When it comes to boosting your reproductive health and improving your fertility, what you eat makes a huge difference. Being fertile is a reflection of your overall health and when you are healthy and well nourished your body will be better able to conceive and support a pregnancy. What you eat affects everything in your body, from your cells to your blood to your hormones.
Making changes to your diet and eating more healthy and nutrient-rich foods can be one way to increase your odds of conceiving. There’s no need to completely overhaul your diet and totally change the way you eat – that could take a lot of work and might be pretty stressful. However, over time you can start to introduce more of these foods into your diet so that you can enjoy the benefits they provide. Why not try a new recipe that includes one or two of these ingredients every few days, as well as swapping to some of these foods for your packed lunch at work or your evening snack? Over time you can gradually introduce more fertility boosting foods into your routine.
But what foods should you be eating? Here are some of the foods that will have a positive effect on your baby-making ability, so you can make a list and hit the supermarket today.
These delicious fruits are one of the most important foods for aiding conception, as they contain vitamin B6 which helps to regulate hormones1. If your body is deficient in vitamin B6 then this can lead to poor egg development and irregular menstruation.
There are many ways that you can add more bananas to your diet. They are delicious chopped up on your cereal or oatmeal in the morning and they can also made a yummy shake or smoothie.
Try to incorporate more shellfish in your diet, such as oysters, mussels and clams. They are beneficial when you are trying to conceive because they contain vitamin B12. Many studies have suggested that there is a link between vitamin B12 deficiency and abnormal levels of oestrogen, which might interfere with the implantation of the fertilised egg2.
Also, vitamin B12 might help to strengthen your endometrium lining, which will help to reduce your risk of having a miscarriage3.
Grab a handful of pumpkin seeds for a very healthy snack. They are high in non-heme iron, which is really important for women who are trying to conceive. There was one study that discovered that women who regularly took a non-heme iron supplement were approximately 40% less likely to have trouble getting pregnant than those who didn’t take any iron4.
Pumpkin seeds can be toasted in the oven and coated with a little bit of salt and spices for a delicious crunchy snack. They also work really well in trail mix, or can be sprinkled on top of your oatmeal and yogurt in the morning with some cinnamon for a sweet and crunchy treat.
Asparagus is great because it contains folic acid. Studies have shown that folic acid will help to reduce the risk of ovulatory failure5. Asparagus works great as a side dish for most of your meals and if you bake it or grill it with a little bit of garlic and butter it will be a delicious treat.
If you don’t like asparagus, you could also take a folic acid supplement when you are trying to conceive. Talk to your doctor about which supplements are best for you when you are trying to get pregnant, they will be able to recommend ones that have the right balance of vitamins and nutrients for you.
Red clover is a herb that has a lot of benefits for women who are trying to conceive. It can be enjoyed in the form of a tea and it is very high in magnesium and calcium. It is an alkalizing herb and it contains all of the elements that are needed by the glandular system. It helps to balance the PH of the uterus, so that the body will be more likely to conceive6.
Red clover tea can be brewed with peppermint, which will act as a sexual stimulant. It works great as a hot drink, or as an ice tea cooled down in the refrigerator.
Whole Wheat Bread
Try to incorporate more whole wheat bread into your diet rather than white bread. They are beneficial because the complex carbs in the whole wheat bread take longer to digest which helps to keep your insulin and sugar levels stable. This is important because if your insulin levels are increased this can disrupt your reproductive hormones7.
It’s not too difficult to switch up whole grains in your diet. Purchase whole grain bread rather than white and use it for your toast and sandwiches. Eat brown rice instead of white rice and swap out the white pasta for the whole wheat version. You’ll find that whole grain foods not only are healthier for you, but they also have a much richer and more satisfying flavour.
You might be avoiding fish because of worries about high mercury levels, but it’s worth reconsidering this. The FDA says that women who are trying to conceive a baby can safely eat up to 12 ounces per week of low-mercury fish.
Fish is very good if you are trying to conceive, as it contains essential fats that are called omega 3 fatty acids. Your body needs this for optimal fertility as well as for overall health.
Omega 3 fatty acids have a number of very important benefits for the development of your baby. They will lower your risk of preterm birth, help to fight against post-natal depression and reduce your chances of preeclampsia8. Your body doesn’t make omega 3 fatty acids so it is important to get them in your diet. Eat salmon, tuna, herring or sardines at least a couple of times per week.
Salmon is a great choice, because it produces anti-oxidants that will protect your eggs and sperm from free radicals. It will also help to prevent chromosome breakage, which has been known to cause miscarriages and birth defects9. Try having some grilled or baked salmon as a dinner entree, or put some smoked salmon on a toasted bagel with black pepper, capers and cream cheese.
Eat a Variety of Different Proteins
Eating enough protein is an important part of a healthy diet – but many people rely too much on pork, chicken and beef to get their daily protein. It might be better to replace a serving of meat every day with vegetarian sources of protein such as peas, tofu, beans, nuts or lentils.
The benefit is that these choices are usually lower in calories and fat so they will help you to maintain a healthy body weight. Keeping at a healthy weight is a very important factor when it comes to conceiving and reproductive health. There are many ways that you can enjoy plant based proteins. Pick up a plant based
Citrus fruit, such as oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits, are great for you because they contain vitamin C. This vitamin has a lot of health benefits such as improving your skin and boosting your immune system – but it also improves hormone balance in women.
One great way to have more citrus in your diet is to have a grapefruit every morning first thing. When you eat it before anything else, even before brushing your teeth, it tastes much sweet and not as bitter as it usually does.
Red Raspberry Leaves
You can drink a tea that is made from red raspberry leaves, which are wonderfully healthy and very high in calcium. Like red clover and nettle, red raspberry leaves are very beneficial for reproductive health and they have a lot of healthy effects on the uterus10.
You can make a delicious infusion of this herb by steeping ½ ounce of wild red raspberry leaves and ½ ounce of red clover in a quart of hot water for 4 hours.
Avocados are a delicious way to get the nutrients that your body needs when you are trying to conceive, as they contain vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6. You can add some slices of avocado to a salad, make your own homemade guacamole or spread some ripe mashed avocado to a sandwich in place of mayo.
Also, you can simply cut open an avocado, squeeze on a little bit of lime juice, add some salt and eat it with a spoon. Don’t go overboard though, avocados are high in calories and fat!
Eating more peas is good for you if you are trying to conceive, because they contain zinc and a lack of zinc in females has been linked to an imbalance of progesterone and oestrogen.
Also, your male partner should be eating more peas, because they will also have a positive effect on his fertility. They will improve the form, function and quality of the male sperm and boost their levels. Peas are delicious when they are fresh from the garden, but they can also be served cooked as a yummy side dish, mixed into rice or made into pea soup.
Ingesting this herb will help you to get pregnant, as it helps to nourish the uterus and promotes the strengthening of the adrenal glands and the kidneys11. You can drink it in tea form.
According to a Nurse’s Health Study, one or two daily servings of whole milk or whole milk products will help to improve fertility12. However, drinking low fat or skim milk does the opposite. Experts aren’t sure why this is the case, but the theory is that when you remove the fat from the milk it changes the balance of the sex hormones, which will decrease the body’s ability to ovulate.
So, go ahead and have a bit of ice cream for dessert, or that full fat yogurt on your oatmeal in the morning. Dairy products also contain calcium, which is good for your bones and your overall health.
Add more leafy greens to your diet, such as romaine, broccoli, arugula and spinach. These vegetables are incredibly good for you and they are high in folate, which is a B vitamin that studies say helps to improve ovulation.
Also, make a salad for your partner as well, because leafy greens are also good for improve the health of his sperm. These greens can be eaten fresh as part of a tasty salad, added to a smoothie or used in cooking.
Olive oil is a very healthy and delicious monounsaturated fat that you should be adding to your diet if you want to conceive. It will help to increase insulin sensitivity as well as decreasing inflammation throughout the body13.
Decreasing inflammation is very important, as inflammation can interfere with conception, ovulation, early development of the embryo and other aspects of pregnancy. There are many ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet, such as using it for cooking instead of butter or using it on salad with some balsamic vinegar.
These are just a few of the healthy and nutritious foods that you should be eating more of in order to increase your fertility and improve your reproductive health. Many of these foods will also be beneficial once you conceive, as they will help the development of the baby. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are a lot of great healthy recipes and cooking ideas online for any of these ingredients.
Adjusting your diet will take some time at first, but once you start eating healthier you will not only increase your chances of conceiving but you will also feel more vibrant and energetic.
- WholeHealth Chicago. Vitamin B6. http://wholehealthchicago.com/2009/05/19/vitamin-b6/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Women’s International Pharmacy. The Vitamin B12 Connection. http://www.womensinternational.com/connections/vitaminb12.html (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Natural Fertility Info. Which Vitamins are Good For Fertility. http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitamins-good-for-fertility (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Parents. 7 Foods That Can Help You Get Pregnant. http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/what-to-eat-when-trying-to-get-pregnant/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- DailyMail. ‘Folic Acid Helps Fertility in Women’. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-412334/Folic-acid-helps-fertility-women.html (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Blessed Maine Herbs. Herbs For Women’s Health. http://www.blessedmaineherbs.com/womensherbs.html (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Women’s Health Network. How Sugar Causes Hormonal Imbalance. http://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/hormonalimbalance/hormonal-imbalance-caused-by-sugar.aspx (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- NCBI Pubmed. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046737/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- The Sun. Are you Fit To Have Kids. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/4665029/pregnancy-fertility-conceive-diet-exercise.html (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Wellness Mama. Raspberry Leaf Herb Profile. http://wellnessmama.com/5107/raspberry-leaf-herb-profile/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- The Healthy Home Economist. The Top 3 Fertility Herbs. http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/top-3-fertility-herbs/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- University of Rochester Medical Center. Fertile Food. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/medialibraries/urmcmedia/fertility-center/education/documents/fertility-diet.pdf (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Authority Nutrition. 11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil. https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩