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Are you trying to conceive? Learn about the best diet for fertility and how to eat for a healthy pregnancy.
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.
Foods That Boost Fertility
For centuries, aspiring mothers have turned to food and lifestyle factors to increase chances of conception. Foods such as oysters and yams have been used in the past to increase fertility. This article shares specifically some of the best and worst foods for moms to be.
Best Diet After Conception
Once conception takes place, a growing fetus places increased demands on their mother’s store of nutrients. In particular, pregnant women should focus on iron, folate, and B vitamins to ensure their growing baby develops properly.
The best diet for fertility will vary according to each woman’s specific needs, but in general, increasing nutrient stores and staying away from hormone-mimicking foods is the best diet for fertility and pregnancy.
What is the Fertility Diet?
The Fertility Diet sometimes refers to a book written by Jorge Chavarro, Walter Willett, and Patrick Skerrett published in 2007. The book is called The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant, and details findings from the Nurses’ Health Study relating to the effects a woman’s diet can have on her fertility.
The fertility diet doesn’t just refer to the book’s recommendations, though. Functional health professionals now offer a set guidelines based on boosting nutrients specific to conception and pregnancy that can also be referred to as a Fertility Diet.
So, the bottom line is that there isn’t just one set of rules for a fertility diet. Each woman will have different needs and should be advised by a licensed healthcare professional to find a diet and supplement routine that support her and her baby.
What Not to Eat When Trying to Conceive
Based on the idea that women trying to conceive should reduce inflammation and toxic foods, then it is generally advised for women to avoid the following substances when trying to conceive.
Which causes systemic inflammation in the body and is difficult to digest. Furthermore, American wheat is often heavily contaminated with pesticides, causing further endocrine disruption.
Alcohol is another stressor on the body and can impair hormone metabolism in the liver. When you consume alcohol, your liver must process it first before resuming normal processes such as hormone metabolism. Ensuring your hormones are being produced and metabolized efficiently is important for conception, so avoiding alcohol when trying to conceive is a good idea.
Which has been shown in studies to decrease male rats’ fertility and act as a contraceptive in female rats.
Excess Carbohydrates and Sugar
Can cause blood sugar imbalance and further exacerbate conditions such as insulin resistance and PCOS. Make sure each meal is balanced with healthy sources of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. You can check out my article with more ideas about how to eat clean.
Overly Restrictive Diets
May cause excess stress and reduce the chance of conception. If you’re trying to conceive, your best bet is to incorporate as many healthy foods as possible and avoid extremes such as a ketogenic diet or a vegan diet. If you specifically have PCOS, you should read my article on the best PCOS diet. If you are trying to lose weight, then you might also like this article with the best weight loss tips for women.
What foods help with fertility?
On the other end of the spectrum, certain foods can definitely ensure your hormones are stable and supply you with the nutrients necessary to support life. So, when trying to conceive or if you’re pregnant, consider increasing your intake of these nutrient-dense foods.
Foods Rich in B-Vitamins
Foods rich in B-vitamins help support energy levels, blood cell production and reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Sources of B-vitamins include grass-fed red meat, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, sustainably-sourced fish, avocados, bananas, berries, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, some whole grains, and legumes.
Foods Rich in Iron
Proper iron intake prevents low birth weight and increases hemoglobin. Sources of heme iron include grass-fed red meat, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, and sustainably-sourced fish. Non-heme iron from nuts, seeds, and legumes require additional co-factors such as vitamin C to be absorbed and are absorbed to a lesser degree than heme iron.
Foods High in Folate
Folate helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Focus on foods high in folate rather than folic acid, which is the synthetic inactive version of folate. Folic acid is not easily converted to folate, particularly by those with the MTHFR gene mutation. Foods high in folate include pasture-raised chicken and calf’s liver, lentils, spinach, strawberries, and asparagus.
Foods Rich in Vitamin A
Vitamin A and its precursor, beta-carotene, help bone and teeth growth. Sources of Vitamin A include fish and pasture-raised organ meats, eggs, and dairy. Sources of beta carotene include yams, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, and other vegetables and fruits. It’s pretty easy to spot most foods high in beta carotene as the nutrient gives them a bright orange color.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C supports immune system development and protects tissues from damage. Sources include citrus fruits, bell peppers, berries, cruciferous vegetables, and potatoes.
What is a fertility diet plan?
A fertility diet plan is a specific way of eating intended to increase fertility and chances of conception. This will often include lifestyle and supplement plans as well. As always, please consult a licensed healthcare professional to get a diet and supplement plan targeted to your specific needs.
What supplements boost fertility?
While you can get the majority of the nutrients you need from a whole foods diet, supplementation can be a smart move. Our food today is less nutrient dense than it used to be so supplementing can ensure you’re getting adequate nutrient stores. As always, please consult your healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your routine.
In general, here are some supplements that can help increase fertility. You may also like my articles on the best supplements for women in their 30s.
In general, and over the long-term, multivitamins are less desirable than specific supplementation. After all, you don’t want to overdose on nutrients just in an effort to correct specific deficiencies. However, women wanting to conceive should begin taking a prenatal multivitamin well before trying to conceive. This will ensure nutrient stores are full and ready for a baby.
A high-quality fish oil made from wild-caught, cold-water fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Women wanting to conceive should prioritize an optimal Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio, as Omega-3’s can improve egg quality, cervical mucus quality, and lower inflammation throughout the body. Men should consider the sperm-improving effects of Omega-3 consumption, as well.
Vitex is an herb used to naturally balance women’s hormones. It specifically works to signal the pituitary gland to produce more progesterone, a hormone essential for preparing the uterus for pregnancy. For this reason, Vitex may contribute to solving infertility issues.
If stress is playing into your struggle to conceive, some adaptogenic herbs may assist in lowering stress levels and making your body feel safe enough to conceive. Popular herbs for lowering stress levels include ashwagandha, holy basil, and astragalus. Maca is another powerful adaptogen that may improve libido, sexual function, and fertility in both men and women while working to reduce stress.
Do men need to eat a certain diet to boost fertility?
The burden of conception and a healthy baby isn’t only relevant to women! Men should definitely consider how their diet affects their fertility. For optimal fertility, a man should follow much the same diet as a woman should–limiting processed and nutrient-empty foods and eating an abundance of nutrient-dense whole foods.
Nutrients like zinc, folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids can all improve sperm quality. Men should also take care to avoid junk food, excess alcohol and caffeine, and phytoestrogenic foods like soy as all have been linked to decreased fertility.