Here's a message I want at least 6.1 million women—the number of women estimated to struggle with infertility in the United States—to keep in mind:
Your nutrition (and supplements) can play an ESSENTIAL role in your ability to become pregnant!
I could not emphasize this more.
Let's just look at for a moment how important nutrition alone is in determining the health of your future child and even your own health during and following your eventual pregnancy—because it is, and these are huge important topics that we talk about a lot. And need to talk about more.
But for now, let's just zoom in on getting pregnant in the first place. About that: it's fair to say that what you're eating (or not eating) is of the highest order in terms of priority and impact.
To put it another way, taking responsibility for your own fertility is about much more than simply tracking your cycle, curtailing your workouts (a questionable call anyway), and/or pursuing in vitro fertilization (IVF) when "all else" fails. I'm certainly not saying these don't have a role to play for some women. But If you're doing these things and have yet to assess and modify what you're eating, you're potentially missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
I do understand that there is a lot of things that may contribute to fertility issues that go beyond what is included this blog. I am not saying nutrition or lifestyle can or will fix everything and BAM you'll be pregnant. But there is a lot of "unexplained" infertility. And I believe, by looking at the research, that nutrition and lifestyle may be part of this "unexplained infertility" issue we see so often.
This is actually GOOD news! Because it means that the state of our fertility is in our hands—and on our plates—a lot more than we realize.
So, given that nutrition really IS that instrumental in your journey toward motherhood, let's talk some specifics. What does an ideal fertility diet look like? What's included—and just as notable, what's not? Let's discuss this now.
Nutrition for Fertility 101: The Top Things to Eat (and NOT to Eat) To Improve Fertility Health
Did you know that if you're currently doing IVF, a high quality nutritious diet can increase treatment success rate by as much as 40 percent?
That's a huge ROI on your grocery budget!
Research in this area points to the Mediterranean diet specifically, which is famous for being rich in:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Legumes (especially things like chickpeas and lentils)
- Nuts, seeds, and healthy oils (avocado, coconut, olive)
- Lean protein (fish, chicken)
It's not too surprising to see foods like this on here, right? These contain the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and macro/micronutrients you and your partner need for optimal reproductive health. Eat them!
Importantly, I advise all would-be mamas to modify the Mediterranean approach by avoiding gluten-containing grains, in addition to eliminating sugar and dairy. Here's why:
These substances are known to trigger inflammation in the body, which we know is associated with an increased risk of infertility and miscarriage (let alone a multitude of other health problems). Indeed, many of the reproductive health conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are directly associated with inflammation. Quelling that chronic inflammation by avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and consuming anti-inflammatory foods instead is priority number one as you head out on your fertility journey.
For what it's worth, these dietary recommendations are the literal foundations of my 30 day slim down, 10 day detox and bible diet where I go into a lot more detail. If you stick with this as a nutritional base, you will dramatically improve your health—reproductive or otherwise.
Essential Supplements for Fertility (For Women AND Men)
Nutritional supplements are like taking an extra insurance policy out on your health—the right ones can help fill any holes that your day-to-day diet may have, which can occur even if we're eating mostly organic/wild-caught/pasture-raised/nutrient dense foods.
Here are a few evidence-based supplements I recommend for fighting inflammation, supporting egg quality (and sperm quality for that matter!), optimizing hormone function, improving gut health/immune function, and promoting fat loss—all of which culminates in improved fertility.
As always, I am not a doctor nor play one on the internet, so please discuss any and all supplements with your health care provider BEFORE implementing anything into your routine.
- 50 to 100 mg of Coenzyme Q10 (shown to increase reproductive potential in animal models)
- 1,200 to 1,800 mg per day of N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- 200 micrograms of selenium per day (shown to lower the risk of postpartum thyroiditis)
- 1,000 to 2,000 mg of high quality fish oil (rich in omega 3 fatty acids)
- 500 to 2,000 mg acetyl-L-carnitine (great for muscle building, cognitive function, and optimizing mitochondrial function and your body's ability to absorb the omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil)
I recommend these supplements in addition to a high quality prenatal supplement and a solid exercise program followed on most days of the week.
- 200 to 1,000 milligrams per day of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric)
- 100 milligrams of alpha-liopic acid
Ladies, encourage your partners to optimize their nutrition and physical activity right along with you, as they are as much a part of your fertility picture as you are.
Interested in learning more? Head over to moveyourbump.mom to check out my specific tips and strategies for every stage of motherhood including getting on my meal programs that are specially programmed for you each week as a TTC woman to minimize inflammation, balance hormones, and more to promote and boost fertility using real whole foods.