Fertility diet plan
13th August 2019
A fertility diet plan is a helpful element of preconception care. Understanding the impact certain foods have on fertility will help you create a plan that will improve your chances of natural conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Why is a fertility diet plan important?
Nutrition is an important part of preconception care. Having a fertility diet plan is great for getting you into healthy habits and preparing your body for pregnancy!
Part of the reason for a fertility diet plan is to help improve your chances of conceiving naturally. Having a generally healthy lifestyle, including a healthy balanced diet Vitamins and minerals will help keep your body’s systems incheck – including your reproductive system.
When trying for a baby, it’s a good idea to try and reach a healthy BMI. A balanced diet and regular exercise should help you maintain a healthy BMI that’s neither too high nor too low. You should aim to have a healthy BMI when trying to conceive. If you have a high BMI, try not to worry too much or be too hard on yourself. It can be difficult to lose weight, and you need to do it with the right support. Being underweight can also impact fertility. Having a low BMI can cause your periods to become more irregular or stop all together.
For more inspiration to help you get in to a healthy lifestyle, we have lots of blogs on the subject. Check out our advice on exercise for fertility, or if yoga is more your thing, we have an illustrated guide of yoga asanas for fertility.
A woman’s diet around the time of conception can also influence the development of her baby. During the first few months of pregnancy the foundations for organ and tissues begin – this is a critical period of development’. During this time the main nutrient supply for the growing fetus comes from the mother’s blood, therefore a lack of certain nutrients may impact on the health of the growing baby.
To ensure the best outcome for you and your child it is important to optimise your diet- both before conception and during pregnancy.
How do you create a fertility diet plan?
The foundations of a healthy preconception diet is balance. This is not a crash diet, or solely about you losing weight, This is about you getting the nutrients you need to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. However, there are a few foods that can boost your fertility – so you may want to add a few extra portions of those to your plate!
What foods should you eat to increase fertility?
Here are a few key food groups that have nutritional benefits that could help increase both male and female fertility.
Leafy Greens – Dark leafy greens are a great source of calcium, iron and folate. Folate is incredibly important for pregnancy as it helps reduce the risk of certain birth defects. Try to include a good serving of spinach, kale or swiss chard in your daily diet.
Avocados – Another great source of folate is avocados. It also has Vitamin K, which helps your body absorb nutrients, and potassium which helps regulate blood pressure. Whilst avocados aren’t low in fat, they are full of good fats, which our body needs. Try some on a piece of multigrain toast!
Nuts – Nuts are a rich source of protein and walnuts in particular are great for both male and female fertility. They are high in magnesium which for women boost progesterone production and blood flow to the uterus. Walnuts are also thought you improve the shape and vitality of sperm.
Quinoa – Whole grains, like quinoa, are a great source of fibre. They are also packed full of zinc, folate and protein. Plant based proteins are better for you than animal based ones, and can improve your chances of conception. They are thought to help regulate your cycle.
Fish – Most fish, but especially oily fish like salmon, is a wonderful source of omega 3. Omega 3 is important for fetal brain and eye development, so it’s a great thing to eat when trying to conceive when or pregnant.
The best fruits for fertility
All fruits are full of nutrients that make them an important part of a fertility diet plan. However, there are a few superfruits that you should definitely try to eat once a day.
Citrus fruits are the best source of vitamin C as well as folate – which is incredibly important for preconception. They are also packed with calcium and potassium. You should try to eat an orange or a grapefruit every day – alongside some other servings of fruit and veg.
Berries are another amazing fruit for anyone trying to conceive. Like citrus fruits, they are full of vitamin D and folate. However, berries like raspberries and blueberries are also loaded with antioxidants and have antiinflammatory properties – which helps both female and male fertility.
What not to eat while trying to conceive
When trying to conceive you should try and have a healthy balanced diet. This will unfortunately mean cutting down on some of the nicer things we love to eat! A few of the things you should avoid are:
Trans fat – Trans fat can be found in any product containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. This includes many solid margarines, vegetable shortening, most commercial baked goods, and most fast foods (many products that once contained trans fats are now available in trans-free forms).
Alcohol – There is no known safe level of alcohol in pregnancy. Given you won’t know you are pregnant for a couple of weeks, it’s best to avoid alcohol completely.
Easily digested carbs – White bread, pasta, rice; sugared sodas; cakes, doughnuts and pastries; pizza; potato crisps, corn crisps, chips.
What supplements should I take to increase fertility?
A well-balanced diet will provide you with nearly everything you need for your pregnancy. However, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that women supplement their diet with two extra vitamins around the time of conception.
Folate – (the natural form of folic acid) is a B-vitamin. It occurs naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, dairy products and seafood. Low folate status is common in the UK, and if it occurs during pregnancy it can have a negative impact on babies. They may be born small for their age or have birth defects. The most common defects related to low folate are neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
All women in the UK are advised to take 400ug of folic acid 8 weeks prior to conception. They should then continue taking it up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is to ensure there is a good folic acid supply at conception and until the neural tube closes.
Vitamin D – Similarly to folate, vitamin D deficiency is common in the UK. It plays an important role in our bodies, helping with the absorption of dietary calcium and phosphate from our intestines. These three nutrients are needed to help maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles. They are also key to the development of your baby during pregnancy.
NICE recommend that all women take a daily supplement of 10ug from conception all the way through their pregnancy. It is also recommended to continue supplementation throughout breastfeeding as well, to ensure there is an adequate supply in breastmilk.
Is it OK to drink when trying to conceive?
The evidence strongly supports the avoidance of alcohol throughout pregnancy. Alcohol in a mother’s blood stream crosses the placenta and into the bloodstream of a fetus. This can put the baby in a dangerous situation and at risk of birth defects. As it can take a few weeks to confirm a pregnancy, it’s advisable to avoid alcohol when trying to conceive.
Fertility diet recipes
Now you know the dos and don’ts of fertility diet plan, here are a few recipes to get you started!
Smoothies are great if you’re in a rush, but want some goodness to start your day! And you can just use up the fruit you have in fridge, or stockpile some frozen fruit (that way your smoothie is nice and cold, and you don’t need to worry about the fruit going off!)
This smoothie recipe contains plant based protein (with the almonds) and probiotics (with the kefir yoghurt) Research shows that adding more plant based protein is good for your fertility.
Adding probiotics and prebiotics to your diet can also help maintain a healthy digestive system by supporting our microbiota. Probiotics are commonly referred to as ‘good bacteria’ and can be found in live yoghurts and kefir.
- 1 banana
- 3 spoonfuls of kefir yoghurt
- 3 spoonfuls of oats
- Handful of almonds
- Spoonful of linseeds
- Berries (like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
- Milk (or dairy free alternative like almond milk)
One easy step – blend all together and enjoy!
Winter warmer squash soup
This squash soup is packed full of vegetables, and the spice makes it nice and warming.
Pumpkins seeds are a great source of mono-saturated fats – and research shows that adding in more healthy fats and less trans fat can improve fertility.
Mono-saturated fats are a source of healthy fat you should emphasise – and can be found in olives and olive oils, nuts, nut oils/butters, avocados, sesame, pumpkin and other seeds.
Adding seeds as a topping to your soup is one easy way to get more mono-saturated fat in your diet.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- sprig of rosemary (or can used dried)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 medium chilli, finely chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
- 1 large potato, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, peeled and cubed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- pinch cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- pinch smoked paprika
- 2 pints veg stock
- Heat oil in a large saucepan
- Add garlic, chilli, paprika, rosemary and cumin seeds and heat for 30 seconds (do not colour, you only want to release the flavours).
- Add all the vegetables – you do not need to worry about chopping them too finely, as you are going to blend them
- Soften the vegetables for 2 minutes until they are fully coated in the spices.
- Add the stock, turn down the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 45 mins.
- Once cooked blend with a hand whisk.
- Season to taste (if you like spice, you might want to add more chilli!)
- To serve – sprinkle with feta and pumpkin seeds.
Salmon couscous parcels
A salmon recipe that would make a great, easy quick Sunday or weeknight dinner.
Salmon is full of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats, such as those found in fish, are needed for brain development before and after birth.
A large, long-term study of almost 12,000 women in the UK found that children of women who ate less than twelve ounces of fish a week – were more likely to score in the lowest quarter on verbal IQ tests. They were also more likely to have problems with fine motor control, communication and scores on social development tests
- 110g of couscous
- 200ml hot vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of chopped herbs (parsley, dill, rosemary – or whatever you have in fridge)
- Grilled vegetables (courgette/ pepper)
- 4 Sundried tomatoes
- 2 salmon fillets, approx 140g/5oz each
- Preheat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
- Put the couscous in a bowl and stir in the oil and stock. Cover and leave to stand 10 minutes until the stock is absorbed.
- While the couscous is standing, cook the vegetables – either in the grill or on a griddle pan. In terms of quantities one courgette or pepper is plenty.
- Fluff the cous cous with a fork, and then add in the chopped herbs, sundried tomatoes and grilled vegetables.
- Divide the couscous between two sheets of baking paper. Sit the salmon fillets on the couscous, and season with salt and pepper (you can add some slices of lemon on top if you like).
- Fold the paper over, then twist the edges together creating a little parcel. Put the parcels onto a baking tray and bake for 15 mins or until the fish feels firm to the touch.
Frequently asked questions about fertility diet plans
Here are some of the most common questions people have to ask about food and fertility.
Is yogurt good for conceiving?
Greek yoghurt is a great, healthy snack when you’re trying to conceive. Not only does it give you your daily dose of full fat dairy, but it also contains more calcium than milk. Yoghurt is also a great source of vitamin D and contains probiotics and vitamins that will help boost your fertility.
Can I eat chocolate while trying to conceive?
Of course! Whilst it’s advisable to try and cut back on fatty, processed foods when TTC, you can definitely treat yourself occasionally. Dark chocolate the healthiest option for satisfying your cravings and is actually helpful for reducing stress.
Can we eat egg while trying to conceive?
Eggs should be an important part of your fertility diet. They are rich in choline, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects. Try and eat two to three or day – and make sure you eat the yolks. That’s where all the choline is found.
Is apple good for fertility?
Apples are a balanced fruit with lots of nutritional value. They don’t have as much sugar as some other fruits, so are a good choice if you are trying to reduce your glucose intake.
Are bananas good for fertility?
Yes – Banana can actually be helpful for both female and male fertility. They are rich in both potassium and vitamin B9. The fruit is thought to help both sperm and egg production and regulate reproductive hormones.
Is milk good for conceiving?
For many people – unless you are lactose intolerant – milk is a good part of a fertility diet plan. Whole milk is better than skimmed milk as the nutritional benefits you are after are in the good fats that milk has.
Is orange good for conceiving?
As discussed earlier in this post, citrus fruits are great for fertility. Oranges are a great source of vitamin C, folate and other nutrients. They should definitely be part of your fertility diet plan – try and eat at least one a day.
Is ice cream good for fertility?
We would love this to be true! And it kind of is. Full fat dairy products (like milk) can be good for fertility, and ice cream definitely falls into this category . However, ice cream is also high in sugar, so whilst it makes a great treat, don’t eat it every day.
If you have anymore questions about nutrition for fertility – or are looking for more guidance about conceiving, join Adia. Our free platform will give you access to fertility experts, meditation podcasts and nutritional advice.