Did you know that, along with medical interventions, changes in diet and lifestyle can significantly improve the chances of conception? In this article, we will learn more about the so-called “fertility diet“, which comprises both a nourishing eating regime and an overall healthy lifestyle. 🍒
As someone who is currently trying to get pregnant for over 10 months now, I am learning the ins and outs of fertility! I have been seeing a fertility specialist, and many of the tips here originated from the information she has given me. We have backed it up with several other credible sources.
Unfortunately, fertility issues affect up to 15 percent of couples and the journey to parenthood may sometimes be a real struggle, both physically and, most of all, mentally!
The good news is that, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, improved nutrition, a more active lifestyle, and better stress management might significantly boost fertility and even decrease the time to get pregnant! On the other hand, unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol, elevated stress levels, and excess weight might negatively impact the ability to become pregnant.
In this article, we will learn how to ease into a nourishing fertility diet and adopt an overall healthier lifestyle. In turn, these habits will also create a healthier environment for our future children. 👨👩👧👧
Fertility Diet: following a Mediterranean eating regime might increase the chances of naturally getting pregnant 🍅🍐
Lots of fresh and seasonal fruits and veggies, whole grains, little to no overly-processed products as well as red meat, and a greater amount of plant protein than animal ones. According to researchers, these foods rich in micronutrients and fiber should be the basis of any fertility diet aimed at increasing the chances of getting pregnant.
Great attention should also be paid to the consumption of good sources of healthy monounsaturated fats. These include both extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and oily seeds, and avocado, as well as foods rich in iron, probiotics, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Among them are high-fat dairy products (such as Greek yogurt, ricotta, and other fresh cheeses), white fish, and seafood.
On the other hand, you should limit to a minimum all the foods rich in trans-fats and refined sugars (such as doughnuts, pastries, and fried foods), along with overly-process and packaged snacks and treats. The same goes for coffee, black tea, and caffeinated beverages. Indeed, researchers have found that heavy caffeine intake might increase infertility rates. The reason for this is that caffeine consumption is correlated to decreased levels of prolactin. In turn, this hormone might inhibit ovulation and ovarian progesterone function. In addition, excessive consumption of caffeine (over 150 mg/day) has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. This is especially true during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy.
All in all, these are the principles at the base of the traditional Mediterranean diet – renowned for being one of the healthiest diets in the world, due to its high intake of foods rich in lean protein, antioxidants, fiber, and whole grains, and the limited space allowed to processed foods and meat. The reason for this is that they help reduce inflammation in the body, which is among the leading causes of infertility. Moreover, the Mediterranean diet favors the consumption of organic, seasonal, and “zero-mile” veggies, fruits, and – on a smaller scale – dairy products. Again, these have been positively associated with higher chances of naturally getting pregnant.
Fertility Foods: what to eat when trying to get pregnant? 🥕🥗
As we have just explained, following a Mediterranean diet might significantly increase our chances of naturally getting pregnant. (i.e. without “assistive reproductive technologies” such as in vitro fertilization). But what are the best foods that can boost our fertility? Let’s have a look at 5 fertility foods that can boost our chances of conception.
- Antioxidant-rich fruit 🌱.
Fruits such as berries, pomegranates, and citrus fruits, are high in vitamin C and folic acid. Both of them can improve healthy fetal growth after conception. In addition, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries contain high amounts of natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These can improve sperm and egg quality respectively in men and women. Plus, they are a good source of dietary fiber which has shown positive effects on fertility rates.
- Greek yogurt (preferably full-fat)🥛.
Greek yogurt – and, more in general, full-fat dairy products are equally great for boosting fertility. The reason for this is that they are a great source of calcium, probiotics, and vitamin D. All of them can help improve ovulation. Moreover, this study suggests that consumption of low-fat dairy products is associated with a lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Full-fat dairy also tends to have less sugar and promote satiety.
- Salmon 🐟.
Fatty fishes, such as salmon, are highly recommended in a fertility diet due to their high content of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium. These micronutrients are all essential for ensuring optimal fetal development throughout pregnancy. However, if possible, make sure to purchase wild-caught salmon, as this contains lower quantities of mercury, which can be harmful if consumed in excessive amounts.
- Walnuts 🧠.
Walnuts are one of the best sources of omega-3s among all plant-based foods. This makes them a valid support for stimulating and regulating hormone production. In addition, they contain a good amount of magnesium. This essential mineral can boost progesterone in the body and can even promote blood flow to the uterus. This is a crucial factor in improving the chances of getting pregnant. Lastly, walnuts are rich in antioxidant compounds. These can help fight the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, among the leading factors of egg deterioration.
- Avocado 🥑
The last fertility food is avocado. This fruit contains several compounds that can assist women’s fertility journey, from conception to the development of a healthy fetus. Avocados are also a wonderful source of vitamin E, which can be beneficial in improving the lining of the uterus. This in turn can increase the possibility of conceiving. In addition, one cup of this fruit contains around 22mg of choline. This is an essential nutrient in the development of the fetal brain and neurological system. Last but not least, one avocado provides almost 30% of the recommended intake of folate during pregnancy, which may help discourage miscarriage and fetal anomalies.
Fertility Diet: 3 healthy lifestyle tips and Habits 🏃🏽♀️
We have learned about the best fertility diet and foods, now it’s time to have a look at 5 lifestyle habits that can dramatically improve our chances of getting pregnant.
1. Daily movement 🏃🏽♀️
Regular exercise, if done in moderation, is essential for maintaining good health and, in turn, improving egg quality. The reason for this is that exercise has a role in increasing insulin sensitivity. This, in turn, stimulates ovarian function and increases the chances of conception. However, be mindful of the fact that overly strenuous physical activity, especially if done regularly, might adversely affect menstrual cycles and even stop periods altogether.
The suggestion is to alternate between lightweight exercises, fast-paced walks, and low-impact workouts, such as yoga and pilates. In addition, limit the duration of each session to about 30-40 minutes. On the other hand, try to avoid long runs and heavy-weight gym sessions.
As an avid runner trying to get pregnant myself, my doctor told me I should be fine with my 5k training but definitely not to be training for a marathon. Everyone is different, so I am currently monitoring my cycle to make sure I’m not going overboard.
2. The right supplements 💊
Taking the right supplements is equally important for increasing the chances of getting pregnant without medical intervention. In particular, folic acid, B12, and Omega-3 fatty acids (fish or seaweed oil) have proven particularly effective in stimulating hormonal balance and promoting a healthy pregnancy. The same goes for pre and probiotics. These can easily be supplemented in all the cases in which we cannot get enough of them through our daily diet. Of course, for all of these supplements, the advice is to contact your health practitioner for more targeted and personalized advice.
3. Stress management techniques 🧘🏽♀️
As with excessively intense physical exercise, high levels of stress might negatively affect our reproductive health. The reason for this is that stress hormones such as cortisol might disrupt the signaling between the brain and the ovaries. In turn, this might result in delayed or missing ovulation. Luckily, there are many ways in which we can help manage overly high levels of stress. Among them are meditation, breathwork, cognitive behavioral therapy, and, last but not least, the practice of yoga.
Fertility Diet Meal Plan: 10 sweet and salty recipes that can help boost the chances of conceiving 🥞
Finally, here are some breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes that can help boost the chances of conceiving. All of them are very easy and quick to make and follow the “fertility diet rules” outlined above.
On a final note, please remember that information here is not intended to be a replacement for the advice you should seek from your doctor.
Hope you will find this article insightful and that it might help in your fertility journey. If this is the case, don’t forget to share it with your family and friends! Links to my socials are down below 💗