Those who take medicine and neglect their diet waste the skill of the physician
~ Chinese proverb
Eating a nutritious diet can boost your health and improve your life in many ways. For women struggling with issues of fertility, eating properly can boost your fertility and increase the chances of becoming pregnant.
The recommendations below incorporate traditional Chinese medicine and groundbreaking research from the Nurses Health
Study which examined the impact of lifestyle and diet on the health of nearly 20 000 female nurses. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) focuses on bringing the body into balance. When in balance a woman’s body is naturally fertile and able to nourish both her own body and her fetus.
Fertility Diet Tips
1. Consume a Whole Foods Diet
Whole foods are minimally processed and provide maximum nutrients, fiber, enzymes, antixoidants and taste without added artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, sweeteners or trans fats.
Slow carbohydrates are slowly digested causing a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar after being eaten. They include beans, peas, lentils, whole grains (such as brown rice, barley, millet and quinoa) and vegetables. Slow carbs minimize insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar, improve fertility and prevent gestational diabetes. Eliminate all white carbs – white flour, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes and white bread.
3. Eat Primarily Plant Based Foods
Plant based foods include a rainbow of high fiber, high antioxidant fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. A plant based diet means that most (but not necessarily all) of the diet is based on plant foods. This diet is eaten around the world and is associated with health promotion, disease prevention and longevity.
4. High Antioxidant Foods
A diet high in plant based foods will be naturally high in antioxidant foods. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices decrease oxidative stress and cellular inflammation associated with decreased fertility. Select primarily organic produce – it has been shown in multiple studies to be higher in antioxidants (and free of hormone-disrupting pesticides!)
5. Consume Healthy Fats and Avoid Trans Fats
Healthy fats combat inflammation and improve hormone sensitivity. Healthy fats and oils include coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, raw (uncooked) olive oil, and fats found in wild cold-water fish. Trans fast (also known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat) – typically found in commercially prepared baked goods, fried foods, and processed snack can disrupt with normal ovulation by interfering with a cell receptor that controls inflammation, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
6. Eat Only High Quality Dairy Products
Small amounts of full-fat dairy products daily, such as live culture yoghurt, kefir, and high quality organic goat and cow cheeses have been shown to enhance fertility.
7. Eat Mindfully
Slow down and tune into the nutritive properties of food. Allow mealtime to be a time when you focus on nourishing your mind, body and spirit. Mindfulness has been shown to help decrease stress, lower blood sugar and blood pressure, decrease anxiety and depression and enhance well-being.
8. Eat For Balance
In TCM all health concerns are based on an imbalance in the body. This may be an excess or a deficiency of one of the vital substances or a blockage of energy flow in one of the organ systems of the body. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine your imbalance and give you recommendations for foods to promote balance (e.g. foods to boost yin or clear heat).
Supplements can be used to enhance a healthy diet but should not be used as a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. A prenatal multivitamin with iron, calcium, iodine, antioxidant nutrients (A, C, E, selenium and zinc), probiotics, fish oils and others may be used to enhance fertility and support a healthy pregnancy for both mother and child.
Click here for an easily printable PDF copy of the Fertility Diet
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
Chavarro J, Willett W. The Fertility Diet. Harvard Health Publications. 2008.
Lewis R. The Infertility Cure. Little Brown and Company. 2004.