Fertility is so much more than just 'having a baby'. Did you know... A woman already has all of her eggs at birth? Men may produce a total of 80 to 300 million sperm per ejaculation?The egg appears to choose the lucky sperm in the race's finale? Around 1,000 eggs are lost in each cycle. 1 in 6 couples suffer with infertility?
Yes, you read right, 1 in 6! So, can we stop and take a moment to look around at all the couples we may know and acknowledge behind closed doors some of them may be fighting a silent battle with infertility. Infertility is defined as a disease wherein a person fails to conceive a pregnancy after one year or more of regular unprotected sex. Infertility can be physically, emotionally, and sometimes financially exhausting.
Factors affecting fertility
For us to support those couples going through infertility, it is crucial that we understand the factors that can optimise fertility and promote healthy pregnancy outcomes. Unfortunately, there are some factors we simply cannot control, including our age, family history, medical history and genetics. On the plus side, there are some factors we can control, such as physical activity, environmental exposure, smoking, drug use, alcohol intake and diet and nutrient intake.
In recent years nutrition has come to the forefront of preventative health as we begin to understand its critical role in many health conditions, including infertility. We can use nutrition to support our hormones, cycle health, egg quality, semen parameters, implantation, the outcome of assisted reproductive technologies and the health of our future baby - It's that powerful!
Optimising the health of your future baby
Even if you're not suffering with infertility, don't you want to have the healthiest baby you possibly can? I am excited to say I see some couples who are looking to achieve just that. I recommend reaching out to a registered fertility nutritionist six months before trying to conceive. This gives you three months to build good habits and address any menstrual cycle issues or hormonal imbalances. Then three months of optimal nutrition to support egg quality, semen parameters and implantation, as it takes three months to make a positive impact on your egg and sperm health.
5 top fertility friendly-foods to include
1. Dish up on the full-fat dairy for fertility
Full fat is not to be feared. Research has consistently shown that women who incorporate full-fat dairy into their diet are more likely to get pregnant than those who consume skimmed or reduced-fat alternatives. Even a small amount of full-fat dairy can have substantial benefits! Swapping low-fat milk, butter, cheese, and yoghurt with their full-fat is well worth considering for the potential advantages for your fertility and the growth of a developing baby.
2. Plate up on the plant proteins for fertility
There is a body of evidence suggesting that eating fewer animal sources and more plant sources of protein helps improve ovulatory infertility. One study on 18,555 women observed that intakes of plant protein reduced the risk of ovulatory infertility by a whopping 50%. This is not me telling you to go away and become vegan but simply for you to explore some of the less processed plant-based proteins such as tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds.
3. Grab those whole grains for fertility
Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, and barley are rich in vitamins and minerals that help support reproductive function. They are slowly digested by your body, helping regulate blood sugar. They are also an excellent source of B vitamins, including B9, also known as folic acid. B9 is crucial to developing your baby's brain, spinal cord, and nervous system and preventing spina bifida.
4. Get your daily dose of vitamin D for fertility
Research suggests that vitamin D plays a crucial role in fertility, as receptors are found in the ovaries, placenta, endometrium, testicles, and sperm. While dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish, egg yolks, fortified foods, and plant milk for those on plant-based diets, it is important to note that vitamin D is not easily obtained through our diet alone. Therefore, it is advised that everyone considers taking a daily ten-microgram vitamin D supplement, especially during autumn and winter when sunlight exposure is reduced. If you regularly use sun cream or cover your skin, consider taking a vitamin D supplement throughout the year. Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels has been linked to positive pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing assisted reproductive technology.
5. Add in antioxidants for fertility
Let me introduce you to the 'super foods' of the fertility nutrition world. Antioxidants are powerful compounds found in foods that protect our cells from oxidative stress caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Antioxidant-rich foods include berries, pomegranates, green tea, dark chocolate, peppers and tomatoes. A lower dietary intake of antioxidants has been found to be associated with reduced sperm quality. Diets rich in antioxidants have been associated with greater pregnancy success in women.
If you're thinking of starting your TTC journey and want to optimise the health of your future baby or are struggling to achieve a successful pregnanacy CLICK HERE to book in for a free 15 minute discovery call NOW!