About a year ago I heard words from my doctor stunned me…I wasn’t ovulating. What?! How could this be possible? I had just spent all these years trying NOT to get pregnant and now that my husband and I were ready, she was telling me that was not going to happen. Why it was also shocking to me is that I felt the best I had ever felt in my adult life. I was in the middle of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition program and had totally revamped what I was eating and my exercise routine. I discovered wonderful foods like quinoa and kale and even uncovered that dairy really had an effect on my energy level and digestive system and significantly cut it out of my diet.
However, after hearing the news that having a baby was not going to be so easy I was willing to try anything to boost my fertility and that included changing my diet…again. I picked up the book by Dr. Walter Willet Diet for Fertility. Here are just a few of many great takeaways from the book. Had I not attended IIN, I’m not sure I would have known about this book so I am happy to pass along this helpful information and do suggest picking up the book if it interest you. They are really tips for everyone, not just people trying to conceive.
My story is not is not unique by any means and studies have shown that talking to other women, and not just your partner, about your struggles can help you become pregnant. I truly believe that also helped me and I am very happy to report that my husband and I are expecting our first child in September.
5 Food Tips To Boost Your Fertility (but tips everyone can use!)
Source: The Fertility Diet by Dr. Walter Willett
1. Eat more Whole Grains
Research from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study showed that eating slowly digestible carbohydrates rich in fiber improves fertility. When you eat easily digestible carbs that spike your blood-sugar like white bread, potatoes, sodas it disrupts the finely tuned balance of hormones needed for reproduction. In the study, it all came down to the quality not quantity of the carbohydrates participants ate. Don’t skip the carbs! Focus on getting more of the slowly digestible carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables and whole fruits.
Check out some great Quinoa Recipes on our blog The Whole Tulip
2. Stay away from Trans Fats!
Ok, we all know to stay away far far away from trans fats, but it is especially
important when you are trying to conceive or are pregnant. Don’t think of this time in your life as a time when you can eat anything you want including those doughnuts a co-worker brings to the office on Friday. Eating a modest amount – even just 2% of your calories in trans fats can increase infertility. That is equal to 2 tablespoons of margarine, 1 medium order of fast food french fries or 1 doughnut.
However, concentrating on getting enough healthy unsaturated fats in your diet is very important and will actually improve fertility. Healthy fats will increase insulin sensitivity and cool inflammation. Olive oil, avocados, peanut butter (be sure to pick organic and unsalted), and many nuts and seeds are good sources of monounsaturated fats.
3. Eat More Plant Protein!
I hear more than anything from people that they think they need more protein. Yes, we do need adequate amounts of protein in our diets, but we also need carbohydrates and fat. Just like the fat, your source of protein is very very important. The Nurses’ Health Study showed that women getting more protein from plants and less from animals were actually less likely to have ovulatory infertility and infertility was 39% more likely for the women that consumed the highest amounts of animal protein.
Don’t think of beans as a side, but make them the star of your meal. They are full of not only protein, but also fiber and minerals. And, don’t forget about those raw nuts and seeds either!
4. Pile on those Dark Leafy Greens
We all hear from our doctors how important it is that our supplements include the recommended amount of folate especially during our reproductive years to support red cell production and prevent neural tube defects. But, you don’t really know how much folate is body is actually absorbing from your supplement, why not get more folate from whole foods? Kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens broccoli, brussel sprouts, and asparagus are all folate rich foods. Don’t forget about those lentils and black eyed peas too.
5. Have your Milk and Ice Cream too!
I’m not making this up and I boy was I happy to read this research. I had pretty much given up dairy because I found my energy levels were higher, I had less mucus in my body weighing me down, and much less bloating. However, I was very willing to make some sacrifices (ha!) to increase my chances of becoming pregnant. Sadly, this tip is short lived unlike my others…
The Nurses’ Health Study found that daily serving or two of whole milk and foods made from whole milk—full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and, yes, even ice cream—seem to offer some protection against ovulatory infertility, while skim and low-fat milk did the opposite. Removing fat from milk changes the balance of hormones in a way that could tip the scales against ovulation and conception. The study found that the more low-fat dairy products in a woman’s diet, the more trouble she had getting pregnant.
As I said, this is just a temporary nutrition tip. And, if the dairy is really not agreeing with you, don’t push it. Always go for the organic products too.
Drink More Water!
I know this is a no-brainer like the trans-fats, but it is so so so important especially since the temperature is rising everyday and I think worth mentioning because I think it is that important. Try some refreshing water with lemon or lime, infuse your water with strawberries or pineapple. Be creative and drink your water. Try and get at least 64 oz a day and more if you are working out or sitting on the beach in the hot sun. Let’s leave those diet cokes on the store shelves this summer and drink more water for your health and the health of your future family ☺
Check out how to make Fruit Infused Water on The Whole Tulip. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more. These are tips not just for people trying to conceive, but tips everyone can use to become a better healthier you. Whether you are trying to conceive, are pregnant or have a family, this is this time to start nourishing your body not only for yourself, but also your family.
Carolyn Hallett left her career in political fundraising to pursue her interest in nutrition. She graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City last summer and recently moved to Charlotte with her husband, John. They are expecting their first baby in September. Her practice is focused on preconception, prenatal and postpartum health and wellness. She became interested in focusing on women’s health during the childbearing years when she entered this phase of her life. She found once she became pregnant, she was more dedicated than ever to creating the best possible environment and putting the best foods in her body for the health of her growing baby.