The Fertility Diet

If getting pregnant is turning out to be a bit harder than you thought it would be, stop forcing down those foods reputed to have super-fertility powers: yams, kelp, ginseng, garlic, champagne, and of course: oysters. The real foods for fertility include moderate amounts of healthy fat, whole grains, vegetable protein, and full-fat dairy products.

Sounds kind of silly, right? Nothing special in all of that! But it's true: this was the conclusion reached from the first wide-ranging study on fertility and diet. The study lasted 8 years and included 18,000 female participants. The above dietary recommendations are based on ten suggestions for improving fertility that arose from the results of this study. This body of work came from the Nurses' Health Study and serves to fill a crucial gap in our information on fertility and diet.

The ten recommendations are intended to prevent and reverse ovulatory dysfunction which accounts for about a quarter of all infertility cases. That means that these ten suggestions won't help couples who are infertile as a result of physical barriers to reproduction such as blockages in the fallopian tubes. The suggestions are also not intended to substitute for frank discussion with a reproductive medicine specialist.

Can't Hurt

Keep in mind that these strategies as elucidated below, also don't guarantee pregnancy. On the other hand, anyone can do these things, they can't harm you, and they don't cost anywhere near the price of IVF and other types of assisted reproduction. Besides, if you become pregnant, you'll already have formed the right eating habits to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Here goes:

1) Stay away from trans fats. Anything that clogs your arteries threatens fertility, too. Egg implantation requires good blood flow. Instead, use unsaturated vegetable oil.

2) Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation; both attributes critical to fertility. Eat cold water fish like salmon or sardines. Eat nuts and seeds.

Plant Proteins

3) Start replacing the meat in your diet with beans and peas. Plant proteins improve fertility, while meat reduces fertility.

4) Opt for whole grains rather than cut out carbohydrates. These can serve to regulate insulin levels and blood sugar.

5) Eat ice cream. That's right: there's evidence supporting the inclusion of full-fat dairy products in a diet to promote fertility, while skim milk seems to encourage infertility. Have just one portion of full-fat yogurt or ice cream each day.

Folic Acid

6) Even though you're eating well, it still pays to take a multivitamin. You need to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

7) Get lots of iron from plant sources like whole grains, beets, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin, and beans.

8) Stay hydrated but limit caffeine and avoid sugary sodas which can promote ovulatory dysfunction.

Control Weight

9) Don't be under or overweight. Either situation can throw off your cycle and have a negative impact on ovulation. Shoot for a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 24.

10) Engage in moderate daily exercise.

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