Imagine eating your way to conception. Of course, it’s not that simple, but the foods you eat do impact your reproductive health. Some foods may increase the chance of getting pregnant, while others may decrease it. Get the most out of your diet by making healthy food choices while trying to conceive.
Fertility and Food
With the many medical advances in modern society, it’s surprising to think that a simple thing like changing the way you eat could improve fertility. While there’s no magic bullet, a balanced diet full of necessary nutrients helps the entire body function well, including the reproductive system. Certain nutrients are vital for the proper functioning of the reproductive system. The best way to get those nutrients is usually from food. Working toward a healthy diet before getting pregnant also helps prepare your body for the rigors of pregnancy.
The amount of food you consume is also important. Being underweight or overweight both can contribute to infertility. Ovulation is affected by estrogen, which the ovaries and fat cells regulate. People who are underweight may not produce enough estrogen and those who are overweight may produce too much. Either way, it can make the reproductive cycle irregular. Eating a well-balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight, which improves reproductive health.
Foods to Boost Fertility
A healthy diet based on whole grains, lean protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables is the important thing to focus on when trying to get pregnant. However, there are certain foods that are packed full of nutrients that the reproductive organs need. Consuming these foods as part of a balanced diet can help your reproductive system function at its best.
Whole Milk – Full-fat dairy has been linked to a decreased risk of ovulation problems. It’s also a great source of calcium. Replacing low-fat milk with whole milk is a good way to include full-fat dairy in your diet, but other options include full-fat yogurt, cheese, or ice cream. Just remember that full-fat dairy has a lot of calories, so don’t go overboard. Aim for one serving of full-fat dairy per day.
Lean Protein – Lean beef, chicken, and turkey provide iron and protein, both important nutrients. Lack of iron may make women less likely to conceive, so it’s important to keep your levels up. Include beans and nuts as sources of protein as well. They are also loaded with beneficial nutrients, and women who consume more protein from plant-based sources are less likely to experience ovulation problems.
Whole Grains – The complex carbohydrates found in whole grains are full of nutrients. Folic acid is one important example, but B vitamins, fiber, and vitamin E are also present in whole grains. Plus, whole grains help keep your blood sugar stable and may encourage regular ovulation.
Citrus Juice – Freshly squeezed grapefruit or orange juice provides a boost of vitamin C and the polyamine putrescine. Both egg and sperm health seems to receive a boost from putrescine, which may help them maintain chromosomal integrity. Grapefruit juice interferes with certain medications, so check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to drink.
Wild-Caught Salmon – The omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, herring, and sardines help increase blood flow to reproductive organs, regulate reproductive hormones, and reduce stress. Flaxseed, enriched eggs, and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Berries – Fresh berries contain antioxidants, which help protect your body’s cells. This includes protecting eggs from damage and aging. Raspberries and blueberries are particularly packed with antioxidants. Cooked tomatoes are another good source of antioxidants.
Eggs – Eat the whole egg to take advantage of the many nutrients in the yolk. Eggs contain a number of B vitamins and are a good source of lean protein. They also offer choline, which some studies have linked to a reduced risk of some birth defects.
Oysters – The zinc found in oysters is a must; low levels of zinc can disrupt your cycle and slow down egg production. They also include other important nutrients, including iron, selenium, and vitamin B-12. Raw oysters are the ideal preparation to get the most benefit.
Water – Staying hydrated is important for your reproductive health. Without enough water, cervical fluid can become sluggish. This can make it harder for sperm to find the egg. Drink enough water to keep your urine pale yellow in color.
Foods to Avoid
Just like there are foods that help improve reproductive health, there are also foods that can be harmful. Try to reduce or cut out these foods in your diet while trying to conceive.
Soy – Unprocessed soy is nutritious, but eating too much can interfere with fertility. Limit intake of soy products to less than one serving per day.
Caffeine – Coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and other products with caffeine can disrupt your hormonal balance, which makes it harder to get pregnant. You don’t need to get rid of caffeine, but limit consumption to one beverage per day.
Alcohol – Drinking alcohol can lower fertility. It can also cause birth defects that may occur before you know you’re pregnant. For these reasons, it’s safest to avoid alcohol when trying to conceive.
Fish High in Mercury – Certain fish, including swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark, tend to contain high amounts of mercury. This metal can be harmful to the unborn child. Because mercury can remain in your body for over a year, it’s best to start avoiding contaminated fish before you get pregnant.
Processed Foods – Foods containing processed ingredients, fillers, and high levels of sugar and trans fat can wreck havoc on your body. Reducing or eliminating them from your diet is an important part of keeping your body and reproductive system healthy.
A balanced diet is an important part of overall health and is particularly important if you are trying to get pregnant. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to eat perfectly all the time. Instead, gradually work to improve your food choices, focusing on consuming more beneficial foods and avoiding those that are harmful.