Fertility and Nutrition
nutrition and the fertility diet
When we think about fertility, we don’t only focus on ovaries and eggs – we consider whole health. An important part of overall health is nutrition and diet. For this reason, at Dallas–Fort Worth Fertility Associates, healthful dietary choices are always a part of our recommended fertility plans.
Weighing in for Success
Women close to their healthy body weights have a better chance of getting pregnant. Researchers believe that this is because of the relationship between fat and estrogen.
Women trending high on the body mass index (BMI) charts tend to produce more estrogen, which makes the body react as if it is on the birth control pill, making it much harder to get pregnant.
This doesn’t mean that women managing weight issues should go on emergency, or “crash,” diets when they’re trying to get pregnant. In fact, extreme dietary changes can further reduce fertility.
Likewise, women with too little fat might produce too little estrogen, which slows down, or even stops, their reproductive cycles. For these women, fertility doctors recommend healthy weight gain to regulate hormones and re-establish natural fertility.
Taking a Break from Fertility Reducing Habits
Most people know that pregnant women should avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol for the health of their baby. Fewer women know that excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol can also make it harder to get pregnant. For this reason, the Dallas-Fort Worth fertility doctors recommend taking a break from alcohol, and cutting back on caffeine while you’re trying to get pregnant.
Do Fertility Foods Exist?
In general, a healthy fertility diet is the same as a normal healthy diet. This means your plate should be a well-balanced mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy products. Keeping to this diet should ensure that you get the recommended dietary allowance of vitamins and minerals for proper reproductive function.
Ingredients for a Healthy Pregnancy
Even though you might not be pregnant yet, it’s not too early to start making sure you’re getting enough of the most important vitamins and nutrients to support your future baby. Of special importance for pregnancy preparation:
Folic acid: The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that women of childbearing age obtain 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid each day. This B vitamin helps reduce a baby’s risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. In some cases, for those with specific family histories, your fertility doctor might recommend a different dosage. You can either take prenatal vitamins fortified with folic acid or eat your daily dose through dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals.
Calcium: Women who are trying to get pregnant should have at least 1,000 mgs of calcium a day. As with folic acid, you can choose to get your recommended dose through a vitamin or food. Calcium-rich foods include cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, salmon, sardines, rice, and cheese.
Our Top 5 Tips for Your Preconception Diet
- Eat a healthy diet.
The real key to a preconception diet is eating foods that will optimize your health. A sensible diet consists of lean proteins, especially vegetable-based protein such as beans; loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens that are high in iron; whole grains; and dairy, particularly whole milk products.
- Fish is part of a healthy diet, but avoid fish that has high mercury levels.
Fish is another healthy part of a preconception diet, but there are some types that you should avoid before or during pregnancy. The FDA recommends that women eat one or two servings per week from their “Best Choices” list, or one serving from their “Good Choices” list. Fish with the highest mercury levels should be avoided at all times: king mackerel, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, bigeye tuna and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico.
- Limit caffeine consumption
DFW Fertility Associates, as well as RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, recommend limiting caffeine consumption as part of a healthy preconception diet. This is based on studies that have shown a relationship between excessive amounts of caffeine and decreased fertility. More studies need to be conducted, but limiting caffeine from coffee, soft drinks and chocolate to less than 300 mg per day is a good idea.
- Try to get to a healthy weight before pregnancy.
A preconception diet should not only be healthy, but it should also provide you with the optimum number of calories each day to help you get to or maintain a healthy weight. We recommend that women attempt to get as close as possible to a normal body mass index, or BMI. A normal BMI is in the 19-24 range.
Establishing a healthful diet and nutrition plan with your fertility doctor is the safest way to match your health goals with your pregnancy plans in a way that will increase – not jeopardize – your fertility.
Please schedule a consultation to get started on an optimal fertility health plan for you.