The 'ideal' fertility diet
It always seems like some people supercharge their baby-making capabilities through what they eat. That there’s a secret diet for the elite, with a special blend of nutrients…
We know this is easy to worry about, so you’ll be glad to hear you’re not missing out on any magic. Maybe just a tweak or two to your menu.
What are the 6 golden rules that most of us would benefit from? Which geographical region does it in style? Which foods could you fling in your trolley if you’re tight on time? Read on for the lowdown.
The Secret Is: A Regular Old 5-A-Day Diet
Hello anticlimax! But the truth is, you really don’t need to stress yourself out by looking for something radical.
The ideal diet for fertility is just a normal healthy human diet. That’s a well-rounded balance of carbs (going heavy on the fibrous and starchy types), protein, and fats.
In particular, whole grains, lots of veg, fish and unsaturated fats have been linked with higher fertility in women and birthing parents as well as men. Whereas saturated fats and refined sugars have been linked with lower fertility.
6 Golden Rules
These could make a difference for the majority of people:
- Snack healthier by swapping crisps and biscuits for berries and nuts.
- Don’t skip meals. Studies show that people who do end up overeating later, as well as choosing less healthy options.
- Eat fewer processed foods. The less it looks like the ingredients it contains, the more processed it is.
- Ramp up your fruit and veg. It’s a great source of vitamin D, which one in five of us is deficient in.
- When eating out, go for the fish dish (but not fish and chips!) or the veggie option that sounds the most colourful.
- Mix it up. A varied diet is the best way to get the range of nutrients you need.
Feeling Adventurous? Go Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet has a lot in common with the recommended healthy diet in the UK. It just calls for a different approach to shopping and cooking. (If you’re veggie or vegan, you can adapt it to work for you.)
It features lots of veg, pulses, fruits, loads of olive oil, minimally-processed carbs, low-fat dairy and poultry, oily fish, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) and (yay!) red wine. It doesn’t include much red meat or sugar.
Tested on humans for thousands of years, the Mediterranean diet has a host of proven fertility health benefits:
- Omega-3 from fatty fish supports egg quality and sperm production.
- Vitamin C from fruit and vegetables is an antioxidant, defending the cells in the body against the ageing effects of oxygen. (Oxidative stress is one cause of male infertility.)
- Iron from nuts, lentils, beans, poultry and fish supports ovulation.
- Calcium, found in dairy, is important for sperm production.
- Vitamin D deficiency is a risk marker for reduced fertility.
- Selenium, found in nuts, is an essential trace element. Not having enough of it is linked with many reproductive complications, including male and female infertility.
Speedy Items For Your Shopping List
Not got the headspace to rethink your entire fridge? Our top hard-hitters are:
Nuts, berries, lentils, eggs, citrus fruits, avocado, asparagus, spinach, and fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel.
Eat For Joy, Not Stress
Remember, meals don’t have to become another source of struggle. At the end of the day, what you eat is just a small part of fertility. Now, where’s the extra virgin olive oil?