“Just like everything in the body, a woman’s ability to build a uterine lining, ovulate, conceive and have a healthy pregnancy has so much to do with nutrition. If you think about it, a baby is literally made from the building blocks that start out as proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in the diet. So, it makes sense that what we eat profoundly impacts fertility.”
“I think nutrition should be a “first resort” intervention, especially when it comes to fertility. I believe in preconception care and taking the time to increase nutrients stores, balance hormones and put your body in the best possible position for pregnancy.”
“By addressing the root cause, and building fertility with good nutrition, most women will go on to have successful pregnancies. And, they might be in a better nutritional position than someone who didn’t use nutrition as part of their preconception planning.”
Perhaps you haven’t thought about your own fertility yet or it’s all you think about, but fertility is about more about your health as a woman than merely having a baby. For example, a regular, comfortable menstrual cycle is a sign of health and vitality, which is why in functional medicine; it’s often considered a vital sign like your temperature or pulse rate.
Just like everything in the body, a woman’s ability to build a uterine lining, ovulate, conceive and have a healthy pregnancy has so much to do with nutrition. If you think about it, a baby is literally made from the building blocks that start out as proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in the diet. So, it makes sense that what we eat profoundly impacts fertility. And, whether you are thinking about a baby or not, it always makes sense to put good nutrition in place because the impacts are so far reaching.
“My patient JC has told me numerous times that knowledge is power in the pregnancy business. When I met JC she was stressed and her body showed signs of severe inflammation and oxidative stress. She was that patient who wanted to know everything and then took it to the kitchen. I asked her to take a few supplements and make lifestyle changes that supported her body. We talked about what that meant, and she began cooking to conceive with vibrant nutrient dense foods that supported fertility; she called to let me know she was pregnant about 18 weeks later. I think the single most important thing we did was cut out processed foods and sugar in her diet and replace it with antioxidant rich plant based foods. The kind you’re going to learn about here.” ~ Chyrl
It’s been reported that US fertility rates are at an “all time low.” An estimated 10-18 percent of couples have a hard time getting pregnant.
Infertility is defined as when a woman tries to get pregnant, for at least a year, without success. Then, your doctor will likely do some testing and refer you to a fertility specialist for treatment. For women age 35 to 40, the time frame is shortened to 6 months.
Interestingly, many women don’t think about nutrition and functional medicine approaches until they haven’t had success with more conventional fertility treatments. Sometimes women come to me as a “last resort.”
I think nutrition should be a “first resort” intervention, especially when it comes to fertility. I believe in preconception care and taking the time to increase nutrient stores, balance hormones and put your body in the best possible position for pregnancy.
As a functional medicine clinician, I’m looking for the root cause of reproductive health issues and some include:
By addressing the root cause, and building fertility with good nutrition, most women will go on to have successful pregnancies. And, they might be in a better nutritional position than someone who didn’t use nutrition as part of their preconception planning.
Can diet affect fertility? Absolutely! If we look at traditional cultures around the globe, we see many traditions of giving the most nutrient-dense foods – such as fish eggs or organ meat – to young couples before they marry or conceive, and then for a woman throughout pregnancy and nursing.
What you eat, or don’t eat, affects the root causes we talked about. Food is information for your cells and food provides the nutrients your body needs to develop a healthy egg and baby. These are just some of ways diet affects fertility.
One study looked at dietary intake of certain foods as it relates to the time it took women to become pregnant, and included both women that conceived naturally and those who conceived with medical assistance. The study found that lower fruit intake and higher fast food intake were both associated with an increased time to conception and rates of infertility.
I also want to mention that what a mother eats before conception, as well as during pregnancy, has been found to impact not only the health of her baby, but also the health of her baby later in life. We are still learning all of the reasons behind these connections, but it has to do with how the mother influences the epigenetics, or how genes are expressed, during these critical times.
You may be wondering about the best diet for fertility and wanting to follow a fertility diet plan, so let’s get into the details.
What is the best diet for PCOS and fertility? Is a vegan diet good for fertility? What about keto?
When it comes to fertility nutrition, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalized nutrition helps to address each woman’s root causes and there may be a place for therapeutic diets during the preconception period. However, it is also important to nourish the body with nutrient-dense food instead of overly restrict categories of food in order to build nutrient stores and support the hormones that support fertility.
Here are the most important pieces for putting together your own fertility diet:
In addition to the foods to add in, it is often helpful to remove excess sugar, sodas, trans fats and other highly processed foods that are low in nutrition. Some women improve fertility by avoiding gluten and other food sensitivities. Undiagnosed celiac disease is a possible reason for unexplained infertility.
In addition to creating a solid foundation of nutrition from food, I find fertility vitamins and supplements to be a quite helpful addition to a fertility diet for women. Here are my recommendations.
I like this one
And this one
I like this one
These are supplements I often suggest to patients
The combination of a personalized fertility diet with fertility vitamins is an effective therapeutic approach to address reproductive issues and fertility challenges. Whether you are not yet thinking about kids, planning a family or undergoing fertility treatments, now is a good time to make some positive changes in your diet to improve your health and wellness. I’m here to support you from a functional medicine perspective. Please do not hesitate to reach out!
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