Currently planning a pregnancy? You have probably already been inundated with plenty of advice when it comes to improving your chances of conceiving. And while some of the advice out there isn’t always correct (it’s actually not necessary to lie still after sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant), there is plenty of sound advice surrounding small changes in lifestyle habits and the positive effects it can have on your chances of getting pregnant - and yes, this includes the food you’re putting into your body!
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that there’s a chance that the foods you eat could impact fertility . That’s right, there might be a relationship between a healthy and balanced diet, better fertility in women, and better semen quality in men.
It’s important to remember though if you’re trying to ‘boost’ fertility, there really is no set diet for that. However, a diet rich in nutrients is a pretty good place to start when you’re looking to stay healthy and start a family of your own.
Some of the most beneficial foods to eat when planning a pregnancy include:
- Folic Acid
- Leafy Greens
- Wild Salmon
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Whole Grains
- Olive Oil
Related article: What Causes Infertility in Women?
What should I eat to get pregnant?
So, you have followed the common steps to increase your chances of getting pregnant - sticking to a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, not smoking, and having regular sex. Now it’s time to get your grocery list at the ready to make sure your cupboards are full of healthy options to support your overall health during this exciting time!
Remember, following a specific diet full of ‘fertility foods’ or a specific fertility diet won’t magically improve your chances of getting pregnant, however, following a balanced diet can support your overall health; this includes your reproductive health.
Related article: How Can You Promote Healthy Fertility?
Folic acid is responsible for promoting pregnancy and minimizing the risk of birth defects. Folic acid is found in certain fortified cereals and whole grains.
You can take a folic acid supplement or prenatal vitamin to increase your folic acid intake. The recommended intake of folic acid is 400-600 mg daily before pregnancy and about 800 mg after you get pregnant.
Dark leafy greens
Fruit and vegetables provide a host of essential nutrients and antioxidants and help decrease inflammation in the body, all of which are important if you want to get pregnant.
Spinach, romaine, rocket, broccoli, and other leafy greens are especially important. They are high in a certain B vitamin called folate, which is known to improve ovulation. Folate is essentially the food-based nutrient that folic acid is derived from.
High-quality proteins in your diet are important for your fertility. The best quality proteins contain essential amino acids. Wild Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats, which help to regulate reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. Salmon is lower in mercury than other fatty fish.
Note for avid fish eaters; steer clear of shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish when trying to get pregnant.
Research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health observed around 19,000 women who were actively trying to get pregnant. They found that infertility was 39 percent more likely in women with a high intake of animal-based protein. But women who ate a lot of plant protein were substantially less likely to have trouble trying with conception.
Throw chickpeas into a salad, or make a vegetarian chili. Don’t like beans? Lentils, tofu, and nuts are good plant-based proteins as well.
Dairy products are essential for the calcium and protein they provide. Studies have found that one or two servings of whole (full-fat) milk products (like ice cream!) can protect against certain types of ovulatory infertility.
It is recommended that you swap one low-fat dairy item a day with a full-fat dairy option.
If you have already done some research, you might be familiar with the relationship between iron and fertility with one study suggesting that iron intake can potentially lower your risk of ovulatory infertility (your ability to produce healthy eggs).
Pumpkin seeds are high in non-heme iron, the type of iron found in certain plant-based foods 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.
Complex carbs take longer than refined ones to digest, helping to keep blood sugar and insulin at a stable level. Increased insulin levels can disrupt reproductive hormones.
When trying to get pregnant, always choose brown bread over white, brown rice over white rice, and whole wheat pasta over white pasta.
Replace all hydrogenated oils in your diet with monounsaturated fat like olive oil. Olive oil helps decrease inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation interferes with ovulation, conception, and early development of the embryo.
What foods are bad for fertility?
As previously mentioned, following a balanced diet is important for your overall health, including your reproductive health. So of course, while there are specific nutrients, minerals, and foods that can potentially help support your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy, there are a handful of foods that may have negative effects.
The study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (which we spoke a little about earlier) also found that diets high in saturated or trans fat can impact your fertility . This means a diet rich in red and processed meats, potatoes, sweets, and sweetened drinks may not do a great job at keeping your reproductive system in good shape.
Can you increase fertility naturally?
As mentioned above, following a healthy and balanced diet is key to supporting your overall health, and in turn, your reproductive health. With that in mind, there are some healthy lifestyle tips and positive lifestyle changes you can follow to help support fertility.
On top of the well-known suggestions such as maintaining a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, and not smoking, other steps you can take to promote fertility include:
- Preventing sexually transmitted infections
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Avoid exposure to toxins
Remember, if you're concerned about your fertility health, it's important to speak with a healthcare provider you trust.
What’s important to remember is that following a healthy and balanced diet is something that’s been recommended for all of us from a young age (remember the food pyramid!) So while following a diet packed with essential nutrients can support your reproductive health, it will also have a great impact on your overall wellbeing and will help with the support and growth of your baby!
One of the most reliable ways to know more about your current fertility status is with a fertility test. This can be done by taking a visit to your doctor or from home with an at-home fertility test.
LetsGetChecked’s range of Female Fertility Tests provides a broad picture of a woman’s hormonal health. This can provide you with an insight into your current fertility status with online results available in just 5 days and medical support available over the phone for support and guidance.
Related article: How do You Check Female Fertility From Home?