Great Foods to Eat When Trying to Conceive
So we all know that a healthy diet is crucial for your body to function correctly and heal the way it’s supposed to.
So why would it be any different for a woman to need specific vitamins and nutrients to help her body to regulate it’s hormones, ovulate normally, conceive a baby, and prepare for a healthy pregnancy?
These are already such delicate, intricate processes in the cycle of life. It’s important to know exactly what you should be putting into your body at each stage in order to give your body the best chance of success.
“Different phases of the cycle require a woman’s body to produce different hormones and go through separate processes,” says Jill Blakeway, clinic director at The YinOva Center in New York. “So if a woman wants to maximize her chances of fertility, it is possible to eat foods that are advantageous to each phase.” (Parents)
Before we discuss anything else that you should be including in your diet though, we must discuss prenatal vitamins.
Including 0.4mg of folic acid in your diet before you get pregnant and during pregnancy can help prevent some birth defects. If you don't get enough folic acid, your baby's spine may not form right. This is called spina bifida (spy-nuh bif-uh-duh). Also, your baby needs folic acid to develop a healthy brain. Many doctors will prescribe a vitamin with folic acid, but you can do yourself a favor by picking one up now at just about any drug or grocery store. (MomsWhoThink)
What is the hardest thing for you to let go of when trying to conceive (TTC)?
Pre-Conception Food Choices
You know there are a lot of rules about what you can and can't eat once you get pregnant. But are there any rules about what you should and should not eat when you’re trying to conceive?
Can certain foods improve your fertility? Prevent a miscarriage? What about helping your body to prepare for a healthy pregnancy? The answer is . . . absolutely!
Let’s look at what you should be eating when you’re trying to get pregnant to give your body the best shot of success.
Your body is made up of mostly water and your body needs plenty of water to function correctly and to work efficiently. It only makes sense that the same rules would apply here.
Just as water helps everything else in your body to run smoothly, it also helps in transporting hormones throughout your body and developing the critical follicles for conception.
As a bonus, drinking plenty of water helps thin out your cervical fluid, giving sperm the best chance in getting to their destination.
Fruits and Vegetables
As important as plenty of water is for your system, so is a good dosage of fruits and veggies. You should be getting 2 to 3 cups of fruits and vegetables every day when trying to conceive.
The vitamins and nutrients that fruits and vegetables can provide you are vital for your body to do the job that you are asking it to do. In fact, many of the problems with infertility that couples suffer from are directly related to the lack of certain nutrients in their bodies (i.e. fruits and vegies).
- Baby Carrots are often touted for maximizing your body’s baby making juices because they’re alkaline (the opposite of acidic). Beta-carotene, which is commonly found in leafy greens as well as yellow and orange foods (e.g., carrots, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes), helps to keep your hormones in check and will prevent early miscarriages. (Parents)
- Brightly colored fruits and vegetables pack a bigger punch nutrient-wise than any other on the shelf. In fact, the more vivid the hue, the more nutrient-packed the produce. Consider stocking up on foods like blueberries, tomatoes, red peppers, raspberries, oranges, and kale for your pre-conception diet just for good measure.
- Asparagus has been shown to help reduce the risk of ovulatory failure due to the folic acid it contains. Folic acid has been proven to greatly improve ovulation. Therefore, you’ll want to stock up on others food high in folate as well, like spinach, romaine, arugula, broccoli, and other dark leafy greens.
- Bananas contain one of the most important vitamins in aiding conception as it regulates the hormones. As hormones play a crucial part in whether or not you even ovulate, and whether you have the ability to sustain a fertilized egg, this fruit is especially important. Without this valuable B6 provided by bananas, you could easily have irregular cycles and poor egg and sperm development.
- Citrus fruit is packed with wonderful Vitamin C. Although this may seem simple, this vitamin also helps to improve and regulate hormone balance in women, therefore regulating your cycles.
- Pineapple, containing beta-carotene and bromelain, with its anti-inflammatory properties, has been shown to support egg implantation. This is probably the most important part of a pre-conception diet, next to water, as about 75% of all conceptions miscarry due to failed implantations that usually pass without the mother ever missing a period.
Fish Rich in Omega-3
Most fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which regulate reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, therefore making conception that much more likely.
Omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA and EPA), are important for a baby's brain and eye development. Fish is also low in saturated fat and high in protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are crucial for a developing baby and a healthy pregnancy. (BabyCenter)
However, fish absorb a chemical call methylmercury from the water they swim in and the food they eat. Studies show that exposure to high concentrations of methylmercury during pregnancy can impair a baby's growing brain and nervous system.
Almost all fish and shellfish contain some mercury, but large predator fish accumulate the most. So to be on the safe side, eat all the fish you want, but avoid specifically consuming shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. All others are relatively safe for a woman that is pregnant or trying to conceive.
For recommendations on fish that you will benefit from, these eight fish are both low in mercury and high in healthy fats: anchovy, herring, mackerel (Atlantic, jack, chub), rainbow trout (farm raised), salmon (wild or farm raised), sardines, shad (American), and whitefish. (BabyCenter)
Shellfish are another important food that women should be consuming to increase their fertility as they are known for their high levels of the B12 vitamin. B12 is directly linked to the implantation of your fertilized eggs because it strengthens your endometrium lining decreasing the risk of miscarriage.
When you're trying to conceive, always choose dark bread over light, brown rice over white, and whole wheat pasta over white. And don’t forget chips, crackers, cookies, and other carbs that you should be watching out for. When in doubt, choose whole grain or whole wheat.
By choosing whole grain foods instead of white breads or white rice, it will have a positive effect on your blood sugar and the insulin levels in your body. If your insulin is functioning properly, your hormone levels are more likely to stay well-balanced. (WikiHow)
Whole grain and whole wheat products are also an excellent source of folic acid (or folate), which is widely known to protect your potential baby from some of the most common birth defects from the moment he or she is conceived through the first trimester.
You will need to have this important nutrient in your system well before you actually conceive to truly provide the protection your baby will need.
There have been many scientific studies done showing that women who relied more on plant proteins than animal proteins were substantially less likely to have trouble trying to conceive. And there are so many amazing options available to you.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat lima beans if you don’t want to. Lentils, tofu, edamame, and all kinds of nuts are great plant-based proteins as well.
According to the USDA, many Americans rely too heavily on beef, pork, and chicken to get their daily protein. Experts at Harvard Medical School say that replacing a serving of meat each day with vegetable or dairy protein such as beans, peas, soybeans, tofu, or nuts can boost fertility. (NaturallySavvy)
Whole Milk Dairy Products
Dairy is rich in calcium, a nutrient that’s essential not just for bone health but also for reproductive health.
I know that, as a society, we have been trained to believe that we need to cut as much fat out of our systems as possible in order to stay the healthiest, but you may just be preventing yourself from conceiving by doing this.
Researchers found that women who ate two or more portions of low-fat dairy foods a day increased their risk of ovulation-related infertility by 85%. However, if women ate at least one portion of high-fat dairy food a day, their risk of anovulatory infertility was 27% lower. (MedPageToday)
This alone should tell you how important having high-fat dairy products in your diet really is. There’s actually something that happens to dairy products in the process of removing the fat that changes the composition of the sex hormones in them.
Nutritionists recommend that women trying to conceive consume at least one serving of a full-fat dairy product per day, but not to go overboard, because too much dairy is also harmful to your chances for conception.
Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and milk are just a few of your delicious options. Yes, you can eat ice cream!
Finally, olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat that helps increase a woman’s body’s insulin sensitivity and can decrease inflammation throughout the body.
This is important because inflammation seriously interferes with a woman’s ovulation, conception, and even the early development of the embryo inside of her body.
A healthy dose of olive oil in your diet at this time will essentially smooth the way for your body to do its job, allowing you to have a regular cycle, to release an egg during ovulation, and even help along sperm trying to fertilize your egg, much less the benefits it has in your body after conception.
When you are trying to get pregnant, especially if you have been trying for a while, it’s so important to make sure you are doing everything right.
Five years ago I started taking a prenatal vitamin and started watching what I was eating. I knew that I wanted to start a family soon and therefore wanted to make sure I was giving my potential child the best start possible by preparing my body ahead of time.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been hunting the web to make sure you’re doing everything right. I did too! In fact, today’s my Peak Day, so we’re going out for seafood tonight.
I want to make sure that I have the best chance of egg implantation this month so we don’t have another miscarriage. I’m going to have a big plate of catfish and shrimp to give my body the best chance possible!
I ate whole wheat pasta this afternoon for lunch with homemade tomato sauce and diced up baby carrots. And tomorrow night, we’ll most certainly be having my husband’s famous pineapple chicken because of all of the benefits of pineapple for implantation and preventing miscarriage.
It’s certainly not difficult just to make a few delicious changes to your diet so that you can have a healthy conception and pregnancy. And what harm can it do!
Enjoy trying a few new foods, bringing more color into your diet, and make sure to read my article on Great Foods to Eat During Pregnancy.
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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness