Enhancing Your Fertility Through Food
You’ve got the list of baby names planned out, just what your nursery will look like and perhaps even what school your little tyke will go to, #amiright? But, shoot! When you are ready to bring that dream to life, you begin to realize it’s not all butterflies and roses. If you or someone you know is struggling with conceiving, first and foremost, know you are not alone. I say that to each and every person I talk to, but truthfully, it never gets old hearing it.
Second, this entire disease (yes, infertility is a diagnosed disease) is out of your control. It’s frustrating to hear that, but no matter how many gimmicks you fall for (trust me, I’m right there with you with standing on my head after a little fun for hours on end), something bigger than us is guiding this process.
There is absolutely ONE thing you have full control over throughout this entire process (and your life for that matter) and that is… your nutrition!
Yep, what you put in your body is absolutely within your control and can make you feel sane on those days when everything else seems to be a cluster of chaos.
5 fertility foods to focus on eating
1. Focus on fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies are a great addition to a fertility fueling diet!¹ ² Research has shown that higher intakes of produce help reduce oxidation in the body by functioning as antioxidants that rid our bodies of free radicals, those bad guys that can interfere with fertility.³
Apply it: Chickpea Tahini Salad by Chef Sara Haas, RDN, LDN
2. Increase your plant forward proteins!
As always, focus on making the center of the plate a plant-based protein! While we aren’t saying you can’t have a steak every now and then, we are saying trying to limit your consumption of meat proteins. Fertility research has proven that higher intakes of animal-based proteins in one’s diet coincide with decreased fertility.2,4 So, start small by making delicious red beans and rice and work your way up to a delicious veggie burger.
Apply it: Falafel Beet Burger by Shaw Simple Swaps
3. Make your grains whole.
So, you’ve heard this before I’m sure, but, whole grains help to provide satiety through the fiber and protein they provide. Additionally, whole grains have several other nutrients like B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper. There are many gluten-free grains that can properly fit into a fertility fueling diet as well. Some of my favorites are quinoa, sorghum, amaranth, and millet.
Apply it: Healthy Quinoa Salad by Shaw Simple Swaps
4. Eat fat, but the right kind!
Don’t fear the fat! Fat is our friend. But, the type of dietary fat is important. Not only for general health, but also for fertility. Research continues to recommend consuming omega-3-rich fish at least twice per week (hello fish tacos, #amiright?!)8 Focus on eating a variety of healthy fats, like walnuts, chia, and flaxseeds and heart-healthy salmon!
Apply it: Salmon Salad by Chef Sara Haas, RDN, LDN
5. Get your cow’s milk dairy in… and switch to whole fat for now.
Although the media and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend low-fat dairy, it may not be the best for women attempting to get pregnant.
Firstly, researchers in infertility have found women who consumed the highest (more than three servings per day) amounts of dairy had a 21% greater chance of having a live birth than those consuming the least dairy (less than 1.34 servings per day).6
Secondly, researchers have also identified the type of dairy has shown to affect conception. One to two servings of whole milk dairy showing benefit to increase one’s chance of conception.2,7 Since whole milk products will contain more calories, just be mindful of portions and pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues.
Apply it: Tropical Oatmeal by Shaw Simple Swaps
ELIZABETH SHAW, MS, RDN, CLT is a nutrition expert, adjunct professor of nutrition and owner of a nutritional communication consulting business. She is a nationally recognized speaker and freelance writer for Fit Pregnancy, Shape, Oxygen and Fitness Magazines.
Her passion for spreading the message about the powerful role food and nutrition play in one’s life has led her to be featured on Hallmark Channels Home & Family, NBC Los Angeles News, The CW San Diego News, Fox 5 News, What to Expect, The Huffington Post, Food Network, US News & World Report, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Bustle, The Daily Meal and PopSugar. You’ll find her at ShawSimpleSwaps.com (@shawsimpleswaps) and BumpstoBaby.com (@bumpstobaby), sharing her love for food and travel, along with a friendly smile to support you on your journey to baby.
1Homan GF, Davies M, Norman R. The impact of lifestyle factors on reproductive performance in the general population and those undergoing infertility treatment: a review. Human Reprod. 2007;13(3):209-223.
2Chavarro JE, Willett WC, Skerrett PJ. The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2008.
3Rink SM, Mendola P, Mumford SL, et al. Self-report of fruit and vegetable intake that meets the 5 a day recommendation is associated with reduced levels of oxidative stress biomarkers and increased levels of antioxidant defense in premenopausal women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(6):776-785.
4Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2007;110(5):1050-1058.
5Gaskins AJ, Colaci DS, Mendiola J, Swan SH, Chavarro JE. Dietary patterns and semen quality in young men. Hum Reprod. 2012;27(10):2899-2907.
6Klein J. High dairy intake improves reproductive health outcomes. ObGyn.net website. https://www.obgyn.net/asrm-2014/high-dairy-intake-improves-reproductive-outcomes. Published November 1, 2014. Accessed on July 22, 2016.
7Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner B, Willett WC. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Hum Reprod. 2007;22(5):1340-1347.
8Hammiche F, Vujkovic M, Wijburg W, et al. Increased preconception omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake improves embryo morphology. Fertil Steril. 2011;95(5):1820-1823.
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or another health program. We may receive compensation through the issuer’s affiliate programs when you click on links to products.