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Foods To Increase Fertility

Posted on November 13, 2019


These days we have a HUGE amount of scientific research telling us which nutrients are important for fertility: Omega 3 Fatty acids, folate, zinc, selenium, iron, vitamin E, just to name a few! But we eat FOOD, not nutrients, so part of my job as dietitian is helping translate this scientific research into to practical advice that you can bring to your kitchen. So with that in mind, I thought I’d share with you my top 5 fertility-boosting foods that you can add to your shopping list this week to help boost your chances of pregnancy.

1. Beans and legumes:

Think chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, Cannellini beans, black beans etc

These guys tick ALL the nutrition boxes when it comes to a fertility diet. Firstly, they’re high in plant based protein, which is a big win as studies show that higher intakes pf plant protein are associated with reduced risk of infertility – in fact one study out of Harvard University found that replacing just 5 % of animal protein with plant protein could reduce the risk of infertility related to ovulation issues by up to 50%[1]. High in prebiotic fibre, they’re also great for gut health and rich in vitamins and minerals needed for both male and female fertility, such as zinc, folate, iron, B6 and magnesium.

2. Oily Fish

A 2018 study showed that couples with regular seafood intake took less time to fall pregnant than those with infrequent intake[2].  Omega 3 fatty acids, found in high amounts in oil fish such as salmon, sardines (my personal favourite as they’re an excellent source of iron too), mackeral, mullet, herrings and silver warehou are associated with better egg quality and improved implantation in women and better sperm quality in men.  2-3 serves of oily fish per week seems to be the sweet spot and it’s super important for women in particular to avoid high mercury fish, in the lead up to conception (and during pregnancy).  Check out this useful guide fish and mercury: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/foodsafetyandyou/life-events-and-food/pregnancy/mercury-and-fish

3. Olive oil

A key part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with reduced inflammation and improved male and female fertility, particularly in the context of IVF, I recommend all of my clients switch to olive oil as they’re main cooking fat (yes you CAN cook with it!). Not only is it rich in beneficial monounsaturated fat, it’s also a good source of Vitamin E, which is important for implantation and is also a powerful antioxidant which can help protect egg and sperm DNA. It’s also rich in other antioxidants and polyphenols, and can help us better absorb other fat soluble vitamins and minerals needed for fertility.

4. Nuts and seeds:

Rich in healthy fats, needed for normal reproductive function and high in vitamins and minerals needed for both male and female fertility such as zinc, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin B6.  It’s especially important for men to be getting their daily healthy handful with studies are showing big benefits for sperm health.

5. Leafy green vegetables

All vegetables are a winner when it comes to fertility, but leafy greens are superstars for their high nutrient content, so I encourage my clients to include these every day. They are a great source of folate, which is well known for helping to prevent birth defects in early pregnancy, but did you know that folate is also super important for fertility – and that’s for men AND women! Leafy greens are also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, Iron, and more, as well as containing those reproductive-protective antioxidants!

So which foods will you be adding to your fertility diet?

If you’d like more help optimising your nutrition to boost your chances of conceiving contact reception at Women’s Health Melbourne to book in for a private consultation.

References

[1] Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstet Gynecol. (2007) 110:1050–8. 10.1097/01.AOG.0000287293.25465.e1

[2] Gaskins, A. J., Sundaram, R., Buck Louis, G. M., & Chavarro, J. E. (2018). Seafood Intake, Sexual Activity, and Time to Pregnancy. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism103(7), 2680–2688. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-00385

 


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