- Written by Madeline MacKinnon, Guest Blogger
What should you eat when you’re trying to conceive?
There’s always been a lot of confusion around this topic. Your doctors may say there’s not much you can do to boost your fertility by way of nutrition. However, there is plenty of reputable research that links fertility to food.
You may be familiar with “The Fertility Diet”, which uses the second Nurse’s Health Study from 1989 as a basis. Since then, more research has come out to support the same hypothesis, as this paper from 2016 notes:
“[Our] change in diet composition, over the last 100 years, has been associated to decreased fertility rates in women over the age of 35… [The] proportion of different polyunsaturated fats in the diet significantly influences prostaglandin synthesis and ovarian steroidogenesis, both having crucial role in the reproductive process.” (Fontana and Della Torre, 2016)
One thing is for sure, food does impact your fertility. Our body uses nutrients from food to build our hormones. We also need nutrients to ‘metabolize’ hormones, meaning either convert them into usable forms or effectively remove them from the body.
A deficiency of a certain nutrient is enough to affect your fertility since hormone balance (especially progesterone, estrogen and thyroid) is such an important piece of a healthy pregnancy. So what particular nutrients should you be focus and what foods should you eat to get them?
Folate is actually one of the main reasons women take prenatal vitamins. Folate is important for preventing birth defects. Make sure your prenatal supplement includes ‘methyl folate’, which is more easily absorbed than folic acid. Get folate from avocado, kale, beans and swiss chard.
B6 supports general hormone balance and fertility. Get B6 from sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, turkey, cod, wild salmon, pistachios and banana.
Healthy Saturated Fats are important for you hormone levels and producing optimal hormones. Hormones are built from fat! Get the best fats from fish oil, avocado, and grass fed butter… All are important for fertility.
Magnesium is an often overlooked but it’s also important for fertility. This mineral helps decrease stress, relax muscles, and supports progesterone levels in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. Being deficient in magnesium has also been linked to frequent miscarriages. My favourite food-based source of magnesium is steamed swiss chard, which we included the the fertility recipe below. Other great sources are avocado, spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans and pumpkin.
What to avoid?
When you’re preparing to conceive, you need to guard your body against chemicals and compounds that sabotage your efforts.
Processed and rancid fats
Starvation diets or low fat diets
Soy (unless it’s fermented, like tempeh and miso paste)
Processed grains and flours
The journey towards optimal fertility is one you work towards every day. Get all the nutrients you require from an easy to eat, easy to digest fertility smoothie!
My Green Fertility Smoothie Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup steamed swiss chard
½ cup blueberries
½ frozen banana
½ avocado or 1 Tbsp sunflower butter
½ cup organic plain yogurt or kefir (optional)
2 Tbsp collagen peptide protein powder
Optional Fertility Boosters
1 tsp he shou wu powder
1 tsp bee pollen (don’t use if you have a bee allergy)
Get Our Free Ovulation Protocol
We designed a custom superfood smoothie for you to take 3-4 days around ovulation. It has 100% of your RDA of folate, estrogen-detoxing compounds, progesterone-supportive nutrients, and herbal aphrodisiacs! Click here to get our protocol.
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Madeline MacKinnon is the founder of Natural Hormone Healing and is a highly sought-after, leading expert in the emerging field of herbal culinary arts, elixir making and tonic herbalism. She dedicates her time, energy and education to help women from around the world to balance their hormones naturally without the use of drugs.
Get more functional nutrition info on her website, follow her on Instagram or on Facebook. You can also join her online community, The Vibrant Health & Hormone Balance Sisterhood to get all you need to know about women’s health and hormone balance.
The Deep Correlation between Energy Metabolism and Reproduction: A View on the Effects of Nutrition for Women Fertility. Fontana, R, and Della Torre, S. Published 11 February 216.
Nutrients 2016, 8(2), 87, doi:10.3390/nu8020087