What Foods Improve FertilityLisanne Wellness Center
There are some things that you have no control over when it comes to boosting your chances of getting pregnant, like genetics and age for example. But diet is something that is in your power to change. Research has demonstrated over and over the effects that certain foods have on fertility. If you’re trying or struggling to get pregnant, try following these guidelines to improve your chances of conceiving.
Maintain a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can improve your chances of conception. Not sure if you should lose weight before trying to conceive? If you’re carrying excessive fat or have a large waist circumference, you may benefit from losing weight. Weight affects both male and female fertility. While body mass index (BMI) as an indicator of health has been widely criticized (since it doesn’t take into account excessive muscle, activity level, etc.), research has shown that maintaining a “normal” BMI can improve fertility.
For women, maintaining a healthy weight not only impacts fertility but also contributes to a healthier pregnancy and baby. Research shows pregnant women who maintain a weight within the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines have a lower risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, and are less likely to need a Caesarean section. Excessive weight also puts the developing fetus at higher risk for heart defects and low blood sugar at birth.
Overweight men are more likely to have erectile dysfunction, lower quality and quantity of sperm, and disrupted hormone levels. One study of 651 couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment showed that sperm activity, semen volume, and total sperm count were significantly higher in the normal BMI group compared to the overweight BMI group.
Check for Celiac disease: Fertility problems can be the first sign of a food allergy or sensitivity. Food sensitivities can cause your immune system to attack its own cells, which can damage sperm and eggs. Another negative effect is inflammation, which impairs your body’s ability to absorb nutrients needed for reproduction. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that impairs the gut’s ability to digest gluten, often has no obvious symptoms and can be difficult to diagnose. You are at higher risk for this disease if someone in your family also has it and it can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. If you do have Celiac disease, it will be very important to follow a gluten-free diet to decrease your risk of fertility-related issues.
Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals: When you’re trying to get pregnant (and when you’re pregnant) it’s important to get adequate amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. Not only will they keep you and baby healthy, but they’ll boost your chances of getting pregnant in the first place. Zinc is important for sperm development and motility and studies have shown that low zinc levels can contribute to low sperm count. Zinc deficiency in females can alter hormone levels, interfering with menstruation and ovulation and can also affect egg quality. Good sources of dietary zinc include oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, baked beans, and tempeh.
Folate is also extremely important for reproduction and has been linked with higher sperm and egg quality. Women planning to become pregnant should take a folate supplement of at least 400 micrograms. Good sources of dietary folate include dark leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, and beans. You can also take a supplement like Methyl Folate Plus.
Another important vitamin for fertility is Vitamin D. In one study of women undergoing IVF, those with adequate Vitamin D levels had significantly higher pregnancy success rates7. You can improve your intake of this important vitamin by eating more Vitamin D fortified foods (like cereal, milk, and orange juice) or through supplements like Activ-D3.
Eat more omega-3 fatty acids: A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can boost egg quality and help extend the female reproductive lifespan. Another study showed that Omega-3 supplementation resulted in higher antioxidant activity in semen and improved sperm count, motility, and shape. Good sources of omega-3s are salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds,. You can also take a supplement like Omega Pure RX.
Take antioxidants: Antioxidants help your body fight free radicals, which are molecules that can disrupt cellular processes and damage the reproductive system. Many nutrients have antioxidant properties, including Vitamins A, C, and E, carotenes, zinc, selenium and folate. Low intake of antioxidants has been associated with poor semen quality.
Harness antioxidant powers naturally by consuming more berries (especially goji and blueberries) and adding spices like cloves, oregano, and rosemary to your diet.
Limit Caffeine Intake: The evidence regarding caffeine and fertility is mixed, but research suggests it’s generally best to limit yourself to two cups of coffee or four cups of tea daily to increase chances of conception. One study found no association between coffee or tea consumption and IVF success; however, the number of eggs decreased with increased caffeine intake. The same study showed that increased coffee intake was related to more failed pregnancies and increased tea intake was associated with decreased embryo quality.
There is no guaranteed way to get pregnant, and it’s possible that you’ll need more than just a dietary change to get pregnant, but it’s still a good idea to optimize your diet in order to optimize your fertility. It’s especially important if you’re having trouble getting pregnant and want to rule out natural options before turning to IVF.
For more information about how your diet can affect fertility, contact Lisanne Wellness Center today at 713-461-WELL (9355).