Fertility and Diet- What Is The Connection?
Nearly 15 percent of couples in the U.S. have struggled or are struggling with infertility–the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of attempting to conceive. While we most frequently associate fertility issues with women, men can experience issues as well. For those who may be suffering or those who are looking to conceive in the near future, the good news is, fertility begins with something basic over which we have a significant amount of control: nutrition.
Foods containing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber–such as fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats–lay the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and support multiple steps along the fertility and pregnancy process. In fact, it was found that women who consumed specific fertility-boosting food reduced their chance of suffering from infertility by 66 percent.
Let’s take a closer look at some of those foods:
Consuming fruit is critical to support fertility as it serves as an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Fruit also aids in reducing inflammation in the body.
Berries–such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries–contain vitamins A and C as well as polyphenols which act as antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress.
Citrus fruit–such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes–contain high amounts of vitamin C which is necessary for ovarian health and optimal ovulation.
Vegetables contain a substantial amount of fertility-boosting nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Folate and fiber are two such nutrients. High folate consumption, in particular, can increase the likelihood of implantation, pregnancy, live births, and reduce the chances of birth defects. And when it comes to fiber, not only does it support fertility by balancing blood sugar, but it also balances hormones by eliminating excess estrogen in the body.
Leafy greens–such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and swiss chard–contain both fiber and folate and should be consumed daily.
Sweet potatoes are also a fertility-boosting food because they contain, among a number of important nutrients, vitamin A. Vitamin A, specifically, supports healthy sperm and eggs.
To boost fertility, nourishing fats should be a staple in one’s diet. Conversely, if you’re trying to conceive, trans fats (which can cause inflammation) should be strictly avoided.
Nuts and seeds–such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.–provide a healthy source of fat (as well as protein, fiber, vitamin E, and other minerals). Walnuts, in particular, can improve sperm health.
Avocados are another fertility-boosting food due to the fact that they contain vitamin E, fiber, and vitamin B6 which can aid in balancing progesterone levels.
Due to its omega-3 fatty acid content, salmon is also another food associated with positive fertility outcomes. Omega-3s help decrease inflammation in the body.
As the building blocks of the body, protein is another essential nutrient for positive fertility outcomes. That being said, the quality of protein one consumes is critical. Be sure to choose organic, grass fed (meat), and/or free range (poultry) sources of animal protein which provide potential moms-to-be with the iron necessary to promote healthy ovulation.
Eggs are a particularly critical food to consume when pregnant because choline, found in egg yolk, helps healthy brain development for baby and can prevent neural tube defects. Eggs also serve as a source of folate.
Plant-based sources of protein include beans and legumes and serve as excellent sources of fiber as well as support gut health (which, research suggests, is intimately connected to fertility).
Foods to Avoid
Sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fat, and alcohol all negatively impact fertility and should be strictly avoided. These foods, in particular, increase both bodily inflammation and oxidative stress.
In lieu of these foods, it’s important to consume a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods.
If you are thinking about conceiving in the near future or are struggling to conceive, be sure to incorporate the aforementioned foods into your daily diet as well as a quality prenatal vitamin. For those of you who may already be doing so and are still struggling with infertility, Total Body Health may be able to uncover the root cause of your fertility issues with routine testing. Call today for your FREE consultation.