This is a very personal topic, which is different than my usual posts. I’m not going to go into details about my fertility journey (I may save that for another post), instead I want to talk about something every woman trying to conceive can do herself- improve her diet and nutrition. Everyone knows folic acid is necessary to incorporate into your diets to prevent spina bifida, but there are other nutrients women trying to conceive should also be sure to include in their diets. Of course, women trying to conceive should be taking prenatal vitamins, but pills don’t fix everything!
When Allison from FertileGirl was struggling with infertility, she focused on managing her stress and eating healthier, even making her own nutrition bars. This eventually evolved into a company, and she now produces bars formulated with superfoods to give your body extra support during the pre-pregnancy period. The bars are focused on giving you the good stuff–plant-based protein, omega 3s, calcium, and iron while staying away from gluten, soy, and GMOs. Allison was kind enough to send me a few bars to try, and of course, I had to read about these ingredients to learn more about them. Read on to learn what I found out about these helpful (and potentially harmful) ingredients, as well as other foods rich in them!
Plant-based protein After comparing women with a high intake of animal protein versus plant protein, the Harvard Nurse’s Health Study found that those who consumed more plant proteins had less ovulatory infertility compared to those with low plant protein intake. Additionally, fruit and vegetables are high in glutathione, an antioxidant important for egg quality, so increasing your intake of plants is helpful in multiple aspects. Some great sources for this are watermelon and asparagus, and kale and other leafy greens can be juiced as well,
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for fetal development, specifically for a baby’s brain and eye development. Your body can actually store Omega-3s for a few weeks, so during pre-pregnancy it is important to regularly get enough Omega-3s so that you have enough when you ultimately become pregnant. Fatty fish such as salmon are an excellent source for this.
Calcium We all know that calcium is important for strong bones, but it is also extremely important for fertility. Two studies have shown the importance of calcium: 1) calcium is required for the change in sperm’s swimming style that allows it to quickly enter the egg and 2) calcium triggers growth in embryos. There are many things you can add to your diet to increase your calcium, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, even figs and spinach.
Iron Studies indicate that low iron levels could play a role in infertility, but more importantly, baby’s need iron to develop properly, and if you start your pregnancy with low iron levels, you could be at risk for developing anemia during pregnancy. Iron-rich foods to incorporate into your diet include red meat, eggs, salmon, and leafy greens.
Stay away from gluten, soy and GMOs. I actually recently had a chat with a nutritionist about my diet while trying to conceive, and she made it very clear that I am to avoid soy at all costs. Soy is in a lot of package foods, so she recommended staying away from those altogether, or at least reducing the amount of soy consumed. This is because soy interferes with hormones, especially estrogen which is one of the most important hormones regulating your cycle and ovulation.
The above information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.