What you eat greatly impacts every aspect of your body, from heart health to reproductive health, so it’s no surprise that the foods you eat could encourage fertility. Of course, the main thing to focus on when trying to get pregnant is overall physical health. Eating whole fresh foods, getting plenty of rest, and drinking lots of water will keep your body working the way that it should to improve fertility. Exercise is also important to reduce the chance of obesity, heart disease, and other health risks. Above and beyond this, here are five foods that help prepare your body for pregnancy:
- Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in folic acid, a crucial B-vitamin required for the healthy development of neural tubes in babies. It can help prevent birth defects related to the spinal cord and brain, and increases your baby’s overall chance for survival in the womb. For women, folate is also helpful when trying to get pregnant. According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, folic acid in high doses is related to a lower risk of infertility and miscarriage, specifically when undergoing IVF and other infertility treatments.1
- Seafood and Poultry: Proteins are the building blocks for your cells, so eating enough protein when trying to conceive is helpful. It also strengthens the body and the immune system. According to the same publication in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, fresh seafood such as wild salmon and fresh poultry like chicken and turkey are linked to better sexual health in both men and women. Salmon is particularly useful, because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also linked to improved fertility in 1
- Red Meat: It isn’t just fish and chicken that benefit fertility as a protein; red meat is high in carnitine, which has been proven to improve sperm motility and increase spontaneous pregnancy. A 2013 edition of the Journal of Maturitas includes an article revolving around the importance of diet to improve mitochondria and in turn, fertility. When tested in the blood and sperm of humans, carnitine was found to improve the chances of It is found most in red meat, such as beef.2
- Oysters: For men, oysters increase sperm motility, and could offer other fertility support, according to the Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The study looked at dietary deficiencies and found that men with low zinc levels were more likely to suffer from fertility issues. Oysters are high in natural levels of zinc, and therefore have the potential to increase sperm quality in men who eat 3
- Avocados: Rich in fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants, avocados have proven beneficial for the reproductive health of women. Successful studies have shown that avocados help during the developmental progress of the fetus and in the lactation process. Studies have also been conducted on the idea that antioxidants, like those found in avocados, could help lower the risk for birth 4
Whatever you choose to eat, try to maintain a healthy weight. It’s been scientifically documented that obesity is a leading cause of infertility, especially in men.5 Portion control and proper exercise can help promote sperm quality and production and provide women with the strength and overall physical health to prepare their bodies for pregnancy.
If you’re concerned about your weight or your diet, speak to your doctor about healthy ways to get in shape. Making drastic changes to your diet can be counterproductive if not confirmed as nutritionally sound. Your doctor can also provide information on which vitamins you should supplement based on possible deficiencies.