Whether you’re planning a pregnancy in the future, or you’ve been trying for a while, you might be wondering which foods best support your fertility.
Whilst eating a varied, wholefoods diet is ideal there are some fertility enhancing nutrients and phytonutrients (compounds in your food that provide health benefits) definitely worth including on your weekly shopping list.
So what do you need to include to optimise your fertility?
A good balance of macronutrients
You need to consume adequate protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates every day. Studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet is linked to improved fertility rates and is a good place to start when planning out your meals.
By following the Mediterranean diet you will obtain much of your protein from plant sources, good quality fish and small quantities of meat. This increase in plant protein over animal protein appears to be particularly favourable for female fertility. That’s not to say that eating meat should be avoided all together, but rather reduced to just a few times per week.
This diet also includes lots of good healthy fats from quality oils like olive oil and oily fish like sardines. Complex carbohydrates are obtained from wholegrains and legmes.
Lots of antioxidants
Eggs and sperm are particularly susceptible to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals in your body outweigh the antioxidants that can neutralise these to prevent them from causing damage.
Your body naturally produces free radicals as a result of normal physiological functions and through activities like exercise. And as we age, some antioxidants naturally produced by your body, are produced in lesser amounts. Therefore, if you are older and trying to conceive, you need to ensure you’re getting lots of antioxidants from your diet, and you may need the help of some antioxidant supplementation depending on your circumstances.
Free radicals are also produced when you are exposed to environmental toxins such as pollution, radiation and pesticides (so pretty much all of us are exposed), and by making poor dietary and lifestyle choices such as a diet high in sugar, fried foods, processed foods, alcohol, smoking and drugs.
The types of antioxidants particularly good for your eggs and sperm include; vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, Coenzyme Q10, lipoic and resveratrol. Before you go searching the supplement isle however, fill up your shopping basket with colourful fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, blueberries, brazil nuts and sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, broccoli and brussels sprouts, good quality dark chocolate (make sure sugar is low on the list of ingredients) and good quality meat and fish.
Foods to support healthy, balanced hormones
Your reproductive hormones need to be at the right levels to support your fertility. Having hormones out of balance can lead to lowered fertility rates and potentially reproductive issues such as irregular menstrual cycles, very short menstrual bleeds, low sperm counts and low libido (to name but a few).
There are some specific nutrients and compounds that support your hormone production, regulation and excretion and these include; zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. In order to obtain these from your diet you need to include sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts and chia seeds, eggs, avocado, oily fish such as salmon and sardines, green leafy vegetables, and broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like kale and cabbage. You get most of your vitamin D from the sun, so safe sun exposure is needed for adequate levels.
Eating well not only supports your reproductive health and fertility, but will also support your overall health and well-being.
I absolutely love supporting my clients as they embark on their fertility journey so if you need the right support to prepare for pregnancy, I offer FREE 15 minute introductory calls to chat about how I can help you. You can book via the website, or feel free to contact me either via phone 0452 348 108 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
In good health,