8 Diet Changes To Help Increase Your Fertility
According to a study of diet and fertility from Harvard Medical School, unlike other factors that you cannot control—such as age and genetics—eating certain foods and avoiding others is something you can do yourself, without medical intervention, to help improve your ovulatory function.
Eat more complex ("slow") carbs and limit highly processed ones. Your body digests bad carbs (like cookies, cakes, white bread and white rice) quickly, and turns them into blood sugar. To drive down the blood-sugar spike, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream.
Good carbs (those containing fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains) are digested slowly and have a more gradual effect on blood sugar and insulin. Studies have found that high insulin levels appear to inhibit ovulation.
Avoid all trans fats and eat more healthy unsaturated fats. Trans fats (found primarily in foods such as commercial baked and snack foods, animal products, french fries and some margarines) increase insulin resistance.
Insulin helps move glucose from the bloodstream to the cells; resistance means it's harder to move glucose into the cells. The pancreas keeps pumping out more insulin anyway, and the result is more insulin in your bloodstream. High insulin levels cause a lot of metabolic disturbances that affect ovulation.
Get more protein from plant foods like beans and less from red meat. Plant protein (from beans, nuts, seeds and tofu) comes with healthy fats and is relatively low in calories and can be helpful for weight loss.
Consume one or two servings a day of whole milk or other full-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, and less non- and low-fat dairy. "We found that the more low-fat dairy products in a woman's diet, the more trouble she had getting pregnant," says Walter Willett, M.D., a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study's authors. "The more full-fat dairy products she ate, the less likely she was to have trouble."
Take a daily multivitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and 40 to 80 milligrams of iron. Women in the Harvard study who took daily multivitamins containing 400 micrograms of folic acid were 40 percent less likely to experience ovulatory infertility over the eight years than women who didn't.
Drink coffee, tea and alcohol in moderation, and avoid sugary drinks entirely. According to the Harvard study,one to two drinks of alcohol or several cups of coffee or tea a day had little effect on ovulation problems.
Keep your weight in the "fertility zone:" a BMI of 18.5 to 24. Being too thin (a body mass index of less than 18.5) or overweight (a BMI of 25 or more) can affect your fertility and your baby's health. Use our tool to calculate your pre-pregnancy BMI.
Exercise 30 to 60 minutes daily for weight management. The benefits of moving more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your whole life.