When you and your partner decide that it’s time for your family to increase by two little feet, you might start wondering what the best things are you can do to prepare. While we know there are plenty of foods to be avoided during pregnancy: what about when trying to conceive?
What we eat has a huge impact on our body’s ability to function properly and this includes our reproduction system! This doesn’t mean that certain foods can cure fertility issues or that you can combat a bad diet by adding a handful of kale (sorry, we wish it did!). What it does mean is that you can maintain a healthy weight and give your body the nutrients it requires to protect or improve your fertility.
So, what are the ingredients we need to prepare for conception? Hormones, healthy blood, healthy circulation, and a healthy brain – both in mental wellness and also its ability to send messages around the body. A diet rich in healthy fats, healthy carbs, proteins and fresh fruit and vegetables are great all the time but can be particularly important when preparing for pregnancy.
What are some foods for fertility?
Healthy fats decrease inflammation and aid in increased blood flow. Studies have also shown that they lead to an increase in sperm quality for Dad to be! Once pregnant, healthy fats are essential for developing bubs weight increase and to grow nervous system connections.
Where to find healthy fats:
Fatty fish: Salmon – an excellent source of omega-3 which is also a building block for hormones. Our bodies can’t produce omega-3 on its own, so it’s important that it’s included in our diets.
Nuts and Seeds: Flax seeds, walnuts and sunflower seeds are fantastic sources of healthy fats and also omega-3 (perfect to substitute that salmon for our vegetarian friends!).
Avocado: Everyone’s favourite. It’s easy to add to breakfast and salads and full of vitamins and riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium! Yum!
Bad Fats: Trans-fats are the bad guys for our diet. These are usually found in commercial baked goods, fries and snack foods (you know, the delicious things!). These fats increase insulin resistance and won’t be helpful at all for healthy bodies or fertility, so try and limit these in your diet.
Carbs… our relationship is complicated! While you wouldn’t need to tell most people twice to stock up on the carbs, again there are some good guys and the bad guys. Good carbs are digested slowly by your body, contain fibres and often fantastic sources of fertility friendly B-vitamins, which support ovum release and uterine implantation.
Where to find healthy carbs:
Quinoa – our favourite replacement for rice and pasta. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, while also being high in fibre and protein.
Whole grains – brown rice, whole wheat pasta, millet, barley and polenta.
Bad Carbs: Bad carbs… are again probably mostly our delicious favourites, including rice, pasta, cakes, processed breads and cereals. These increase insulin resistance and the body digests these very quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar and insulin – which in high levels, can inhibit ovulation.
Protein is an important building block in tissue repair and also for the production of hormones, enzymes and blood cells. Maintaining a healthy intake of protein is essential in looking after your body, but also preparing for the development of bub. Like everything in life though – you can have too much of a good thing, and excessive protein intake has been shown to impair fertility in males and females.
Where to find protein:
Lean meats – are high in protein while being low in calories and ‘bad fats’. Poultry is a great source of protein, but also high in selenium (for preventing cell damage), B3 & B6 (for the production of sex hormones and stress relief) and choline (for nerve function and inflammation reduction).
Beans & Lentils – These are not only packed with protein but also iron, folate and fibre!
Tofu – A great plant source of essential amino acids, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium
Dairy full of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B and protein. Research has found that consumption of full-fat dairy products daily can support female fertility, while the low-fat alternatives may be causing damage. This could be due to the increase in sugars used in the low-fat alternatives which cause the spike in insulin that we also see in ‘bad carbs’.
Where to find dairy:
Greek yogurt – packed with protein, calcium and vitamin D (important for regulating menstruation, and balancing sex hormones).
Cheese – cheese made from grass-fed animals is highest in nutrients (vitamins A & B12, zinc, phosphorus and riboflavin) and also contains omega-3.
Vegetarian alternatives – soya beans, peas, lentils, seaweed and leafy greens including spinach, kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts.
Vitamins & Minerals
Fresh fruit and vegetables are absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals that are needed to support a healthy body before, during and after pregnancy. Here, we wanted to tell you about some amazing vitamins and the delish plants they’re found in:
Vitamin E & C well-documented antioxidants, which help remove free-radicals from your body and prevent damage. The protective barrier around your egg follicle is rich in vitamin E for support. Vitamin C may also be linked to your follicle during ovulation. We also know that vitamin C is important for immune health!
Found in: Oranges, Grapefruit, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. Also, colourful fruits including blueberries, strawberries and pomegranates.
Folic acid – a super important nutrient for pre-conception and pregnancy. It’s recommended that folic acid supplements be taken by Mamas to be and pregnant women as it improves fertility and assists with spinal tube development in bub.
Found in: spinach, kale and other leafy greens. Dark leafy greens are also amazing sources of iron, which is important for menstruation, ovulation and egg development.
Zinc – zinc is integral to progesterone production, cell division, egg healthy and sperm motility.
Found in: oats, oysters, asparagus, poultry, lentils, nuts and seeds