Trying for a baby can be one of the most stressful times of your life. Taking temperatures, testing for ovulation, and counting the days to your next menstrual due-date all take their toll on your health, and your sense of well-being. You’re taking the prenatal vitamins, and you’re marking your most fertile days on the calendar, but is there anything else you can do to increase the chance of holding a bouncing baby in your arms?
Have you looked at the food you, and your partner, are eating? We all know about the importance of watching our diet when we become pregnant, but there is evidence that eating the right food before conception could increase your fertility and boost your chances of getting pregnant with the baby you’ve been yearning for.
1. Beans And Lentils
Replace your chili con carne with a nice vegetarian, lentil and bean chili. Replacing your animal protein with vegetable protein reduces your risk of ovulatory infertility (infertility where the ovulation is dysfunctional or absent) by up to fifty percent. In addition, beans and lentils are full of iron and zinc. Low iron levels are shown to lower fertility and can cause poor egg health; meanwhile low zinc levels can cause an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. Don’t let your partner out of this. The zinc in vegetarian protein substitutes could boost his sperm levels as well.
The simple banana makes, not only a terrific dessert option when you’re trying to conceive, but also a wonderful addition to your new conception-boosting diet. Bananas are simply bursting in Vitamin B6, which can help regulate your hormones making it more likely that you’ll conceive. Low levels of Vitamin B6 lead to irregular menstruation and poor-quality eggs and sperm, so why not buy a bunch today.
3. Wholegrain Bread
It’s time to switch your white bread for a wholegrain substitute. Wholegrains are high in Vitamin B12 and complex B Vitamins which work to produce the DNA and RNA of the eggs and sperm. B12 is particularly important to increasing low sperm-counts. It isn’t just wholegrain bread that has this benefit, so swap to wholegrain pasta and brown rice. This small change could make a huge difference to your fertility.
4. Citrus Fruits
You should make sure your partner eats plenty of citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons and limes are full of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which is necessary for sperm health and motility. Vitamin C protects sperm from the kind of damage that prevents conception. It also prevents sperm sticking together, which makes it less motile, and may prevent conception. You should also be consuming citrus fruits, as Vitamin C was found to improve the hormone balance in women. Try a healthy all-natural homemade orange juice, for a simple and tasty way of boosting your Vitamin C intake.
5. Veggies Rich In Folate
Green leafy veggies, like spinach, cabbage, and romaine lettuce are full of healthy Folate (known in synthetic, supplement form as Folic Acid), so make a good green salad, and be sure to share it with your partner. Folate may improve ovulation in women with dysfunctional ovulation. For your partner, it will make his sperm healthier, making you less likely to conceive a child with a birth defect. Men with higher Folate consumption have 20% less abnormal sperm than men with less Folate consumption.
(Remember: some non-organic veggies may come with a side of pesticides that may hurt the motility of your male partner’s sperm, so consider shelling a bit more for organic produce instead.)
Almonds are bursting with Vitamin E. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is an antioxidant and necessary for your reproductive health. It has been shown to boost fertility in both men and women. Men undergoing fertility treatment found that their fertility increased from 19% to 29% when they were given Vitamin E. Deficiencies of Vitamin E have also been linked to infertility in female rats. Thought to protect the DNA in both sperm and eggs, it’s well-worth adding almonds to your diet.
7. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are full of Selenium, an antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals, a highly reactive chemical fragment that is found in the body. Selenium also helps produce healthy eggs by protecting against chromosome breakages, which have been shown to cause miscarriage and premature birth. Make sure your partner eats good, healthy brazil nuts, too, as low levels of Selenium are linked to low sperm counts.
Oatmeal makes the perfect breakfast if you’re trying to conceive. Oatmeal is rich in L-Arginine, an amino acid essential for the development of healthy sperm. A large amount of L-Arginine is found in the head of the sperm, and ensuring your diet is rich in L-Arginine could improve sperm count and sperm health. However, if you have a history of herpes (like cold sores on the mouth), you should avoid large amounts of L-Arginine, as it is known to trigger the virus and cause outbreaks.
Eggs are full of Vitamin D. When researchers from Yale University studied 67 infertile women, they found that only 7% of them had normal vitamin D levels. The other 93% had either low Vitamin D, or had a medical deficiency. They also found that no woman with PCOS had normal Vitamin D. Vitamin D seems to affect sex hormones in both men and women, and good levels of Vitamin Dcould improve sperm and egg quality. Something about that little Vitamin seems to affect fertility, so start off the day with a nice boiled egg.
(Remember: eggs from factory-farmed chickens may have artificial hormones from the chicken that produced them, so spend a little extra money on more natural free-range or organic eggs.)
Salmon is bursting with Omega-3 fatty-acid, essential for your reproductive health. It’s also essential for your partner’s sperm health (ensuring it reaches proper maturation), so make sure he eats plenty of it. Unlike other sources of Omega-3, like mackerel, Salmon is low in Mercury, which is stored in your body for up to a year and can impact baby’s neural development. Omega-3 is stored in your body for several months, and is great for giving Baby a head-start, boosting baby’s brain and eye development. It’s also low in fat, full of Vitamin D (essential for strong bones, for both you and baby; and boosting your fertility), and is an excellent source of protein.
Some Foods To Avoid:
Refined Sugar: Refined sugar increases insulin resistance, exacerbating symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which may prevent ovulation and which is a leading cause of female infertility. If you have a sweet tooth, try some natural honey in your morning oatmeal.
Trans Fats: Trans fats are found in many baked goods, ready-meals, fried foods, and is something you should be aware of if you are hoping to become pregnant. Trans fats increase insulin resistance, which may make you more prone to irregular ovulation.
Coffee: A small amount of caffeine (less than 200mg a day, about the same as one Starbucks cappuccino and a black tea) won’t affect your fertility, but there is a suggestion that more than that might affect your fertility. Play it safe, and cut back.
Alcohol: It has been found that heavy consumption of alcohol (seven alcoholic drinks or more a week) has been found to drastically reduce fertility in women over thirty. So try cutting down. Your man should also cut down. Heavy drinking in men has been linked to poor-quality sperm.
Soy: The occasional edamame in a salad won’t do you any harm, but if soy products are your main meat alternative, it’s time to look for better alternatives, like beans and lentils. Large amounts of soy are thought to inhibit fertility. So exchange soy milk for rice milk and find non-soy meat-alternatives.
Factory-Farmed Chicken: Factory-farmed chicken is pumped full of hormones and antibiotics that may affect your own natural hormone balance. You don’t have to become vegetarian, but you should switch to free-range or organic chicken that is naturally-produced.
Shark, Mackerel, Tilefish or Swordfish: These fish are all high in Omega-3, but you shouldn’t eat them if you want to get pregnant. The reason? They’re also really high in mercury, which stays in your body for a whole year after you eat it and is toxic to baby’s neural development.
Final Changes You Can Make
As you can see, a healthy diet is important if you want to conceive. It’s also worth quitting smoking. No other single lifestyle change can increase your chance of conceiving as much as quitting smoking. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count and a higher amount of sperm abnormalities. In women, smoking increases the chance of having an ectopic pregnancy (where the fetus develops in the fallopian tube), and raises the incidence of genetic abnormalities in the egg.
Are you (or your partner) underweight or overweight? Check your Body Mass Index (BMI). If you’re underweight, you may not be ovulating, which will prevent conception. If you’re overweight, you should try to lose some weight as part of your preparations for pregnancy. Obesity (a BMI of over 30) could cause irregular or missed periods, which could reduce the chance of conception. Obese men also have lower-quality sperm, lowering your chance of conception. So watch your weight, and aim for a BMI of between 20 and 25.
While having a baby may not always be child’s play, you can increase your chance of conception by following a healthy diet, bursting with natural sources of vital nutrients, including Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Zinc, Folate, Iron, B vitamins and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. While a healthy diet won’t guarantee pregnancy, it will put your body in the best physical condition possible, and increase your chance of holding that much-wanted baby in your arms.