Good food choices and staying active are key to maintaining a healthy body, but never more so than when you’re trying to conceive. The practice of getting pregnant can be stressful on your body, which can wreak havoc with your reproductive system, making it that much harder to conceive.
While this is the worst time to try detox diets and other often drastic measures to drop pounds and “get in shape,” the right “diet” (and by diet we are only referring to the food that you eat) can boost your body and help increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Keep up the exercise, drink plenty of water, and make sure to incorporate these foods in your meal planning regime:
Plant Based Proteins
A research study conducted by the Harvard School of Public health (that followed 19,000 female nurses who were actively trying to get pregnant) found that infertility was 39 per cent more likely in women with the highest intake of animal protein. Though there is much to be said for “clean” and high-quality protein from grass-fed and organic meat, switching up your diet to include more plant protein can help significantly improve your chances of conceiving. You don’t have to eat a plate of tofu – chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), lentils, edamame, and nuts are also great sources of plant-based proteins
Greens & Reds & Yellows Etc
When it comes to vegetables, “too much of a good thing” will never apply, espeically when it comes to eating the rainbow. Decorate your plate with lots of colourful veggies, especially the leafy green variety – spinach, romaine, arugula, broccoli and other dark leafy greens are high in folate, a B vitamin that has been shown to help improve ovulation.
It’s also good to note that men who get higher doses of folate make healthier sperm, which may potentially reduce the risk of miscarriage or genetic problems.
Though you could take a calcium supplement to get the recommended amount in your diet on a daily basis, it’s good to note that produce like broccoli, kale and oranges are a natural way to up your calcium without going overboard on dairy.
Whole Milk Products
Did you know that one or two daily services of whole milk or whole milk products (like cheese!) can protect against ovulatory infertility, while skim and low-fat milk products can do the exact opposite? This is good news for full-fat lovers, though researchers say you should obviously enjoy in moderation. Replace one low-fat milk item a day for one full-fat one, and try to remember to compensate for the extra calories elsewhere.
It’s widely known that pregnant women should steer clear of salmon and other fish because of mercury, but wild salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, (and low in mercury) a compound known to help relieve inflammation, and that may help regulate reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs. You can also opt for tilapia and catfish. Up to 12 ounces a week should be sufficient to getting the right amount of omega-3s in your diet.
We know that complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than refined carbohydrates (white bread, etc), and this can help to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable. Since increased levels of insulin can be disruptive to reproductive hormones, this is key when trying to conceive. Stick to darker, “whole” grain products (whole wheat over white). If the ingredients lists “enriched”, you can leave it on the shelf. About six ounces a day of whole grain products will give your diet a boost of antioxidants, B vitamins, and iron, all necessary for those trying to get pregnant.
“Fat” gets a bad rap, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that can help increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation that can interfere with ovulation, conception, and early development of the embryo. Use a little extra virgin olive oil on salad with balsamic vinegar, or in place of butter when cooking, but only when using low to medium heat.
Taking a prenatal vitamin daily when you’re trying to conceive will help to ensure that you’re body is getting the right nutrients on a daily basis, and at least 1 mg of folic acid, which can help decrease the risk of certain birth defects.