Eat These Fertility Diet Friendly Foods To Get Pregnant (and stay away from these!)
So you want to have a baby? Let’s talk about your diet, shall we? Whether you are only considering conception and want to prep your body, or you are currently dealing with infertility, knowing which foods help fertility and which hurt fertility is key.
After all, supplements, medications, and alternative treatments can truly be life-changing aids for getting you pregnant, but the food your put into your body day in and day out can have some of the most significant impact.
I’m going to give you both a list of foods to start eating more of and a list of foods to avoid – along with the science that backs it up.
Let’s start with all the nutritious food options that will not only boost your fertility, but also keep you healthy in general. It’s always easier to start with everything you can eat before moving on to everything you can’t eat.
Leafy Greens: Spinach, Broccoli, and Arugula
You probably won’t be surprised to find out that green veggies top our list of foods to eat for fertility.
Not only have dark, leafy greens been shown to improve ovulation through their high content of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins and folate, but they are also a general health booster.
As an added bonus, greens are alkaline, which means they cancel out too much acidity. This is important for creating a “safe” environment for the sperm – which we want want to survive and meet up with an egg.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Flaxseed, Chia Seeds, and Walnuts
The next must-eat food group can seriously lower your risk of endometriosis. In fact, it can cut the risk in by a quarter. Harvard even called it “probably the single most important fertility nutrient.” We’re talking Omega-3 fatty acids.
But they come with a caveat. Normally, when someone tells you to boost your Omega-3 intake, fish is the go-to food choice. Since are talking fertility, however, I want you to balance this extra Omega-3 intake with limiting mercury exposure.
It’s no secret that mercury exposure has a long list of potential problems to a fetus – including brain and nervous system issues. But did you know that the mercury you ingest “can stay in your system for a year or more?”
Luckily, you have quite a few fish-less Omega-3 options.
Non-Heme Iron: Lentils, Pumpkin Seeds, and Egg Yolks
Normally when we think of getting more iron, we think of red meat. But the iron your reproductive system needs is a bit different.
One large study between 1991 and 1999 looked over 18,000 married women as they attempted pregnancy and/or became pregnant. During those 8 years, 438 women suffered infertility due to some ovulatory disorder.
Over the course of studying these women, researchers found that “women who consumed iron supplements had a significantly lower risk of ovulatory infertility than women who did not use iron supplements.”
Aside from iron supplements, hon-heme iron (iron mostly found in plants) decreased the chances of an ovulatory disorder.
Vegetable Protein: Beans, Chickpeas, and Quinoa
That same large study above also looked at the protein consumption in the 438 women with reported ovulatory infertility.
The research showed that replacing your typical animal sources of protein (chicken, beef, etc.) with vegetable sources reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility.
In fact, if 5% of the calories you consume come from a vegetable protein, you should have a 50% lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Definitely a good enough reason to exchange a hamburger for hummus!
Healthy Oils: Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Avocado Oil
For way too long, oil and fat were the “bad guys” of health food. We know now how important they are for a healthy body – including a healthy reproductive system. But only certain oils make the cut.
What can they do for fertility? A Harvard study showed that unsaturated fats do two things that greatly help fertility:
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Limit inflammation
Keep in mind this does not only include cooking oils, but also oils from nuts and seeds.
Complex Carbs: Oats, Sweet Potatoes, and Buckwheat
Choosing complex carbs (whole grains, veggies, etc.) over simple carbs (cookies, white rice, etc.) when you’re trying to get pregnant really comes down to sugar. Simple carbs create the unfortunate three-step process:
- They turn into blood sugar quickly
- This spikes your insulin
- High insulin can inhibit ovulation
Complex carbs digest slowly, so they do not send a sudden spike of blood sugar through your body. Managing that blood sugar helps you manage your reproductive hormones.
If you are a gluten-free eater, keep this in mind. Many gluten-free substitutes are filled with insulin spiking white rice flour and potato starch. Opt for more veggies and gluten-free whole grains like quinoa or buckwheat.
Whole Milk: Yogurt and Cheese
There is still plenty of debate in the health community over whether or not dairy is great for you or terrible for you. If you land on the pro-dairy side, there is no debate over what type of dairy is best for your fertility.
Skim or low-fat milk dairy products have been shown to increase the risk of not ovulating each month (anovulation). Whole milk dairy products, on the other hand, have been shown to decrease the risk of an ovulation.
If you are anti-dairy, you can stay that way (as long as soy isn’t your replacement… as I will show you later on!). But if you are pro-dairy, eat and drink “the real stuff,” so to speak.
Foods To Stay Away From
I hate to be the “Debbie Downer,” but some tasty foods are going to end up in the foods to avoid section. Keep this in mind: avoiding these foods is not only going to help you boost your fertility, it will also make you’re a healthier person in general. Win/win.
Soy: Soymilk, Soy Protein Powder, and Soy Meats
Soy has been repeatedly talked about as the healthy alternative to dairy. But soy has some real issues.
When it comes to conception, your reproductive hormones are obviously key. One of these hormones is estrogen. Soy happens to have phytoestrogens, AKA copycat estrogen hormones. Many of the health conditions that hurt your chances of fertility – polycystic ovarian syndrome, ovarian cysts, etc. – already come with estrogen issues.
Adding all this extra estrogen doesn’t help.
Plus, a considerable amount of soy is genetically modified. And they have been shown to harm various body systems, including your thyroid and… you guessed it… your reproductive system!
Refined Sugar: Soda, Fruit Juice, and Desserts
We have already talked about the dangers of spiked blood sugar when we went over complex carbs vs. simple carbs. The reason to avoid simple carbs is they turn into sugars too quickly.
This means actual refined sugars are even worse are even worse for your blood sugar
On top of that issue, sugar has been known to:
- Increase chances of developing endometriosis
- Hurt those with PCOS, who already have issues with insulin
- Harm your immune system
Trans Fats: Fried Fast Food, Frozen Pizzas, and Breakfast Sandwiches
Nothing about what I am about to say should come as a surprise. By now we know that trans fats are disastrous for our health, like their strong connection to heart disease.
But in the pursuit of trying to conceive, it is even more important to avoid keep trans fats away.
When it comes to infertility stemming from ovulation problems, trans fats can be a real deal breaker. You will have double the risk of ovulatory infertility simply by consuming 2% of total calories as trans fats. And the more you consume, the higher that percentage skyrockets.
BONUS: Ditch The Coffee
Ok, coffee may not be a “food,” but considering the average coffee drinker has 3 cups a day, it’s worth mentioning.
Some studies show that “women who drink one to one and a half cups of coffee each day had up to a 50% reduction in fertility.” Now go back to that coffee stat.
3 cups = average/1.5 cups = problem
If you want to get pregnant, you should either ditch the coffee entirely, or at least have less than 1 ½ cups each day.
Caffeine is hurting you in two ways: your liver is too busying converting caffeine so it can exit your urinary tract, it can have issues excreting the proper reproductive hormones. Plus, caffeine can zap your calcium.
Your Fertility Diet
Of course, these ideas are general guidelines. Talk to your doctor about any specific health conditions you may have that require a more specific diet plan.
They also do not take into account that some women need more calories to gain weight for optimal fertility, and other women need fewer calories to lose weight for optimal fertility.
But for the average woman hoping to give a big boost to her reproductive system… say hello to spinach and black beans and bye-bye to sugar! Your body will thank you. And ultimately you will thank yourself when you’re holding your brand new bundle of joy.