There is growing evidence that what you eat may have an effect on your fertility for women and men. Women who are closer to their healthy body weight (BMI between 19-24) have better of odds of conceiving. Men are included too, as obesity has been linked to impaired sperm production.
Who’d have thought that what you eat could be part of the “treatment plan” (in addition to medications or procedures) to help you become pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy and healthier baby? If you’re confused about what to eat as part of a healthy diet, here are some hints to help you choose:
Eat More of these:
- Nuts, seeds, & beans-they are good sources of proteins, vitamins, and minerals with “good fats”.
- Whole grains fill you up with less calories, contain B vitamins, and are a low glycemic food. Try substituting half your grains with whole grains (i.e. wild or brown rice instead of white rice; whole grain bread instead of white bread).
- Dairy (low-fat) such as milk, cheese, yogurt are high in vitamins and minerals.
- “Good” fats, like olive & canola oils and avocados, are needed by every body to function well; replaces saturated & trans fats like butter, margarine, and lard.
- Fruits & vegetables are great sources of essential vitamins and antioxidants.
- Folic acid found in broccoli, peanut butter, green, leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals. Women should take a supplement with 4 mcg of folic acid before becoming pregnant to help prevent birth defects (spina bifida) and some pregnancy complications.
- Lean meats, eggs and seafood are excellent sources of iron, vitamins and minerals. 2 servings of seafood/week is recommended (see caution on foods high in mercury below).
Eat less of these:
- Red meat does have protein, but it is also high in fat.
- Avoid seafood with high levels of mercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and limit albacore tuna). Mercury can damage the brain, lungs, kidneys, and effect vision and hearing in yourself and, if pregnant, your baby.
- Refined sugars and processed foods contain few vitamins and minerals and are high in fat and sugar which can lead to extra pounds.
- Alcohol has no nutritional value, is associated with decreased fertility (men and women), and has detrimental effects on a growing fetus. Heavy alcohol consumption is >2drinks/day.
- Caffeine from coffee and sodas (Up to 200mg/day). Caffeine content varies dramatically in coffee and soda (60-700mg). Decaffeinated drinks are okay.
- Herbal teas and supplements such as licorice, sassafrass, ginsing, ephedra, & St. John’s Wort.
Tip: When grocery shopping, shop around the periphery (outside) of the store where the dairy, fresh produce and meat sections are. You’ll avoid the many processed and refined sugar foods located in the center.
Caffeine is a stimulant found in many foods, beverages and some medications. Caffeine is naturally produced by a variety of plants and is added to some foods and beverages for flavor. The main source of caffeine for most adults is coffee. The amount of caffeine in coffee varies depending on the brand, how it is prepared, and the size of the cup.
The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant consume no more than 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day (equal to about one 12-ounce cup of coffee a day). A new study has found that women who consume 200 mg of caffeine or more a day are twice as likely as women who consume no caffeine to have a miscarriage.