Get your diet right for fertility
Many of us don’t realise the crucial role that diet and nutrients play in helping us to develop healthy eggs and sperm that go on to make a healthy baby.
When it comes to fertility our level of nutrition needs to be optimal, not poor or just ok. Without the right nutrients, hormones can get out of balance, disrupting ovulation and impacting sperm quality.
Creating the most healthy sperm and eggs possible will assist chances of them coming together and creating an embryo that is able to implant and develop. Ensuring very good levels of all minerals and vitamins in our bodies during the 3-month development period of eggs/sperm is necessary for this. Being nutrient replete will also serve you well for the pregnancy to come – there are a lot of ingredients needed to grow a baby!
Top foods to include
A fertility diet should contain a wide variety of whole foods daily – whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits and veggies (including all the colours of the rainbow), eggs, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and small amounts of dairy. Eat organic where possible to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals that may be found in food. Such a diet will provide plenty of fibre, nutrients, healthy fats, healthy proteins and antioxidants to get your hormones and reproductive system working optimally and make your baby.
Top foods to avoid
You probably already know that junk food isn’t good for health, and guess what? It’s not good for fertility either. Whilst the occasional treat is ok, here is what to avoid:
- sugary foods – including too much natural sugars like dates and honey
- refined carbohydrates – like white rice, white flour, white pasta, white bread
- more than one coffee per day (or even better give it up altogether)
- remember that black tea has caffeine too, so limit this
- deep fried food
- fatty cuts of meat
- all refined vegetable oils except for olive oil and coconut oil
- excessive amounts of dairy – use it more like a condiment to jazz up food
Take a quality pre-conception multivitamin containing folate (men too!)
A good diet alone is not enough when it comes to fertility. None of us have a perfect diet every single day and even when we do, we might be limited by factors such as our mineral-deficient Australian soils, food production and storage techniques, and gut issues, which may make it hard to get high levels of beneficial minerals and vitamins from our foods.
Make sure you are covering all bases by taking a very high-quality pre-conception multivitamin that also contains minerals and at least 400mcg of folate. Folate is crucial for preventing neural tube defects (defects of the brain and spinal cord), cleft lip and cleft palate in your developing baby, but it is also very important for fertility – researchers think it helps embryo survival.
Be thoroughly investigated, including nutritionally
If you haven’t already got a good doctor and/or gynaecologist/fertility specialist then it goes without saying that you should find one to run the necessary fertility-related test and examinations for you. In addition, it’s important to find a practitioner (such as a naturopath) who will thoroughly investigate nutritional factors that may help to optimise your fertility.
Even a good diet and a good multivitamin may not correct severe deficiencies or deficiencies caused by poor absorption (i.e. gut problems) – these may require specialised supplementation and dietary changes. Your naturopath may also look at genetic factors that impact your nutrient requirements.
If you’ve decided to try to conceive or have already been trying with no luck get started on the above steps right away. It can take some time to correct nutrient deficiencies and for your body to reap the benefits of a great diet. It can also take some practice to change your current habits into newer, healthier ones. So the sooner you assemble your support team and get started, the sooner you can reap the benefits.
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