and a University of Queensland study showed that 2/3 of Australian children are zinc deficient.

Well they’re very chastening statistics Jan – why such widespread zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency is almost entirely attributable to modern diets and lifestyles. Zinc is lost or destroyed by: Non-organic farming and refining of grains. Alcohol, cigarettes, diuretics (that’s caffeine) – all deplete the body of zinc. The detoxification of heavy metals such as lead, requires zinc. Growth, pregnancy, breast feeding, stress and illness all put increased demands on zinc levels. Finally oral contraceptives and iron supplements seriously disturb zinc status!

OK, I understand that our 21st Century lifestyle can be held responsible, and that some of this deficiency could potentially affect the pregnant mum and her baby. But there’s no FRANK zinc deficiency state such as Vitamin C deficiency and scurvy, so what conditions would we expect when someone is deficient in zinc?

It’s a very long list Jeff…but it gives you an idea of what I mean when I say ZINC IS IMPORTANT!!

Zinc deficiency is implicated in…

Low libido (no sex drive)


Stretch marks

Poor fetal growth

Premature birth

Congenital defects

Prolonged labor

Postnatal depression

Cracked nipples

Poor maternal instinct

Irritable, jittery baby

Compromised immunity

Learning/behavior problems and MUCH MORE.

That IS a very long list Jan, but I need you to explain how prolonged labour can be partly attributable to a deficiency of a trace element?

Well zinc is intimately involved in collagen formation. In a zinc deficient woman, collagen formation is compromised and gaps appear in her uterine membrane. Those gaps mean that the uterus then contracts inefficiently – hence a long labour.

I notice post natal depression and poor maternal instinct are on that list of possible symptoms, so Jan you’d better tell our listeners how to restore their zinc status?

Jeff, there’s a very simple, inexpensive taste test for zinc status and it can be one of the first steps in a preconception program. Take 5ml of a taste test solution into your mouth and swirl it around. Notice the sensation: Strong, unpleasant taste, dry mineral, sweet or furry taste or no taste (like water). I’m not going to tell you what’s adequate zinc status and what’s deficient. You can order the test to find out!

That’s easy enough – so when you’ve done the test, you then you supplement according to your zinc status?

Simply follow the directions on the label Jeff, using a liquid product if your status is very compromised, but remember you need all those other trace elements and vitamins. My co-author Francesca Naish and I have developed an “Essential Range” that comes as a handy 30-day supply. Everything for his and her preconception preparation and the range is based on 30 years clinical experience and all of Foresight’s research.

Something else I’d like you to explain Jan? You said that the oral contraceptive pill is apparently another zinc thief? How does that work?

The pill causes copper levels to rise (copper is a zinc antagonist) and zinc levels to fall. It’s often quite difficult to reverse the zinc deficiency in long-term pill users. So if you’re on the pill, make sure you have a really good break from it AND restore your zinc status well ahead of any attempt at baby-making. Women who take the oral contraceptive pill right up to the time of conception will begin their pregnancy in a zinc compromised state, with potential negative effects on every stage of their pregnancy and their baby.

Jan, I know that lots of women take the pill simply to regulate their cycles, but is there another way to do that?

I’m dismayed when doctors prescribe the pill for hormonal irregularities, because it only masks the problems and in fact leads to more disturbances. Fortunately there’s a fabulous natural product that works to balance levels of all hormones across the board and it has full double-blind clinical trials to support its use. Great product in the same range for older women wanting to avoid HRT by the way Jeff!

Going back to another of those building blocks you mention Jan – purified water

Water is a primary detoxification measure Again, implementation of this one simple step – at least 2 litres of purified water every day can make a big difference to how efficiently your body gets rid of toxic by-products. AND the best quality water filter will ensure the optimal environment for every step of reproduction… from conception through to breastfeeding!

So purified water promotes efficient detoxification. But apart from toxic metabolic waste that the body produces what exactly are you trying to get rid of, what toxicity are you trying to avoid?

Whew, Jeff, that’s the subject for another interview, but let’s summarise like this. WE ARE ALL exposed to an absolute COCKTAIL of chemicals – and there’s no doubt of the potential for harm to eggs, sperm and a developing baby. Now I don’t say that to frighten couples, but rather to alert them to the importance of avoiding whatever they can and to the importance of all of the protective measures that are available.

Let’s consider the food supply – 20,000 chemicals used in food production and manufacture, 4,000 chemicals added directly to the food supply (but only 10% listed on labels). That’s why I say, healthy food grown on healthy soil!

Then consider common lifestyle habits. Alcohol is a direct testicular toxin and of course there is NO KNOWN SAFE LEVEL of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. That’s why Foresight advocates total avoidance of alcohol in the preconception period.

Then what’s in your bathroom (skin care, cosmetics, shampoos etc)? The average woman using 12 products daily will expose herself to 175 chemicals! So you can reduce that exposure simply by switching to a range that is certified organic.

OK Jan, we’re running out of time, so let’s just back up a bit. The Foresight Association in the UK has carried out a huge amount of research, you’ve been promoting this approach to a healthier next generation for thirty years, but it’s not a new idea is it?

Certainly NOT, although it does come as a complete surprise to many couples. But do you know, even the Ancient Greeks and Romans knew that alcohol, drunk before and around the time of conception, was damaging to the fetus. They placed a ban on the drinking of alcohol by young women and newly-weds.

Many tribal societies fed special diets to their young women (and young men) of child-bearing age. In the 1930s, Dr Weston Price (a dentist) studied communities from around the world and clearly established the link between consumption of a refined Western diet and poor reproductive outcomes.

The Great Dutch Famine at the end of WWII showed that women exposed to the food shortages before and around the time of conception, had poorer reproductive outcomes than the women who suffered food shortages during their pregnancy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The next generation was shown to be prejudiced if the mother was in utero during the first trimester when her mother was exposed to food shortage.

This introduces us to the exciting emerging field of epi-genetics. Research in this field demonstrates that the effects of deleterious physical and emotional traumas are carried down through generations, but what’s really exciting is that the converse holds true, which is what makes this work so incredibly exciting and worthwhile!

What you’re saying is fascinating Jan. These days we’re reading so much about DNA tests and I saw something this week suggesting couples could now be tested for 448 diseases before they conceive. What you’re suggesting is an effect that goes beyond an individual’s actual DNA profile.

Exactly Jeff – in fact “epigenetics” literally means beyond genetics and it’s exciting research – about 20 years old now – and it has turned conventional genetic “wisdom” on its head. That means we can no longer hold our DNA entirely responsible for our weight issues or our heart disease or our diabetes or whatever. We might have a genetic tendency to these or other conditions, but there is additional imprinting that can be both negative or positive, and there are triggers that can switch a genetic variation off or on. For example, new evidence indicates that the current epidemic of childhood obesity, is in part linked to the high fat diet of the father-to-be.

So what preconception care endeavours to do is to remove any of those negative triggers and ensure that the positive ones only (and that includes positive mental and emotional effects) are the ones that will ensure the healthiest possible egg and sperm and the healthiest possible environment for the developing embryo and in that, the opportunity for the child to enjoy his full genetic potential.

Jan, I’d like to thank you for being with us today. Let’s give listeners the link to Pure Health Direct website where they can purchase The Natural Way to Better Babies and all your other books, they can order the NFM products, the zinc taste test, Femmenessence or Revolution for hormone balance, Carmaje toxicity-free skin care and Wellness LivingWater as well as other products that you recommend and of course they can contact us at for product purchase or for a health care professional who can assist with this vitally important preparation for pregnancy!!

Diabetes and Sexual Health in Men

One of the side-effect of diabetes in both men and women with diabetes may be sexual problems. The sexual health problems caused by diabetes are not widely discussed although they can be fairly common among people with diabetes. For instance, erectile dysfunction occurs more often and, on average, 10-15 years earlier in men with diabetes than in men without diabetes. There are treatments that can help if you are suffering from diabetes-related sex problems so you may have a happy healthy sex-life. Sex is after all good for you. Continue reading

Diabetes and Sexual Health in Women

One of the side-effects of diabetes in both men and women with diabetes may be sexual problem. The sexual health problems caused by diabetes are not widely discussed although they can be fairly common among people with diabetes. There are treatments that can help if you are suffering from diabetes-related sex problems so you may have a happy healthy sex-life. Sex is after all very good for you. Continue reading

Libido … lost or just misplaced?

Like reproductive, immune and other functions, sexual function has become a victim of those same diet, lifestyle and environmental factors that are adversely affecting overall wellbeing. Yet the same basic principles apply no matter what function you’re trying to improve. And those principles are simple – supply the body with an abundance of all the basic building blocks such as vitamins and trace elements and remove all the potentially harmful factors.

But before we get specific about those helpful and harmful factors it’s worth considering performance in the sexual function department… and La Trobe University’s Australian Study of Health and Relationships, published in 2003 showed that a large percentage of women are experiencing very real problems in their most intimate relationships. Fortunately, the good news is … there are lots of things that you can do to restore it. And it’s important to restore it, because … SEX IS REALLY GOOD FOR YOU!!

Modern diets compromise sex drive

Before we look at ways to restore libido, we need to consider the factors that are involved in its decline with number one culprit being the modern diet. When you’re thinking about your genitals and how they work, or don’t work, about how they respond or don’t respond, it’s easy to forget, that all the hormones, the neurotransmitters, and the endorphins that switch on your desire, and are responsible for sexual arousal and optimal sexual function, depend on an adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, amino and essential, fatty acids. And those building blocks come from, or start with the food that you put into your mouth. Unfortunately, most modern diets are unlikely to supply you with an adequate complement of all those building blocks.

Then your nutritional status is further compromised by a diet that contains too many carbohydrates and too little protein. And that’s most modern diets – which are high in grains – bread, cereals, pasta, rice, pastries, cakes, biscuits and so on. However when you eat the appropriate balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat, you get a host of good things happening. These include … normal appetite, fat burning, emotional stability, mental clarity, improved athletic performance, greater physical endurance, MORE ENERGY – in other words – a lot of things that can contribute to enhanced levels of desire and better sexual function.

Lifestyle issues compromise sexual health

In addition, various lifestyle and environmental factors either alone, or in combination, are potentially detrimental to optimal health and sexual function, with reduced exposure to as many of these factors as possible giving you the best chance of healthy levels of sexual desire.




Drugs (prescribed, OTC, recreational)

Home (kitchen, laundry, bathroom)

Workplace (photocopying, air conditioning, fluorescent lighting)

Heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium)


Mobile phones

Video games

Electric blankets

Water beds

Fuse boxes

While steering clear of all the above to the best of your ability, you also need to get rid of accumulated toxicity. Because, just like landfill sites that become overloaded and wreak havoc in the environment your body can become a toxic waste dump and wreak havoc with your health. For example, accumulated toxicity will trigger biochemical processes that keep you fat. And unfortunately being fat, with the poor body image that may accompany it, can be a real deterrent to sexual activity. Good detoxification processes require an abundance of essential nutrients and plenty of purified water (at least 2 litres a day). Of course, drinking plenty of water will also ensure that your blood volume is adequate, and able to meet the demands of sexual arousal.

Regular exercise for healthy sexual appetite

You might be surprised to learn that the amount of muscle in your body is the number one biomarker for vitality and longevity. Muscle is actually a very important organ – it’s as important as your heart, your liver and your kidneys. It is like the engine that powers your car. But without a conscious effort to maintain it, you lose it at the rate of 3kg per decade from the time you’re in your early 20s and the loss accelerates after age 45. As muscle is lost, fat levels increase. Reduced muscle mass also means poor blood glucose control, with the potential for mood swings and emotional instability. Reduced muscle mass also means compromised mobility. You can see again, how this may translate into reduced ability to anticipate and participate in an active sex life.

Another factor that compromises sexual health is lack of touch. Touch is vitally important throughout your life, yet generally given very little attention in Western society. The sense of touch is the first of your senses to develop and also the most fundamental. Of course, recognising the importance of touch offers you and your partner a wonderful opportunity to connect at a very intimate level by giving and receiving a massage, by stroking, holding, caressing and cuddling, and remember that this physical contact does not always have to lead to sex, but has a very real place not only in enhancing total wellbeing but in keeping intimacy alive.

Emotional stress – the passion killer

Finally we come to the ‘stress’ type of stress … with the ability to compromise all aspects of your health, with the potential for really catastrophic effects on your sex life. Stress management involves two approaches – reducing the actual stress levels and improving the means by which your body copes with stress. To cope better you need good nutrition (because stress causes nutrient losses), a program of regular exercise, meditation or other type of relaxation practice, time for family and leisure pursuits, and ‘time-out’ to nurture yourself. So … as a regular part of your life … massage or other body work. Or a spa-type treatment, such as a bath with essential oils … easily done at home … and not only a great way to reduce stress, but another wonderful way to initiate and maintain intimacy.

Then of course, regular, restful sleep helps you cope better with stress and sex itself is one of the most effective de-stressors of all. That’s just one of the reasons why it needs to be a regular part of your life. But remember, enjoying more sex and more sleep should not be mutually exclusive!

Finally your state of mind has a profound effect not only on your ability to enjoy a satisfying sex life, but also on your long term, good health and vitality. And the best way to nurture your emotional state or what some people refer to as your ‘energetic anatomy’ is to love your life, and to let go of all the hurts and unhappiness from your past.

You further nurture your energetic anatomy by accepting your life as it comes and responding to change as a positive force, and of course that includes accepting ageing. Accept it with grace, revel in your acquired wisdom, enjoy the ‘wise woman/man’ stage of your life and explore your sexuality in new ways, rather than resisting or resenting the passing of youth. This is a further recipe for health, vitality and ongoing, satisfying sexual relationships.

So now, let’s just revisit some of the things that will help to restore, or maintain your vitality and your sex drive

Eat more protein

Eat fewer grains, more green vegies

Eat good oils

Take nutritional supplements

Drink more water, less caffeine and alcohol

Enjoy regular massage or other bodywork

Build muscle

Get more sleep


Enjoy satisfying sex!

If you’re both finding the stress of your busy lives also means less than optimal numbers of sexual encounters you might consider the new Viamax range from Sweden. With a range of exclusive, all-natural goodies, Viamax delivers more pleasure for both you and your partner with an exceptional selection of libido-enhancing, arousing and lubricating products!

Female Orgasm – Better Chance of Conceiving

If you’re trying to conceive but pregnancy remains elusive, you’ll certainly get a lot of advice from friends and family, not to mention doctors. Of course there are lots of high-tech methods of fertilizing eggs, but they’re actually not methods that we endorse. Rather than put yourself in the hands of the medical experts and wait for the ‘miracle’ to happen, there are lots of self-help, health-promotion measures that you and your partner can embrace and I discuss all of those in great detail in other blogs, books and articles. But right here, I’d like to propose a very simple, low-tech method that can also improve your chances of conception.

Making sperm contact the egg is literally an uphill battle. So putting it bluntly, anything you can do to help sperm reach their destination is a benefit. Therefore, an orgasm during or after your partner’s ejaculation could help the sperm on their way. If you have an orgasm after your partner, your cervix actually dips, scooping into the deposit of sperm which is nearby. In addition, the fluids that are released during your orgasm can also help sperm to find their rightful home and the muscular contractions may help carry them further into the cervix. Some studies even suggest you can achieve the same effect if you climax slightly before your partner. Finally, orgasm increases the blood-flow to the reproductive organs helping them to function better.

Other studies show evidence that a female orgasm, between intercourse episodes, can actually hinder the odds of conceiving since the cervix can suck up vaginal fluid. This makes it more acidic, which isn’t a good environment for sperm. Of course, conception is certainly possible without female orgasm – orgasm at intercourse just increases the chances of conception occurring. And finally there is the issue of his orgasm which is an absolute necessity.

Why not try some of the libido-enhancing, arousing and lubricating products available today? You may find that experimenting with intimate gels and or lubricants is fun and delivers more pleasure for both partners which may assist you to relax and reach orgasm.

Get More Oxytocin – Foster Intimacy, Reduce Your Stress Levels!

Stress is an inevitable and believe it or not, necessary part of our lives. Stress can actually be enjoyable, it provides motivation and challenge and without it, we would probably not achieve very much at all. Stress triggers the well known “flight or fight” response and a cascade of hormones which are soon dissipated if we do turn to fight or run away, but in today’s society, the types of stress we encounter and therefore our response to those stressors is very different. Adrenaline, noradrenaline and other hormones are constantly produced with ongoing, long-term stress a significant factor in most of the chronic conditions of our time. Modern lifestyles, with focus on achievement, success, acquisition and business dominance, tip us always towards the “flight or fight” hormonal pathway, so scientists and health professionals are intimately familiar with the downsides of those unopposed hormones.

However less well-recognised and until recently, poorly studied is another hormonal pathway that is the exact mirror opposite. Secreted into the bloodstream like other hormones, but also produced by the nerve endings so acting like a signalling substance, oxytocin is well known to obstetricians and gynaecologists as the hormone that makes the uterus contract during labour, stimulates the let down reflex during breastfeeding and is also released at orgasm. But while it might seem that women get more than their fair share, oxytocin is actually present in both sexes – promoting calm, connection, bonding, love and intimacy. It directly counteracts the fight or flight response, reducing stress levels, and also promoting production of growth hormone, which is important for healing.

Clearly we can all benefit from bigger doses of oxytocin, so how do we get it?

Because oxytocin is a peptide hormone, it needs amino acids for its production. That means good quality protein at every meal and snack. If you’re a vegetarian, make sure you combine different types of vegetable protein in any day to ensure a supply of all the essential amino acids. Regular orgasms will provide a hefty dose for both partners, but if you’re on your own, don’t miss out. If you find orgasms elusive, an intimate gel or lubricant can be a great help whether you have a loving partner or are seeking oxytocin production alone! If you breastfeed to your baby’s schedule, your will be awash in a sea of oxytocin, you will experience the sense of calm and patience that it confers, and of course your baby will get all the benefits too. You will probably also find you have less desire for sexual intimacy with your partner as your body is continually flooded with the “orgasm” hormone. Remember why your desire has decreased – but don’t wean your baby. Finally, nurturing touch stimulates oxytocin production. So make regular massage or other body work a regular part of your life. If your budget runs to a professional treatment – that’s great, but this is something that can be easily done at home … make sure to include the kids. They’ll love it and their activity levels will reflect it.

“Touch has decreased as input to stress-generating mechanisms has increased. We need calm and connection not only to avoid illness, but also to enjoy life, to feel curious, optimistic and creative!”** We need more oxytocin!

Stress and Conception – They’re Unhealthy Bedfellows

Stress can have a profound effect on sexual performance, fertility, conception and all other aspects of reproduction. Ask any man who has had to produce a semen sample in a doctor’s surgery what stress does for sexual performance! But stress also affects the physiological processes necessary for fertilization to occur. If a stress response is too severe, its effect on the pituitary can inhibit the process whereby sperm are added to the seminal flow, and the prospective father may have little or no sperm in his semen. Continue reading

Sex after childbirth?

After the birth of a baby, (especially if it’s your first), your relationship with your partner will change and it will certainly change in the way you relate to one another sexually. Many women are relatively sexually uninterested after childbirth and during breastfeeding. So if this is how you’re feeling, you can rest assured that you’re not alone. In fact it’s quite normal and natural, and all part of Mother Nature’s plan to help space out your children in the most effective and healthy manner. Continue reading