The Fertility Diet
Sometimes our plans just won’t go the way we want them. As much as we try, wish, and hope, we have to seek a little help to get the things we really, really want.
Our second attempt at a round of IVF didn’t work like the first time, so we’re looking at any variables that might have made a difference. During our first round, where we received a beautiful daughter at the end, we were eating right, avoiding toxins as best we could, using a variety of guides, online resources, and just common sense.
This time, we were a little less-than-strict. We relaxed and hoped the doctor prescribed medication and a little luck would have been enough. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate lots of vegetables, fruit, and lean meat, but this time, we’re going full-throttle.
According to the most comprehensive study on fertility diet and lifestyle, the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, there was a six-fold increase in fertility from the 18,000 women surveyed in 2008. The women who had the lowest risk of ovulation-related infertility issues ate a plant-based, whole food diet. They ate a variety of vegetable proteins and healthy fats. The study also revealed that the surveyed women with the highest fertility rates exercised more, and took a multivitamin supplement.
To save you the effort of searching for the best diets for making a baby, nutrition for fertility, or which foods to eat to help pregnancy, I’ve put the basics here. This is aimed at both men and women. You’re in this together. (Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, so ask yours before taking on a new diet, or changing your lifestyle).
Pro Tip: At the grocery store, stay around the outside aisles to get your fresher, more nutritious food. Everything on the inside aisles has been designed to last a long time, usually with preservatives and additives.
The Fertility Diet
Eat the rainbow, not Skittles. Your diet should include 5 portions of high fiber fruits and vegetables, nuts seeds, and whole grains. A plant-based diet can be either a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, or can include a small amount of unprocessed meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and/or dairy.
These include fats that occur naturally from plants like coconuts, nuts, avocado, olives, and from fish including salmon and cod. Healthy fats are amazing for keeping your brain, joints, and hair working well, as well as fighting inflammation, and help hormonal sensitivity.
Beans, lentils, whole grains, and most vegetables help to avoid peaks in blood sugar. This can help to regulate your blood sugar, prevent gestational diabetes, and the main aim of improving fertility.
Live Cultured Dairy
If you’re going to add some other fats to your diet, make it high quality dairy with an amount of live culture, including plain yogurt, and organic cheese.
The best, slow carbs:
- Sweet potato
- Oat bran bread
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Whole milk
The not-too-bad slow carbs:
- Oats (look up recipes for overnight oats, they’re good!)
- New potatoes
- Brown rice
- Basmati rice
- Shredded wheat cereal (not the sugar-coated ones!)
- Whole grain bread
Avoid these, seriously:
- Baking potatoes
- White rice
- White bread
- Pancakes and waffles
- Granola bars
- Soda (did you know Coca Cola would be blue if it didn’t have caramel colouring in it?)
- French fries
- Energy bars
- “Sports” drinks (basically sugar water)
For the Men:
Food like oysters are high in zinc, which helps increase production of sperm and testosterone. You can also get zinc from a daily vitamin supplement.
Fruits & vegetables. Get your fill from antioxidant-rich veggies and fruit like dried cranberries and greens to help protect sperm from cellular damage. Vitamin A can in be found in carrots, red peppers and apricots. Vitamin C, which will help motility in your little guys, can be found in orange juice (go easy as it’s full of sugar), tomatoes, grapefruit, and broccoli. Vitamin E will be in vegetable oils, fruits, and beans.
While you can find all these in a supplement, the nature of a daily multivitamin is in the name. It’s there to ‘supplement’ your diet, not replace it.
What to avoid:
Junk food, high-mercury fish like tuna steak, and too much caffeine or alcohol. Research shows that limiting coffee to just one cup per day and cutting down alcohol to the very occasional glass or wine, will really help your sperm count.
Non-organic food contains high levels of chemicals from pesticides and insecticides that have been sprayed on the crops or added to the seeds themselves. These are genetically modified to increase the yield of the crop, without being effected by drought, invasive weeds, or insects. They’re not good for you, or your potential baby.
An article on Natural Fertility Info.com, says “Choose meat that is Grass Fed and Organic
Conventionally raised cattle contain high levels of added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to estrogen dominate conditions. Grass Fed meats, on the other hand, are a great source of essential fatty acids, are low in saturated fat, and are a great source of protein.”
For more information on the kinds of multivitamins, supplements, and dietary changes, talk to your doctor, a registered Dietitian, or use a guide like this one from the Acubalance Wellness Centre.
SHANIKA GRAHAM-WHITEApril 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm
Very interesting post! Thanks so much for sharing! I truly do wish you the best of luck on your continued journey through IVF! I felt like I learned so much about the proper foods to eat for both the Men and Women involved! 🙂
CharityApril 16, 2017 at 8:53 pm
Looks like we are in the same boat. We have been trying as well and probably on our way to IVF. We are trying to eat healthy as much as we can. Thanks for these tips. Goodluck!!!
jamesrcsmithApril 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm
Thank you, and good luck to you too.
Jade MillsApril 17, 2017 at 9:43 am
A great read and very interesting. Will be useful to tag my SIL who is currently struggling to conceive after a miscarriage. Thank you
Shannon BurlingameApril 17, 2017 at 9:45 am
Great post! I like that you include for women and men. That’s seriously scary about Coca cola. I had no idea!
GiGi EatsApril 17, 2017 at 10:29 am
I think there is far more to the equation than just diet when it comes to fertility, that’s for sure!
christineApril 17, 2017 at 11:14 am
Ahh yes, this sounds familiar, as I have been in your shoes as well. It took my hubby and I about a year and a half to conceive our first son with no fertitlity treatment. I tried the fertility diet and eliminating toxins from my body with all kinds of natural detoxes. I read an awful lot. We were relieved that we got pregnant on our own, but not the next time around. We tried for 2.5 years without any luck before going down the fertility treatment road. We were labeled with unexplained infertility. We did 5 IUIs and then 2 failed rounds of IVF. On transfer number 3, our second baby boy came along. It’s a hard and emotional journey so hang in there. Nobody really knows what you are going through on your IVF journey so try to reach out to people who could offer support. Best of luck and believe it will happen!
meiApril 17, 2017 at 12:07 pm
This is such a useful information. I am on the process of getting pregnant and can definitely use this advice. Thank you
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[…] Trying to conceive? Here is some culinary help from James R.C. Smith with “The Fertility Diet.” […]