Fertility Diet: Eating to Conceive
It is widely known that a healthy diet during pregnancy is important to ensure that the fetus is receiving the necessary nutrients to grow and thrive throughout its time in the womb. However, most soon-to-be moms (and dads) do not consider their eating habits before they conceive. Eating certain foods, and avoiding others, can actually increase your fertility and help you conceive.
Limit Your Intake of Junk Food
Recent nutrition studies have found that sugar is one of the leading causes of weight gain in the United States. It is important to aim for a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18.5-24 for optimal fertility, so begin by cutting out food high in sugar and trans fat if you are trying to conceive and are above the recommended BMI.
Staying away from trans fats will reduce your chances of developing insulin resistance. High levels of insulin cause metabolic disturbances, which in turn affect ovulation and one’s ability to conceive. Not to mention, trans fats also cause weight gain so it is best to cut them if you are trying to reach an optimal BMI for fertility.
Refined carbohydrates, such as pastas and white breads, should be replaced with nutrient rich whole grains. The process of refining a carbohydrate involves stripping the nutrient from the grain, leaving the food with virtually no nutrition. Women trying to conceive should be focused on getting as much nutrients from their food as possible, so by avoiding refined foods, you can focus on putting nutritious foods in to your body instead.
Instead, Opt For Some Greens
Switching up protein sources can also help you achieve an optimal BMI for fertility. Replace chicken, beef, or pork with spinach, kale, beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu. These alternatives have lower fat, less calories, and more nutrients. Research has shown that when just 5% of calories come from vegetable sources instead of animal sources, the risk of ovulatory infertility drops by a whopping 50%.
Leafy greens are also high in folic acid, an important vitamin of the B-Complex that helps your body produce the extra blood vital to the body during a pregnancy. It is recommended that women ensure they are getting at least 400mg of folic acid per day to prevent natural defects when they do decide to conceive. If you are unsure if you are getting enough folic acid naturally from leafy greens and citrus sources, then it is available as a supplement.
Avoid Alcoholic Beverages
To be fair, one or two drinks when trying to conceive is not going to ruin your chances. But, it is extremely important to be careful about drinking between ovulation and menstruation. During this period you may be in the very early and delicate stages of a pregnancy, and risking it with a drink could harm your fertility.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends two or less drinks per day when trying to conceive. Again, it is imperative that you are confident you are not already pregnant when having a drink due to the harmful effects it will have on a developing fetus.
On the other hand, fertility experts recommend avoiding alcoholic beverages every month until the first day of your period. The first day of your period is when you are least likely to conceive, making it the best time to unwind with a guilt free drink.
This of course gets a little more complicated if you have an irregular cycle, which is even more of a reason to cut out the risk of alcohol all together. Better safe than sorry, right?
What About The Guys?
It is also important to note that women aren’t solely responsible for following a fertility diet. Sorry men, but you are not off the hook! Men should ensure that they are also at a healthy BMI, eating healthy sources of protein, and taking a multivitamin at least three months before trying to conceive. All of the above will encourage healthy sperm production and aid in the conception process.
Following the fertility diet is not going to guarantee instant fertility, but it is absolutely a step in the right direction. As always, consult your doctor for further information regarding fertility.