Often times fertility treatment and the quest to become pregnant seems out of your hands, as though you just need to let medical science and reproductive technology do their job. Seemingly, your only task in the process is to get to your appointment on time!
Feeling a lack of involvement in something so deeply personal can cause you a certain degree of depression and anxiety, but there are plenty of factors within your control that will improve your fertility. In fact, making specific tweaks to your lifestyle can boost your fertility naturally. And, best of all, these changes are completely within your control.
It All Begins With Diet
Nutrition is the foundation of your well-being. Eating a healthier diet, with foods shown to affect fertility in a positive way, not only improves your odds for successful pregnancy, but ensures your own health as well. After all, you’re about to embark on a lifelong journey that demands you are your physical best. Here are some dietary choices you need to include on your plate right now.
- Antioxidants: Free radicals cause damage to cells within your body, including sperm and egg cells. The best way to mitigate the damage is to up the amount of antioxidants you consume naturally. Fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains are powerhouses of antioxidant goodness. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to improve sperm quality. Vitamins C, E, folate, lutein, and beta carotene can be found in a tasty rainbow of fruits and vegetables, so eat up.
- Include Healthy Fats-Skip Trans Fats: Healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts, are beneficial for both men and women when it comes to fertility. Trans-fats, commonly found in processed foods, baked goods, margarines, and foods that are fried, are harmful to your fertility. Opt for heart-healthy, natural fats and oils and stop eating trans-fat heavy processed foods now. Your heart and your ovaries will thank you!
- Watch Those Carbs: For women with PCOS especially, a lower carb diet is beneficial to your fertility. Lowering carbs reduces insulin levels and balances blood sugar, as well as helps maintain a healthy weight, which is instrumental in menstrual regularity. A lower carb diet also helps balance hormones, aiding in healthy ovulation. The types of carbs you cut from your diet matter. Avoid eating refined and simple carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary drinks and foods, or highly processed breads, pastas, rice, and other grains. Opt instead for whole grains and avoid those foods which are higher on the glycemic index.
- Fiber: High fiber foods, such as beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables help the body regulate glucose levels, aid in digestion, and keep you fuller longer, which helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Protein Choices: It’s no secret that much of the meat we consume today is produced from animals that have been treated with hormones. If you consume a lot of meat it may be a good time to cut back. Try replacing a few meat-centric meals per week with a different source of protein, such as beans, lentils, and nuts. Here are some great ideas for plant-based proteins.
- The Most Important Meal of The Day: Begin your day with a healthy, substantial breakfast. By consuming the majority of your calories at the start of your day you’re ensuring balanced insulin levels, which positively impacts your fertility. A large breakfast, followed by smaller lunch and dinner, may also lower testosterone, improving ovulation by up to 30%.
- Take Your Vitamins: Some studies show that taking a multi-vitamin just 3 days a week can ensure certain nutrients you may be missing in your daily diet. Vitamins E, and B6, along with folate, and green tea contribute to healthy fertility. Include an iron supplement preferably from a plant-based iron source.
- Cut Back on Caffeine: If you drink coffee, or other caffeinated beverages, now is the time to cut back. Try limiting yourself to less than 200 mg of caffeine daily, which is about 1-3 cups of coffee. Avoid energy drinks and highly caffeinated sodas. You’ll want to wean yourself off of caffeine when you’re pregnant so why not begin now?
Beyond Your Plate
Now is the time to focus on becoming your healthiest self. Do those activities which benefit you, and avoid anything which could negatively impact your overall health.
- Achieve a healthy weight now. Weighing too little, or too much, has a direct impact on your fertility. Body fat influences your menstrual cycle and too much or too little can affect ovulation.
- Move more. Moderate physical activity has a very positive effect on your fertility. A daily walk can clear your mind, eliminate stress, and aid in weight loss (if need be).
- Schedule time to relax. Relaxation is key in lowering your stress hormone levels, which negatively affect your overall hormone production. Take time to meditate, listen to a relaxation app or podcast or some soothing music on your drive home, schedule regular massages, and spend time with those who make you happy.
- Get more rest. Now is the time to catch your zzz’s. Cut out alcohol as this can prevent restful sleep.
- Talk to your physician if you take any natural, or herbal supplements. Not all of these are healthy when you’re trying to conceive.
Fertility issues tend to overwhelm even the well-adjusted people. Understand that you and your fertility specialist have formed a partnership and you are all doing your very best to ensure a successful outcome.