If you are trying to get pregnant you have probably researched the time of the month that is best for trying and maybe even some positions that you should give a go. But did you know that there are foods you can eat which increase your fertility?
When you are getting ready to conceive you should try to get your body into optimum health, into its best possible state. Growing a baby takes so much energy and nutrients out of your system, it really helps if you give yourself the best start you can.
The best foods for fertility are the ones that give you the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that you need. These will boost the baby-making powers of your body, plus support your immune system generally to help it work to its full capacity.
General boosting foods for fertility
These are some of the nutrients that you should be looking for, and the foods that contain them:
Zinc is a wonderful nutrient which helps boost fertility in both women and men.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of zinc, and are super-healthy as well. You can snack on sunflowers seeds on their own or in a trail mix, or add them to muesli, cereal or porridge, or sprinkle on your salads or roast vegetables.
Folate is an important nutrient for growing your baby properly, and it can be difficult to get the amounts of folate you need from food alone.
Spinach is a great source of folate, as are other dark leafy green vegetables. You can also look for folate-fortified products like dairy or juice to keep your folate levels high.
Iron is another nutrient you will need lots of as part of your fertility diet and will be much needed once you are growing your baby. Again, it is hard to get enough iron from food, so you might need to make a special effort to get these sources in each day.
Iron is a nutrient that women are commonly lacking in, and studies show that women who are higher in their higher stores have less trouble creating fertile eggs. It is incredibly important for strength and energy and replenishing your blood stores.
Iron is one of the first things your growing baby will sap you of, so it is a very good idea to ‘beef’ up your iron stores now. Great sources of iron include meat, poultry, fish, and leafy greens, but you can take an iron supplement as well if needed.
Foods high in vitamin C help the body to absorb iron and are also good for sperm production in males. Look for citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi and capsicum and broccoli.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids have a few purposes that make them great for fertility, including helping to regulate the menstrual cycle and produce the hormones that you need most. They also reduce inflammation and boost the body’s immune system.
Cold water fish like salmon is an excellent source of omega 3. Some fish such as swordfish and tuna can be high in mercury, which is not recommended for pregnant women, so try to avoid these ones.
Improves sperm health as well as aiding to regulate the body’s production of cervical mucus.
Almonds have been shown throughout the years to boost both female and male reproduction. They are also a lovely healthy fat and source of vitamin E and omega 3.
Eating to Optimise each Phase of your Menstrual Cycle
Some experts believe that you can change your diet up during each phase of your reproductive cycle to optimise your body’s ability to produce the hormones it needs.
If you were going to eat to boost the specific hormones needed for each phase of the cycle, try to eat the following:
Focus on foods that are high in iron and protein to help replace your blood loss, such as meat, beans, fish, seeds and leafy green vegetables.
Foods like fish, seeds and leafy greens do double duty by also providing anti-inflammatory properties and helping to combat cramping.
Eating foods that are high in vitamin C also helps your body to absorb the iron from food better. So look as well for capsicums, tomatoes, broccoli, and citrus.
During the Follicular Phase
During this phase, your estrogen levels need to be high and you need to help your body to develop strong, dominant follicles.
Good foods during this phase include leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower which help your body metabolise estrogen better, as well as foods high in Vitamin E which makes up the fluid of the follicles. Look for olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
When your body is ovulating you need lots of B vitamins, zinc, omega-3, and vitamin C. The nutrients at this phase need to support the release and implantation of the egg as well as helping with cell division, opening up of the follicles, and hormone production.
You also need lots of water during the ovulation phase which helps develop follicles and transport hormones.
During the Luteal Phase
Right now, your body needs to do lots of cell production and growth. Look for beta-carotene which is in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables. Pineapple, which is high in bromelain, may also help at this time.
Warming foods like soups and stews may also help create a higher body temperature, which helps the body to hold the pregnancy.
Things you should try to avoid
Alcohol can affect your hormonal balance, which is pretty much the last thing you need right now. It is also dehydrating and removes your body of much-needed water.
Giving up alcohol is kind of essential throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it could be a good idea to get used to life without it now!
Acidic foods like coffee are not good for you when ovulating and may make your cervical mucus hostile to sperm.
Foods just for him
These foods may also help to increase the sperm count and motility, so are recommended eating for the man in this situation:
- Oysters, salmon, and sardines
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Pomegranate juice
- Dark chocolate
Other things that might help
Drinking lots of water and keeping well hydrated is always a good idea. If you are trying to get pregnant you would also benefit from a prenatal multivitamin at this time as well. This will ensure you get the levels of the various nutrients that you need to create the best possible baby-making environment.