One cannot think well, love well and sleep well if one has not dined well.
~ Virginia Woolf
As per a latest research on the correlation between diet and fertility from Harvard Medical School, unlike other factors that you cannot control—such as age and genetics—eating certain foods and avoiding others is something you can do yourself, without medical intervention, to help improve your ovulatory function.
Eating a fertility diet in preparation for pregnancy and to boost fertility is one of the most powerful health changes you can make. Numerous studies have shown that specific changes to the diet can improve fertility, prevent recurrent miscarriage and support a healthy pregnancy.
Nutrition plays a big roll when it comes to having a healthy body and reproductive system. The building blocks for hormones are found in the foods we eat. Antioxidants, which help to protect the egg and sperm from free radicals, are found in the foods that we eat. Just as nutrients in food can be helpful for fertility, there are some foods and chemicals added to foods that can be harmful for your health and fertility.
Regardless of what your definition of healthy is, today I am going to share with you what the definition of healthy is for fertility, and what that looks like in real life. A diet for fertility will look different even compared to a normal healthy whole food diet. This may very well be different compared to how you are eating now and include foods that are foreign, new to you or even exotic sounding. Don’t worry. We have tools to help you get started and recipes to make this easy and fun!
What is a Fertility Diet?
So what exactly is a fertility diet? A Natural Fertility Diet is a way of eating that is supporting your body in its reproductive efforts. It includes foods which are dense in specific nutrients needed for hormonal function, production and balance, fetal development, egg health, sperm health, blood health, and much more. It is a diet that is designed to help your body to balance fertility issues that may exist, build up nutrient stores and provide all of the building blocks for a healthy child. It is also a diet that is focused on giving you and your future child the best start in life.
Why Eat A Natural Fertility Diet?
Did you know that there are specific nutrients that are needed by the young fetus before you can even detect pregnancy, and a deficiency in these nutrients could cause serious birth defects?
Did you know that the foods you eat today impact the health of your eggs and sperm 90 days from now?
Did you know that hormones build themselves from the ingredients you provide through your diet?
Did you know that the number one treatment for balancing PCOS and getting pregnant despite PCOS is diet?
Did you know that what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat?
Did you know that the number one cause of infertility is anovulation (lack of ovulation) and that it can often be remedied by changes in the diet?
Eating a Natural Fertility Diet is something everyone can do regardless of location, fertility issue, age, time, and money. We all eat, so why not eat in a way that supports your fertility?
The Science Behind the Natural Fertility Diet
The Natural Fertility Diet suggestions are an accumulation of scientific research, nutritional data, dietary practices of the most fertile tribes and peoples in history, as well as dietary practices which are known to reduce complications during pregnancy.
Harvard performed a recent study that showed an 80% decrease in infertility with lifestyle changes made by switching to a fertility diet. Women who followed a combination of five or more lifestyle factors, including changing specific aspects of their diets, experienced more than 80 percent less relative risk of infertility due to ovulatory disorders compared to women who engaged in none of the factors, according to a paper published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The women with the highest fertility diet scores ate less trans fats and sugar from carbohydrates, consumed more protein from vegetables than from animals, ate more fiber and iron, took more multivitamins, had a lower body mass index (BMI), exercised for longer periods of time each day, and, surprisingly, consumed more high-fat dairy products and less low-fat dairy products. The relationship between a higher “fertility diet” score and lesser risk for infertility was similar for different subgroups of women regardless of age and whether or not they had been pregnant in the past.
Dr. Weston Price and Dr. Brewer
The Natural Fertility Diet has also incorporated the research of Dr. Weston Price and Dr. Brewer. Dr. Weston Price’s recommendations are based on traditional diets that were followed in times when humans were most fertile, before industrial foods.
Dr. Brewer’s Diet has been shown to reduce the risks of pregnancy complications, specifically preeclampsia. It promotes a diet that has an abundance of protein, minerals, calcium and healthy oils.
Natural Nutritional Practices for Healing
Nature has created foods to help nourish and feed the body. When the body is optimally nourished and unhealthy foods are avoided, the body is then able to repair and rebuild itself. This is very helpful for fertility, especially if there is an underlying imbalance or fertility issue. The cells in the body are constantly dying off and new cells are being created to replace the old cells. This is occurring in every organ, muscle, tissue, etc. of the body constantly. The building blocks of these new cells are provided from the foods that you are consuming. The Natural Fertility Diet is also designed to help support a healthy body which in turn can heal itself and create healthier cells.
The Benefits of Eating a Natural Fertility Diet
Provides antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which help to protect egg and sperm health from the damage caused by free-radicals.
Helps the body maintain hormonal balance by providing the fats needed for hormone production and function.
Provides the body with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients needed for optimal health.
May decrease the chances of a miscarriage due to insulin resistance and damage from free-radicals to the ova (eggs), sperm and DNA.
Helps to build important nutrient stores for pregnancy.
Supports a healthy reproductive system.
Promotes energy and vitality.
The Natural Fertility Diet Nutrition Guidelines
Eat a lot of organic vegetables and fruits
Conventional produce contains harmful herbicides and pesticides which have been shown to negatively effect both male and female fertility. Studies have also shown organic vegetables and fruits to have more nutritional value.
Eat organic, grass-fed, whole fat, raw dairy
Organic, grass-fed, whole fat, raw dairy is the best choice of dairy sources. Take note that dairy foods such as milk and cheese may be congesting to the body. In cases of congesting fertility issues such as PCOS and Endometriosis, dairy foods may aggravate the imbalance. Observe how your body does with it. Dairy that is not organic should be avoided as it contains added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to increased estrogen levels in the body. There are many healthy alternatives to dairy such as fresh almond or hemp milk.
Try to eat mostly cold water fish
Fish supplies important essential fatty acids (omega 3) to our diet. These fatty acids aid in the production of hormones, reduce inflammation, and help regulate the menstrual cycle. Fish is also a great source of protein and vitamin A. Avoid large deep water fish such as ahi tuna, swordfish, and Chilean sea bass due to their potential concentrations of mercury, and focus on cold water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, cod, and Alaskan halibut. Also when choosing salmon, avoid north Atlantic farmed salmon and choose wild salmon instead. Farmed salmon contains antibiotics and toxic food dyes.
Choose meat that is Grass Fed and Organic
Conventionally raised cattle contain high levels of added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to estrogen dominate conditions. Grass Fed meats, on the other hand, are a great source of essential fatty acids, are low in saturated fat, and are a great source of protein. If you are experiencing endometriosis you may want to reduce the amount of red meat that you eat as a study has shown a connection between high red meat consumption and endometriosis.
Choose only free range/Organic chicken
Conventionally raised chickens are kept in unclean, cramped housing conditions and are fed non-organic and often, genetically modified feed. When shopping for chicken, look for the words “cage free”, “free range”, or “organic” on the label. Ideally purchasing your chicken from a local farm with free-range practices is best.
Eat only grains in their whole, natural form
Whole grains are filled with fiber, important vitamins, and immune supporting properties. Fiber is important for helping the body to get rid of excess hormones and helps to keep the blood sugar balanced. Avoid processed and refined white foods and grains such as white bread, semolina pastas, and white rice. Instead choose whole wheat or sprouted bread, rice or whole wheat pasta, quinoa, and brown rice.
Eat high fiber foods with each meal
Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar levels which helps to reduce fertility issues such as PCOS, immunological issues, and promotes healthy hormonal balance. Some examples of high fiber foods are fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, and beans.
No soy of any form unless fermented such as miso and tempeh
Soy foods have been shown to contain estrogen mimicking properties. It is best to avoid processed soy foods such as soy milk, soy burgers, soy protein powder, soy chips, soy meats, and soy cheeses to avoid a negative impact on your hormonal balance. If you have hypothyroidism avoid soy completely.
Avoid refined sugars or fruit juices (unless freshly juiced)
Pasteurized juices such as bottled apple juice, orange juice, and other bottled fruit juices contain concentrated sugar, which can throw off your blood sugar levels and negatively effect your immune system. Also avoid any processed/refined and artificial sugars. Some great alternatives are stevia, honey, and maple syrup.
Drink lots of clean water
Be sure to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of clean, purified or filtered water daily. It is best to avoid bottled water as some of the plastics in the bottle can contribute to hormonal imbalance due to their estrogen mimicking chemicals. The best waters to choose from are reverse osmosis and distilled. Avoid tap water, as many recent studies have shown tap water to be laced with harmful pesticides from agricultural runoff.