If you’ve been subsisting on coffee, bagels and fast food, it’s time to rethink what you eat and start to include more fertility-friendly foods in your diet. From stress to age to nutrition, there are many factors that affect getting pregnant. Nowadays, one in eight couples are struggling with infertility.*
Our bodies are extremely sensitive to our environment, especially when it comes to our food. Whether you’re thinking of getting pregnant in the next year or even five years from now, it’s important to keep your diet as clean and nutrient-dense as possible to increase your chances of conceiving and to ensure a healthy and happy baby.
There are many foods and herbs a woman can include in her diet to help support the process of conception. Know that diet plays a vital role long before conception even occurs. Include the recommendations below in your diet to support the overall health of your body and a healthy pregnancy.
1. Omega 3s
Wild caught fish, high quality fish oil supplements, walnuts, hemp seeds and oil, chia seeds and oil, and flax seeds, are all great sources of potent omega-3 fatty acids. It’s important to consistently eat omega-3-rich foods as these fats help to support hormone levels. You can opt for omega 3 supplements to boost your daily intake. Be sure to choose a highly absorbable form of omega-3, like cod liver, sardines, anchovies or mackerel, which contain high amounts of EPA and DHA, both of which support a growing fetus and maintain healthy hormone levels and combat inflammation during pre-conception.
(Related: How To Get Slim By Eating Healthy Fat!)
2. Increase Fat Intake
Omega-3s are not the only fat we want to focus on. Other sources of quality fats include coconut oil, olive oil, avocadoes and grass-fed butter. These are all important for hormonal health. Our hormones are chemical messengers, and every cell in our body contains a hormone receptor. Estrogen and progesterone are essential to a women’s hormonal health, helping to support a healthy menstrual cycle. They are also are vital to conception (1).
An ancient symbol of fertility, pasture-raised eggs contain high amounts of vitamin D which is essential for healthy ovulation. If you’ve been skimping out on eating the yolks, now is the time to start. All the vitamins are locked inside the yolks, including choline, folate and vitamin A.
(Related: The Ultimate Guide to Vitamin D)
4. Folic Acid-Rich Foods
I’m sure we all know and hear about the benefits of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, but what’s important to note is the type of folic acid. Folate, which plays a crucial role during pregnancy, is what to look for when shopping for supplements. In fact, you specifically want to look for “5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate”, “L-methylfolate” or “Metfolin.” Aside from supplements, be sure to include foods rich in folic acid, such as asparagus, broccoli, oranges and lemons.
5. Leafy Greens
Of course I couldn’t leave these out. From spinach to kale to collards and escarole, leafy greens provide you with vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium, all of which help to promote a healthy menstrual cycle (and reduce cramps, too!). Plus, they are high in folate, which is essential for healthy ovaries and a healthy pregnancy (2).
6. Sunflower Seeds
These zinc-rich seeds help your body utilize estrogen and progesterone more efficiently, which is essential for a healthy menstrual cycle, for ovulation and for keeping you fertile. Plus, these magical seeds can also help with DNA production, which can help support egg quality.*
7. Bee Pollen
This is one of the Queen Bee’s favorite foods, and I’m not surprised why! This nutrient-rich compound can help stimulate ovarian function when trying to conceive. You can simply add the granules to a smoothie, sprinkle them into a salad or eat them out of your hand.*
This Peruvian herb is incredible for balancing hormones, increasing energy, and supporting the health of the adrenals, due to being rich in alkaloids. These alkaloids have been shown to have an effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis of which the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands are a part, each of which are involved in hormonal balance (3). You can find maca in tincture form or powder. Adding a scoop into a morning smoothie would be a great way to start the day and boost your energy levels naturally.
This herb is an amazing uterine tonic. Plus, it contains a ton of minerals that help support the health of the kidneys and adrenals (4). It’s great consumed as a tea before, during, and post-pregnancy. Alternatively, fresh-picked nettles are great boiled in broth with garlic and onions and pureed into a soup.
Known for its incredible anti-inflammatory benefits, turmeric, according to traditional Chinese medicine, can help to reduce dampness in the reproductive organs which helps to create an internal environment that is ideal for conception.* Plus, this herb, along with cumin, cardamom and coriander, can all help to combat inflammation and support liver detoxification.
11. Red Raspberry Leaf
This is a well-known fertility herb that can even be taken during pregnancy. It is loaded with minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, plus it’s a great uterine tonic, which helps prepare the uterus for birth. The tannins in this herb also help support the digestive system (5).
This bitter green is great for detoxifying the liver and is loaded with calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. Detoxification is essential to fertility, as it helps aid the liver in better metabolizing hormones and ridding the body of excess toxicity (6). It’s important to include detoxifying herbs and foods in your diet to ensure you are eliminating any toxic buildup, which could affect your chances of conceiving (7).
A nutrient-dense diet full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, along with adequate intake of healthy fats and herbs will not only improve your overall health, but also increase your chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby. Make sure you are eating a clean, whole foods diet, and your body and health will benefit greatly.
(Related: 8 Herbs That Detox Your Body Naturally)
* Alisa Vitti. Woman Code. 2014