Fertility can be a difficult problem for many couples, and unfortunately, fertility issues are on the rise. A ton of aspects of modern living don’t exactly help remedy that problem: sedentary work; stressful lifestyles; chemicals inhaled and absorbed through water sources, cosmetics, and perfumes; radioactive technology exposure; and, of course, all the toxic sprays, additives, and preservatives in our food supply.
Eating healthy is great and a fabulous start to boosting your fertility, but some foods do the trick better than others. Although some of their practices were maybe more superstitious than scientific, Native American women would eat certain foods before and during pregnancy because they knew they contained important fertility nutrients that contribute to healthy ovulation and conception ability. And we know that when you have good ovulation and your fertility is at a healthy peak, you can feel on top of the world with your happy hormones.
Show Me the Foods!
Happily, many of these foods contain more than one nutrient that boosts fertility. For example, salmon and oysters contain both healthy fat and protein, so you can kill two birds with one stone. And obviously, we need a healthy balance of good protein, fat, and carbohydrate/fiber foods, but we also want foods high in B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, iron, vitamins C & D, and folic acid.
Antioxidant-rich fruit is high in Vitamin C and folic acid. They help boost progesterone levels and assist healthy infant growth in the womb after conception. A study showed that those who consume fruit on the daily have a lower chance of infertility. Make a regular habit of eating fruit like berries (also high in phytonutrients which increase fertility), lemons/citrus, pomegranate seeds, pineapple, and grapes. Bonus: Daily servings of fruit balances your blood glucose, reducing sugar cravings for processed sweets.
Legumes, like beans and lentils, help build fertility and balance hormones and appetite. They’re also great for reducing refined carb intake. Legumes (especially beans) can be tricky for those with more sensitive stomachs, but if you can digest them well, then try to incorporate some legumes into your diet. You can add some beans to a chicken salad bowl, or make some white bean and turkey chili, and who doesn’t love Mexican food? Cooking tip: Beans are better digested if they’re soaked several hours or overnight before cooking.
Consuming enough protein is essential for building good fertility hormones. A highlighted member of the fertility foods group, liver, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Cow liver is the best option, or liver from wild game. Liver has a very strong taste, so maybe prepare it as a sauté with garlic, onion, and Italian herbs and serve it with small potatoes for a savory dish. You should also add collagen (mix into smoothies, yogurt, and nut butters) and bone broth to your weekly menu. You can use bone broth in soups and sauces, or simply heat up a mug to drink in the afternoon or evening.
Consuming enough protein is essential for building good fertility hormones.
Eggs, especially the yolks, are a fertility superfood high in healthy fats and light protein and are easily digested. If you aren’t allergic, make eggs a staple in your kitchen. Poached or soft-boiled are the healthiest ways to prepare eggs, and don’t overcook. (They’re not necessary to consume raw (*gag*), unless of course, you absolutely must have some fresh eggnog.)
We’ve heard that fish is good for fertility, but we especially like salmon and oysters. These bad boys are packed with healthy protein and omega-3 fats, making them a great fertility food. They also contain iron, B vitamins, and selenium, which all boost fertility. Research shows that “eating more fish correlates to a higher probability of live birth following infertility treatment.” If you can, opt for wild-caught.
Healthy fats are necessary to nurture healthy fertility. Avoid trans fats. Among the top healthy fats are avocado, which also contains vitamin K and potassium that contribute to prenatal health, and walnuts, which contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and protein. Others like almonds and pumpkin seeds are also good for hormonal balance and fertility.
Eating more fish correlates to a higher probability of live birth following infertility treatment.
Sunflower seeds are strangely specific, yet an interesting mention in the fertility foods category. High in fats and protein, these also are said to increase sperm health and improve sperm motility.
Dairy products (if you can digest them) are rich in saturated fat, which boosts fertility, as well as vitamins A, E, D, and K. Pasture-raised is best, and Harvard found that women who ate full-fat dairy were actually more likely to conceive than those who ate reduced-fat dairy. Yes, the full fat may have more calories, but you can remedy this if you use small portion sizes. Plus the fat helps digest the protein and makes you feel fuller. So, hop off the low-fat/nonfat dairy trend if you’re on it! Stick with grass-fed, organic, and unpasteurized dairy such as milk, yogurt, and butter. The good quality is tastier anyway and is more easily digested, so invest in the better options.
As strange as it may sound, cooked tomatoes contain lycopene which happens to be a potent antioxidant that boosts your fertility. Some people have issues with nightshades, but if you can handle them well, then maybe whip up some spaghetti or homemade pizza this weekend!
Remember that most things that would make your baby’s body healthier will also make yours so. Your cycle is based around building your fertility, so you have to give it what it needs. If you struggle with cravings, especially around your luteal phase/period, your body probably didn’t get enough of the right foods during ovulation and genuinely needs something in that craving. So when you start craving some chocolate chip cookies, eat a bit of fruit and magnesium-rich foods, like sweet potato and/or some very dark chocolate instead.
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