Foods that improve female fertility: truths and misconceptions
In the midst of the “natural”, “super” and “enemy” foods debate, at our fertility clinic in Spain we want to talk to you about foods that focus on fertility. And this is because there are several inaccuracies or false misconceptions that, repeated thousands of times, seem to have become true. Are there foods that can help you to conceive? Let’s see…
Healthy foods and a balanced diet are always your best choice. They benefit our general health, boost our defences and make us feel good.
However, we need to understand that not only our diets can impact fertility, but also our exposure to chemicals that are present in many of the foods we eat. There is scientific evidence which associates both sperm and egg quality with chronic exposure to chemicals. These toxins are present in foods such as some artificial sweeteners, preservatives, chemical fertilisers and pesticides in fruits and vegetables, hormones in meats and the chemicals that plastic containers release.
Foods that are good for your health and your fertility
Without a doubt, fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich in antioxidants which protect all of our cells including eggs and spermatozoids. They are very good “friends” to our fertility. Additionally, they help to detox our body.
And don’t forget about legumes, leafy‑green vegetables such as spinach and Swiss card, and wholegrain cereals. Replace white bread with wholegrain bread as it’s much more nutrient and fibre‑dense. Apart from wheat you can also try other cereals that are easily found in stores such as oats, spelt, quinoa… always whole grains.
Nuts and fatty fish are also ideal for fertility. The omega‑3 fatty acids present in these foods prevent the build‑up of fat in our arteries and they also benefit memory function. Incorporate salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, walnuts and hazelnuts into your diet and you won’t forget an important date again.
Let’s talk about iron now. Iron deficiency is related to infertility. Additionally, if you’re thinking about getting pregnant your iron reserves will need to be complete as there’s a natural tendency toward anaemia during pregnancy. Iron is not only found in meat but also in legumes, spinach and nuts which help us to reach optimal levels of this mineral.
Extra virgin olive oil is an absolutely natural, unrefined fat replete with polyphenols and monounsaturated fat, so we also recommend including it as a fundamental part of your diet.
And water? To improve your fertility, it is essential that you stay well‑hydrated by drinking lots of water and other antioxidant‑rich liquids, such as green tea (always in moderation). Avoid sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages including processed juices. Opt for natural drinks!
Foods you should avoid as they are harmful to your health and your fertility
Just as some foods will benefit your fertility and the journey towards a healthy pregnancy, others can end up harming your healthy and fertility. For example, avoid pastries and factory‑baked goods as well as processed and/or refined foods (such as white sugar and flour). These are products that have undergone important modifications to their natural state, meaning a large portion of their nutrients have been eliminated and ingredients such as unhealthy fats, additives, chemicals, salt and sugar have been added in excess.
Ready‑made meals are another example of types of products to avoid if you want to improve your fertility. Try cooking simple meals using ingredients that are in‑season. This way you’ll really know what you are putting into your body and you’ll take advantage of the best products.
Alcohol and caffeine aren’t friends with fertility either. Remember that consumption of these substances is not recommended during pregnancy, meaning you should avoid them if you want to conceive. Say no to alcoholic beverages and reduce your daily coffee intake.
Additionally, we recommend that you avoid eating an excessive amount of dairy products. It’s best to consume the low‑fat, sugar‑free versions of these products without artificial sweeteners. Try eating them with fresh fruit, wholegrain cereal or nuts.
What do you think about these recommendations? At our fertility clinic in Spain we don’t believe there is one specific diet to improve your fertility, but we are aware that certain changes to the foods you eat can favour your general health and, as a result, help you to conceive.
We’d also like to remind you that being overweight or obese can be an obstacle to your fertility. Females whose weight is considered to be morbidly obese have more than twice as high a risk of presenting ovulation disorders. At the other extreme, too low a body weight is not good either, as this is normally associated with nutrient deficiencies. A varied, balanced diet consisting of home‑cooked meals, accompanied by moderate physical activity, will help you to manage your weight and improve your fertility.