Fertility diet: Foods to help you fall pregnant, according to a dietitian – Body and Soul

"Like so very many couples these days, we had a struggle falling pregnant."

Photo: @jaimerose_nutrition

Our story doesnt even compare to many others but it was still two and a half years of highs and lows and feelings of disappointment. Despite having a few medical issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis that I knew could affect my fertility, the cocky Dietitian in me thought well be fine! Im healthy, Im fit, I look after myself, we should have no problems!. But we werent and we needed extra support, which started our fertility journey. As it turns out though, what we really needed was what I preached all day, every day: a fertility-specific diet and lifestyle.

Our fertility journey runs like many others, which included several fertility interventions. I must add though that this was just our journey and I know of so very many successful pregnancies that came from fertility treatments. It just wasnt to be for us at that point in time. So after a tough couple of years, we decided to go on holidays to my favourite place on earth, Hawaii. Here we unwound and I got back to feeling myself again and we began to talk about where to go from here.

I started to do some deeper research into the link between diet, lifestyle and fertility. As it turns out, Harvard University had just released the first ever dietary recommendations for fertility following a huge and long-running research study. It showed that certain diet and lifestyle factors could help infertility associated with one of the most common causes: problems with ovulation. Ovulation is where a woman releases an egg mid-cycle to be fertilised by sperm. Further research also confirmed to me the impact of stress and over-exercising on our hormones and fertility. And for men, that sperm quality was affected by diet and lifestyle.

So, once we returned from holidays, I really ramped up our eating at home to be more fertility-specific. Although we already lived a healthy life, I made sure we were very diligent in reducing our alcohol and red meat intake and ditched any fried foods and processed meats. I made sure to use beautiful extra virgin olive oil in our meals and used only wholegrains and whole milk products. A little slack and sporadic with our supplements, we began to be more consistent with taking our multivitamins, and continued to eat bucket loads of fresh vegetables and fruits. I pulled back to just one precious coffee per day. Sugary drinks were completely out too so the occasional gin and tonic was out. I also went from doing very high intensity physical exercise to lower impact long walks and light jogs.

A few months later, I got the shock of my life when I found out that we were pregnant. Today as I write this, at 30 weeks pregnant Im able to look back on my journey and say wholeheartedly that there are many, many factors that affect infertility, some we probably dont even know about yet. But if you are planning to start a family or if you have been trying for some time, the simplest, no-brainer first step to take is to do an audit of your diet and of your lifestyle and make the recommended changes. You might just find thats all that it takes for you to fall pregnant.

Harvard University's 10 steps to improving your fertility:

Information from Harvard's health website.

Jaime Rose Chambers is an accredited practicing dietitian and nutritionist. You can see more from Jaime on her website, or visit her on instagram.

If you are concerned about fertility, book an appointment with your GP who can advise a correct treatment plan.

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Fertility diet: Foods to help you fall pregnant, according to a dietitian - Body and Soul

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