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When patients tell me they want to have a child, nutrition is often the first place I start. The foods you eat have a profound effect on your fertility.
As an integrative physician, I’ve spent the last decade working with thousands of women, many of whom were told they’d never have children. A lot of those patients went on to give birth to beautiful, healthy babies, thanks to changes they make in their diet and lifestyle.
Your diet affects your hormones, weight, inflammation, and a variety of other factors that play a central role in fertility. If you’re planning to get pregnant, try adding the foods on this list to your diet! You might be surprised by the difference they make.
4 Foods That Support Fertility
These are four of my favorite foods for supporting fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
Eggs are one of the most nutritionally valuable foods you can eat, especially if you’re getting ready to conceive. They’re rich in protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, and choline, a rare nutrient that supports brain health and is essential for fetal development .
Make sure you eat your egg yolks! They’re the part that’s packed with precious nutrients. And if you can, eat your eggs with the yolks still runny. Some of the healthy compounds in the yolks are damaged by heat.
Grass-fed beef or wild-caught fish
When you’re getting ready for a child, you want to convince your body that you have a surplus of the nutrients it needs to grow a baby.
Protein and healthy fats are two of the most important nutrients for fetal development. A lot of the women who come to my clinic don’t get enough protein or healthy fat, and if you’re going to have a baby, you want to double down on both.
Grass-fed beef and wild-caught fatty fish (like salmon, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel) are both fertility superfoods. They’re full of protein and healthy fats that will support your body and get it ready to nourish a child. Red meat is also an excellent source of iron, and iron deficiency is a very common cause of fertility problems. Best of all, you absorb almost all the iron in meat, whereas vegetable-based iron is difficult for your body to access.
Try to eat grass-fed beef and/or wild-caught fatty fish at least a few times a week, both before and during pregnancy.
Colorful fruits and vegetables
Keeping your inflammation low is another way to increase your fertility. Colorful fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants that protect your cells (including the cells in your reproductive system) from oxidative damage and inflammation.
Antioxidants are often quite colorful, and most brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are packed with valuable, anti-inflammatory antioxidant compounds. Add some variety to your diet by including a few different bright fruits and veggies from this list:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Red cabbage
- Swiss chard
Aim for at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables a day before and during pregnancy.
Maca root is more of a supplement than a food, but I’m including it on this list because it’s one of the best things you can take for fertility.
Maca comes from Peru, where it’s been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac and energy enhancer. Research shows that maca improves fertility in men , and in my clinical experience, it has a similar effect on women. Maca also increases libido and mood and contains strong antioxidants that can protect you from inflammation.
Maca is one of the main ingredients in Hormone Helper, my go-to supplement for fertility and hormone balance. Hormone Helper also contains choline and myo-inositol, two precious nutrients that support healthy sex hormone levels. It’s a great option if you’re getting ready for a child.
Eat the right foods to support your fertility
While there are a lot of parts to the fertility puzzle, nutrition plays an exceptionally important role, both in your fertility and in your overall health. These foods will help you create the perfect nutritional environment for your baby to grow and thrive!
And if you’re looking for more resources to support your fertility, take a look at these articles:
- Zeisel, S. H. (2006). Choline: critical role during fetal development and dietary requirements in adults. Annu. Rev. Nutr., 26, 229-250. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2441939/
- Lee, M. S., Lee, H. W., You, S., & Ha, K. T. (2016). The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review. Maturitas, 92, 64-69. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27621241