When you want to conceive a child, you want to maximize your diet. Certain foods can impact your fertility —for better or worse. To make the most of your pursuit of conceiving a baby, you’ll need to learn which foods can give your fertility a boost (as well as which ones can harm your fertility.)
Choosing your preconception diet may be challenging, so you may also want to get a nutritionist’s advice. Dr. Edward J. Ramirez of The Fertility & Gynecology Center - Monterey Bay IVF explains more about preconception do’s and don’ts in this fertility-themed version of the popular “eat this, not that” guide.
Why nutrition matters
You want to eat well before you get pregnant. Part of this is to start establishing good habits; you’ll not only need to eat well while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding but also to teach your future baby.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re getting enough folic acid. This is important enough that you’ll want to take a supplement before you get pregnant in addition to trying to get enough from your diet, too. That’s because folic acid is essential to prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and it matters at the time of conception.
Here’s the “eat this, not that” list for your consideration.
EAT: Leafy greens. Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and Collard greens, are a great source of folate, which will fulfill your need for folic acid. It’s important to remember that men also need folic acid; one study found that men with the highest folate levels had an 87% lower chance of one of the most common causes of male infertility than men with the lowest folate levels.
DON’T EAT: Donuts and other pastries. Even though they may look tempting in the break room at work, donuts and other pastries are high in refined carbohydrates (and sometimes also contain unhealthy trans fats.) This causes you to get a rush of high blood sugar, which isn’t healthy.
EAT: Walnuts. These tree nuts pack a punch of powerful nutrition for both men and women. They’re a good source of folate, but they’re also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. In a study, eating ¾ cup of walnuts each day helped 117 men to have better sperm counts.
DON’T EAT: Soda. It’s probably not too surprising that soda isn’t healthy–and sweetened sports drinks and energy drinks aren’t any better. One study found that men who drank sugary drinks had worse sperm motility (a measure of their health) than those who didn’t. The results were seen when consumption was as little as one and a half cans daily.
EAT: In general, following a Mediterranean diet is the healthiest for preconception health. This focuses on eating fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Drinking milk or soy milk is also healthy for women.
DON’T EAT: White bread. Women who eat more white bread (as well as crackers and cookies) are especially sensitive to these refined carbs if they have PCOS, which can interfere with ovulation.
If you’re looking to get pregnant, the time to change your diet is now. Contact Dr. Edward J. Ramirez at the Fertility & Gynecology Center - Monterey Bay IVF for a preconception visit or request an appointment online.