Eating a fertility diet in preparation for pregnancy and to increase fertility is one of the most powerful health changes you can make. Numerous studies have shown that specific changes to the diet can increase the chances of healthy ovulation, prevent recurrent miscarriage and support a healthy pregnancy. Here are 12 foods that increase fertility.
1. Sunflower Seeds
They may be small, but sunflower seeds are packed with goodness. They’re high in nutrients like zinc, which is the most important nutrient for female fertility. Sunflower seeds are also full of protein, which is important for a fertility diet.
You’ve heard that oysters can heat things up between the sheets, but did you know they can also increase your fertility? The oyster is the food chain’s most concentrated source of zinc, a nutrient that’s crucial for conception. Zinc deficiency can disrupt the menstrual cycle and slow the production of good-quality eggs — neither of which is good for fertility. Not a fan of oysters in any form? Slurping those bivalves is not the only way to get your share of zinc. Find zinc in smaller amounts in other fertility-friendly foods, including beef, poultry, dairy, nuts, eggs, whole grains, and legumes.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at nearly 19,000 female nurses who were actively trying to get pregnant and found that infertility was 39 percent more likely in women with the highest intake of animal protein. But women who ate a lot of plant protein were substantially less likely to have trouble trying to conceive. So throw garbanzo beans into a salad, or make a vegetarian chili. Don’t like beans? Lentils, tofu, edamame, and nuts are good plant-based proteins as well.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are filled with fiber, important vitamins, and immune supporting properties. Fiber is important for helping the body to get rid of excess hormones and helps to keep the blood sugar balanced. Avoid processed and refined white foods and grains such as white bread, semolina pastas, and white rice. Instead choose whole wheat or sprouted bread, rice or whole wheat pasta, quinoa, and brown rice.
5. Leafy Greens
Spinach, romaine, arugula, broccoli, and other dark leafy greens are high in folate, a B vitamin that a few studies have shown may improve ovulation. Be sure to share the salad with your guy; men who get higher doses of folate make healthier sperm, potentially reducing the chances of miscarriage or genetic problems in the baby.
6. Whole Milk
Dairy is a definite do when you’re trying to conceive — it’s chock-full of calcium, which is great for bone and reproductive health. And downing one serving of full-fat dairy a day, like whole milk, can help you overcome ovulation issues and get pregnant.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
They’re high in non-heme iron, the type of iron found in certain plant food and iron-fortified foods. One study found that women who regularly took an iron supplement (which is non-heme iron) were 40 percent less likely to have trouble getting pregnant than those who didn’t take iron. Toast pumpkin seeds in the oven for a crunchy (and baby-boosting) snack.
Avocados are full of minerals, vitamins, essential fats, protein, carbohydrate and fiber. They are a great source of vitamin E, which researchers have shown can be beneficial to improving the lining of the uterus and helping with embryo implantation.
Packed with antioxidants, raspberries and blueberries protect your body from cell damage and cell aging — and this includes cells in your reproductive system (your eggs). Wondering whether you should be picking other berries, too (like strawberries and blackberries?) Definitely do. Out of season? Buy them frozen.
Pomegranates were seen as a symbol of fertility in ancient Persia, and current research shows drinking pomegranate juice during pregnancy may prevent brain damage in babies. Pomegranates are rich in vitamins C and K, folic acid and other minerals.
An inexpensive form of vegetarian protein and fiber, lentils are also a rich source of iron, a mineral known to play a key role in reproductive health.
In a well-cited Harvard School of Health study, women who got most of their iron from plant sources reduced their risk of infertility by 40 percent. Moreover, the higher the dose of the iron supplements, the lower the risk. Women who took the highest doses, more than 41 milligrams a day, reduced their risk of ovulatory infertility by 62 percent. Iron from meat didn’t show the same benefits.
While researchers don’t recommend popping iron supplements as an aid to becoming pregnant, supplementing a well-balanced diet with a whole-food multivitamin may improve your overall health and, consequently, your baby-making prospects.
12. Clean Water
Be sure to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of clean, purified or filtered water daily. It is best to avoid bottled water as some of the plastics in the bottle can contribute to hormonal imbalance due to there estrogen mimicking chemicals. The best waters to choose from are reverse osmosis and distilled. Avoid tap water, as many recent studies have shown tap water to be laced with harmful pesticides from agricultural runoff.
Foods to Avoid
1. Sugar, Soda & Pasteurized Juices
Pasteurized juices such as bottled apple juice, orange juice, and other bottled fruit juices contain concentrated sugar, which can throw off your blood sugar levels and negatively effect your immune system and hormonal balance. Also avoid any processed/refined and artificial sugars. Some great alternatives are stevia, honey, and maple syrup.
2. High-Mercury Fish
You’ve probably heard that high mercury fish is a pregnancy no-no. But did you know that too much mercury can affect fertility, too? That’s right — research has shown a connection between infertility and high levels of mercury. What’s more worrisome: mercury is stored in the body — so even if you’re careful to follow the guidelines for fish consumption while you’re pregnant, your baby-to-be could still be harmed by the mercury you ingested preconception.
So, avoid eating high-mercury fish when you’re trying to conceive, including swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, fresh tuna (limit canned, too; light has less mercury than white), and shark. Are you a sushi fan? Get your fill now (you won’t be able to indulge once you’re officially expecting), but do stick to low-mercury fish.
Studies have shown that caffeine can affect your hormonal balance, increase your chances of a miscarriage and prevent you from ovulating.
4. Soy Foods
Soy foods have been shown to contain estrogen mimicking properties. It is best to avoid processed soy foods such as soy milk, soy burgers, soy protein powder, soy chips, soy meats, and soy cheeses to avoid a negative impact on your hormonal balance. Both men and women are affected by soy.
5. Fat-Free Foods
Foods which are altered to be reduced in fat or fat-free are highly processed and high in sugar. When choosing foods always chose the foods as nature intended. Full fat dairy is one example that was shown in a study by Harvard to increase fertility over the fat-reduced options. Again, fat is what our bodies need to produce hormones.