Fertility is the natural ability to conceive a child, and although it may seem a given capacity, many couples struggle with it. Unfortunately, infertility is a reality for about 15% of the world population, not bound by gender, affecting both men and women. Infertility is defined as a couple’s inability to conceive naturally after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse.
The good news is that you can take a few steps to improve your fertility, namely through nutrition. Although there is no magic diet or food to boost your chances of conception, a nutritious and well-balanced diet can support your overall health, including reproductive health. Moreover, there are a few other natural strategies one can implement to improve their chances of conception.
With that in mind, in this article, we’ve compiled a few healthy and natural lifestyle changes that can be beneficial to optimize fertility and general well-being.
Including more antioxidant-rich foods can improve fertility for both men and women. This is because antioxidants like folate and zinc deactivate the free radicals in the body, which can damage both sperm and egg cells.
Studies have shown that eating 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts per day improved sperm quality. Additionally, a higher intake of folate was linked to higher implantation rates, clinical pregnancy, and live birth.
Thus, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains rich in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, folate, beta carotene, and lutein, can assist your conception efforts.
Eating a substantial breakfast can help women with fertility problems by improving the hormonal effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and reducing insulin and testosterone levels (high levels of either can foment infertility).
A bigger breakfast can also increase ovulation, thus improving fertility. However, to maintain a healthy weight, you’ll need to balance your portions: bigger breakfast, smaller dinner.
Healthy fats and trans fats are different: healthy fats boost fertility and overall health, while trans fats increase the risk of ovulatory infertility due to their negative effect on insulin sensitivity.
A diet higher in trans fat and lower in unsaturated fats was correlated to infertility for men and women. So, avoid trans fats commonly found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, fried foods, processed products, and baked goods.
Reduce Carbs Consumption
Low carb consumption can make a significant impact on women with PCOS. Having a diet where less than 45 percent of calories come from carbs will help healthy weight management, reduce insulin levels, and encourage fat loss, all while assisting menstrual regularity.
Furthermore, it’s not only about the level of carb intake, but also the type. Refined carbs are one of the most problematic types: sugary foods and drinks and processed grains, such as white pasta, bread, and rice, are absorbed very fast, which causes spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Moreover, refined carbs have a high glycemic index, increasing blood sugar levels significantly. Hence, consistently elevated insulin levels can reduce the level of reproductive hormones, affecting egg maturation and ovulation. Since PCOS is associated with high insulin levels, consumption of refined carbs can make matters worse.
Eat More Fiber
As you’ve probably heard, a fiber-rich diet is your greatest ally for your digestive system, but that’s not all. Fiber helps your body expel the excess hormones such as estrogen and maintains blood sugar levels balanced. Moreover, soluble fiber from avocados, sweet potatoes, oats, and fruits helps lower estrogen and progesterone levels, while cereal fiber lowers the risk of ovulatory infertility.
Exchange Protein Sources
There is a connection between a diminished risk of infertility and the substituting of animal proteins, such as meat, fish, and eggs, with vegetable protein sources, such as beans, nuts, and seeds.
Studies have shown that the risk of ovulatory infertility decreases by more than 50 percent when 5 percent of total calories come from vegetable protein instead of animal proteins. Thus, consider adding alternative protein sources, such as vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and low mercury fish.
High Fat Dairy
Increasing your intake of high-fat dairy food may decrease the risk of infertility by 27 percent. Thus, replace one low-fat dairy serving with a high-fat dairy serving – for example, a glass of whole milk or full-fat yogurt.
Research has shown that by consuming three or more multivitamins a week, the risk of ovulatory infertility decreases by 20 percent. That’s because multivitamins contain specific nutrients to boost overall health, such as folate, which also supports conception.
The type of vitamins you should take will depend on your body’s necessities, health condition, and health goals. Hence, discuss your needs with your doctor before taking multivitamins.
Exercising in moderation is beneficial for your overall health and increases your fertility. To improve your fertility, you should start exercising regularly and slowly. Overexercising can have the opposite effect and negatively affect your reproductive system.
Take Time For Yourself
Stress is one of the worst enemies of conception, affecting your hormones and suppressing fertility. To manage stress healthily, seek support and counseling from loved ones and wellness professionals – they’ll help you reduce anxiety and depression levels, which increases your odds of becoming pregnant.
Unfortunately, weight greatly influences fertility by affecting menstrual function, ovulation levels, and impaired egg development. If you’re underweight or overweight, work with your doctor to achieve a healthy weight to improve your chances of getting pregnant – they can help you do it healthily and sustainably.
Iron is the super ingredient to prevent ovulatory infertility, particularly iron from vegetal sources. Although not everyone will need to consume iron supplements, it’d be good to test your iron levels and talk to your doctor.
Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect fertility, making it longer to get pregnant or causing infertility. Thus, to ensure the best possible results, it’s best to speak to your doctor about your intake of alcohol and cut it down.
Certain natural supplements have been credited with increasing fertility, such as maca, bee pollen, bee propolis (especially beneficial in women with endometriosis), and royal jelly. However, not all of these supplements have enough scientific studies to back up their usage, so discuss it with your healthcare professionals before taking them.
A healthy body and reproductive system heavily depend on one’s lifestyle and nutrition. Therefore, fostering a nutritious diet in your daily life while making smart choices to improve your overall health can improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
Therefore, take on this article’s tips and start boosting your fertility today, but do speak with your doctor about your current health condition and family planning to make the best decisions.