The Fertility Diet Simplified
Diet is one of the main pillars for a healthy mind and body, especially when you are focusing on boosting your fertility (preparing your body for pregnancy, prepping for an IVF or IUI, or trying to conceive naturally). Knowing what to eat is complicated enough, but through the lens of fertility adds another layer of complexity. We did our best to provide all the information you need in our downloadable Fertility Diet E-Book, but sometimes it’s easier to absorb a condensed version.
I typically tell my fertility patients to focus on three things, plenty of healthy fats (olives, olive oil, coconut, avocado, nuts and seeds, hummus), good quality proteins (free-range eggs, organic and hormone-free meat, beans), and as many vegetables as they can eat in a day. If they are hitting those three things each day then that’s a great start. A prenatal vitamin should also be taken daily and ideally at least 3 months before the time of conception.
The next thing I tell my patients is to pay attention to what foods they are sensitive to. If you have allergies it’s pretty obvious to steer clear of those particular foods, but it’s also important to avoid foods that you know upset your stomach and cause symptoms like heartburn, bloating, stomach aches, cramps, constipation, or loose stools. I explain to my patients that if there is inflammation in the gut, then there’s going to be inflammation in the entire body which can cause hormonal imbalance and impair egg quality. Removing foods that you know cause an upset stomach and consequent inflammation is a good idea.
Eat out as little as possible and avoid fast food entirely. One studyshowed that women who did not eat fast food had a 41% reduced risk to experience infertility. Focus on whole foods (grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc). Women who ate fruit less frequently had an increased risk of infertility and a longer time to falling pregnant. Avoid processed foods like chips and junk food. If it doesn’t look like how it came out of the ground, then it’s processed. Excessive amounts of sugar can also be detrimental to hormones and fertility. Cook with plenty of herbs and spices for nutrients and antioxidants. Buy as much organic produce as you can, or at least adhere to the dirty dozen list.
Keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day is incredibly important for hormones. Insulin is a hormone, and hormones work where if one goes out of balance, the rest can go out of balance. Making sure you are eating breakfast (with healthy fats and protein), eating every few hours, and eating plenty of healthy fats and protein throughout the day to stabilize blood sugar is very important.
With conditions like endometriosis or PCOS, diet is even more important. It’s important to eat as anti-inflammatory as possible with endometriosis and avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, excessive amounts of red meat, and alcohol. People with endometriosis tend towards leaky gut or impaired gut function, so healing the gut is crucial for the reduction of inflammation and symptoms as well as boosting fertility. Read more here. With PCOS blood sugar stabilization is key for ensuring healthy ovulation and egg quality. Avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates entirely. Focus on protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Read more here.
In Chinese medicine, we see the digestive system as a fire or furnace. Cooked, warm foods add fuel to the fire to strengthen the digestive system while cold and raw foods put out the digestive fires and can lead to bloating loose stools, and poor nutrient absorption. Try to eat something warm and cooked with each meal. The first thing that hits your stomach in the morning should be warm, even if it's just a small glass of warm lemon water. This will prime the digestion to make sure it is absorbing the maximum capacity of nutrients and your body is producing adequate amounts of digestive enzymes.
Check out our recipe ideas here.
Need more structure? A mediterranean diet has been shown to be beneficial for fertility.
I hope this helps provide more insight into an ideal fertility diet. If you are looking for more personalized dietary advice, curious about supplementation, or want to know what else you can do to improve your fertility, book a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our experienced practitioners of Chinese medicine or naturopaths. You may also book your initial consultation here.