High-quality, complete proteins
Proteins should be included in any diet for fertility as they are important for regulating the hormones needed for conception. Protein needs vary from person to person, but a general rule of about 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal appears most beneficial. Proteins are the building blocks to life, so optimal fertility depends on adequate protein.
Proteins are also a great source of iron, vitamin B12, and zinc, which are needed for both ovulation in women and healthy sperm in men (1). These nutrients can be difficult to consume in adequate quantities for individuals who don’t eat animal protein. It’s for this reason that fertility doctors don’t usually recommend a vegan diet for women trying to get pregnant.
Good sources of lean protein include wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, organic chicken and turkey, eggs (including egg whites), beans, and legumes. Quality dairy products like yogurt and kefir can also provide protein.
Read: Tips to Increase Male Fertility: Diet, Lifestyle, & Supplements
Foods that negatively affect fertility
Diet is a highly individual factor for reproductive health, but there are certain things that are recommended to avoid if you’re trying to conceive.
- A diet high in added sugars and processed carbohydrates. These can exacerbate insulin resistance which may inhibit ovulation, especially for women who have PCOS.
- Highly-processed foods contain preservatives, food dyes, and are usually devoid of nutrients. To optimize fertility, these types of foods should be kept to a minimum.
- Trans fats have been linked to decreased fertility rates, and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Alcohol. If you’re actively trying to get pregnant, both men and women should avoid alcohol.
- Excessive caffeine intake more than 400 mg per day.
Improving egg quality with diet & lifestyle
Developing egg cells mature up to 90 days before ovulation, which provides an opportunity to protect them from oxidative damage and provide them with the best start possible (7).
To protect developing eggs and increase antioxidant activity, consider:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Reducing exposure to environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors (BPA, phthalates, PFOAs, etc.)
- Reducing stress
- Supplements such as choline, inositol, and a prenatal
Get started with your preconception health at CentreSpringMD now.
Get a preconception checkup with functional medicine
Prenatal care at CentreSpringMD starts well before you pick out a prenatal vitamin. Our providers encourage a “preconception physical”
Schedule an appointment with your functional medicine doctor where he or she will evaluate your overall health, address any underlying health conditions, and help you build an optimal environment in which to conceive.
In summary, a healthy fertility diet should include plenty of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats (like olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, avocados, and coconut). Limit or avoid highly processed foods and trans fats, and include adequate protein. Work with a qualified functional nutritionist to ensure your preconception health and give your little one the best start possible.