When it comes to fertility, research suggests diet and lifestyle changes can help boost fertility by up to 69%. Infertility affects about 10 percent of the population, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. While no one food can act as a magic pill to improve your chances of getting pregnant, research proves that dietary patterns do affect fertility.
Here are 8 tips for a fertility boost.
1. Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods
Antioxidants like folate and zinc may improve fertility. Antioxidants deactivate the free radicals in your body, which can damage both sperm and egg cells. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are packed full of beneficial antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene and lutein.
2. Avoid trans fats & choose healthy fats
Eating healthy fat every day is important for boosting fertility. However, trans fats are associated with an increased risk of ovulatory infertility, due to their negative effects on insulin sensitivity. Trans fats are present in some margarine, fried foods, processed products and baked goods. Healthy fats are found in fatty fish like salmon, avocados, walnuts and vegetable oils which may promote fertility.
3. Level up on whole grains
Refined carbs cause spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels which may even lead to hormone imbalances. Refined carbs include sugary foods and drinks and processed grains, including white pasta, bread and rice. Choose whole grain breads and pastas which help regulate your blood sugars better.
4. Up your fiber
Fiber helps your body get rid of excess hormones and keeps blood sugar balanced. Some examples of high-fiber foods are whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.
5. Get more plant-protein in
Replacing some animal proteins (such as meat, fish and eggs) with vegetable protein sources (such as beans, nuts and seeds) is linked to a reduced risk of infertility. Eating more vegetable protein may protect against infertility. Consider replacing some of the meat protein in your diet with protein from vegetables, beans, lentils and nuts.
6. Add iron rich foods
A diet rich in iron that comes from plant sources (lentils, beans, tofu, etc.) and supplements may lower the risk of ovulatory infertility. Vegetarian foods with iron include all types of beans, eggs, lentils, spinach, fortified cereals, long-grain enriched rice and whole grains.
7. Don’t forget folic acid
While it won’t make you more fertile, it is crucial that women trying to conceive obtain 400 micrograms per day of folic acid from supplements (talk to your health care provider first) or foods such as dark leafy green vegetables and fortified grains. Folic acid is needed to prevent neural tube defects. The neural tube develops into the brain and spine three to four weeks after conception, before most women even realize they’re pregnant.
8. Supplement, if need be
Taking a multivitamin may help boost fertility if you’re not getting all the nutrients you need from your diet. As always, be sure to check with your health care provider first before starting a supplement.
*For more information on foods for fertility consult with a Registered Dietitian and Primary Care Provider.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine