Our doctors agree that preparation is key when trying to get pregnant. Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or if you’re about to undergo fertility treatment, it is likely to be more successful if you are healthy and relaxed rather than being highly stressed and nutritionally deficient. One of the most important, yet overlooked, parts of the IVF process is in the preparation, not just physically, but also mentally. It is recommended that any pre-conception plan should be prepared, and undertaken, for at least 90 days before trying to conceive.
In the first of two articles on preparing to boost the body for fertility treatment we will explore detoxifying the body and list some easy to achieve dietary ‘tweaks’ that you can make prior to treatment in order to hopefully get the best possible outcome.
Ever considered a detox?
A good way to start, if you do have 90 days to prepare for fertility treatment, is with a gentle 3-4 week detox – please note that de-toxing should not happen if you think you may be pregnant or during any stage of fertility treatment – if in doubt, always check with your GP. The basic principle of a detox prior to any fertility treatment is in order to remove toxic chemicals from the body which may disrupt hormones before conception takes place.
There are specific toxins that are known to negatively affect fertility such as alcohol, certain medications, toxins found in cigarettes, pesticides and some beauty products. It is therefore a good idea to try to remove these from the body to ensure the healthiest possible sperm and egg prior to conception, and it is important to stress that this is equally as important for men, as it is for women.
Important lifestyle habits to give up, helping to remove toxins from the body
- Caffeine – found in tea, coffee, energy drinks and soft drinks
- Refined sugars – sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, soft drinks
- Wheat, gluten, yeast – bread and pasta
- Processed foods
- Spreads – jam, chocolate spreads, peanut butter
- No artificially produced flavourings – tomato ketchup, vinegar, mustard
Try to include the following foods into your pre-conception diet. Hopefully, you will continue to include these foods as part of your daily diet.
- Eat organically raised dairy, poultry and meat (but limit red meat to one or two times a week) in order to limit exposure to antibiotics and hormones. These are an excellent source of protein, omega 3, iron and vitamin B12.
- Organic, wild caught fish – aim for three portions of oily fish per week (salmon, mackerel, sardines). Avoid consuming farmed fish if possible.
- Organic eggs – excellent source of protein, vitamin D and B12.
- Eat whole foods – organic vegetables and fruit, and healthy fats such as olive oil.
- Avoid sweets, fast food, additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
- Raw foods – plant based as these are rich in nutrients and chlorophyll.
- Vegetables – particularly organic, dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, watercress). These are an excellent source of iron, folic acid, B6, vitamin E and fibre.
- Fresh vegetable juices – these contain plenty of vitamin B6 and antioxidants.
- Drink plenty of water – (at least 2 litres of filtered still water, not fizzy).
- Nuts and seeds – especially pumpkin, sesame, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts. These are an excellent source of omega 3, zinc, vitamin E, protein and selenium.
- Berries – blueberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries. These contain high amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants and flavanoids.
- Lentils and beans – these contain good amounts of iron, folic acid and protein.
- Low GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates – such as sweet potato, butternut squash, quinoa, brown rice. These are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and fibre.
Why not add this detoxifying green soup to your regular pre-conception diet plan?
Detox Green Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons diced onion
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cups fresh broccoli, cut up
1/2lb of fresh spinach leaves
3 parsnips, peeled, cored and chopped
2 ribs of celery, trimmed and chopped
A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Fresh water, as needed for thickness
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A squeeze of lemon (optional)
Using a large soup pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and stir in the garlic, onion, and ginger, cook until softened. Add the broccoli, spinach, parsnips, celery and parsley, and stir until the spinach wilts and collapses. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables.
Bring to a high simmer, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Cook for fifteen minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Use a blender/hand blender to puree the soup. Serve and season as required.
Top tip – add a splash of coconut milk to give an extra creamy taste to your soup.