Our hormones are little chemical messengers that travel round the body and tell your cells to carry out certain functions. The foods that we consume provide the raw materials needed to produce our hormones.
By eating a diet that supports hormone production and includes nutrients that promote healthy egg and sperm, you can significantly improve your chances of conceiving naturally and having a healthy pregnancy.
A study done on over 18,000 women by Harvard Medical School found that there was an 80% decrease in infertility by switching to a diet focused specifically on fertility. While maintaining a healthy weight, and general overall health is important in promoting fertility, there are certain foods that are particularly beneficial, and they should be included in your diet. Foods that could help promote fertility:
Salmon: or other oily fish such as fresh tuna, sardines and mackerel contain Omega-3 healthy fats that help to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity which affect our ability to conceive. Equally as important for male fertility as for female as the prostaglandins found in omega-3 fats are found in healthy sperm, so ensuring that it’s included in your diet is essential pre-conception.
Dark green leafy vegetables: contain an abundance of essential minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that support our health. They are also an excellent source of the trace mineral iron, which when we are deficient can have a significant influence on our fertility. Including plenty of green vegetables in our diet can lead to a lower risk of unexplained fertility and good iron stores are beneficial for a healthy pregnancy, so pile that plate high.
Beans and legumes: these nutritional powerhouses contain a good mix of B vitamins which are essential during pre-conception. Research shows that vitamin B6 is particularly important for women that are having trouble conceiving. They are also a great source of plant-based protein which according to the Harvard Study gave a 50% drop in the risk of infertility over animal proteins. Vegetable soups, stews, casseroles and curries are all great ways to get more pulses into your diet. B12 is also integral in improving low sperm count but is found in red meat, eggs or nutritional yeast for a plant-based source.
Avocado, contains healthy fats and vitamin E which our body needs to promote cellular health including those in the reproductive organs, eggs and sperm.
Nuts and seeds: some of the most nutrient dense foods we can add to our diet, are also beneficial in boosting fertility. A good source of protein, vitamin E and healthy fats, ensuring we have a mix of different types of nuts and seeds in our diet is essential pre-conception. Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds also help to effectively balance our reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium which protects the sperm.
Seafood: a good source of zinc which is essential for the normal production of sperm calls and a deficiency in females can negatively affect the early stages of egg development, reducing the ability to be fertilised. Try adding more crab, prawns and fish to your diet or if you’re not a fan you can also get zinc from meat and legumes.
Wholegrains: choosing the more natural source over the white refined carbohydrates popular in the western diet will help to balance out blood sugars and control insulin sensitivity which can affect infertility. These slow release carbs also promote weight loss and nutrient dense with B vitamins and folic acid, which are essential for conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Avocado: contains healthy fats and vitamin E which our body needs to promote cellular health including those in the reproductive organs, eggs and sperm. The antioxidants found in vitamin E protect our cells from damage which has been found to increase chances of fertility, and boost sperm health and mobility.
Berries: while all fruits are excellent source of vitamins and minerals, berries in particular contain high amounts of vitamin C and flavonoids that are rich in antioxidants and protect our bodies from oxidative stress and damage which increases risk of fertility. Eat fresh when in season, and frozen in the winter months.
Including these foods in your diet regularly, alongside reducing foods such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol can have a significant affect on your fertility. Your diet and other lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, a good night’s sleep and exercise can all help to promote conception and support your body through a healthy pregnancy.
Thanks to Rebecca from www.rebeccaboulton.com
Rebecca Boulton, the Hormone Mentor, is a BANT registered Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who specialises in hormonal balance. She works with women struggling with hormonal imbalances to help them manage their symptoms through food and lifestyle changes.