Diet advice for improving female fertility
A balanced and healthy diet is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and a normal BMI, which will help you to conceive and then carry your baby to full term once you are pregnant. A nutritious diet is also vital for hormone production in both men and women. Your body needs to be able to produce enough good quality oestrogen before, during and after your pregnancy in order to grow healthy eggs and give you the best possible chance of conceiving and delivering a healthy baby.
Some foods in your diet (such as soya beans) can directly boost oestrogen production, while other ingredients and substances (such as caffeine) can hinder it. You are the best person to decide what is right for your own body and what you should and shouldn’t eat on a daily basis, provided you understand the general do’s and don’ts when it comes to your fertility diet.
If you know little or nothing about the right foods to include and avoid when trying for a baby, you could follow our 10 diet tips, which are shown below.
Female diet dos and don’ts
- Eat a variety of foods, including high quality lean meat, oily fish, whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, eat a rainbow of colours and don’t stop at five portions a day – seven portions are ideal! This can be achieved more easily for some by juicing or incorporating into smoothies. Green, leafy vegetables are packed full of helpful vitamins and minerals, and have no negative effects when eaten in large quantities.
Eat wholegrain and wholemeal foods whenever possible. Different types of bread, rice, pasta and cereal often have wholegrain or wholemeal alternatives. Choose these over the standard or white varieties you may normally have.
Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Water not only helps with weight loss; it also carries nutrients to your body’s organs, including those used for reproduction.
Eat three evenly spaced out meals with a handful of nuts and seeds, or fruit and vegetables as a snack if needed. Eating regularly helps your body to process and digest nutrients between meals.
Switch to sugar free, low fat alternatives when it comes to dairy produce. Low fat yoghurt, cheese and milk are all still rich in calcium but will significantly decrease your daily fat intake. A small amount of butter is better than margarine.
Drink more than one or two cups of coffee or strong tea per day. If you drink lots of coffee or tea at the moment, don’t try to cut caffeine out of your diet completely, this will cause caffeine withdrawal, which can give you bad headaches and nausea. Try to slowly reduce your intake over a period time, before cutting them out altogether.
Eat liver products (pate) or soft, mouldy and strong cheeses. The listeria in these foods can increase your chances of miscarrying.
Eat lots of red meat. A small amount of red meat can boost your iron intake, but too much is thought to cause endometriosis. Rely on other sources of protein instead, such as lean white meats, oily fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds. Meat replacement products, such as Quorn, are OK in moderation, though natural, non-processed alternatives are always a better option.
Eat processed foods that contain lots of additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Try and home cook your meals wherever possible. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in wholegrain foods, vegetables and legumes, are a great source of energy, but simple carbohydrates, such as those found in sweets, cakes, convenience foods and fruit juices, will affect your sugar levels and make you put on weight.
Skip breakfast. A wholegrain, sugar-free cereal, such as a small bowl of porridge, will fill you up until lunch and provide your body with the complex carbohydrates it needs to avoid a mid-morning sugar crash. Avoid the supposed ‘diet cereals’ – these are full of sugar and contain fewer naturally occurring nutrients.
Happy that your diet is already helping your fertility?
If you’ve already got most or all of these points covered, well done! Why not move on to one of our other pages to find out about the other factors that could be affecting your fertility fitness.