In Eating for Fertility Part I, I explored the connection between aphrodisiacs and fertility. Now lets really dig into fertility health. What you put in your mouth before conception is just as important as after! Preconception health awareness should start 6 months to one year before conception. And this should include both parents. That’s right guys, you have responsibility in fertility health too! As many as one in six couples will experience fertility problems within the first year trying to conceive. However, the odds of conception can be increased by making a few nutritional and lifestyle changes.
There are two basic tenants of fertility health: the removal of toxins and the infusion of nutrients. Environmental toxins include additives and preservatives in our food, toxins in household cleaning products as well as the products we use to clean our bodies and guilty pleasures such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.
The good news is that simple changes in your diet can boost your fertility and bring your body into top baby making shape. Diets of both men and women trying to conceive (TTC) should be high in folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin E and zinc. It’s also very important both parents eat clean, organic foods free from pesticides, fungicides, additives and preservatives. Men and women eating for fertility should incorporate the following foods into their diet:
Whole Grains – whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats are good for insulin function. Refined grains (bleached white rice, flour and pasta) should be avoided as they cause insulin spikes which can affect estrogen levels.
Dark Leafy Greens – greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard and conifers such as broccoli, cauliflower and rabe are high in folate which is important for conception and fetal development.
Protein – vegetarian protein from sources like beans, peas, legumes and nuts are high in iron and preferred to animal protein. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, but meat should be limited to small occasional portions.
Good Fats– omit trans fats and saturated fats from your diet, but include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These will reduce inflammation and any insulin sensitivity. They can be found in avocados, nuts, chia seeds and salmon.
Organic Produce – fresh organic fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that will promote general and fertility health. Many fruits such as citrus, oranges, strawberries (and green leafy vegetables) are high in folate.
Ok, so for the average healthy conscious person the above list seems pretty much like a no brainer, right? Yeah, that’s a great first step. Taking a conscious approach to fertility simply by adjusting your diet and lifestyle will increase your chances of conception. Removing environmental toxins, and making positive, organic food choices has been shown to increase the chances of having a healthy, happy, comfortable pregnancy, a positive and safe birth with little or no intervention, a shorter postpartum recovery period and a baby who is healthy and present.
So what else? There’s got to be more, right? You guessed it, Super foods! That’s what else! If you’re not sure what super foods are, you can catch up with an awesome post by my pal, Lauren here. If you want the cliffs notes, super foods are nutrient dense foods that have an abundance of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. In Eating for Fertility III, I’ll dig into super foods and fertility. Super foods for super baby making! Stay tuned!