A Complement To Nutrition
Prenatal Vitamins: Although the main source of vitamins and nutrients needed during pregnancy should come from your diet, a daily prenatal vitamin can help fill small gapsjust in case you unintentionally do not get enough key nutrients. Prenatal vitamins should be taken up to three months before conception, if possible.Consult your healthcare provider about which supplement is best for you.REMEMBER a prenatal vitamin, or any other supplement can only complement a healthy diet during pregnancy.
Foods That May Support Fertility
Fruits and vegetables
Think of produce as Mother Nature’s multivitamin. Fruits and vegetables deliver a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and getting enough of certain nutrients is especially important before you conceive.
For example, foods like spinach, brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals are high in the B vitamin folate. Folate is a natural form of folic acid, an essential nutrient in prenatal vitamins, which you should take if you’re trying to conceive.
Eating foods rich in folate during preconception and pregnancy can help prevent neural-tube birth defects such as spina bifida. You can lose a lot of this vitamin in cooking water, so steam or cook vegetables in a small amount of water to preserve the folate.
In general, choose fruits and vegetables in a range of colors to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
Seafood is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids and, according to some scientists, these essential fats may have a positive effect on fertility. Research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with an increased probability of conceiving naturally , and therefore it’s safe and even encouraged that you eat fish when you’re trying to conceive.
You can take fish oil supplements if you don’t like seafood, but talk to your provider first about which brand to buy and how much to take.
Full-fat dairy products
What Foods Should You Avoid During Your Pregnancy
Cravings can certainly veer towards the bizarre, with women reportedly craving cornflakes with orange juice instead of milk.
While strange food combinations arent exactly unhealthy, fast food, junk food, and any other type of processed foods, such as microwavable meals and energy drinks, certainly can be. These are often high in sugar and fat, contain very little nutritional content, and may set back your efforts at maintaining a healthy body weight during pregnancy.
But obviously unhealthy foods like these shouldnt be the only things to stay away from. Other foods to avoid include:
- Certain types of fish
These might have higher levels of mercury, a metal linked to birth defects, and include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, bigeye tuna, king mackerel, and marlin.
- Uncooked fish and shellfish
Eating raw seafood poses a risk of bacterial or viral contamination which can lead to food poisoning or potentially harm your baby.
Even foods with raw or partially cooked eggs in them could be harmful as they could cause a salmonella infection.
- Uncooked or undercooked food
How your food is cooked is also important. Ensure that meats are cooked to the recommended internal temperatures to minimize the risk of listeriosis, as well as infection from other pathogens. Listeria is a group of bacteria that can cause potentially fatal infections to pregnant women and their babies.
- Any type of pate
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Processed Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates
Reducing your intake of foods and drinks loaded with processed sugar like sodas, refined carbohydrates with high-fructose corn syrup like white breads, and other carbs high in added sugars is recommended for all people, and especially those with PCOS. Thats because PCOS causes blood sugar issues, which can affect ovulation according to the Office on Womens Health. Cutting your intake of these high sugar items also helps with weight loss. Often even a small amount of weight loss can boost fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Work Closely With Your Doctor
One critical component of increasing fertility is to work closely with your doctor or healthcare team and to do your best to take their advice. According to the Office on Womens Health, you should talk to your provider if youre younger than 35 and havent conceived after one year of frequent sex without birth control.
If youre over 35, this timespan decreases to six months. Its also a good idea to make an appointment with your OB-GYN if you suspect fertility problems or decreased sexual function or libido.
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Eat A Bigger Breakfast
Eating a substantial breakfast may help women with fertility problems.
One study found that eating a larger breakfast may improve the hormonal effects of polycystic ovary syndrome , a major cause of infertility.
For moderate weight women with PCOS, eating most of their calories at breakfast reduced insulin levels by 8 percent and testosterone levels by 50 percent. High levels of either can contribute to infertility.
In addition, by the end of the 12-week study, these women had ovulated more than women who ate a smaller breakfast and larger dinner, suggesting improved fertility.
However, its important to note that increasing the size of your breakfast without reducing the size of your evening meal is likely to lead to weight gain.
Check out these ideas for healthy, delish breakfast options if you need some inspiration.
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As for how to get them? That might be a bit tougher than your good ol salmon. Fresh sardines are hard to find, but I always try to order them simply grilled at my favorite Mediterranean restaurants, Becker says. You can also find canned wild sardines at the store. Mix them with a little paleo mayo, lemon juice, and parsley, and enjoy them with your favorite gluten-free toast.
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How To Eat When Trying To Conceive
Before digging into what to eat to support fertility, supplementation plans need to be established. The CDC states that all females of childbearing age should include at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to reduce the risk of developing specific congenital disabilities once pregnant. Some health care providers will recommend you take a form of folate called MTHF-folate instead of folic acid. However, research is needed to back this. Ultimately, that decision should be made between you and your health care provider.
When it comes to general dietary patterns, a diet low in ultra-refined carbohydrates and added sugars may positively support fertility efforts. A 2021 publication in Advances in Nutritionsuggests that following the Mediterranean diet appears to help women succeed on their fertility journey. If you’re unfamiliar, the Mediterranean diet focuses on dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based protein, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.
Even more so, a 2018 study published in Human Reproduction shows that frequently eating fast food and limiting your fruit intake can increase your risk of fertility challenges. And while many social media influencers will tell you otherwise, there isn’t good-quality data to support the notion that dairy and gluten need to be avoided when trying to conceive unless you have a true allergy, intolerance or celiac disease.
Foods To Eat To Increase Fertility
Can eating certain foods really boost your fertility? The answer is yes. Its important to remember that there is no magic diet that will result in pregnancy, but food and lifestyle choices do have a significant impact on the reproductive health of both women and men. The foods you eat, along with other factors like lifestyle and stress levels, can boost fertility through their impact on your gut, blood flow, hormone levels and overall health.
Laurel Fertility Care offers a holistic approach that includes many natural adjustments like diet and lifestyle changes before moving on to advanced treatment. Here are 10 foods to incorporate into your diet to boost your fertility.
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Follow A Healthy Eating Pattern
Eating healthy means following a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of nutritious foods and drinks.
- Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods.
- Choose foods and drinks with less added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium .
- Limit refined grains and starches, which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods.
- If you are feeling sick, try eating a piece of whole-grain toast or whole-grain crackers.
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Talk to your health care provider about taking a prenatal vitamin
In addition to following a healthy eating plan, taking a prenatal vitamin can help ensure you are meeting your daily nutritional requirements for vitamins and minerals. Chat with your health care provider to ask if a prenatal supplement is right for you.
Find out what a healthy preconception weight is for you by speaking to your healthcare provider
The recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are based on your pre-pregnancy body mass index .23 Calculate your BMI by dividing your pre-pregnancy weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared .
Note that BMI calculations offer helpful guidelines but are not perfect indicators of healthy weight, so always talk with your healthcare provider.
Hereâs is a guide to the BMI categories:
BMI of below 18.5 = underweight
BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 = normal weight
BMI of 25 to 29.9 = overweight
BMI of 30 or greater = obese23
Learn more: Why Does Your Pre-Pregnancy Weight Matter?
Use preconception to develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits that will carry you through pregnancy and beyond
The Dietary Guidelines, which emphasizes choosing healthy foods in appropriate relative proportions, is a great tool for promoting healthy habits that will optimize health. It recommends filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruit, one-fourth of your plate with whole grains, and one-fourth of your plate with lean protein.24
Choose your fish wisely
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What Kind Of Food Should A Pregnant Woman Eat
A pregnant woman should follow a balanced and nutritious diet that includes foods from the basic food groups. According to the USDA and the US dietary guidelines, you should have items from the following foods groups every day :
|Poultry, lean meat, fish, eggs, tofu, and nuts
Limit the intake of solid fats , salts, sugars, and sweets.
Eating the foods from the above food groups will help you have a balanced diet. Within these groups, there are certain superfoods that you might want to include during pregnancy.
Foods That Are High In Fat Sugar Or Both
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to tooth decay.
Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods, or eating them too often, can make you put on weight. Eating too much saturated fat can also increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your chance of developing heart disease.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar, or both, include:
- all spreading fats
If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
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Healthy Eating For Pregnancy
One thing we are SUPER passionate about here at Birth Eat Love is healthy eating! Get all our healthy pregnancy recipeshere.
If youd like to learn more about the best nutrition practices during pregnancy, there is ONE book you should definitely check out. Read my full review of this must-read pregnancy book here.
And here is an interview with the author and nutritionist who wrote the bookthat shares some great advice for managing cravings and eating healthy on a budget.
Wondering how to take care of yourself for a healthy pregnancy? The Nourishing Your Pregnant Body Series will walk you through:
Having a pregnancy grocery list can make it easier to eat healthy while pregnant. Make sure to download a copy below.
Print the pregnancy grocery list pdf, put it on your fridge and make sure to eat from the list daily for a healthier pregnancy.
Still feeling unmotivated to make healthy changes to your pregnancy diet? This post on the real reason moms need meal planning has ways to embrace cooking and meal planning so that you can make positive lifestyle changes.
Lean Meat And Proteins
Lean beef, pork, and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Beef and pork are also rich in iron, choline, and other B vitamins all of which youll need in higher amounts during pregnancy.
Iron is an essential mineral that is used by red blood cells as a part of hemoglobin. Youll need more iron since your blood volume is increasing. This is particularly important during your third trimester.
It can be hard to cover your iron needs with meals alone, especially if you develop an aversion to meat or are vegetarian or vegan. However, for those who can, eating lean red meat regularly may help increase the amount of iron youre getting from food.
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Try These Foods To Eat To Help With Fertility
The best diet for you is one thats made up of delicious and nutritious foods that you enjoy eating but fertility and nutrition experts agree that these nine foods are real power players in terms of the nutrients they offer, so if you dont have them on the menu regularly now, you may want to add them to the mix.
What Is The Optimal Fertility Diet
Food as medicine is not a new concept, but it is one that many people struggle with.
Many people faced a few extra pounds after the pandemic or with the stressful diagnosis of infertility. Patients often wonder how the food they choose to eat or not eat affects their ability to have children.
It is important to acknowledge that even the healthiest of diets cant cure the more serious conditions that cause infertility in men and women. If for example, a womans fallopian tubes are blocked and preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg, dietary changes are not going to do anything to resolve that blockage. Fortunately, cases like this can be helped by services such as in vitro fertilization provided by fertility doctors.
That being said, the influence of diet and other related lifestyle choices on fertility should not be overlooked. Whether combined with fertility treatment or pursued on their own, changes in diet can have a significant and measurable effect on fertility. This was highlighted in the 2022 update to the American Society for reproductive medicine s committee opinion on Optimizing natural fertility.
Some things have very strong evidence:
- Women that are very thin or very overweight have a harder time getting pregnant
- Folic acid supplementation has a clear benefit
- Seafood with high mercury levels should be avoided
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What Foods Can Harm Fertility
Trans fatty acids, which are found in processed foods, on the other hands, have been linked to lower fertility, the researchers found. Dairy, alcohol, caffeine and soy have been shown to have a neutral effect, meaning eating or drinking those food products do not hurt or help couples trying to conceive.
Soy, though, may have a positive impact on in-vitro fertilization. Same goes for folic acid, which is found in spinach and other leafy greens, as well as breads, beans, cereal and pasta, according to the study.
Ingredients In Rum Cake That Can Be Harmful For Pregnant Women
As the name suggests, rum cake contains alcohol. Lakshmi said that it is best for pregnant women to avoid any food containing alcohol, and one food item that has both alcohol and high amounts of sugar in it, is rum cake. Rum cake might seem like a harmless treat during Christmas. But if it is consumed by pregnant women, there is a risk of harming their unborn child with exposure to alcohol while they are still developing in the womb. The doctor warned about the side effects of alcohol during pregnancy on the unborn babys development and can even lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. There is another reason for pregnant women to avoid rum cake and other foods containing high levels of sugar. They might lead to gestational diabetes if they are consumed when pregnant.
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Foods To Avoid While Trying To Conceive
Steer clear of fad diets while trying to get pregnant, as some of these diets can deplete your body of essential nutrients. Also try to minimize your consumption of:
Research finds that abstaining from alcohol completely while trying to conceive isn’t totally necessary. But binge-drinking, which the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines as consuming 4 or more drinks for women or 5 or more drinks for men in just a few hours, will likely affect your chances of getting pregnant.
Alcohol can harm a developing fetus, and since you may not know exactly when you ovulate or conceive, you may want to play it safe and cut out alcohol completely. It’s a good excuse to enjoy some delicious and classic “virgin” drinks!
Consuming high amounts of trans fats, found in many processed, fried and fast foods, is linked to infertility in women and to lower sperm counts and less than ideal sperm formation and lower sperm counts in men. Trans fats may also have a negative impact on the duration of pregnancy, resulting in preterm labor and birth.
Studies have found that eating higher amounts of refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and white rice can lower your likelihood of getting pregnant. These foods also generally shortchange your body, because the refining process strips grains of key nutrients such as fiber, some B vitamins, and iron.