Fertility diet: Foods to eat and avoid when trying to get pregnant – Insider – INSIDER

For many people, trying to conceive can be nerve-wracking. But you can boost your chances even before you begin trying to get pregnant by eating a healthy, fertility-focused diet, says Soma Mandal, MD, an internist specializing in women's health.

"There is no specific fertility diet or food that will magically cause you to get pregnant, but a well-balanced diet that is high in nutrition can support overall health in both men and women," she says.

Here are some dietary pointers to follow when your goal is to boost fertility.

Mandal points out that no diet is magic, so eating healthy can't help with all fertility troubles.

For example, there is no specific food that will unblock blocked fallopian tubes or improve egg quality, but there are foods that will improve your health and increase your chances of conception, she says.

Arielle Spiegel, CEO and founder of Cofertility, an organization that seeks to empower people about fertility challenges, agrees.

"If you're trying to conceive, addressing all facets of fertility with diet certainly can't hurt. Diet is a great natural way to boost your fertility and move it in the right direction, even if you're already taking medication or undergoing treatment," Spiegel says.

Mandal says that much of the information and research about nutrition and female fertility is drawn from the Nurses' Health Study, which has been ongoing since the 1970s and led to the book "The Fertility Diet."

The Nurses' Health Study found that women who ate more plant protein (such as beans), full-fat dairy (including whole milk), and monounsaturated fats (like those found in olive oil and avocados), had a 66% less chance of experiencing infertility related to ovulation disorders and a 27% lower risk of infertility due to other causes.

Mandal suggests that women who are trying to conceive follow these dietary recommendations and take certain steps, including:

Healthy eating can be particularly important for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS who are trying to conceive should eat an anti-inflammatory diet, with lots of leafy greens, beans, and whole foods, while avoiding dairy, soy, and gluten.

"Research has shown that limiting processed snacks can help with fertility, particularly in women with PCOS or endometriosis who should follow an anti-inflammatory diet," Spiegel says. "That doesn't mean you can't indulge in the occasional cookie, but it is something to keep in mind if you're trying to get pregnant but are facing those types of challenges."

Much of fertility focuses on females, but male-factor infertility alone accounts for about 8% of couples who have trouble conceiving. Diet has been shown to affect sperm count and having a higher sperm count makes it easier to conceive. Here are a few dietary changes that men who are trying to have a baby should consider:

Following a Mediterranean diet which includes healthy fats, vegetables, and seafood can be helpful for both men and women who want to boost their fertility. Men who followed this diet more closely had greater sperm motility, or movement, a 2019 study found. Moreover, women who participated in IVF and followed this diet more closely had a higher likelihood of becoming pregnant and bringing it to term, a 2018 study found.

Additionally, polyamines are an organic compound that can increase fertility in males and females, Mandal says. They're particularly important for women over 35 who are trying to conceive, she says. Polyamines are found in cheddar, parmesan, and manchego cheeses, she says, so sit down and enjoy a cheese platter together.

High alcohol intake and tobacco use can be unhealthy for moms- and dads-to-be, so try to scale back on drinking and smoking together.

If you are trying to conceive or plan to start trying for a baby in the next year or so, evaluating your diet is a great place to start.

"Healthy eating is super important when trying to conceive because it helps further position your body for a successful pregnancy," Spiegel says."Considering nutrition for egg or sperm quality, for example, could help avoid genetic abnormalities in eggs, sperm, and fertilized embryos all of which could contribute to pregnancy loss."

Moreover, if you do get pregnant, eating healthy will also pass along valuable nutrition to your baby that will contribute to their health post-birth, says Spiegel.

Whether or not you might face fertility challenges, healthy eating can benefit anyone looking to add to their family, she says.

"Healthy eating is one small thing we can actually control while trying to conceive," Spiegel says.

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Fertility diet: Foods to eat and avoid when trying to get pregnant - Insider - INSIDER

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