If you’ve been trying to get pregnant without success, know that you’re not alone. In fact, 15 per cent of couples are said to have fertility issues. The good news is though, there are dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
In this post, we focus on helpful pre-pregnancy dietary modifications and provide tips on how you can detox for fertility to improve your chances of conception. The fertility cleanse is designed to help the body rebalance itself and help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy as well.
The Fertility Diet
The so-called fertility diet is not the stuff of fiction. In fact, studies have proven that changes in one’s diet and lifestyle can improve fertility success by as much as 69 per cent.
Eating cleanly is considered one of the best natural fertility boosters. And to help you improve your chances of conceiving, there’s a specific fertility diet or fertility cleansing regimen that you can follow.
But before moving on to our long list of the best fertility-boosting foods, let’s first go over the list of things you need to avoid or limit.
Avoid these foods
To avoid the feeling of deprivation, aim to eat a balanced diet without totally restricting yourself. However, this option also depends on your current health condition. Moreover, there are certain foods you absolutely need to avoid if your aim is to get pregnant. These include:
Heavy drinkers usually have irregular or heavy periods and often suffer from fertility problems. Females who regularly consume alcohol that do get pregnant and continue to drink can have a baby with serious birth defects such as foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
Trying to conceive or not, the human body requires healthy fats every day, which is especially important for those wanting to boost their fertility. Trans fats, however, have been linked to the risk of ovulatory infertility, primarily because of how trans fat intake impairs insulin sensitivity. Note that insulin resistance is a leading cause of infertility, especially among overweight individuals.
It’s easy to avoid trans fats as these are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils which, in turn, are used in food products such as certain margarine, processed products, baked goods, and fried foods.
There are studies linking gluten sensitivity to fertility problems, particularly in women (and men) with unexplained infertility or turn out to have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. In some cases, even just six months off gluten has led to successful pregnancies for some patients.
Gluten can be a little tricky to avoid if you eat a lot of packaged foods. It is commonly found in soups, cold cuts, stocks and broths, sauces, vegemite, salad dressings, non-dairy creamer, and a whole lot more.
If you have gluten sensitivity, best look at labels and ensure it says gluten-free. If you’re unsure whether you have gluten sensitivity, now may be the perfect time to find out.
Most foods have naturally occurring sugar, such as glucose and fructose in fruits and honey, maltose in barley, and lactose in milk.
However, added sugar, such as the type used in cakes, soda, and other sweetened food, rapidly increases blood sugar and insulin levels that can lead to insulin resistance and unhealthy weight gain. Insulin resistance is also one of the leading causes of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which, in turn, causes hormonal imbalance and problems with ovulation.
A well-publicised research called the ‘Nurses’ Health Study II’ showed that the high consumption (approximately two or more servings per day) of dairy foods that are low-fat was associated with a higher risk of anovulatory infertility.
Conversely, consuming dairy foods with a high-fat content was associated with a reduction in the risk of developing the same. Based on this data, consuming whole milk, whole milk yoghurt, and 4 percent cottage cheese may help with fertility, whilst low-fat and skim milk products do not.
Minimise intake of these foods
There are certain food items you may still consume, but with care and at limited quantities:
- Coffee: Although the effects of caffeine on fertility are still widely debated, it has been established that higher coffee or caffeine consumption does increase the risk of spontaneous abortion (SAB). If you have to drink it, limit your intake to 1 to 2 cups per day.
- Unfermented soy: Soy naturally contains phytate — an anti-nutrient (which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients) — whose levels are reduced through a proper, long fermentation process. Unfermented soy products, such as edamame, tofu, and soy milk, retain their high anti-nutrient levels. Additionally, soy contains isoflavone, a known phytoestrogen and anti-nutrient, that can also impact fertility. So, consuming unfermented soy means you’ll be increasing your intake of anti-nutrients — which would be ill-advised as your objective is to achieve total health and wellness for fertility.
- Highly processed foods: A diet that’s rich in overly processed foods means compromising your health by consuming refined carbs and sugary foods and drinks, as well as food products with high levels of trans fats and gluten.
Best foods to boost fertility
To increase your chances of conceiving, make these part of your pre-pregnancy diet:
In general, antioxidants play a critical role in preventing or delaying certain types of cellular damage. However, there are specific antioxidants like zinc and folate which improve fertility for both women and men. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals that can wreak havoc on both egg and sperm cells.
Eating antioxidant-rich foods, like nuts, fruits, vegetables, and grains is beneficial to overall health and helps improve fertility in both men and women. In fact, one study involving couples undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) revealed that antioxidant supplement intake resulted in a 23 per cent increase in the chance of conception.
High-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, peas, beans, and seeds help to regulate hormones and keep blood sugar balanced. This is because fibre helps the body get rid of excess hormones, such as oestrogen by binding to it in the intestines.
Although you need not give up meat and other animal proteins completely, it should be noted that replacing some of these with vegetable protein sources such as nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans can reduce your risk of infertility as revealed in one study. In fact, the same study also showed that high meat protein consumption can increase one’s chances of developing ovulatory infertility by as much as 32 per cent.
Another study revealed that consuming more vegetable protein sources promised protective benefits against infertility.
Iron, whether from supplements and non-heme iron (iron from plant-based sources), may help reduce the incidence of ovulatory infertility by as much as 40 per cent. However, since non-heme iron is more difficult for the body to absorb, make sure you take them with food or a drink that’s high in vitamin C to improve absorption.
Multivitamin intake appears to improve the chances of preventing ovulatory infertility. As a matter of fact, taking three or more multivitamins weekly reduces the likelihood of ovulatory infertility by 20 per cent.
Folate-containing multivitamins are considered especially beneficial for women who want to conceive or are pregnant. Other dietary supplements such as vitamin E and B6, chasteberry, and green tea have also shown promise in improving the chances of conception.
Aside from the above, there are certain natural supplements which are considered beneficial to those with fertility issues. Some of these natural supplements include:
- Bee propolis: One study involving women with endometriosis found that those who took bee propolis twice a day had a better chance of getting pregnant (as much as 40 per cent more) after nine months than those who didn’t.
- Royal jelly: Another food product made by bees, royal jelly is known for being a rich source of lipids, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, calcium, iron, and sugars. It’s also believed to help improve reproductive health.
On top of making a couple of important dietary modifications for better fertility, you need to make some corresponding lifestyle changes such as not smoking, and getting sufficient regular sleep and exercise.
Now, let’s talk about the importance of the fertility detox and hormone health in improving your chances of conceiving.
Fertility detox — what is it for?
A fertility detox is an important part of your preconception care. In fact, it’s the best way to set yourself up (and your future baby) for a healthy way of life.
If you take a look at The Fertility Formula online program, you’ll see that it’s a plan not only to help you conceive but also to get you started on the path to total health and wellness. This means it doesn’t stop at making you healthy enough to be able to conceive, it also ensures that your body will be capable of supporting the development of a healthy baby.
This four-week program is designed to get you physically, mentally, and fertility fit. You’ll be gradually introduced to more whole foods, as well as herbal and natural remedies that are designed to support your body’s natural detoxification processes. This way, you not only achieve hormonal balance and total wellness but also gain more energy and vitality — no fasting required!
The importance of hormone health
Hormones play a critical role in female reproduction, specifically those that regulate menstruation, i.e. the luteinising hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
Any irregularity in the quantity of hormones released or a total lack of any of these can delay or prevent the processes necessary to facilitate fertilisation and conception, including menstruation and ovulation.
Oestrogen, for example, is an important sex hormone. Low oestrogen levels can make pregnancy difficult by preventing ovulation, as well as lead to bone loss.
Conversely, oestrogen dominance or high levels of oestrogen, such as oestradiol, can also impact one’s chances of getting pregnant as it’s known to reduce the chances of IVF success. In addition, oestrogen dominance can affect thyroid functioning and vice versa. Natural health products like our iodine drops are formulated to support healthy thyroid functioning, fertility, breast health, and pregnancy.
Hormonal balance can be achieved by:
- Eating the right kinds of food (as discussed above) at the right amounts
- Consuming healthy fats, such as those from avocado, salmon, and olive oil
- Regular physical activity or exercise
- Proper stress management
- Quality sleep
- Drinking green tea
There are two types of green tea (oolong and sencha) in our exclusive detox tea blend which you can take as part of your fertility detox regimen. Green tea does not only help achieve hormonal balance but also keeps the body energised and protects it from ageing and disease.
Another product you can use to achieve hormone health is our vege detox supplement which is specifically targeted toward:
- Clearing of harmful oestrogen metabolites
- Balancing hormone levels
- Getting rid of acne
- Alleviating oestrogen-dominance symptoms, including endometriosis, PMS, fibroids, migraines, painful periods, PCOS, and menopause
We cannot emphasise the importance of achieving hormonal balance as it is critical not only to fertility but also to your total health.
Pass your fertility tests with flying colours
After doing your part in improving your health and lifestyle, there is a battery of fertility tests you may need to undergo individually and as a couple. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had the same tests before or if it’s your first time. The types of tests you need to take will depend on the assessment of your doctor.
But if you’ve done your part and are committed to keeping yourself healthy for fertility, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t pass those tests successfully.
Getting pregnant can be challenging for some couples, but with a few tweaks here and there, particularly in relation to your diet and lifestyle, pregnancy is just a few steps away.