Many couples are trying to figure out how to support their reproductive health — especially those who have struggled to conceive. Here’s some information on the best fertility foods to eat if you’d like to support your reproductive wellness. As well as some other things you can try to turn the odds of achieving a successful conception in your favor.
Now, the information below is not meant to replace professional medical advice; but it is informative, nonetheless.
That said, let’s discuss…
Foods High in Antioxidants
When it comes to what to eat, evidence suggests fertility foods high in the antioxidants zinc and folate could help support reproductive health.1 Leafy greens, such as spinach and romaine lettuce, are high in folate, while oysters and chicken are high in zinc.2,3
Antioxidants help to decrease the number of free radicals in your body. These are molecules created through the process of oxidation, and they’ve been shown to not only damage egg cells but affect sperm cells as well.4
Fertility foods high in antioxidants include vegetables like spinach, and fruits such as blackberries and raspberries.
Nuts may also be among the best fertility foods. In one study, researchers found that men who ate 75 grams of walnuts (which are packed with antioxidants) saw an increase in sperm quality.6 Another study found that couples who took antioxidant supplements while undergoing in-vitro fertilization were 23 percent more likely to conceive.7
Try a Plant-Based Protein
A lot of people get most of their protein from meat — but certain evidence suggests that this could make it harder to conceive. Is animal protein one of the “bad” fertility foods? One study showed that this could increase the chances of infertility by as much as 32 percent.8
Getting protein from vegetables instead of meat could actually be an important factor in supporting reproductive wellness. In fact, research suggests that getting 5 percent of your calories from vegetable protein could decrease the risk of infertility by 50 percent.9 If you’re wondering what to eat in order to increase your intake of plant-based protein, fertility foods such as beans and lentils are good sources.10
Change Your Breakfast Habits
If you tend to use low-fat milk at breakfast, you might want to consider adding whole milk to your list of fertility foods instead. One study showed that women who had high-fat dairy products one or more times a day were about 30 percent less likely to experience infertility.11
Speaking of breakfast — you may also want to think about having larger portions when it comes to your morning meal.
According to one study, eating MORE food at breakfast time could reduce the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition is a major contributing factor to infertility. The results of this study showed that women with PCOS saw drops in not only testosterone levels but also insulin levels. These women also experienced significantly higher levels of ovulation than those who had a smaller breakfast.12
What Not to Eat
While it’s important that you know what to eat when it comes to fertility foods, it’s just as vital to know what foods to avoid. For example, trans fats have been linked to a higher risk of infertility.13 These include fried and processed foods, many baked foods, and margarine.14 In one study, researchers found that consuming trans fats greatly increased the risk of ovulatory infertility in women.15
Following a low-carb diet could potentially help if you have certain hormonal imbalances. Cutting down on carbs can help you lose weight, and it may also help regulate your periods.16,17
Research shows that women who eat more carbs are far more likely to suffer from infertility than those on a diet lower in carbohydrates.
Refined carbohydrates may also pose a risk. These include foods and drinks that are high in sugar, as well as processed grains like bread and pasta.18
Other Ways to Support Reproductive Health
There are several other things you can do besides increasing your intake of fertility foods that could help support reproductive health. For example, you can try to cut down on your stress. Stress increases your body’s production of an enzyme known as alpha-amylase. In one study, researchers found that women with high levels of this enzyme were nearly 30 percent less likely to become pregnant than those with the lowest levels.19
Getting more sleep could also help.
Sleep has a major impact on the hormones in your body.
If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, your stress hormone levels can increase, which may potentially affect your ability to become pregnant.20
Exercise also plays a role in your hormone health. While you need to exercise to stay healthy, too much exercise could actually have a negative effect on your fertility. Studies suggest that working out strenuously may increase your risk of infertility. Moderate exercise, on the other hand, is believed to be beneficial when it comes to your reproductive health.21
Many women who are experiencing issues with infertility also choose to visit the chiropractor. Research indicates that if you have any sort of misalignment problem with your spine, that could be part of the problem. Spine issues can throw your hormones off balance, leading to infertility.22
The Bottom Line
Only your doctor can determine what diet is best for your specific needs — so be sure to consult him or her before making any major dietary changes. With the help of your doctor, you might just find that following a fertility diet could help your dreams of having a child come true.