Food is of utmost importance when it comes to fertility and pregnancy.
There is no one magic food that guarantees conception. But women and men can increase their chances of conception by the types of foods that they select.
Think about Food as more than just filling a ‘hunger pang’. Think about food as a way of communicating with your cells. Food provide us with vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The Vitamins, Minerals and Phytonutrients really assist communication within our cells and helps create an environment fit for pregnancy. Phytonutrients such as carotenoids, chlorophyll glucosinolates and anthocyanins act as anti-oxidants, prevent free radical damage to the delicate genetic structure in our eggs and sperm, promote correct hormonal metabolism and assist removal of damaging toxins from our bodies.
Rather than list specific individual foods to improve your fertility, I am going to list groups of foods. This will help you to select from a variety of foods that compliment your taste as well as entice a variety of meal options.
GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES:
E.g. Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Bok Choy, Lettuce Varieties, Cabbage. This food group contains Iron, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Phytonutrients such as Chlorophyll, and Glucosinolates.
The dark green leafy vegetables are renowned for their Folic Acid content. This vitamin prevents Birth Defects like Neural Tube Defects and helps to maintain healthy pregnancy. Good Folic Acid levels are essential for correct genetic replication. Low levels of Folic Acid can cause male infertility by contributing to poor sperm health.
Vitamin K is a vitamin we will hear more about in the near future. It has always been thought of primarily as a blood clotting factor, but its role goes way beyond that. Vitamin K has anti-inflammatory effects, promotes bone and skeletal health and may even prevent diabetes.
Green leafy vegetables contain Chlorophyll; it is a compound that has a reputation for promoting detoxification and can help to reduce the ability of carcinogens binding with DNA structure. Chlorophyll is also reputed as a heavy metal detoxing agent, by capturing heavy metals in its structure and aiding in their removal.
NUTS AND SEEDS:
Nuts and Seeds are packed full of essential nutrients. They are easy and convenient to eat on a daily basis and are full of Zinc, Protein, Selenium and Essential Fatty Acids.
Zinc is vital to the health and motility of sperm. It’s involved in over 300 cellular reactions – from detoxification, hormone production, cellular energy production…. to healthy cell division. In my clinic, I find that a simple handful of pepitas and sunflower seeds per day can ensure that my clients improve their zinc status quickly.
Brazil nuts are a great source of Selenium. This mineral is important in thyroid hormone activation (poor thyroid function can inhibit fertility). Selenium is involved in all aspects of sperm production and healthy formation, and can help to prevent miscarriage.
Nuts and Seeds are a great source of Essential Fatty Acids. These fatty acids (referred to as Omega 3,6, and 9) are vital in regulation of hormones, promoting ovulation, improving the quality of the uterus by promoting blood flow, promoting sperm production, and improves the cervical mucous which helps the sperm reach the egg allowing fertilisation. Essential Fatty Acids are also important for the brain and nervous system development of your baby. Low DHA (a type of Essential Fatty Acid) is linked to post natal depression and premature births.
Eggs supply a vast amount of nutrition, they provide Protein, Lecithin, Choline, Essential Fatty Acids (if free range and not grain fed), Selenium, Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid.
Male Seminal Fluid is mostly made up of lecithin. The greater the quantity of lecithin in the seminal fluid, the better the fertility rate. Lecithin is a key component of egg yolk, especially soft yolk cooking methods.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which can help to improve fertility rates through its action on promoting sperm motility and quality and reducing the DNA defects in the sperm.
Choline is important to male and female fertility. It is involved in methylation – a reaction of detoxification and genetic replication. It is also vital for the health and development of the fetal brain.
All of the Berries – Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, and Goji Berries are packed full of Vitamin C. This vitamin is essential for correct sperm formation, sperm quality and good sperm count. Vitamin C can be taken with the fertility medication, Clomiphene, to assist in improving chances of conception. Vitamin C is classed as an antioxidant and can help protect cells from Free Radical Damage.
As well as being high in Vitamin C, Berries contain Vitamin K, Folic Acid, Potassium, Manganese and are packed with phytonutrients such as anthocyanins.
Low Manganese levels have been associated with low sperm motility and numbers, contributing to infertility. Manganese is involved in many cellular reactions including skeletal development, growth and thyroid metabolism, carbohydrate and fatty acid synthesis and the highly use ful SOD antioxidant enzyme function. SOD helps reduce the risk of abnormal cell development.
Examples include Sweet Potato, Apricots, Mangos, Carrots, Pumpkin, Nectarines, and Peaches.
This food group contains Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Bioflavonoids, Carotenoids and fibre.
These foods are notably high in beta carotene (a precursor to Vitamin A) and promote the eye health of babies. Beta carotene is a potent antioxidant and can help reduce risk of miscarriage. Follicular fluid is rich in beta carotene and ample amounts aid the growth and development of the egg.
Protein is so important for health, fertility and reproduction. Once protein is ingested, it’s broken down into smaller molecules called amino acids. From these amino acids we are able to create larger structures, hormones etc. Muscles, Organs, Hair, Hormones, Neurotransmitters and Immune cells are based upon the amino acids from protein.
Protein rich foods include: red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, beans brown rice, lentils, nuts, and Quinoa.
Amino acids are vital for the production of viable eggs, production of sperm, aids in the production of the reproductive hormones: Luteinising Hormone and Follicular Stimulating Hormone. These hormones are vital for ovulation and conception.
This group includes: Tomato, Red Capsicum, Red Papaya, and Watermelon and they contain Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6 and Phytonutrients, such as Anthocyanins and Lycopene.
Lycopene is the phytonutrient that I want to bring to light. This compound has been linked to improving sperm count and quality. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant and can help protect against free radical damage associated with infertility. Cooked tomatoes, especially tomato paste, are high in lycopene, why not add tomato paste to your pasta and homemade pizza to boost your sperm quality.
Adding these foods into your diet daily will help you to attain your successful conception. These foods also have the added bonus of contributing to great health for you and your unborn baby. Eating for pregnancy is as simple as selecting good quality foods from each of these food groups and enjoying them daily and reaping the rewards.