As many of my readers might be aware, I have infertility and after years of trying to conceive, my husband and I have not been successful.
I, therefore, make it my mission to talk about fertility and hopefully provide some advice from my experience.
Today’s post is extremely important. I welcome Rishma Walji, a naturopathic doctor who has a special interest in fertility. Rishma is sharing her wisdom and knowledge about a topic that can make a big impact on fertility – our diet.
This post contains affiliate links. Disclaimer here.
The infertility statistics are rising. A staggering 1 in 6 couples experience fertility struggles while trying to have a baby. In fact, many of these couples are even younger than we would expect.
The reasons for fertility challenges are numerous and complex.
The growing number of couples and families dealing with difficulties having a child means that we have to start looking at all possible contributing factors…
- Hormone imbalances
- Environmental toxins
- Medication effects
- and so much more
Our food choices make a significant difference when it comes to metabolism, hormones, circulation and overall health.
The effects of these food choices on fertility can be extremely important to the health of your reproductive system, the functioning of your hormones, your egg health and even sperm count and quality.
When it comes to your diet plan, there is no shortage of resources available.
One Google search may seemingly tell you all you need to know. But take note: if you are trying to figure out what to eat when trying to get pregnant, this advice may be leading you in the wrong direction.
When you’re trying to conceive, it’s not the time for fad diets.
I wish there was a one-size-fits-all approach. Your body is unique and your needs are individual, so there isn’t a set diet plan that works for everyone.
Eating for weight loss or weight maintenance and eating to get pregnant can be two very different things.Eating for weight loss or weight maintenance and eating to get pregnant can be two very different things. #fertility #fertilitydiet Click To Tweet
The good news is a diet full of good nutrients can substantially improve your chances of fertility success.
Also remember that healthy eating is important for both partners because it can help improve not only your hormones, metabolism and circulation but also sperm health.
6 Tips To Create the Right Fertility Diet Plan
1. Add More Fat to Your Diet
Okay, don’t go overdoing it by eating fries and burgers!
You want to get good sources of fat, like nuts and seeds, avocados, healthy fish (omega 3s).
You need some fat to keep your hormones at a healthy level and ensure that you are going to stay fertile.
Many people are scared of having fat in their meals but diets too low in fat and fertility do not go well together. Eating healthy fats does not make you fat.
Good fats are necessary for:
- Hormone production
- Cell integrity
- Absorption of certain vitamins necessary for ovulation, like Vitamin D which is fat soluble
Healthy fats also help with hormone balance, blood sugar regulation, heart health and more – all necessary for good blood flow and hormone circulation.
2. Now Is NOT the Time For Ultra Low Calorie Diets
Weight impacts your fertility, both if you are overweight or underweight. The goal here is to maintain a healthy weight for your body type.
This might mean something different to each person because of course fertility is so much more than weight. And weight can be impacted by so many things, including medication history, hormone issues (like thyroid problems or polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS).
These factors can make losing weight even more of a challenge. Current research shows that having a healthy body weight does improve your chances of getting pregnant. It can also help with ovulation and can reduce your chances of miscarriage.
The reason weight is a consideration is because body fat can impact your hormones (e.g. estrogen levels) and also influences your blood glucose levels and insulin. Both of these are key when it comes to metabolism and your menstrual cycle.
The Big Problem With Low Calorie Diets When Trying to Conceive…
Trying ultra-low calorie diets in order to lose weight can wreak havoc on your body.
What to consider:
Being underweight, or losing a lot of weight very quickly, can contribute to irregular cycles or ovulation problems.
- Slow and steady should be the name of your game. If you cut your calories back too hard, you may be in for a shock when you find your period completely disappears.
- The body will view this excessive, and rapid, weight loss as a threat and will start shutting down all ‘unnecessary’ processes in favour of survival – including getting your period.
Weight is also a factor for men’s health and can impact semen.
- Sperm health is a big factor when it comes to not only fertility but also miscarriage risk.
3. Mind your Digestion
Much of the diet wisdom out there says to eat more dietary fibre in your menu. Fibre is good for you and can help your body’s metabolism, especially if you’re getting it from vegetables.
However, many weight loss products include laxatives and ingredients that will make you lose water and weight. Not only is this bad for your hydration levels, but it also can negatively impact your ability to absorb nutrients.
It’s also a good idea to address digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea and heartburn. These can indicate issues with your digestive system and can impact your ability to absorb nutrients.
Gut health is important for many functions in your body. If you have digestive problems this can lead to inflammation and poor metabolism.
As a woman looking to get pregnant, you need nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep your body at its best. Men also need good health and nutrients for sperm health.
Book Recommendations to help you create the right fertility diet plan…
4. Eat a healthy breakfast as Part of Your Fertility Diet Plan
A new diet trend is to go long periods of time without eating. While intermittent fasting can offer some benefits, it seems to impact men and women differently.
Fasting also impacts hormones, especially if you’re not careful about what you’re eating during non-fasting times.
When it comes to improving your fertility, you need to make sure you’re getting all the nutrition that your body needs, without upsetting your hormonal rhythm.
Does this mean that the usual breakfast options are good?
Not if they are full of caffeine or sugar!
Eat something with good protein and healthy nutrients to get your day started right. You can try smoothies with lots of vegetables, or add avocado for good fats.
You can include nuts and seeds or health proteins in the morning for a good start to your day.
5. Eat a variety of nutrient sources
Many diet plans will give you a list of things to eat every day for each meal and snack. These are helpful to get started so that you can get into a rhythm, get some ideas, meal prep etc.
When it comes to long term though, your body needs variety! Not just because food can get boring, but because there are so many vitamins and minerals that come from different sources in different quantities and they will all be absorbed differently.
Make sure you’re not strictly following the same menu plan day in and day out.
Eat a variety of healthy foods with different sources of protein and nutrients.
The best thing would be to try a new healthy food each week (there are so many amazing vegetables in the grocery store!).
If you’re trying one new recipe per week, it won’t get overwhelming and you might end up finding some great meals that you never would have otherwise tried. Your metabolism and taste buds will thank you for it too!
6. Ditch the empty calories
Many new diet fads promote things that are ‘gluten-free’ or ‘nut-free’. In our attempts to avoid allergens and ingredients that we might be sensitive to, a lot of people don’t realize that some foods with these labels are not actually healthy.
Gluten-free pizza, while not likely to give you a gluten reaction, is also not necessarily a healthy option.
For better fertility success, aim for getting more nutrients per meal. If you eat nutrient-dense foods, your body can use these vitamins and minerals for necessary biochemical processes to help your body be more efficient. Not to mention that certain nutrients are important for egg and sperm quality.
Nutrients and Your Fertility Diet Plan.
Here are some nutrients you can try to add into your regular diet:
Foods rich in antioxidants can help minimize cell damage that occurs when we are exposed to toxins.
We are all exposed to toxins, so having a diet rich in antioxidants can help to minimize damage and improve your cell function.
Antioxidant Foods to Increase Fertility
- Allium compounds found in onions and leeks, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale
- Flavonoids from citrus foods
- Anthocyanins from grapes and berries
- Polyphenols from herbs and spices like thyme and oregano
- Vitamin E from avocados and nuts and seeds.
Most people eat many carbs to fill them up and forget that protein is important for the body too.
This doesn’t mean you need to eat lots of meat or animal products. In fact, plant-based protein sources can be very helpful to fertility, even if you add them in only a few times per week.
Pro Tip: Add herbs and spices that help digestion like cilantro, fennel or rosemary. Other herbs and spices are also helpful like garlic, ginger or turmeric. They will add some great flavour to your food and also help with circulation and inflammation.
If you’re currently undergoing IVF or other fertility treatment, I’d like to share this journal I created with you in mind…
A thoughtful journal and planner for tracking your IVF journey
Record your entire IVF fertility treatment journey and give yourself daily love and support.
This little journal and IVF tracker was designed to help you get through a time in your life you never thought you’d be going through.
The IVF Warrior: Daily Guided Journal has been developed to help you keep track of important IVF treatment details and give you positive daily reminders to look after your overall well-being.
About Dr Rishma Walji:
Rishma Walji is a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist and PhD. She has been working in clinical practice for over 16 years. Dr. Rishma has a unique balance of scientific, evidence-based knowledge and natural, holistic healing experience. What she’s learned is that there are options. There are steps you can take, once you learn how things work. Dr. Rishma helps families of all kinds along their journey to parenthood, through fertility, pregnancy and post partum recovery. She has dedicated her career to teaching people to understand their bodies and their physiology, empowering them to manage the things that are in their control and ultimately achieving lasting results.
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