Infertility affects about 1 in 6 couples and has increased over the last few decades, partly due to pollution, stress, lack of food, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and the overall lifestyle of couples. And diet also contributes to fertility to increase the chances of conceiving a child, both on the male and female side. Certain foods can improve the quality of sperm in men and ovulation in women. Taking care of this parameter therefore helps to achieve a pregnancy. Here are the foods and nutrients to favor to improve fertility and the diet to avoid to get pregnant.
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Watching your weight is very important!
In terms of diet, certain deficiencies can be problematic (zinc, selenium, omega-3 deficiency…). However, before even getting into considerations of menu choice, the simple fact of monitoring one’s weight curve is the most elementary gesture! Indeed, being overweight can unfortunately alter fertility. Losing weight when necessary can increase the chances of conceiving a child and limit high-risk pregnancies (gestational diabetes). In general, watching your weight and eating a balanced diet will improve your fertility and help regulate your menstrual cycles. In addition, any good eating habits you start early will be beneficial when you have your baby!
1. Choose whole grains and low GI foods to improve your fertility
Sodas, white flour, refined sugar in all its forms… Start as soon as possible to limit foods with a high glycemic index (GI) that rapidly increase the sugar level in the blood. Indeed, the hyperinsulinemia (the high secretion of insulin by the pancreas) that this causes is known to interfere with ovulation, especially if it is repeated. So be careful with the carbohydrates you eat, which could also promote gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. As much as possible, prefer whole grains and foods with a low glycemic index: dried vegetables, fruits and vegetables, agave syrup…
2. Good fats and foods rich in omega 3
Omega-3s should be on everyone’s menu, not just aspiring parents! Indeed, good fats contribute to the proper functioning of the body, including the reproductive system. Of course, there are fatty fish, with a preference for mackerel or sardines, which are less polluted than tuna or salmon. In addition to raiding the fish section to stock up on cod livers, anchovies, etc., think about going to the vegetable oil section to buy rapeseed, walnut, flax or olive oil or margarines rich in omega 3. Add free-range or organic eggs to your shopping list. Nuts are also a good choice, especially Brazil nuts (rich in selenium).
Beware, not all fats are equal and trans fatty acids are not your fertility allies! They also promote obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Read the labels and banish “hydrogenated vegetable oils” as much as possible!
3. Foods rich in fiber, good for fertility
Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, oat bran, psyllium, agar-agar… All these foods have one thing in common: they are rich in fiber. Fibers regulate insulin secretion by slowing down the assimilation of sugars or carbohydrates by the body. This is why you should not hesitate to add them to your salads and yogurts!
4. Right choice of dairy products
To maximize your chances of expecting a happy event, you should not neglect the quality of the dairy products you decide to consume. In fact, consuming one to two whole milk products per day helps to restore ovulation. So, if you do consume them, favor whole milk (or semi-skimmed milk if it doesn’t go down well), non-light yogurt, cottage cheese or cheese in reasonable quantities.
5. Vitamin B9 rich foods crucial for fertility (and after conception!)
Also known as folic acid, vitamin B9 is crucial for pregnancy and more generally for women of childbearing age. Indeed, it is fully involved in the proper functioning of the menstrual cycle, ovulation and conception. Unfortunately, many women suffer from a deficiency and are prescribed food supplements by their doctor. However, there are many foods rich in folate that are good for fertility. If carrots or green vegetables (lettuce [lamb’s lettuce, watercress…], broccoli, spinach…) are the best known, we can also turn to lentils, brewer’s yeast, nuts, chickpeas, oats and buckwheat, mussels and clams, quinoa, melon… Think also of aromatic herbs such as mint, thyme or parsley which provide both minerals (zinc, calcium, potassium…) and vitamin C and B9.
Good to know : Consuming vitamin B9 during the first trimester of pregnancy reduces the risk of prematurity, miscarriage and certain malformations (especially of the neural tube or spina bifida).
6. Citrus fruits in the spotlight
It is impossible to have a balanced and varied diet without seasonal fruits and vegetables, preferably organic to limit pesticides. They also provide a panoply of antioxidants that are good for the body. Lemon, orange, grapefruit… Citrus fruits take the cake here, along with kiwi!
Foods to limit for fertility
To increase your chances of having a child, consider limiting or avoiding certain foods. This includes foods that are too high in sugar, fat, salt, caffeine, additives (sweeteners, etc.) and preservatives.
Here are some examples:
- Industrial products and prepared meals
- Low-fat and non-fat sodas, alcohol and coffee
- Fried foods and pastries
- Overconsumption of red meat and cold cuts
- Soy (which becomes an endocrine disruptor in case of excess)
Above all, make sure you always keep a good ratio between animal and vegetable proteins. Eat more legumes and less meat. It should also be noted that researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (United States) have shown that the consumption of processed meat (sausages, bacon, etc.) results in lower quality sperm.