Falling pregnant is a wondrous miracle. It is truly amazing that your body has the capacity to support the growth and development of a new life. To give your child the best possible start in life, it is advisable to prepare your body at least 3 months before you wish to fall pregnant. This allows you time to detox, correct any deficiencies or imbalances and build up your nutritional stores. The following dietary, lifestyle and nutrient recommendations will help you do just that. And even better, if you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant for a while now, these steps may make all the difference.
I’m not going to elaborate on what you shouldn’t eat as this article will be far too long! So in summary: No junk food, processed foods, damaged fats & vegetable oils, sugar, artificial sweeteners, excess carbs, gluten, fizzy drinks, fruit juice, ‘diet’ products, baked goods, alcohol, caffeine, legumes and grains (including any foods made from them). Now don’t complain, just avoid them and focus on eating the following:
1. Fat fat and more fat.
Before we begin, please note that fat DOES NOT make you fat! Sugar is the true culprit. So now that you are avoiding it (see guidelines above) you have nothing to worry about. Fat is my number one fertility food for so many reasons. Fat is essential in the manufacturing of cell membranes and sex hormones. Women who eat too little fat in their diets can disrupt their menstrual cycles and prevent ovulation.
To enhance fertility and have a healthy baby include PLENTY of high fat foods such as;
- Egg yolks – rich in choline, a phospholipid which is critical for the development of the brain.
- Farm butter – provides the fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K (essential for the growth of a healthy baby) as well as minerals such as selenium, copper, chromium, and zinc.
- Saturated animal fats from grass-fed livestock raised without hormones, antibiotics or other nasties. These are necessary for the healthy development of cell membranes, internal organs, bones (to assimilate calcium), hormones, the immune system, as well as genetic regulation.
- Coconut oil – plays a key role in immune health due to its rich source of lauric acid which is anti-microbial and anti-fungal. In fact, human breast milk is also rich in lauric acid which is responsible for it’s potent germ-killing ability.
- Cold-water, fatty fish – the best food source of the long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. DHA is particularly important for the formation of healthy brain cells, and to protect the brain from oxidative damage. Omega 3’s are also involved in hormonal health (enhancing fertility), brain development, immunity and so much more!
Other good fats include raw nuts & seeds, nut butters, avocado, olives & olive oil, raw dairy from grass-fed cows, goats or sheep (cream, milk, cheese etc) coconut, animal fats, organ meats, egg yolks and fish.
It is essential that you consume high quality sources of protein. Protein supports optimal growth, development and repair of your and your baby’s body. Good sources are: Free-range, organic eggs , low mercury fish (haddock, wild salmon, trout, sardines and sole), organic hormone-free red meat especially lamb and beef, organic free-range poultry and a good protein powder to add to smoothies.
Avoid anything soy-based as it interferes with hormones and can affect baby’s reproductive development. This includes meat substitutes, some brands of mince, burgers and meatballs (always read your labels), tofu, soy milk, soy protein shakes, some meal replacements etc. Also avoid deli meat (may contain preservatives, nitrates, bacteria or moulds), raw meat, charred or blackened protein which contains carcinogenic (cancer-forming compounds) as well as mouldy cheese and sushi.
3. Bone broth.
Homemade bone broth is a powerhouse of fertility-enhancing nutrients. It is rich in gelatin, amino acids, and fatty acids that help clear toxins from the body, build strong bones, tendons & connective tissue, as well as support your digestive tract (decreasing food-allergies & boosting immunity). It is especially high in the amino acid, glycine which is anti-stress (for both mom & baby) anti-inflammatory as well as improves sleep quality.
Bone broth is also loaded with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur; all in a form that the body can easily absorb. Drink at least a cup of broth a day to reap the benefits.
4. Leafy green vegetables.
You can’t eat enough green leafy vegetables e.g spinach, kale, swiss chard etc which are excellent sources of folate, vitamins A and K, iron, calcium, and beneficial antioxidants. Remember to always cook your leafy greens in butter or coconut oil to enhance the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins. Included in this category are green superfoods such as barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina etc which are also packed full of highly beneficial nutrients to support a growing baby.
5. Fermented foods.
These are rich in enzymes and good bacteria that keep your gut healthy and your digestion strong. Probiotics help boost immunity, are involved in hormone health, remove toxic compounds from your body, and produce vitamins and short-chain fatty acids… all of which benefits your baby too. Examples of these foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, home-made yoghurt, kefir and raw cheese.
6. Organic Liver.
Now don’t turn your nose up just yet, liver is in fact a nutrient-dense superfood. Organ meats increase your chances of falling pregnant due to the high amounts of fertility-enhancing vitamins A, D, B12, iron and many minerals. Remember to always buy organic, and cook it yourself. Chicken liver pate or peri-peri chicken livers are delicious. Alternatively if you simply cant stand the taste, add grated frozen liver to stews, sauces and meat dishes to disguise the distinct flavour.
7. Cod liver oil.
Granny was on to something here… Cod liver oil is rich in several valuable nutrients such as Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA. It is a particularly rich source of vitamin A which supports healthy gene expression, strong bones, healthy skin and lungs, good eyesight, hormone production, as well as provides protection against environmental chemicals and estrogenic compounds.
Cod liver oil is also a good source of Vitamin D, an essential nutrient when it comes to fertility and pregnancy. Vitamin D promotes the healthy development of bones as well as boosts levels of progesterone and estrogen, (which regulate menstrual cycles and improve the likelihood of successful conception), helps maintain semen quality and sperm count and even boosts testosterone levels, increasing libido.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I will discuss beneficial supplements and lifestyle recommendations that improve fertility and help prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.