Diet can play a significant role in fertility outcomes for women looking to get pregnant. When followed alongside guidance from a doctor, a few simple dietary guidelines can help prime the body for easeful conception and a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few key nutritional concepts that can help optimize for reproductive health, wherever a woman may be in her fertility journey.
Choose Healthy Fats
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is important for women looking to conceive. Avoiding trans fats like those found in margarine, fried foods and certain processed goods such as chips and crackers is important for maintaining healthy insulin levels. Conversely, consuming unsaturated fats reduces insulin resistance, while also adding flavor and increasing satiety at mealtime. Unsaturated fats can be found in avocados, walnuts, flax and pumpkin seeds and organic olive oil.
Eat Folate-Rich Foods
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, supports healthy cell division and proper fetal growth. The recommended daily dose for adults is at least 400 mcgs. Legumes like beans and lentils, asparagus, eggs, beets, leafy greens, brussels sprouts, papayas and bananas all provide folate as well as other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Up Your Fiber Intake
Eating fiber-rich foods helps keep digestion regular, supporting the body’s ability to release excess hormones as waste product and maintain balanced blood sugar levels. The daily suggested fiber intake is 25 grams per day for women and 31 grams per day for men. Organic whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans are all excellent sources of fiber.
Antioxidants help fight free radical damage that can lead to adverse reproductive outcomes for both men and women. Antioxidants can be found in an abundance of colorful and nutritious foods. These include berries, cherries, walnuts, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits.
Swap Out Protein Sources
Replacing some sources of animal protein with plant protein has been shown to lower the risk of ovulatory infertility. So consider replacing some animal proteins like beef and chicken with vegetable proteins such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Additionally, low-mercury fish is an excellent fertility-promoting protein option that is high in omega-3s, vitamins D and B6, iodine and selenium. Talk to your doctor to determine the optimal amount of protein for you. Aim to include protein with each meal to balance blood sugar and maintain energy.
Take a High-Quality Prenatal Vitamin
While eating a balanced and whole foods-based diet helps ensure proper nutrient consumption, there are certain essential vitamins and minerals that may require supplementation for both men and women. Optimal levels of folic acid, zinc, B-complex, vitamins C, E and D and selenium all support essential fertility functions in the body. Consider getting a panel of tests to measure your levels of each, and then talk to your doctor about an appropriate multivitamin that will best serve your needs.
Natural Supplements May Be Helpful
Natural supplements like maca, bee pollen and bee propolis have been linked to increased fertility — particularly in animal studies. Because these supplements have not been widely studied in humans, it is essential to work with your doctor on which supplementary herbs may or may not support your fertility. Remember, each body is unique and requires specialized attention.
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