Diet and Fertility
How your diet affects your health is no secret. Most people know that in order to maintain good health they need to eat a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein and whole grains. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ll naturally want to be as healthy as possible. You’ll want to ensure that your body is getting all of the nutrition that it needs, and once you are pregnant, you want to make sure that the baby gets everything she needs too!
Foods to Eat
- Antioxidant rich foods, such as beans, berries and artichokes
- Foods containing folic acid, especially leafy, green vegetables and broccoli
- Zinc rich foods, such as calves liver, cremini mushrooms, summer squash and asparagus
- Iron rich foods such as soy beans, lentils and spinach
- Calcium rich foods such as turnip greens, mustard greens and fresh dill.
- Ensure that you’re getting enough fiber. Good sources include, beans, collard greens and cauliflower.
- Mono-unsaturated fats can lower your cholesterol, improve your heart health and help to maintain overall health. Good sources include canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, fish (especially cold water fish such as mackerel and salmon), walnuts and flax seed.
Foods to Avoid
- Fast foods are high in saturated fats, transfats, cholesterol and sodium and can lead to obesity, which can lead to infertility and high blood pressure.
- Processed or highly refined foods which contain high levels of hypertension causing sodium and monosodium glutamate, which has been shown to reduce fertility in men.
Using Diet to Ease Reproductive Health Issues
|Reproductive Issue||Foods to Eat|
|Elevated Prolactin Levels||
Fertility and Weight
In order to ovulate and menstruate regularly, a woman needs to have between 17 and 21% body fat. Studies have shown that women who have a body mass index (BMI) either above or below the healthy target range for their height may have issues with fertility.
Women who weigh even 10-15% less than their ideal BMI maybe have irregular periods. In one study, 73% of underweight women who managed to gain 95% of their ideal body weight resumed normal ovulation and got pregnant.
In women who are above their target BMI, an average weight loss of 15lbs has been shown to restore normal ovulation. Overweight women who lose weight also have reduced chance of miscarrying once they do get pregnant.
Atkins and Fertility
Fad diets and healthy eating rarely go hand in hand. Studies done on pregnant female mice showed that mice being fed a diet made up of 25% protein, instead of the usual 14%, had four times the amount of ammonium in their reproductive tracts as mice fed a normal diet. Ammonium can damage embryos and impair fetal development. Of the pregnant mice on a high protein diet, only 65% of their embryos developed into fetuses, compared with 81% of the control embryos.
Proponents of the Atkins diet will tell you that it’s actually good for fertility and can help to reduce the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) by lowering your intake of carbohydrates. While lowering your carb intake can help to reduce PCOS symptoms, eating too much protein can actually amplify them. In general, any restrictive diet is probably not good for enhancing general health or fertility.