Each year, slightly less than 4 million babies are born in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a lot of couples trying to get pregnant, and many still don’t succeed. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that 10 percent of couples struggle with fertility. These individuals are often seeking out anything they can do to increase their chances of conception. Some will track their cycle so they know when they ovulate, and others will use basal body thermometers to confirm that they do.
Beyond these normal fertility measures though, there are other things that can be done to boost a couple’s odds of getting pregnant. Food is a great one! Even the best food-grade sourced prenatal vitamins are not enough to ensure increased chances of pregnancy. Some of the most popular foods known to boost fertility include:
- Salmon and tuna
- Lean meats
- Fruits high in vitamin C
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds
How Do Fertility Food Help
Salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary to sustain a healthy pregnancy and for fetal development. Lean meats are a quality source of iron, which the What to Expect notes boosts fertility. Beans and legumes are also good source of iron. Fruits with high vitamin C contents, like kiwi, citrus and berries, are beneficial to overall health as well as helping the body to better absorb iron.
Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are high in folate and vitamins D and K — both essential to grow a baby and keep Mom feeling happy and well-balanced. These nutrients come in handy when it comes to fertility, too, per Mercola. Cauliflower is recommended because it’s high in choline — an essential nutrient that supports brain health and reduces the risk of birth defects, according to Parents Magazine. Women hoping to get pregnant should chow down on almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds regularly. Oysters aren’t necessarily a contributing factor to pregnancy in any biologic way, but they can increase one’s libido and put couples more in the mood to get busy.
Foods to Avoid That May Decrease Fertility
While the foods discussed above can boost your fertility, you don’t want to counter them with anything that could hinder it. That’s why it’s important to remove certain things from your diet that could be working against conception.
- Processed foods high in polyunsaturated fat
- Herbs and supplements
Caffeine is a bit of a daily luxury for many Americans. Villanova University reports 90 percent of the country indulges each day. This one isn’t just a risk factor for women trying to get pregnant, but for their partners, too. Per Live Science, women who consume at least two caffeinated beverages a day when they conceive are 74 percent more likely to miscarry, and a 73 percent increased risk of miscarriage when the father had the same caffeine consumption habits.
Processed foods are a detriment to many aspects of human health. Sadly, the American diet has become one that is more obsessed with food products than real food. The Atlantic reports that 57.9 percent of daily caloric intake among Americans is coming from ultra-processed foods. In one study, 26 percent of women who consumed high-fat diets and a steady amount of processed foods suffered with fertility issues, compared to only 17 percent of women who adhere to a more Mediterranean-style diet, per Parents Magazine.
While herbs and supplements are usually touted for their medicinal benefits, some of them can actually impair fertility. Others may be harmful to a developing baby and should be avoiding while trying to conceive in case conception is successful. Those to avoid while trying to conceive include:
Alcohol should be a given that most women who are hoping to become pregnant would avoid. Sadly, that isn’t the case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states 1 in 10 pregnant women drink alcohol while expecting. In fact, some doctors are even giving their pregnant patients the green light to drink moderate amounts while with child, but the research doesn’t back this up. Fit Pregnancy notes medical organizations with authority on the issue still represent a strong stance that no amount of alcohol consumption while pregnant is safe. Since most women don’t know they are pregnant until they’re at least three to four weeks along, they should abstain from alcohol each cycle following ovulation unless and until a new cycle starts.
Dairy products have long been touted as beneficial to fertility. Much debate ensued over which variants were better — low-fat or full-fat. The verdict is in, and it’s actually advising people hoping to become parents to remove dairy products from their diets altogether. Previous theories assumed that the increased concentration of growth hormones in cows would be passed on in their milk and thereby enhance fertility in those who consumed it.
We now know there isn’t an exact science to it. Eating a diet high in low-fat dairy products raises the risk of anovulatory cycles by 85 percent, per the Daily Beast. In many cases, inflammation caused by dairy products may impact fertility. In addition, hormones, pesticides and sugars in dairy products can also hinder conception.
With a little guidance on which foods to load up on and which to set aside for the foreseeable future, you can use three meals a day as a booster toward conceiving your baby. This is just one of many natural lifestyle choices women can make to enhance their fertility without medical interventions.