Getting pregnant should be simple, right? After all, you’ve probably been practicing the act of “baby making” (albeit a protected activity) for quite some time now. All it takes is an egg and a sperm to make a baby, or so the textbooks tell us. Yet when it comes down to the nitty gritty of conception, trying to conceive can be a complicated and frustrating experience. Not every woman is lucky enough to get pregnant after one night of unprotected sex. When you’re trying to conceive and you’re unsuccessful month after month, you are probably asking yourself, “Why?! Why can’t I get pregnant?”
Although I wish I could give you an easy answer to that question, every woman is different. You might have an underlying reproductive issue, or you might be having sex at the wrong time of the month. Or the answer may even simpler than that. You may be eating the wrong types of food.
If you’re having a hard time getting pregnant, take a look at your diet.
According to researchers from Harvard University, your diet can sometimes hinder your efforts to conceive. They recommend a fertility diet that you may want to follow to get pregnant faster.
What is The Fertility Diet?
The landmark Nurses’ Health Study II – an eight-year comprehensive research study that followed over 18,000 women between 25 and 42 years old – found a direct link between diet, exercise frequency, a woman’s weight, and conception. Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health put the findings of this study into a diet book entitled, The Fertility Diet.
The dietary recommendations outlined in the Fertility Diet are geared to help women prevent and reverse infertility caused by ovulation problems. The Harvard researchers believe that food has an affect on good fertility.
For example, women who took a regular multivitamin with folic acid were more likely to get pregnant than women who did not. Similarly, women who ate more fruits and vegetables, beans, and non-meat sources of iron had a higher likelihood of easy conception. Foods that made it harder for women to conceive included processed foods and trans fats from doughnuts, margarine, and other unhealthy foods.
Based on results from the Nurses’ Health Study II, Harvard experts highly recommend that women trying to conceive avoid trans fats – since they can sometimes disrupt your hormonal pathway and negatively affect healthy ovulation.
The comprehensive study found that women who easily got pregnant had a diet that was low in trans fats; high in iron; low glycemic load; and animal protein comprised less than 10 percent of their total calories, while vegetable protein sources comprised over 7 percent of total calories. For some unknown reason, women who were more likely to get pregnant ate one or more servings of full fat dairy. They had less than a serving of low fat diary products.
Fertility Diet – What Foods Should You Eat?
After examining the data from the comprehensive Nurses’ Health Study, Harvard researchers have put together a “fertility diet” of foods that help improve a woman’s odds at conceiving.
To follow the fertility diet, make the following changes:
- Avoid trans fats. If you’re trying to conceive, you will want to stay away from trans fats – which clog up your arteries, raise your bad cholesterol, and harm healthy ovulation (which makes it more difficult for you to conceive). Trans fats are in many fried foods and commercial baked goods – such as cookies, cakes, crackers, and doughnuts.
- Choose unsaturated fats instead. Unsaturated fats are found in plant-based foods and oils. These are healthier dietary fats, which can improve your blood cholesterol levels, promote blood sugar control, and protect against other health problems. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are better for you, and they definitely aid in boosting your fertility. These fats include olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. You can also find them in foods, like nuts, seeds, and cold water fish (such as salmon and sardines).
- Eat vegetable sources of protein. Although animal protein has its benefits, when you’re trying to conceive, you should enjoy more vegetable protein sources – including beans, peas, nuts, tofu, and soy products.
- Drink whole milk. If you drink milk, choose whole, full-fat milk. For some reason, skim milk seems to make it harder for you to become pregnant. When you’re trying to conceive, you will want to choose whole milk products. Now, you have an excuse to enjoy a cup of full fat ice cream or full-fat yogurt every day!
- Get your iron from plants. Extra iron from plant sources is associated with increasing your fertility. So if you are trying to conceive, give yourself a boost by eating plenty of whole grain cereals and breads, beans, tomatoes, spinach, and beets.
- Eat carbohydrates high in fiber. Although some diets want you to eliminate carbs completely, the fertility diet argues that you should include carbohydrates in youtr diet. You just need to find carbs that are slowly digested – such as carbs that are rich in fiber. This includes eating plenty of vegetables, whole fruits, beans, and whole grain products. Avoid eating processed carbs that are rapidly digested. Slowly digested carbs help improve your chances of getting pregnant, since it controls your blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Take a multivitamin with folic acid. Having a nutritional deficiency can make it harder for your body to do its job. You may experience ovulation and reproductive problems, as a result. So, for the healthiest ovulation possible, you need to make sure that your body gets all the nutrients and vitamins that it needs. Taking a regular multivitamin can help give your body and reproductive system a boost. Folic acid, which is an essential nutrient that prevents neural tube defects, is also known to help make it easier for you to conceive.
- Drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated is good for your circulation, and it keeps you healthy. Dehydration can cause all kinds of health issues. When you’re trying to conceive, your fertility diet should exclude sugary drinks – like sodas. For some reason, sugary sodas are related to causing ovulatory infertility. Water is best for your body.
To increase your chances of having healthy ovulation and a healthy reproductive system, you will want to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
From the fertility diet above, you can see the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are chock full of healthy antioxidants, iron, folic acid, and a number of other essential nutrients that will help you get pregnant faster.
But moderation and balance is key to any fertility diet. Keep in mind that when you’re trying to conceive, be patient. Talk to your doctor if you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year and have been unsuccessful.