04 Sep Can a Nutritionist Help with Fertility?
Can nutrition improve egg quality? Can nutrition improve sperm quality? What role does nutrition play in fertility?
According to the WHO, 1 in 6 people are affected by infertility globally. There is a real need for fertility care around the world.
Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School published a review of past studies that examined the impact of diet on fertility, and there is a lot of exciting news.
Though so many things can feel out of our control, if you’re reading this, you likely have a couple of things in your control – your food and lifestyle choices. A healthy diet can improve egg and sperm quality and chances to conceive naturally. Certain key nutrients have been shown to have a positive effect on hormone health, egg, and semen quality. They include folic acid, vitamin B-12, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy, plant-forward diets.
How much of these nutrients are needed, however, is unclear. There are other studies that have highlighted more specific links between diet and fertility. Women who eat a lot of processed foods take longer to get pregnant. Couples that eat two servings of fatty fish seem to get pregnant more quicker. And, finally, sugary drinks (like soda, boxed juices, and sports drinks) reduced the fertility of both men and women.
By working with a fertility dietitian nutritionist, we can come up with a diet plan for both you and your partner. Here are a few tips to improve your diet quality, improving egg and sperm quality, and your chances of getting pregnant naturally.
- Take a prenatal vitamin. If you are of childbearing age and are considering getting pregnant, take a prenatal vitamin (or, at least, folic acid). This can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your developing baby.
- Get to a healthy weight. A healthy weight gives you a better chance to get pregnant naturally as well as enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Obese women, and underweight women, have a higher chance of complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage. Recurrent miscarriages (two or more consecutive miscarriages) are more common in women who are underweight or overweight.
- Drink water. Swap out your sodas, sweet beverages, sports drinks, and that giant-sized frappuccino with cocoa and whipped cream, for water. Water flavored with lemon, fruits, and cucumber. Go for black coffee with a splash of almond or oat milk that are naturally sweet. Cut back on sugars for healthy fertility.
- Transition to a Mediterranean Diet plan. Anyone can start working toward a more plant-forward diet without losing their favorite flavors and food traditions. Our favorite go-to diet for fertility is the Mediterranean diet. Why?
- High intake of plant-based foods: The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are important for reproductive health.
- Healthy fats: The Mediterranean diet includes healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and fish. These fats are important for hormone production, which is critical for fertility.
- Reduced intake of red meat: The Mediterranean diet emphasizes lean protein sources such as fish and poultry, and limits the intake of red meat. A high intake of red meat has been linked to decreased fertility in some studies.
- Reduced intake of processed foods: The Mediterranean diet limits the intake of processed foods, which are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and other additives that can negatively affect fertility.
Diet affects egg quality, semen quality, and fertility. We can work to optimize fertility to increase your chances of conceiving naturally. And, a great side effect of this, is a lifetime of sustainable, healthy eating habits and behaviors.
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Toast
- 2 slices of whole-grain bread
- 2 oz smoked salmon
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toast the bread slices until golden brown.
- In a small bowl, mix together the sliced avocado, chopped fresh dill, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Spread the avocado mixture evenly over the two toast slices.
- Top each toast with an ounce of smoked salmon.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
This snack contains several fertility-boosting nutrients:
- Whole-grain bread provides complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins, including vitamin B12.
- Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and folate.
- Smoked salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for healthy fetal development.
- Fresh dill adds flavor while also providing antioxidants.
Enjoy this tasty and nutrient-packed snack to support your fertility goals!