The Optimal Fertility Diet
I would love to say YES! Eat these exact foods, in this particular combination, at these specific times — and your fertility will skyrocket!
There’s no magic nutritional formula for getting pregnant. However following our Optimal Fertility Diet may help in optimizing health and balancing hormones, both of which are necessary for boosting your fertility!
What We Know About Eating for Fertility
It all starts with a basic foundation of what we call a Whole Foods Anti-inflammatory diet, along with maximizing your nutrient density. Think of it as getting as much bang for your nutritional buck when it comes to the foods you choose to nourish your body with.
We’re talking about whole foods!
This means eating real food – those that have not been altered, chemically processed, and are as close as possible to their natural form. By eating this way, we’re maximizing the nutrients that our bodies are able to extract from our food. This includes vital antioxidants, enzymes, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
There are a multitude of benefits to eating a whole foods diet, including boosting fertility. Data collected in the extensive Nurses’ Health Study or the “fertility diet”, with participation from 18,500 women over the course of 8 years demonstrated that by eating a balanced, whole foods diet, they could decrease the risk of infertility by as much as 80 percent. The women in this study reportedly included plenty of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans, as well as protein-rich foods, healthy fats and even a bit of full-fat dairy.
On the other hand, when we eat food-like products – refined, processed, packaged foods, we may be providing our body with calories (sometimes far more than we need), but these are also usually very nutrient-poor foods and considered “empty calories”. In fact, the fertility diet researchers found that the more women ate fast-absorbing carbs such as white bread, white rice, potatoes, soda and candy, the higher their risk for ovulatory infertility.
Optimal Fertility Diet: Foods To Include
While I did say that there’s no magic nutritional formula for getting pregnant, there are some particular foods to include in your daily diet to ward off inflammation, increase the body’s alkalinity and to maximize nutrient uptake – all of which are vital to hormonal balance and reproductive health. The following are mainstays of our Optimal Fertility Diet!
Hormone Loving Healthy Fats
If you only focused on one aspect of your diet, my suggestion is that women should increase their healthy fat intake.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to ward off inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity – two health shifts that are good for fertility.
Adding in more sources of plant-based, non-dairy fats such as olives, coconut, avocado, macadamia nuts, hemp seeds and the unrefined oils from these foods, as well as cold water wild-caught fish such as salmon and sardines.
Carbs – Go Slow, But Don’t Cut Out Completely
Choosing slowly digested carbohydrates that are rich in fibre – like whole grains, vegetables, whole fruits, and legumes, instead of rapidly digested or fast-absorbing carbs can improve fertility by controlling blood sugar and insulin levels.
Alkaline Leafy Greens
It is also suggested to include plenty of dark green leafy veggies like kale, spinach, chard and sea vegetables in your daily diet – which are a naturally rich sources of folate and other B vitamins.
Green veggies are also very alkalizing to the body, which is important for allowing the sperm to survive and make it to the egg. Win!
Alkaline foods also help to balance out the overly acidic diet that many of us eat – filled with meat, sugar and processed foods.
Plant Based Iron
Getting extra iron from plants, including non-wheat whole grains, spinach, legumes, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets, can have a positive effect on fertility.
Be sure to pair them with Vitamin C-containing foods to increase absorption, for example: spinach salad topped with hard boiled eggs, strawberries, and a citrus-olive oil dressing.
Antioxidants are a family of vitamins and minerals, and they’re our healthy scavengers! They “clean up” free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cell structures) that impact the quality of both eggs and the endometrial lining – which as you can imagine, are both pretty crucial in getting a baby on board.
Choose more antioxidant-rich and nutrient dense foods like whole fruit, vegetables, raw unsalted nuts & seeds, plus anti-inflammatory “warming” herbs like turmeric and ginger.
Optimal Fertility Diet: Foods To Avoid
Refined & Processed Foods, and Other Sources of Trans-Fats
It should come as no surprise that the artery-clogging trans fats that are known to be harmful to the health of our heart and blood vessels, could also hinder fertility.
Trans fat can suppress the activity in cell receptors that are involved in inflammation, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
Sugar In All Forms
Sugar messes with your hormones, causes inflammation, affects PMS, leads to insulin resistance, and depletes essential mineral & vitamin stores. One of the most important things you can do to improve your fertility and hormone balance is to drastically reduce your sugar intake!
Limit Red Meat, Alcohol & Caffeine Intake
Again, these ones are about inflammation and insulin sensitivity – two critical things to consider when we’re talking about fertility!
Pesticides & Herbicides
Be sure to check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list of foods when making your organic food purchases and to be aware of foods that are most likely to have come in contact with herbicides or pesticides.
Avoid Plastic Containers
I’m sure you’ve heard about these hormone mimickers or “xenoestrogens” like BPA in our environment, especially those found in plastic. Xenoestrogens have a significant and detrimental impact on our fertility. So be sure to avoid using plastic as much as possible! For more information on xenoestrogens, check out our post here.
Need Help With Your Diet?
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to make so many changes to your diet and your nutritional habits overall?
Adopting more healthful habits take time to develop. Don’t expect to make all the proposed changes at once. Be patient while you’re implementing small changes, and above all else – be kind to yourself. If you would like to adopt our Optimal Fertility Diet, or would like support while making dietary changes, at Awaken Life I am here and happy to help!
With love and in health,
Dr. Priya Prakash, ND
I want to help you get there. The key to your fertility lies within you.
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