Get ready to spice up your grocery list, because we’re talking about the nutrition you need to boost your fertility! Whether you’re trying to conceive or simply want to improve your reproductive health, the right nutrition can make a big difference. So put down the chips and pick up some nuts, because we’ve got an expert-approved guide to the foods you need to add to your diet for a better chance of conceiving.
“Nutrition is a key factor that plays a vital role in female fertility. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and eat a nutritious diet to improve fertility and ensure a smooth pregnancy,” says Dr Astha Dayal, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Lead Consultant, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram. In addition to prenatal vitamins, there are certain dietary changes that can help improve fertility outcomes.
Vitamins you need to boost fertility
We have all heard about pregnancy or post-pregnancy diet, but one also needs to be conscious of what they are eating pre-pregnancy. Here are some prenatal vitamins that should be taken at least 3 months prior to conception if you’re planning a pregnancy, according to Dr Dayal:
* Folic Acid: This is needed to help prevent defects of the brain and spinal cord.
* Calcium: Promotes strong bones and teeth for both the mother and her baby.
* Iron: Aids in the development of blood and muscle cells for both.
* Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Helps with brain development.
* Vitamin D: Is important later in pregnancy.
Apart from these vitamins, a balanced diet is equally important. Being overweight or undernourished can affect egg formation and pregnancy outcomes. For example, in India, 30 percent of female infertility cases are related to ovulatory problems caused by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. “A low glycemic index diet helps improve the hormonal imbalance in women with Polycystic ovaries,” says Dr Dayal.
The gynaecologist further explains that the importance of diet has been studied in different populations and has shown to affect not only the egg formation, but the embryo quality and efficiency of implantation. An unhealthy diet can disrupt the microbiome and can cause low-grade chronic inflammation, which is associated with several infertility-related diseases.
Diet you need to boost fertility
As suggested by Dr Dayal, making the following dietary changes may help improve fertility:
1. Reduce trans fats in your diet
Trans fats are present in processed and packaged foods. “They increase insulin resistance, which leads to hormonal imbalance,” says Dr Dayal. Instead, she suggests, have more of mono-unstaurated fatty acids, like those in olive oil. Fats from plant sources like nuts, avocados, grapeseed oil have anti-inflammatory properties and should be included in your fertility diet.
2. Avoid simple carbs
Simple carbohydrates such as processed foods, sweets, desserts, cold drinks, juices, maida, rice, potatoes, which immediately release sugar in your body are a big no when trying to get pregnant. Dr Dayal advises that one should switch to complex carbohydrates that release sugar very slowly like fibre, beans, vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.
3. Have a high protein diet
High protein diet which includes protein from vegetarian sources such as nuts, seeds, lentils, chana, rajma and is considered better than animal sources for improving fertility.
Fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, mainly DHA, which helps improve fertility.
5. Try and avoid dairy products
Some studies have shown that excess of low fat dairy could decrease fertility, and thus should be avoided. It is believed that the hormones present in dairy products, such as estrogen and progesterone, may interfere with ovulation and hormonal balance.
6. Have an antioxidant-rich diet
A diet of colourful fruits and vegetables like all green leafy vegetables, berries and citrus fruits, beans and nuts will help boost fertility. Fruits like watermelon and asparagus must be in your diet to improve egg quality.
7. Have a gluten free diet
Gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat and some other food grains. Some people are sensitive to gluten and may experience digestive issues or inflammation when they consume it. Inflammation can negatively impact fertility, so avoiding gluten may be beneficial for some women. However, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to avoid gluten, and a gluten-free diet should only be recommended by a doctor or registered dietitian if necessary.
8. Say no to caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and cause sleeplessness. It can also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, such as calcium and iron, which are important for fertility. Dr Dayal recommends limiting caffeine intake to 200mg per day, which is roughly equivalent to one cup of coffee or two cups of tea.
9. No to abusive substances
Abusive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs can negatively impact fertility. They can interfere with ovulation and hormonal balance in women. If you are trying to conceive, it’s important to avoid these substances altogether.
Simple lifestyle changes such as these can go a long way in enhancing the chances of conceiving and ensuring a smooth pregnancy. Remember, good nutrition is the key to a healthy pregnancy and a happy family.