There are a lot of myths floating around about how to increase fertility. There are fertility teas, exotic herbs, questionable supplements, and strict diets that supposedly boost fertility the “natural way.” Most of these solutions are bogus, but the good news is, there ARE many things you can do to increase fertility naturally. In addition to ditching cigarettes and alcohol, sleeping enough, and getting regular exercise, many foods have been scientifically proven to help with fertility and, specifically, with healthy egg production.
Eating the right mix of foods is key to increasing your chances of conception, barring any other health conditions. Your body needs the proper balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein, and vitamins & minerals to function correctly and produce eggs during ovulation. Carbohydrates are the key energy source for your body, and the vitamins and fiber found in complex carbs may help stabilize blood sugars which assist in ovulation. Proteins also help stabilize your blood sugar and provide the essential amino acids needed for reproductive health. Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and oily fish play a crucial role in fertility and fetal health. Lastly, specific vitamins and minerals boost your odds of becoming pregnant. In many ways, your fertility depends on what you eat. Keep reading for more insight into how to eat for healthy egg production.
Diet For Healthy Egg Production
We all know what carbohydrates are (hello pasta!), but are they all created equal when it comes to healthy egg production? The answer is no. Complex carbs that contain fiber are digested slowly, which keeps insulin levels stabilized throughout the day. Elevated insulin can cause the body to produce fewer reproductive hormones and contribute to a lack of egg maturation and ovulation.
Whole grains are also excellent sources of fertility-friendly B vitamins, vitamin E, and fiber. In addition to grains, berries provide natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which aid in reproductive health for men and women.
A 2009 study found that eating 10 grams or more of fiber per day was associated with a 44% lower risk of infertility in older women.
Foods to try: Whole grain cereal, whole grain bread, oats, dark-colored berries
Healthy, plant-based fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and grapeseed oil can reduce inflammation in the body, promoting regular ovulation and general fertility. Moreover, the essential fatty acids found in foods like salmon or other fatty fish give the body what it needs to balance hormones, insulate nerve cells, keep the skin and arteries supple, and keep itself warm. Healthy fats are essential to people trying to conceive for their ability to balance hormones and resource follicles.
A 2018 study showed that eating more fish led to more live births following infertility treatment.
Foods to try: Salmon, tuna, swordfish, avocado, seeds, healthy oils, nuts
Though eating fatty fish is excellent for healthy egg production, replacing some animal proteins with vegetable protein sources (such as beans, nuts, and seeds) is linked to a reduced risk of infertility. Simply making your Mondays meatless could significantly help your fertility. However, we are not suggesting you go vegetarian as lean meats are still a great source of amino acids, and protein is essential for blood sugar control.
When you eat meat, it’s best to avoid highly processed meats which can cause ovulatory dysfunction. A recent study found that the risk of ovulatory disorders decreased by 50% when 5% of a woman’s total calorie intake was composed of plant-derived protein.
Foods to try: Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, lean meats, fish
Vitamins & Minerals For Healthy Egg Production
Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B, and C as well as calcium and magnesium are important for both male and female reproductive health. In the Nurses Health Study II, a higher intake of vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, and B-12 led to a lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Calcium is also important for reproduction as a deficiency could be a cause of infertility in men since calcium is involved in the production of sperm. In addition to B-vitamins and calcium, multiple studies have found that taking vitamin C improved the number, mobility, and quality of sperm in men while magnesium-rich diets helped to preserve insulin sensitivity and ovulatory function in women. Lastly, vitamin A is essential for reproduction in both the male and female, as well as for embryo development.
Eat a diet rich in these vitamins in minerals and consider taking supplements if needed.
Your body uses the nutrients from the food you eat and the supplements you take to repair cells, produce hormones, and ultimately produce healthy eggs and sperm. Though not all infertility is caused by a poor diet, eating healthfully can only help your journey. In addition to eating well, don’t forget to hydrate your body. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to keep all of your bodily systems running smoothly.