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Published by Hera Fertility

Posted on
November 23, 2023

Read Time
8 mins

When couples start a journey toward parenthood, there are many things to consider, from finance and support systems to their own health and lifestyle.

And when it comes down to influences on a person’s ability to conceive, one key factor plays a crucial role in boosting fertility and supporting overall reproductive health: nutrition.

What we eat has a profound impact on our bodies, and making informed dietary choices can make a big difference when it comes to optimizing fertility. And amping up your preconception nutrition is a potentially effective and non-invasive method of helping out your health.

However, before taking a deep dive into the wealth of nutrients available in food, it’s important to first take a good look at your general health — and more specifically your weight.

“Weight matters because it affects one’s hormones and anything that affects the hormones impacts fertility,” explains Cindy Golubisky, Clin Ops & Fertility Clinician at Hera Fertility.

“Fat tissue produces estrogen, and too much estrogen can throw off your hormonal balance and even prevent ovulation. If you’re not ovulating, you can’t get pregnant.”

[Read our blog post: Beyond the calendar: Four techniques for ovulation tracking]

Golubisky recommends the Mediterranean diet (see sample menu below), which serves as an excellent guide for balanced nutrition. However, it also helps with weight loss — and a healthy weight is a positive state even if you’re not trying to conceive!

A well-balanced diet can also help manage underlying health conditions that may impact fertility, such as obesity, diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Another good thing about the Mediterranean diet: it’s delicious! Which makes healthy eating that much easier. The diet focuses on:

Fertility and health-boosting foods

These foods also come packed with a variety of nutrients that can help get your body in tip-top shape for pregnancy.

Folic acid

People trying to conceive or those who are already pregnant will likely already know about the importance of folate. This superpower B-vitamin (B9) helps to support healthy cell division and prevent major birth defects (e.g. neural tube). It is commonly found in leafy greens, beans and legumes, fortified cereals and grains, asparagus, citrus fruits and eggs.

Tip: The CDC recommends that women consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily at least one month before becoming pregnant and through the first three months of pregnancy.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can support reproductive health. And some studies have shown that the nutrient may increase the probability of pregnancy. They can also help regulate hormones, which are important for ovulation. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, selenium, and beta-carotene can protect our cells from oxidative stress, which is a disturbance in the balance between the body’s production of free radicals and antioxidant defenses. Research shows that approximately half of male infertility cases are caused by oxidative stress, and it can cause issues in females, too. Berries, citrus fruits, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of antioxidants.

Here are some other nutrients that help boost your health:

[Read our blog post: Riding the menstrual rollercoaster: What’s really going on down there?]

While you are navigating the path to better eating, with an eye on increasing your chances of getting pregnant, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or medical practitioner about what choices are best for you.

And also: be aware of suggestions to eat a specific food to achieve a specific outcome.

Like pineapple.

“There is a myth that pineapple increases the odds of implantation,” Golubisky says. “While research does suggest eating pineapple as well as other fruits and veggies can increase your chances of fertility, it does not guarantee a successful embryo implantation.”

Here’s another one: Eating sweet potatoes does not increase your chances of having twins. Yams are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals — making them a superfood — but they do not have the power to cause cell division.

[Read our blog post: How couples can feel more empowered with joint fertility testing]

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