“A balanced diet will help boost your fertility. That means you must have right proportion of the macronutrients, carbohydrate, protein and fat as well as micronutrients, the vitamins and trace minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, etc.” – Dr. Peter Chew
We are all aware that good nutrition is important for our bodies to function at its optimum. However, did you know that eating right not only ensures you a fighting fit body but could also contribute to your fertility? Read on to find out more about fertility superfoods and those that can potentially hinder your chances of conceiving.
Full fat dairy foods have been linked to increased chances of fertility. This is because the fat that are in such foods contain the hormones estrogen and progesterone which are crucial to fertility. However, do not put yourself on an ice-cream or cheese diet just yet – a balance is what we are aiming for here. So try replacing one low-fat dairy option with a high-fat one; like a cup of milk in your diet today!
Bee Pollen contains nearly all nutrients that the human body needs, it aids in increasing the estrogen levels in a woman which in turn stimulates ovulation thus producing healthier eggs. It also aids in improving sperm quality and quantity in men.
Wheatgrass is often overlooked for its fertility benefits. Its high antioxidant levels help increase the sperm count in men by protecting sperms from harsh environmental factors. Wheatgrass also contains folic acid which women trying to conceive should start taking before getting pregnant for the growth of a healthy baby.
The birth of twins in West Africa are four times higher as compared to the rest of the world, and this phenomenon is often attributed to the high consumption of yams. Yams contain phytoestrogen and a natural form of progesterone (dioscin) – both of which help regulate a woman’s estrogen-progesterone balance which supposedly counteracts the estrogen dominance in women, reducing the likelihood of infertility issues such as endometriosis and fibroids.
Garlic, well known for its many health benefits also contains allicin, a chemical touted to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs of a man. Though eating it raw is believed to be the best consumption method, it can also be consumed cooked or in a pill.
As mentioned earlier, the nutrients that you put into your body are crucial in helping you conceive. Here is a breakdown of all the vital nutrients your body needs for conception and the respective foods that they come from.
"Eating healthy and living healthy is a common view that many have of their own diets and way of life. Having a non emotional assessment of one's health and nutritional status will help one understand actually how well they actually are. This is imperative as a healthy man or woman is the key to a healthy sperm and egg and therefore a healthy baby." - Dr Ann Tan
Your body uses folic acid to create extra red blood cells for you and your growing baby during pregnancy. It is also a common misconception that women only need to consume folic acid upon or after conception. In actuality, a baby’s spine and brain often forms well before pregnancy is confirmed. Hence, a healthy dose of folic acid while you are trying to conceive is essential to decrease the possibility of severe birth defects such as spina bifida in your baby.
Eat dark, leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans and lentils and asparagus.
Vitamin B6 is important in regulating the production of healthy sperms and eggs. It also aids in forming antibodies while are crucial for your baby’s overall development. Vitamin B6 has also been said to help relieve morning sickness.
Eat bananas, nuts, avocados, lean beef and dried apricots and prunes.
When you do become pregnant your growing baby will need calcium for the production of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Unfortunately, calcium is not a nutrient that our bodies can produce on its own. It is thus important to get our daily dosage of calcium from the food we consume.
Eat cheese, okra, almonds, tofu and drink a glass of milk daily.
Iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin – the protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body. Upon conception, your body will produce more blood and hence require more hemoglobin. Iron is also needed for the healthy development of your placenta. A lack of iron can result in anemia which is often associated with low birth weights and infant mortalities.
Eat red meat, sunflower seeds, dark chocolates, chickpeas and beans.
Zinc is an essential fertility nutrient. They aid in producing the reproductive hormone progesterone in women. More interestingly, zinc is also needed to make mobile, healthy sperms in your partner. In fact, zinc has been known to increase testosterone levels and sperm counts.
Eat oysters, liver, pumpkin, peas, egg yolks and shrimp.
Docosahexaenoic acid or better known as DHA, is a crucial omega 3 fatty acid responsible for the development of a baby’s brain and eyes. Research has also found that women who consumed a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids had babies with better resistance against food allergies and eczema. Increased omega 3 free fatty acid intake has also been associated to improve embryo quality if you’re undergoing IVF treatments.
“DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and is the main basic component of the human brain. It is taken as a brain food and helps in the development of the nervous system of the foetus. It may indirectly promote baby’s intelligence” – Dr. Peter Chew
Eat cold water fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines and eggs, walnuts and tofu.
Avoid these foods that could potentially hinder your chances of conception!
Excessive drinking is linked to irregular periods, abnormal estrogen and progesterone levels and ovulation deficiency which can make it harder to conceive. Based on a study, males who drink excessively are prone to conceiving hyperactive children.
If you drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine (approximately one to two eight-ounce cups) a day, it is advised for you to cut down while trying to conceive as it has been associated with fertility problems. Caffeine affects your ability to absorb iron and can dehydrate you so if you are currently pregnant, it's worth cutting back now.
Fish with high mercury levels is not recommended for anyone’s health, high levels of mercury in the blood have been linked to fertility issues in both men and women. Accumulated levels of mercury in a pregnant woman can also cause damage to the baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Thus avoid fish such as swordfish, king mackerels and tuna steaks and stick to sardines, herrings and salmons instead.
Ultimately, trying for a baby is stressful enough without the unnecessary added pressures of an unhealthy diet jeopardising your chances. So remember to maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet and always consult with a medical professional before eliminating or adding any new foods to your daily diet.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is NOT intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a doctor/gynaecologist for suitability.