Eating to Conceive

Gaiam Staff by Gaiam Staff | April 29th, 2009 | No Comments
topic: Family Health, Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating

Maybe it’s the spring air, but it seems like so many people I know are either pregnant at the moment or trying to get pregnant. And as with anything having to do with one’s body, what you eat can have a huge impact on your fertility. For anyone who might be hit with spring baby-making fever, here are some tips on how you might be able to increase your odds of getting pregnant by eating better.

Eat as though you’re already pregnant

There’s a fairly long list of things that you’ll need to avoid when you are pregnant, including raw fish, deli meats, caffeine, alcohol and more. It’s best to get into the habit of not eating these things now, because you might not even realize you’re pregnant until you’re already several weeks along. You’ll be going through a lot of changes, both physically and emotionally, so if you are already eating right, that’s one less thing you have to be worried about. Diet can also aid with relieving pregnancy symptoms.

Take your vitamins

Find a good prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid and take it daily. Most women don’t get enough folic acid in their everyday diet, and this nutrient is essential to reduce the possibility of a baby being born with a neural tube defect. You’ll need about 400 micrograms a day, and doctors recommend that women consume the daily requirement well before conceiving in order to have the best chances for a healthy baby. Folic acid, or folate, is also found in leafy green vegetables, orange juice and enriched grain products.

Swap whole grains for unrefined carbs

Eating whole grains can prevent insulin spikes and can boost your intake of fiber, iron and other nutrients that are necessary to keep your body healthy. What’s more, a diet high in easily digested carbs (simple, refined carbs like white potatoes and cold cereal) can increase the incidence of ovulatory infertility, according to a Harvard University study.

Eat the right fats and proteins

By now, we know that trans fats are not healthy. But the Harvard study discovered that trans fats are linked to ovulatory infertility. Instead, your diet should focus on unsaturated fats, which can increase insulin sensitivity. The study also found that getting more protein from nuts, beans and other plant sources — rather than from animal sources — could increase fertility. Surprisingly, the study also found that consuming whole milk, ice cream and whole-fat dairy products (as opposed to lower-fat versions) could help increase fertility. Keep in mind that a serving of whole milk or ice cream is only half a cup daily.

Get to a healthy weight

Women who are overweight have more problems conceiving, and could have more difficult pregnancies and deliveries. But now isn’t the time to embark on a severe diet, since that might mean you’re not getting all the nutrients you need. Instead, aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Chances are, just cutting out some of the processed food, sugar and alcohol that might be daily habits can help you reach a healthier weight. Make sure to include exercise.

Take a look at HIS diet, too

Since up to 40 percent of fertility problems can be traced to men, it’s important that your partner is eating well too. This means limiting caffeine intake (to 1 to 2 cups) and limiting or abstaining from alcohol. In terms of diet, vitamin C can boost sperm health and mobility, zinc keeps testosterone and semen levels optimal and folic acid increases sperm counts. Calcium and vitamin D can also improve male fertility


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