Fertility diet plan
26th June 2018
The diet and lifestyle of a women around the time of conception can influence the development of her baby.
During the first few months of pregnancy the foundations for organ and tissues begin, and this time is often referred to as 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.
Plan your fertility diet
To ensure the best outcome for you and your child it is important to optimise your health – both before conception and during pregnancy.
So whether you are trying to conceive, or recently found out you are pregnant, here are a few questions to make sure you are pregnancy ready.
What supplements should I take to increase fertility?
A well-balanced diet will provide you with nearly everything you need for your pregnancy, although the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that women supplement their diet with folic acid and vitamin D around the time of conception.
Folate: (the natural form of folic acid) is a B-vitamin and 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 result in infants being born small for their age or result in the development of a neural tube defect such a spina bifida (this means the neural tube does not fully close at the end of the 1st trimester). All women in the UK are advised to take 400ug of folic acid 8 weeks prior to conception and up to the 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, and it plays an important role in our bodies by 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 and help with 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 as alcohol in a mother’s blood stream crosses the placenta and into the blood stream of a fetus, resulting in nearly equal concentrations. As it can take a few weeks to confirm a pregnancy the safest approach is to avoid alcohol entirely when you are trying to conceive.
Taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight
If you are worried about your weight, speak to your GP about different approaches to lose weight. s Women who start pregnancy with a normal body mass index, compared to overweight or obese women, have better maternal and infant outcomes. Also, if you develop a good exercise routine before you conceive research has shown that it is easier to maintain it during your pregnancy, compared to women who start exercising once they have conceived.
By adopting healthy behaviours before you conceive it is easier to maintain them throughout your pregnancy and can result in better long-term outcomes for you and your child.
The best fruits for fertility success
Fertility diet recipes
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
Now that the days are getting shorter, it definitely feels like we are entering winter. And there is nothing better than a good winter 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 (Hibbeln et al, Lancet 2007).
- 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
- Put the couscous into a bowl and stir in the stock and oil. Cover with cling film and leave to stand 10 mins.
- 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.
- Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
- Cut two large sheets of non-stick baking paper, then divide the couscous between them. Sit each fillet 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 to seal . Pop the parcels onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins or until the fish feels firm through the paper.
To find out more about your nutritional health, Adia offers a nutritional check through an easy finger-prick blood test. Find out more about our Nutrition test here.