When you are trying to conceive, you want your diet to be at its best. What you eat during this period can influence both egg and sperm health, as they are sensitive to your diet, lifestyle, and exposures during the pre-conception period. So, protecting and nourishing YOUR body will impact both your chances of conceiving and the future health of your baby when you do conceive.
A nutritious pre-conception diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, dairy products or alternatives, omega-3 rich fish, nuts and seeds, and animal or plant-based proteins.
On the other hand, there are some foods that should be avoided where possible. These include:
- FOODS AND DRINKS HIGH IN SUGAR – Sugar impacts you insulin production, which then has a knock-on effect on your fertility hormones. Reduce sources of sugar-filled foods such as biscuits, cakes, sweets, juices, cordials, and soft drinks.
- FOODS CONTAINING ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS – Consumption of artificial sweeteners has been linked with a lower chance of fertility success, so it’s best to limit or avoid them while trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatments (including diet soft drinks).
- ALCOHOL – In relation to fertility, alcohol has been found to decrease implantation rates and impact ovulation, as well as increase rates of miscarriage. It’s high in calories and
offers little-to-no nutritional value, so find a mocktail or other substitute where you can.
- FOODS HIGH IN SATURATED FATS – Saturated fat can increase inflammation in the fluid surrounding your eggs, reducing their developmental potential, and therefore impacting your likelihood of conception. Reduce sources of saturated fat in your diet such as animal fat, chicken skin, butter, crisps, and processed meats.
- FOODS WRAPPED IN PLASTIC – Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the production of some plastics and has been found to have an impact on our hormones. Try to reduce your exposure to BPA by using glass, porcelain or stainless-steel containers for hot foods and liquids, and by limiting your intake of canned foods.
- HIGH-MERCURY FISH – Although fish is highly recommended for boosting fertility, it is best to avoid types that are high in mercury as overconsumption may lead to development and learning delays in your baby. If consuming fish, choose a type that has less mercury such as mackerel, sardines, trout, or salmon.
Whether you are just thinking of starting a family, struggling with reproductive health complications (such as PCOS, endometriosis, insulin resistance, diabetes, or celiac disease), or undergoing fertility treatments, consider working with a dietitian for scientific but practical nutrition advice to optimize your fertility.
This article was provided by Sonia Malczyk, a Registered Dietitian certified in Fertility and Prenatal Nutrition. Her private practice, Stir Health, focuses on nutrition during the First 1000 Days of life: from pre-conception all the way through to toddlerhood.