Several factors come into play when you’re trying to boost your fertility. One of them is following a well-balanced, healthy diet. The types of food you consume can impact your hormones – a large intake of sugar, for example, can cause a hormonal imbalance, and therefore affect fertility.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, pay close attention to your diet so you can ensure you have every chance of conceiving a healthy baby. Eating a natural fertility diet provides antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which help protect the quality of egg and sperm. Here are a few foods you could eat more of to maintain a healthy diet and increase your chances of conceiving…

  1. Complex carbs – found in whole grains, vegetables, peas and beans. Complex carbs are digested slowly and have a more gradual effect on blood sugar and insulin. Research has shown that high insulin levels inhibit Avoid simple carbs like white bread, white rice and baked good – these types of food can cause high insulin levels, disrupting the hormonal balance needed for reproduction and ovulation.
  2. Fish – fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially wild fish such as salmon and shrimp, and these essential fats are believed to have a positive effect on fertility. Research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 may help to regulate ovulation, delay ageing of the ovaries and improve egg quality. Opt for wild salmon or cod, and avoid large deep-water fish such as tuna and swordfish as they contain high concentrations of mercury, which can be dangerous if consumed in large volumes. Women who are trying for a baby should have no more than two portions (140g) of oily fish a week.
  3. Plant protein – lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and grains are all sources of plant protein and are thought to be a natural fertility booster.
  4. Iron-rich foods – such as red meat, pulses, bread, green vegetables and fortified cereals. These foods will help build up your iron levels in preparation for pregnancy.
  5. Lots of fruit and veg – since dairy foods should be consumed in moderation due to their high-fat content, you can get your daily dose of calcium from vegetables such as broccoli, kale and oranges.

Are there any foods I should avoid?

Alcohol does have some effect on hormonal balance, in addition to which there are claims that, because of its dehydrating effect on the body, it may make the cervical mucus too thick, which can hinder the sperm reaching the fallopian tubes and egg. However, there’s no hard evidence for this and it’s still not clearly understood how alcohol makes women less fertile. Men should watch their alcohol intake, too, drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – more than this can affect the quality of sperm.

Consuming too much refined sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause or worsen polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is a condition that affects ovulation and is one of the most common causes of female infertility.

There are lots of fertility blogs online that’ll help educate you about what foods to enjoy more of and what to avoid whilst you’re trying for a baby. But be wary that not all of it is credible advice – view our Pregnancy Myth Buster to uncover some common fertility mistruths.

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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