Boosting your fertility with nutrition
In order to increase your chances of conceiving naturally, more quickly and to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy, you should begin a preconception or fertility programme at least 3 months before you start trying for a baby. This rids your body of any unwanted toxins that could affect egg health, and also corrects any hormonal imbalances that could prevent you from conceiving.
Also, don’t forget – it takes two to tango! A foetus is created from 50% egg and 50% sperm so the health of the sperm is of equal importance. It’s no good you making all this effort if he’s down the pub! Some of the biggest causes of low sperm count include alcohol and cigarettes. You might also want to get your other half to put his mobile phone in his top pocket and the laptop on a desk as opposed to his lap, because electromagnetic frequencies can also affect sperm health.
Here are some key nutritional dos and don’ts for boosting your fertility naturally:
- Banish the booze – just 5 alcoholic drinks a week can lower fertility and make it harder to become pregnant. Drinking around the time of ovulation may lower your chance of a successful conception. Ideally both partners should avoid alcohol during preconception (as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding).
- Avoid caffeine – drinking just one cup of coffee a day can reduce your chances of conceiving by half, and two cups increases the risk of miscarriage. Don’t forget caffeine is also in tea, cola and chocolate. Switch to herbal teas instead.
- Eat your greens – dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, chard, rocket and watercress are packed full of nutrients such as iron and folic acid as well as other nutritional compounds which help to correct hormonal imbalances. Simply steam and drizzle with olive oil and lemon, or add them to juices and smoothies.
- Go organic – particularly when considering dairy products, chicken and meat. Non-organic varieties contain hormones and antibiotics which can upset your body’s natural hormone balance and contribute to increased oestrogen levels. Buy free-range or organic chicken and meat. For dairy alternatives try almond, hemp or coconut milk (soy is not recommended for fertility).
- Fill up on fibre – in order to flush out excess hormones or toxicity, it needs to come out somewhere. Keeping your digestion moving daily (you know what I mean!) is so important. Try including more nutrient-dense, fibre-rich whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, rye and spelt bread, rice noodles, millet or buckwheat.
- Good fats all the way – you may have heard about ‘trans fats’ and their damaging effects on health, well they are also harmful when it comes to fertility. Hydrogenated fats are found in deep-fried foods, margarine, processed foods and sadly many, many convenience foods, even those we feed our children. Essential fats (good fats) regulate hormones, promote ovulation and healthy foetal development. Obtain these from avocados, raw nuts and seeds, oily fish (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring), organic coconut oil and cold-pressed oils.
- Drink lots of filtered water – you need water to increase blood flow to the uterus and also to flush out excess hormones, but tap water and bottled water contain xeno-oestrogens which can upset hormonal balance. Invest in a water filter jug and fill up regularly!
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