Food affects female fertility in many ways – it’s not just your main source of energy! If you’re eating to get pregnant, you may increase your chances of conceiving a baby. And if you overindulge in a certain taste, you may decrease your chances of getting pregnant. It’s not just the amount of food you eat, it’s the imbalance of certain tastes that affect your fertility levels.
“The different tastes – sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and aromatic – have certain effects when taken in moderation,” writes Randine Lewis in The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies. “However, if any of these tasted predominate, they can create imbalance in the body.”
It’s important to eat healthy portion sizes, but if you’re eating too much salt or sweet flavors, you may be affecting your chances of getting pregnant. Here are Lewis’s general dietary recommendations for women trying to conceive a baby. By the way, she describes how Chinese medicine views infertility and getting pregnant in natural ways – this book is a great read!
Food and Female Fertility
1. Eat alkaline, not acidic foods. Alkaline foods include noncitrus fruits, veggies, sprouts, cereal grasses, and herbs (black cohosh and valerian root help balance the reproductive system). Acidic foods include meat, dairy, and most grains. “Acidic cervical mucus may become hostile to sperm, which require an alkaline environment to survive,” writes Lewis in The Infertility Cure. She also suggests chewing your food thoroughly, as saliva can have an alkalizing effect on food – and she advises against washing your food down with fluids (it reduces the effect of your salivary enzymes).
2. Eat essential fatty acids. Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are “key in ovulation, specifically in the process of follicular rupture (releasing the egg) and collapse (allowing the development of the corpus luteum).” Essential fatty acids that could affect fertility are fish, fish oil, flaxseed oil, eggs, soy products, raw nuts and seeds, and dark green and winter veggies (cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, beets, broccoli).
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3. Eat organic foods and hormone-free meats. “In natural-food circles, organic foods are touted as necessary for optimum hormonal functioning because many of the pesticides, chemicals, and hormones used to treat produce and animal products contain synthetic estrogen-like substances, which occupy estrogen receptor sites and have negative side effects on our organ and endocrine systems,” writes She also points out that practitioners of Chinese medicine have additional reasons to believe food affects fertility: “food loses its Essence and Qi as it moves away from the source.”
4. Eat cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower contain di-indolylmethane, which stimulates your body to use estrogen more efficiently. Also, read how a fertility diet increases pregnancy odds.
5. Take natural multivitamins and minerals. “The vitamins and minerals important for reproductive health (vitamins A, C, E, B complex, zinc, and selenium) enhance fertility yet are lacking in the usual Western, highly processed diet,” says Lewis. What you eat can negatively affect female fertility – which is why vitamin supplements are beneficial.
6. Eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Get this: “nicotine ages the ovaries and makes the eggs resistant to fertilization,” writes Lewis. Ready to quit smoking? Read 5 Ways to Quit Smoking When You’re Trying to Conceive. She points out that green tea isn’t as problematic as coffee because it contains about 20% less caffeine, and it doesn’t affect female fertility the same way.
7. Avoid medications. Prescription meds can interfere with your chances of getting pregnant by blocking certain hormones and inhibiting ovulation. If you can avoid unnecessary drugs – including over-the-counter sleep aids, cold meds, pain killers, etc – then do so.
8. Live healthy! “Avoid junk food, excessive stress, too little sleep, too much exercise, or anything taxing to the immune system,” writes Lewis in The Infertility Cure. “Give your body every chance to be at its strongest and healthiest so that it can nourish your child.”
If you have any thoughts or questions about eating to get pregnant, please comment below…