November 5, 2020 12:09:41 pm
By Dr Radhika Sheth
A whole list of what-to-eat is given to a woman while she is pregnant. But, what about the foods that a woman must have in order to get pregnant in the first place? There are certain foods that can support a woman while facing any fertility-related issues. While there is no magical fertility diet that will guarantee your chances of conception, a well-balanced diet can certainly help support reproductive health. If you are trying to conceive, one of the things that you should take care of most is your diet and nutrition. Eating wholesome and balanced foods will provide you with plenty of nutrition that is required to keep your reproductive system healthy and most importantly your hormones stable. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet will help improve your fertility! A ‘rainbow’ diet, which includes a wide array of colourful fruits and vegetables, is one of the best ways to include a high amount of nutrition in your meals.
Eating certain foods and staying away from others may help to promote ovulation and fertility health. Some of the most important nutrients needed to boost fertility are iron, fibre, carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats (the ‘good’ fats), vegetable protein, high-fat dairy, and plenty of vitamins and folic acid. On the other hand, some foods you should stay away from when preparing for conception are red meat, processed foods, fast food, artificial sugars, sweetened soft drinks, and energy drinks. If you’re really craving any of these foods, then just consume them in small quantities.
Here are some tips:
Have plenty of fruit and vegetables, especially berries and green leafy vegetables as they are a rich source of antioxidants that help in cell repair.
Plant-based fats in moderation can help. Nuts, avocados, and olive oil can reduce the inflammation in the body, which helps to improve ovulation
Avoid all trans fats (e.g. foods such as chips, French fries, and margarines). These foods increase insulin resistance leading to high insulin levels that in turn leads to metabolic disturbances that impair ovulation.
Avoid bad carbohydrates which are highly processed. These include cakes, cookies, white bread, polished rice. The body converts them into blood sugar which increases in spikes. This leads to insulin spikes that can inhibit ovulation.
Good carbohydrates are those that contain fibre such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains like amaranth, millet and quinoa. These are digested slowly and lead to a slow rise in blood sugar and insulin, and not a sudden sugar spike.
Fish and meat are good sources of protein, zinc, iron. Fish like salmon, sardines and tuna are an excellent source of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids. These help develop the baby’s brain and nervous system.
Plant proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, other legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas and tofu) are low in calories and can be helpful for weight loss. This is especially of benefit in patients with ovulatory disturbances like PCOS.
Reduce sugar intake. Artificial sweeteners are not healthy alternatives. Instead, opt for less-processed sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and stevia, a natural sweetener.
Male fertility friendly foods are asparagus, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts and oysters. These are rich in selenium, zinc, vitamin B12, and protein.
Cinnamon is yet another superfood, and it is known to improve ovarian function and encourage proper egg production by combating insulin resistance. This is especially useful for women who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Adding cinnamon to your diet, if you have PCOS or want to boost your fertility, is advisable. A quarter teaspoon of cinnamon consumed on a daily basis, either in curries, cereals or even raw form, could do wonders for your reproductive health. Try topping your toast, tea, oatmeal or smoothies with some cinnamon powder for a tasty breakfast!
It is important to note that when you’re eating for reproductive health, foods that can help lower stress hormones and increase blood flow to the uterus should be included in good quantities in your diet. Last but certainly not the least, WATER, it’s not technically a food, but water is a super essential ingredient for egg health as well. Aim to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Stick to purified water, and avoid consuming water from plastic bottles. Chemicals from the plastic bottles could have a negative impact on the health of the eggs produced. Keep a jug or glass of water by your bedside table or work table to remind yourself to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
(The writer is Consultant Fertility Specialist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Mumbai – Malad and Vashi.)
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