7 Ways To Eat To Boost Your Fertility
Researchers know more than ever about the influence of nutrition on women’s fertility. A healthy diet not only can improve the metabolic and reproductive factors associated with PCOS but egg development and ovulation too. Here are some clinically-proven ways to eat to improve your fertility and get your body ready to support a healthy pregnancy.
Eat Less Meat
Women in the Nurses’ Health Study with the highest intake of animal protein (red meat, poultry) had 39% more ovulatory infertility than those with the lowest amount of animal protein. A high intake of animal protein was also shown to affect men’s sperm quality.
Eat More Plant Proteins
Women who consumed the most plant-based proteins had the lowest amount of infertility. Beans, tempeh, nuts, legumes and other plant-based proteins provide a rich source of iron and folate which are important for egg development and ovulation.
Include Omega-3 Fats
Women who ate omega-3 rich foods such as eggs and fish on a weekly basis were found to have improved fertility. Omega-3 fats have shown to be important in oocyte development and can improve androgens and insulin in PCOS.
Don’t Skimp on Breakfast
You may be pressed for time in the morning but having a substantial breakfast (more than 190 calories) may improve your chances of conceiving. Thin women with PCOS who ate a bigger breakfast and lighter dinner experienced improvements in insulin, androgens and overall ovulation.
Eating low glycemic index carbohydrates that don’t shoot up your insulin and glucose levels has been shown to improve fertility in women with PCOS, even without cutting calories. Non-starchy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, peppers) and fruits with the skin on them (berries, apples) are generally low GI and provide vitamins and minerals important in pregnancy. To find out which foods are low or high GI visit www.glycemicindex.com.
Go For (a little) Full-Fat Dairy
While we recommend a low dairy intake for PCOS, a small amount of full fat dairy (1 to 2 servings a day) may actually improve your chances of getting pregnant. Women in the Nurses’ Health Study who consumed one to two servings of full fat dairy had better ovulation than those who had fat-free dairy. Researchers suggest that taking the fat out of milk changes the balance of sex hormones which can affect ovulation in women. 1 serving of dairy is the equivalent of 6 ounces of yogurt, 8 ounces of milk, or 1 ounce of cheese.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Most people don’t get enough vitamin D due to geographical location, body weight, and skin color. The sun is our main source of Vitamin D; very few foods contain a good source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is not only a vitamin but a hormone and Vitamin D receptors have been located on women’s eggs. This vitamin has been shown to positively influence egg maturation and development as well as thickening of the uterine lining to help with implantation. Vitamin D may also play a role in improving insulin in PCOS.
Vist the PCOS Nutrition Center Store for medical-grade supplements to improve your fertility!
Chavarro J, Willet, W. The Fertility Diet. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2007
Jakubowicz D,et alEffects of caloric intake timing on insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Nov;125(9):423-32.
Grassi A. PCOS: The Dietitian’s Guide. Luca Publishing 2013.