Nutrition Experts Provide Guidelines for Women Trying to Conceive
Did you know that 1 in every 8 couples struggles with getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term? Sobering statistics. As two women who are both within that 1 in 8, registered dietitian nutritionists Elizabeth Shaw and Sara Haas, authors of Fertility Foods, decided to utilize their passion for food and nutrition to help others struggling with their fertility recognize that, while everything else may seem out of their control on the ride to pregnancy, there is one thing that you can control: what you put in your body.
While the research is still evolving, there are promising findings from current data that point in the direction of small, manageable dietary and lifestyle changes to help promote fertility for both men and women.
Switch to a plant-forward way of eating.
A fertility-fueling diet is very similar to the concept of eating a majority of your diet from plant-based protein, fruits and vegetables, with animal proteins used as a complement (if so desired). Research shows that higher intakes of produce in premenopausal women helps reduce oxidation in the body through the role of the antioxidants in those foods.
Incorporate dairy into your diet, but pay attention to the type.
Dairy is not the devil! And there’s research to prove it when it comes to your fertility. For women, research supports one to two servings of whole milk dairy in your daily diet to assist with a diet conducive to conception. Since whole milk dairy is higher in calories, fat, and saturated fat than its low-fat counterpart, be cognizant of portion sizes.
Incorporate heart healthy, omega-3 rich fats into your diet.
While studies in this area are somewhat inconclusive, what we do know is that research does support the addition of heart healthy omega-3 rich fish into your diet at least twice a week. While some research supports a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats for embryo implantation with IVF, a review conducted in 2007 revealed the potential connection between higher rates of infertility in the current years compared to the past, and alluded to the fact that the Westernized diet skews almost 10:1 as far as omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids intakes may be partially to blame.
Focus on whole grains.
It’s no secret—whole grains are a great addition to a healthy diet, as well as a fertility fueling diet. Research supports that for both women and men alike, incorporating more whole grains into your diet may result in higher rates of conception for women and greater sperm quality for men.
Stress less, move more.
Learn to let go of things that cause you stress. Find an outlet that helps to energize you and brings you hope on those days that you feel completely overwhelmed on your fertility journey. Dance, draw, paint, run, pray, whatever works for you. Though fitness certainly won’t hurt you, we do recommend speaking with your dietitian or physician before incorporating a workout routine into your fertility plan.
For more information on how to fuel your fertility, check out Fertility Foods: 100+ Recipes to Nourish Your Body While Trying to Conceive, available wherever books are sold.
About the Authors
ELIZABETH SHAW, MS, RDN, CLT is a nutrition expert, adjunct professor of nutrition and owner of a nutrition communications consulting business. She is a nationally recognized speaker and freelance writer for Fit Pregnancy, Shape, Oxygen and Fitness Magazine. Her passion for spreading the message about the powerful role food and nutrition play in one’s life has led her to be featured on Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, NBC Los Angeles News, The CW San Diego News, Fox 5 News, What to Expect, The Huffington Post, Food Network, US News & World Report, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Bustle, The Daily Meal and PopSugar. You’ll find her at ShawSimpleSwaps.com (@shawsimpleswaps) and BumpstoBaby.com (@bumpstobaby), sharing her love for food and travel, along with a friendly smile to support you on your journey to baby.
CHEF SARA HAAS, RDN, LDN is a food and nutrition expert with formal training in the culinary arts. She works as a freelance writer, recipe developer, media authority, public speaker and consultant dietitian/chef. Sara is a former culinary and nutrition instructor and served as a National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Media Spokesperson. Sara has been featured in Eating Well Magazine, Shape Magazine, Parents Magazine, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Epicurious, BabyCenter, O Magazine and Today’s Dietitian Magazine. Sara also shares her love of food and nutrition on her website, SaraHaasRDN.com, and on Instagram (@cookinRD) where she posts recipes, as well as nutrition and cooking tips.