Every part of the process involved in conception and maintaining a pregnancy is reliant on a nutrient, a hormone, an enzyme and the correct environment within your body. Diet can play a huge role in ensuring that these chemicals are available to form strong, complete sperm and robust, genetically intact eggs.
It takes 3 months for sperm cells to mature and 3 months for immature eggs to mature enough to be released during ovulation. By eating a healthy diet for 4 months before you try for a baby means you can maximise your fertility chances whilst giving your baby the best possible start.
In fact, Foresight claims that 78.4% of previously infertile couples achieve a healthy pregnancy after applying dietary and lifestyle improvements.
There are a number of nutrients that are particularly important for male and female fertility. Here are my top 5 fertility boosting foods:
For Men: –
- Brazil Nuts – these contain a powerful antioxidant called selenium. Selenium is vital for the formation of sperm and sperm motility. Simply eat a maximum of three Brazil Nuts a day to give you all the selenium you need. Do not eat more than this because selenium is toxic at high levels.
- Avocado – this highly nutritious food contains important levels of vitamin E and l-carnitine. Both of these nutrients are important for fertility. Vitamin E works together with selenium to improve sperm quality and L-carnitine provides energy and helps with sperm formation. Aim to eat ½ an avocado a day. If you do not like the taste, try blending in a smoothie.
- Pumpkin Seeds – these are high in zinc. Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for fertility as it plays a key role in the formation of the sperm tail. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to your daily diet.
- Seafood & Oily Fish – these contain essential fats as well as being packed full of vital minerals and vitamins. To help improve your sperm count aim to eat 2 portions of seafood a week.
- Tomatoes – these contain lycopene, another powerful antioxidant that helps to improve sperm count and sperm energy.
- Pumpkin seeds – high in zinc. Zinc has so many roles in female fertility from egg formation to cell division and successful fertilisation. It also helps hormone balance and can reduce the risk of miscarriage. Add a handful of seeds as a daily snack.
- Spinach – this food contains high levels of folic acid (vitamin B9). Folic acid is essential to keep the genetic codes intact, failure to do this results in birth defects or miscarriage. Add a handful of spinach to your daily diet.
- Salmon – high in omega 3 and vitamin D. Essential fats, in particular omega 3, are vital for the production of sex and hormone balance. Salmon and other oily fish also contain many other nutrients that can help aid fertility. Vitamin D plays an important role in ovulation and hormone balance. Eat 2 portions of oily fish a week.
- Sweet potato – contains an excellent amount of vitamin C & A (beta-carotene), These are vitamins with powerful antioxidant properties that helps prevent damage to the egg.
- Natural Organic Live Yogurt – for iodine. Iodine is an important nutrient for the thyroid gland. This gland needs to be functioning properly for fertility. A portion of yogurt a day will give you a good boost of iodine as well as other important nutrients for health and well-being.
The avoid list
Just as there are foods and nutrients that can boost your fertility chances, there are others that will rapidly decrease it. Here are the ones to watch out for:
- Caffeine – this is particularly important when it comes to sperm. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, green tea, cola, chocolate and energy drinks. Avoid it completely when following a fertility plan.
- Alcohol – unfortunately even a small amount is known to severely affect sperm. It also interferes with zinc absorption and as seen above, zinc levels are vital for fertility.
- Non organic animal produce – these contain added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to hormone imbalance.
- Processed foods – these types of foods contain very little nutrition and include additives and other chemicals that can stop your body from achieving optimal health.
- Processed sugar – too much of the white stuff can cause havoc with your blood sugar levels which in term can affect your immune system and hormone balance.
If you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility or are considering IVF then a nutrition consultation could really improve your chances of conceiving both naturally and via the IVF route.
For more information about how nutrition could help you please click here.