If you’re trying to conceive, these diet changes could help prep your body for pregnancy.
If you're trying to get pregnant, you may be looking to increase your nutrition through the foods you are eating. Research has suggested that diets high in things like unsaturated fat, whole grains, vegetables, and fish are associated with improved fertility (particularly in females); they can also help you get off to a healthy start in pregnancy.
"Eating as if you're already pregnant can actually help prime your body for conception," says Sarah Krieger, R.D., a nutritionist based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Learn how to create your own fertility diet by embracing fertility-friendly foods.
Foods to Include in a Fertility Diet
While there are no magic foods for getting pregnant, one simple change you can make to support your fertility is to ensure your diet includes healthy choices from the following food groups.
Fruits and vegetables
Go ahead: Load your plate with fruits and veggies. In one study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which comprised nearly 19,000 women (non-binary and LGBTQIA+ people were not represented in the data), found a higher incidence of ovulatory disorder in those who consumed more trans fats, sugar from carbohydrates, and animal proteins. The antidote? Make sure half your plate at every meal is composed of fresh fruits and vegetables.
"Watermelon and asparagus, in addition to other raw fruits and vegetables, give the body a rich supply of glutathione, which is important for egg quality," says Alisa Vitti, integrative nutritionist and author of WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source. "Kale is another powerhouse vegetable because it contains elements necessary for estrogen metabolism."
Though consuming the whole fruit or veg is best, Vitti suggests juicing kale and other greens if you're not a fan of raw veggies. "I love recommending patients make fresh, mostly-vegetable juices with a few fruits like goji berries, which contain phytochemicals that are beneficial for fertility," she says. To combat nutrient loss, roast vegetables in high heat for a short time with no water or microwave them with a small amount of water.
Healthy, plant-based fats in moderation are an important part of any balanced diet. Nuts, avocados, olive oil, and grapeseed oil can help reduce the inflammation in the body, which helps promote regular ovulation and general female fertility.
Some fats may even assist people who truly struggle with infertility. "Studies have shown that consuming a certain quantity of monounsaturated fats in the form of avocados during the IVF cycle increased the success rate by three and a half times, as opposed to women who don't eat good plant-based fats during that period," Vitti says.
It can also be helpful to avoid trans fats (the kind found in processed snacks like French fries and packaged foods) and eat more unsaturated fats. Trans fats increase insulin resistance. Insulin helps move glucose from the bloodstream to the cells; resistance means it's harder to move glucose into the cells.
The pancreas keeps pumping out more insulin anyway, resulting in more insulin in your bloodstream. High insulin levels cause a lot of metabolic disturbances that affect ovulation, so it's best to focus on foods that guard against insulin resistance when creating a fertility diet.
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