When it comes to fertility, there are many factors that are simply outside of our control. However, thankfully there are a few things we can control, and what you eat is one of them. Taking control of your nutrition can be empowering. Alli Kasirer, founder of FertileGirl, provides a few easy-to-digest nutrition tips for women trying to conceive.
1. Get as many nutrients from real food as possible.
Many women think that once they take a prenatal vitamin, their pre-pregnancy nutrition bases are covered. While you should always take a prenatal vitamin, make sure you are using it as a true supplement. Most health professionals agree that the body best absorbs nutrients from real food. So try your best to eat meals and snacks that are good sources of nutrients like folate, calcium, iron, and all the other important components of a pre-pregnancy diet. While we’re on the topic of prenatal vitamins, think about switching to one that is organic and food-based.
2. Fill up on more plant-based protein.
At FertileGirl, we emphasize plant-based sources of protein over animal-based sources. Results from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study suggested that replacing 25g of animal protein with 25g of plant protein was related to a 50% lower risk of ovulatory infertility. We’re not talking about giving up meat altogether (your body needs iron!), just about recalibrating.
3. Eat slow-release carbs to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
A case for (good) carbs! Munch on slow carbs over refined ones—think beans, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Results from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study showed that participants with diets poor in whole grains and other good carbs were 55% more likely to experience ovulatory infertility than those whose diets included mostly whole grains. If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity—you may want to stick with gluten-free slow carbs to reduce inflammation.
4. Get the facts about fats.
Here’s the 411 on fats! There are three types: unsaturated, saturated, and trans. Unsaturated fats (think walnuts, flaxseed, avocados) are critical to many bodily functions and important for reproductive health. They help your body control blood sugar and calm inflammation. The “omega-3s” you’re always hearing about are part of this first category. Saturated fats (think steak, butter, cheese, palm oil) are also necessary, but in much smaller quantities (moderation, ladies!). Unsaturated and saturated fats come from real food—plants and animals, while trans fats are mostly synthetic by-products of food industrialization (think fast-food french fries and doughnuts). Results from the Harvard Nurses’ Healthy Study suggested that a diet high in trans fats correlated to a greater risk of ovulatory infertility. This is just one of many broader studies that have shown trans fats to have negative health repercussions across the board. So, stick with a diet rich in unsaturated fats, moderate in saturated fats, and avoid trans fats altogether!
5. Everything in moderation!
An excess or deficiency in any one food or nutrient could throw off hormonal balance. Moderation is key to finding balance. It also allows you to slip up now and then (we are human!). If you really want to know where you stand nutritionally, you can have your vitamin and mineral levels checked by a health professional.
FertileGirl is a pre-pregnancy nutrition company committed to changing the fertility conversation, and to empowering women to help them make healthy choices. Visit FertileGirl to hear the story behind the company, share your journey, ask questions to fertility and nutrition experts, and shop their superfood nutrition bars.
The information provided above is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or a substitute for medical care.