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Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceive

Whether you’re planning on baby making soon or waiting until your biological clock kicks in, what you eat now can improve your odds later.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceive

Photo by Roberto Caruso

Eat to boost fertility

Get your protein from veggies

Listen up, future moms: You can make it easier for your body to conceive just by lowering your blood sugar. “Big spikes in blood sugar cause a cascade of hormonal reactions that can affect fertility,” says Areli Hermanson, a Victoria-based dietitian.“But protein and healthy fats can mitigate the effects of those spikes.” Just stick to lean and vegetable-protein sources — research shows the iron in plant-based proteins is important for fertility. And scale back on animal proteins high in saturated fat.

Try it tonight: Serve up our Fresh Veggie Lasagna — it has 23 g of protein per serving!

Fresh veggie lasagna - ChatelainePhoto by Roberto Caruso

Fight your fear of carbs

They get a bad rap in the diet world, but it turns out carbs can help you conceive. It’s just about choosing the right ones, says Hermanson. “If you’re trying to get pregnant, choose complex carbs that cause a slow rise in blood sugar, like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, and combine them with protein and healthy fat to decrease the glycemic load on your system.”

Try it tonight: Serve spaghetti squash in lieu of regular pasta to get your carb fix without a blood sugar spike.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveIstockphoto

Stick to baby-friendly fats

You’re more likely to hear the pitter-patter of little feet in your future if you steer clear of trans fats. A Harvard study of 18,000 nurses found eating trans fats is associated with a 73 percent greater risk of infertility. Trans fats are often added to processed foods to improve taste and texture (you’ll find them in everything from ready-to-eat frozen meals to packaged snacks, like crackers and granola bars). Look for foods labelled trans-fat-free or those listed as containing 10 percent or less of your daily value for saturated fat; and focus on eating healthy fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and cold-water fish like salmon and tuna.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveIstockphoto

Eat folate for two

This water-soluble B vitamin is one of the most important for healthy pregnancies — and for conceiving in the first place. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy reduced their risk of having a child with autism. Research also shows women who take a vitamin containing folic acid when trying to get pregnant improve their chances of conceiving. You can also get folic acid from a diet rich in greens and beans: Spinach, artichokes, edamame, asparagus and beans of all varieties are rich in folate.
Bottom line: All women of child-bearing years should get folate every day — if you’re not getting enough from food, make sure you talk to your doctor about a supplement.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceivePhoto by John Cullen

Rule out a grain glitch

If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, ask your doctor about a blood test for celiac disease, which accounts for up to 6 percent of unexplained infertility cases. “It’s sneaky because 50 percent of people with celiac don’t actually have any symptoms,” says Hermanson. And celiac disease is just one of the underlying health issues that can cause fertility problems (others include endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome). If you’re 30, your chances of getting pregnant each month are one in 10, says Hermanson. “If a 30-year-old woman has been trying for six to 10 months with no luck, she should get checked out.” And remember, you’re not alone: One in six couples have fertility issues, so check with your family doctor, a fertility specialist or naturopath.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveIstockphoto

Say om

Now’s the time to embrace your inner yogi and hit the mat! Regular exercise is essential for fertility, but excessive exercise, especially if you’re already quite lean, can interfere with ovulation. Hermanson recommends yoga, focusing on poses that increase blood flow to the reproductive system. Her fave poses? Legs-up-the-wall pose (viparita karani) and reclining bound angle pose (baddha konasana), both of which free energy flow in your pelvic area. “Gentle exercise is very important, and yoga can help get you in tune with your body and processing energy.”

Bonus: De-stressing also boosts fertility!

Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveHenk Badenhorst/ Getty Images

Pop a prenatal vitamin

Three months before you start trying for a baby, you should begin taking a prenatal vitamin to build up all the good stuff you need for a healthy pregnancy, such as iron, calcium, vitamin D and folic acid. In fact, even if you’re not planning a pregnancy, Health Canada recommends that all sexually active women of child-bearing age take a daily multivitamin containing 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, just in case.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveIstockphoto

Scream for ice cream

Yes, moderation is key, but it turns out whole-fat milk products have been found to help with fertility. In fact, a U.S. study discovered that eating low-fat dairy could reduce fertility by affecting ovulation, so now is the time to enjoy the real stuff. Aim for two servings of whole-fat milk products daily, like Greek yogurt or a slice of cheese — and don’t feel guilty about the odd scoop of ice cream!
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveIstockphoto

Watch your weight

Been thinking about dropping a dress size? Now’s a good time to start. “Fat cells can affect the way your body uses insulin and can inhibit ovulation,” Hermanson says. If you’re overweight, a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent could significantly improve your chances of getting pregnant. So, for a 180-pound woman, that means losing between nine and 18 pounds. Harvard researchers and authors of The Fertility Diet found that a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 24 is the ideal range for fertility.
Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceivePhoto, iStockphoto.

Get your partner involved

It takes two! So make sure your partner is taking an active role in his own health. Hermanson recommends that would-be dads take a multivitamin with antioxidants, minerals, omega-3s, vitamin D and zinc, but no iron. One in nine Canadians are at risk for hemochromatosis (a disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron from food), which can affect men’s fertility. “Plus, men don’t generally need more iron,” she says.

Click here for more information and meal ideas related to fertility.

Eat to boost fertility: 10 tips to help you conceiveMassimo Merlin/ Getty Images


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