Feed Your Fertility: How Diet Can Help You Start Your Family
Eating and Ovulation
What you eat on the day-to-day can have a huge impact on your ovulation every month. Your body needs many specific nutrients and micronutrients in order to create and release a healthy egg, including vitamins B6, B5, D, and C, folate, selenium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are present in green vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, whole grains, nuts, and healthy meat and dairy.
Even people who eat a lot of vegetables but choose mainly conventional produce over organic can end up falling short of their nutritional needs - because of modern farming practices, a lot of conventionally grown food has a fraction of the amount of nutrition that organically grown produce has. In addition, conventional produce often contains pesticides and herbicides that can directly interrupt fertility.
Eggs are some of the most sensitive cells in the body to inflammation and oxidative stress. Because of this, they require lots of antioxidants. While there are certain specific antioxidants that can increase egg quality on their own, such as melatonin, most of our current research indicates that a diverse array of dietary antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce oxidative stress in eggs. Antioxidants are in a lot of healthy foods - fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices.
Genetically speaking, creating a baby is a 50/50 situation, and issues with sperm are present in 50% of infertility cases. Having healthy sperm is about more than just having a good count, motility, and morphology. It’s about having sperm that has healthy DNA, so that sperm that are able to make it to an egg can form a healthy, viable embryo.
Just like egg cells, sperm and highly vulnerable to oxidative stress, and just like eggs, sperm quality tends to improve with an anti-inflammatory diet that's high in diverse antioxidants. Certain nutrients seem to be especially helpful for sperm quality - vitamin E, for example, which is high in many nuts and seeds, has been shown to be protective for sperm health and motility.
All of these hormones are affected, either directly or indirectly, by what you eat. High carbohydrate diets, especially diets with lots of refined sugar, can increase insulin and leptin levels, causing your body to become “resistant” to these hormones. This is like a child who’s mother has called their name too many times and they’ve become “selectively deaf-” your body’s insulin and leptin levels have been up for so long that your body is starting to tune them out.
Diet and Assisted Reproductive Technology
The Bottom Line
While dealing with fertility issues can feel overwhelming at times, at least diet is one factor that's a little bit more in your control. Even making small changes, such as incorporating more fresh vegetables or having a smoothie every day can make huge impacts on your overall health and your ability to conceive.