Improving Fertility Through Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet is central to getting pregnant, especially if you’re having difficulty conceiving. In fact, ensuring that you consume the right foods can help to improve your chances of getting pregnant. Read on for our fertility diet to increase your fertility and reproductive health and get one step closer to pregnancy.
Fertility Diet: Foods that Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
The following are central to improving fertility:
- greens, reds and yellows. Bright fruits and vegetables are important to every fertility diet because they’re loaded with antioxidants and micronutrients, the latter of which help to reduce the effects of free radicals from sunlight and car exhaust, which can cause damage to the reproductive organs, eggs and sperm. Some good choices of these fruits and vegetables are blueberries, kale and red peppers. You should aim for 2 cups of fruit a day and 3 cups of vegetables a day.
- omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to maintaining good reproductive health. The best source of omega 3 is fish. You should consume about 2 servings a week of fish. However, it is best to stay away from fish with high mercury levels, such as tuna stacks, marlin, white tuna and canned and fresh swordfish, as mercury can stay in your blood stream for up to one year. Instead, try salmon, canned light tuna, cat fish and shrimp.
- iron. Found in meat (chicken, turkey and beef) and fish (oysters, mussels, sardines), as well as in non-heme (meat) sources (asparagus, beans and cooked beans and lentils), iron is central to fertility because it helps keep your reproductive health strong, especially if you have heavy periods. In addition, it is important to maintain a healthy level of iron intake during pregnancy so as to avoid the risk of anemia in pregnancy, as your baby will require some of your iron intake to develop; this will also help to reduce the risk of postpartum anemia, which is quite common. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, talk to your doctor about an iron supplement.
Fertility Diet: Foods that Harm Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
The following foods can negatively affect fertility:
- alcohol. An occasional glass of alcohol is generally considered to be safe for women trying to conceive, however, if you irregular menstrual cycles or if you have experienced problems getting pregnant, it is best to avoid alcohol consumption altogether. While some studies have found the link between alcohol and fertility to be inconclusive, others have found a slight relationship between the two. For example, a Danish study that included 430 couples trying to conceive their first child found that woman’s chances of getting pregnant diminished as her consumption of alcohol increased. In fact, women who consumed less than 5 drinks a week were twice as likely to get pregnant compared with those who consumed 10 alcoholic beverages weekly. Studies have also found that men who consume beer, wine or hard liquor on a daily basis had lower levels of testosterone and lower sperm count levels, as well as a higher number of abnormal sperm in their ejaculate.
- caffeine. While most experts agree that a low to moderate daily caffeine intake (2 8-ounce cups of coffee a day or a daily intake of less than 300 mgs of) will not impact fertility, it is best to avoid caffeine altogether if you have fertility problems. This is because caffeine constricts blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the uterus, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterine wall. A recent study has also found that caffeine affects male fertility, as it causes damage to sperm DNA.
- refined carbohydrates. White pasta, rice and bread are harmful to your reproductive health and to fertility, particularly if you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), as increases in insulin levels caused by a high consumption of refined carbohydrates results in irregular ovulation. This is because during the refining process, 17 key nutrients are removed from grain, many of which help to boost fertility, such as iron, B vitamins and antioxidants. You should aim for 6 ounces of whole grains a day, including whole wheat pasta, cereal and bread.