Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for increased fertility in both men and women. It is important to ensure that meals are balanced and that your body receives adequate nutrients to support your body during this time.
Eating organic fresh produce where possible is preferable as the pesticides used on inorganic food may (according to studies) reduce your risk of falling pregnant. Organic fruits and vegetables also have higher nutrient, vitamin and mineral content.
Below is a list of food that are excellent at improving fertility, as well as a list of food that are best avoided when trying to fall pregnant.
Foods That Promote Fertility
- Protein: important for normal bodily functions, plus meats and poultry have high levels of iron. Low iron levels at the beginning of pregnancy increase the risk of developing postpartum anaemia. Iron levels in vegetarians are generally adequate, although it is still beneficial to check levels for anyone considering falling pregnant. A vitamin B12 supplement, is also important for vegetarians as this vitamin in generally only found in animal products.
- Omega-3: many people are wary of the mercury levels in fish which are harmful to the foetus, however Omega-3 is very important for fertility and heart health. Fish that contain low levels of mercury include salmon, trout and canned chunk light tuna. If women are vegetarian or would rather avoid fish, flaxseed oil is an excellent source of Omega-3.
- Whole grains: have more nutrients than refined grains and are full of fibre which assist in stimulating full body health. Rye, whole wheat and sourdough are great options that are rich in iron and B vitamins.
- Calcium: people generally think dairy when they want to increase their calcium levels. However, there are other foods that are high in calcium which are less processed including – sesame seeds (tahini), broccoli, kale, oranges and salmon just to name a few.
- Fruit & Vegetables: all fruits and vegetables are extremely beneficial for fertility due to their high nutrient content, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Foods such as blueberries, kale and capsicum also contain high levels of antioxidants which assist to counteract the negative effects of pollution and free radicals.
- Folic acid: this is vital for fertility as it stimulates female sex hormones, while reducing the risk of spinal bifida in babies. Lemons and oranges contain adequate levels of folic acid, although supplementation is also an option.
- Water: when trying to conceive sufficient hydration is vital. It is recommended that women drink 1.5-2L of WATER per day (this excludes sugary drinks).
- Multi-Vitamin: a high quality multi-vitamin is an excellent way to ensure that you are receiving all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need during the pre-conception stage and afterwards. There are many pre-natal multi-vitamins available from health food stores. It is important to ensure they contain at least zinc, folic acid, and B vitamins.
Foods to Avoid
- Colours & preservatives: this also includes artificial sweeteners found in “diet” food and drinks. These affect blood sugar levels and normal hormone balance.
- Bad Fats: Foods high in fat.
- Caffeine: Caffine should be limited as it restricts blood vessels and reduces the blood flow to the uterus and prevents eggs from attaching to uterine wall.
- Refined and processed carbs: White bread, pasta and rice should be limited.
- Limit meat: Limit your intake to average dosage as meat raises the body’s ammonia levels which inhibits implantation of egg and can affect sperm activity.
- Alcohol, drugs and smoking: for obvious reasons
- Soybeans and soy products: soy contains a component similar to estrogen which can decrease fertility. It has also been known to decrease male sex drive according to research. It also disrupts the absorption of zinc which is vital for sperm health in men.
When looking to improve fertility it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet ensuring that you are receiving all the important nutrients, vitamins and minerals.