Thursday, January 20, 2011

Foods for Fertility

Question of the Day: "My husband and I have been trying to conceive for about 7 months. We have improved our diets by adding more whole grains and leafy greens. Are there any specific foods that can boost fertility?"

While fertility is a complex thing, studies do show a positive link between good nutrition and successful conception. However, each of these recommendations are aimed at achieving overall balance and harmony in the body. Optimal fertility is achieved when hormones are in balance, and functioning well. As the hormonal system is complex, it is important to understand that things like sleep, stress and sugar intake are all very key components.

So the biggest lifestyle and diet factors to address for both the man and the woman are:
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Reduce stress in your life, and practice breathing on a daily basis
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce intake of refined sugars and refined carbohydrates to balance blood sugar

There are several specific foods which are thought to boost fertility, and others which studies show may negatively effect chances of becoming pregnant, particularly in the woman's diet.

Oysters are a well known aphrodisiac, and for the same reason they top the list for fertility enhancing foods! Oysters are extremely high in zinc, a nutrient which is essential in testosterone production and transportation in men, and also aids the ovulation process in women. Zinc can also be obtained in chicken, crab, beef and turkey. Just remember - quality meats, raised on organic pastures have more nutrients.

Omega 3s
We live in a time where omega 3 fatty acids are touted to be the miracle nutrient for just about every ailment. Much of this is due to the resources that have been put into studying this healthful fat in the last 5 years. At any rate, it is thought that omega 3s, found in oily fish like salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds, increases fertility. The science behind this makes sense. Hormones travel on fats in the body, therefore quality fats are needed for hormone transportation and communication. So increase your intake with quality fish oil supplements, or by eating more salmon and flax seeds.

Full- Fat Dairy
This Newsweek article details the importance of full-fat diary for fertility, based on a Harvard study. Check it out, its very interesting. I always recommend organic, full-fat dairy in any case, as it is the least processed and the most healthful option.

It is also likely helpful for both of you to be taking a quality multi-vitamin supplement. This will help make up for any vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and help get the body in better working order. I recommend brands which use whole-food bases, rather than synthetic vitamins created in a lab. You get more bang for your buck as the nutrients are more likely to be absorbed, and do their job.

Foods to avoid:

Caffeine & sugar
Foods containing caffeine and refined sugars will destabilize your hormonal system, at a time where you want to be working towards a healthy, balanced, functioning system. Sugar and caffeine create chemical stress in the body, which negatively impacts fertility hormones in both men and women.

Particularly in women, studies show that alcohol consumption (even in small amounts) can reduce fertility by up to 50%. So, its best not to drink much, or often.

Good luck, and remember - stress is not your friend, so try to kick back, relax, and enjoy the process.

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