Foods To Boost Your Fertility
Diet is so important when treating any physical ailment or issue. So often we neglect the most essential aspect of our well-being because perhaps we are not particularly well informed and because doctors, who doubtless do incredibly work, are trained to treat our bodies with medicine. And it’s true, medicine and medical procedures work wonders – just look at IVF.
However, as much as medical intervention can be a life creator and saver, we have to take responsibility for what we put in our bodies. And this is very true when it comes to eating to improve our fertility.
There are plenty of things that you shouldn’t eat/ingest or should limit when trying for a baby – these are fairly obvious: refined foods (any food that has gone through a process which strips its original nutrients), caffeine, sugar; alcohol; tobacco; foods that contain listeria (some cheeses, pâté); some types of fish (marlin, tuna, shark, swordfish); too much salt; saturated fat; additives (such as sweeteners).
When thinking about increasing your chances of becoming pregnant there are five key areas to address:
- Your digestive system – absorption and excretion. If your digestive system is not working properly you will not be getting key nutrients vital for reproduction.
- Your liver – the liver helps remove impurities from your system. Did you know that the liver manufactures and regulates hormones?
- Balancing your blood sugar levels – imbalance in blood sugar levels have been linked to conditions that can cause infertility such as polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS).
- Hormone balancing – obviously your hormones play an integral role in getting pregnant. For example, low oestrogen can prevent ovulation and thin the lining of the womb, whereas excess oestrogen can cause irregular periods and is linked to fertility issues such as endometriosis.
- Stress management – stress wreaks havoc on the reproductive system. It affects blood flow, your hormone levels and can cause late ovulation or anovulation.
What Should I Eat?
One ingredient foods are always a good idea. Anything that you eat directly from the source is often most nutritionally beneficial.
Fruit and vegetables – fruit and vegetables are essential for good physical function. They provide a range of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre (which is great for keeping that blood sugar level balanced).
Tautvile Sliazaite, naturopathic nutritionist at Mana Practice explains: “Antioxidants are so important because they shield our bodies from free radicals. Free radicals are chemically unstable atoms that can cause physical problems within the body and have been linked to illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. A body overrun with free radicals will not be a healthy environment for conception to take place.
“You should eat a large variety of fruit and vegetables. For instance, asparagus is great for folic acid provision, citrus fruits improve hormone balance, and pumpkin seeds give you a boost of zinc (linked to higher sperm count and better quality egg production) 1.”
Eat complex carbs – complex carbs will give you energy for longer. Simple carbs tend to be foods that are refined such as white bread. As opposed to simple carbs which cause energy spikes, complex carbs will regulate your blood sugar and enable you to maintain a good diet. They leave your body satiated which is essential for reproductive health. Complex carbs come in the form of grains (rye, wheat, rice, oats, barley, maize), beans (lentils, kidney, soya) and vegetables. Muesli, porridge and wholemeal toast combined with protein like egg, yoghurt and nuts or seeds are great breakfast ideas.
Buy organic foods if possible, particularly animal products like meat, dairy and eggs. Organic foods will minimise the oxidative stress on your body – making it easier on your liver to function, in turn improving nutritional absorption
Eat phytoestrogens – phytoestrogens are known to have a balancing effect on hormone levels. Research has also shown that they can regulate periods. They are found in almost all fruit and vegetables but are most prevalent in beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Protein – many women aren’t very good at ensuring they get enough protein in their diet. It is important to have a good balance between Omega3 and Omega 6, so make sure you eat a range of chicken, fish and red meats. But don’t forget, it’s important to include plant proteins too such as:
- Chia seed
Drink enough fluids – if you don’t drink enough water your reproductive system will be at the back of the queue whilst your body distributes fluid to the more vital systems and organs, such as respiratory function.
Supplements – herbs such as chastetree berry (agnus castus) for women and saw palmetto for men are great at restoring hormonal balance and increasing fertility. Vitamins like zinc, selenium, vitamins C, D, E and B are all hugely beneficial to reproductive health. You can investigate the benefits of various fertility vitamin products (in consultation with your doctor) or some of these can be found naturally occurring in foods. Bananas are full of vitamin B6, for example, which is known to help regulate menstruation and improve sperm quality.
As with all other health issues, when it comes to your fertility ‘you are what you eat!’. Both egg and sperm can take around three months to mature before being released, so everything you ingest during this period will make up the biological function of these two processes alone. It’s important to think about how your food impacts your reproductive systems and the sooner you can get to grips with your diet the better for your reproductive and overall health long term.
 The Natural Health Handbook For Women, Marylin Glenville, Piatkus