What you eat can affect a lot more than you might think, including how easy it is to get pregnant and have a baby. Both the father-to-be and the mother-to-be should follow a nutritious diet and try to stay at a healthy weight to increase the chances of a pregnancy. Certain foods may be beneficial and others detrimental to fertility.
Do Eat to Maintain a Healthy Weight
Women who are overweight or underweight have a harder time conceiving. Even losing 5 to 10 percent of any extra weight you may be carrying can help increase fertility. Start by making the healthy dietary changes below and eating more low-calorie nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables and less fried and highly processed foods.
Don't Fast or Follow Drastic Diets
Don't juice or go on a fad diet to try to lose weight, as this increases the chances that you'll be deficient in some of the nutrients needed to improve fertility. This type of weight loss isn't usually sustainable for the long term anyway. Try the Mediterranean diet instead, as this diet has been shown to help with fertility in at least one study.
Do Fill Half Your Plate With Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and filled with essential nutrients, including the antioxidants that may help make men and women more fertile. Antioxidants help limit cell damage from harmful compounds called free radicals. Less cell damage can mean healthier eggs and sperm and a higher chance of getting pregnant.
Don't Eat a Lot of Highly Processed Foods
Refined grains and highly processed foods tend to be high in calories and sugar and low in nutrients. The lack of fiber in refined grains and the high sugar in processed foods can lead to blood sugar spikes. Higher blood sugar and insulin levels make a woman's body more likely to produce excessive testosterone, which interferes with ovulation.
Do Choose Plenty of Slow Carbs
Whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables are called slow carbohydrates because the fiber they contain results in a slower release of blood sugar during digestion. These foods also tend to be more nutrient-rich, helping you meet your nutrient needs for fertility and pregnancy. Research shows that higher fiber consumption may decrease infertility risk.
Don't Eat Much Saturated or Trans Fat
These are the least healthy types of fat and should be limited in any diet, including one for fertility. Some research shows that women who consume more trans fats are more likely to suffer from infertility. Avoid foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list, as hydrogenation creates trans fats.
Do Consume Foods With Unsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats from nuts, avocados, and olives, as well as the polyunsaturated omega-3 fats from seafood and flax are both more nutritious ways to get the fat your body needs. Monounsaturated fats may improve fertility by limiting inflammation and promoting ovulation.
Don't Drink Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
In some studies, drinking sugary beverages like energy drinks and soda resulted in decreased fertility levels. Besides, these drinks contain empty calories, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. While diet sodas aren't healthy, they appear to have less of an effect on fertility as long as they aren't caffeinated.
Do Drink Whole Milk or Eat Some Full-Fat Dairy Products
When it comes to fertility, it appears that skim milk may be a bad idea and full-fat dairy may be beneficial. To limit overall saturated fat and calorie intake, stick to the recommended one to two servings, however. Plain full-fat yogurt with some fruit is a particularly nutritious choice.
Do Choose Vegetarian Protein and Iron Sources More Often
At least some research points to a beneficial effect from opting for vegetarian sources of iron and protein over red meat. Eat vegetarian iron sources, such as beans or spinach, with something containing vitamin C to improve absorption. Aim for at least one non-meat protein source per day.
To learn more, contact North Park OB-GYN. We can help you with all of your fertility and gynecological needs. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.