If you are thinking of getting pregnant, you should plan to eat a nutrient dense whole foods diet at the time of conception as this will support your health and the functioning of your reproductive system. Choosing whole, organic foods will reduce exposure to toxins that could potentially harm your baby. The first few weeks after conceiving are when the foetus is most vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies and environmental toxins, so making sure your diet is optimal before you conceive reduces this risk. Natural fertility info has an abundance of information and fertility diets and the science behind them.
The way nutritional therapy works is that we take a personalised approach, viewing every person as an individual who won’t necessarily need the same thing as the next person. Here are 5 foods that are known to aid fertility and conception:
Zinc is one of many minerals in pumpkin seeds. We need lots of zinc for ovulation and conception, as well as for developing a strong immune system. If we are not healthy ourselves, we are going to find it hard to conceive. Pumpkin seeds also contain vitamin E a potent antioxidant, beneficial for a healthy foetus.
SMASH stands for salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring. All of these oily fish contain omega-3, an essential fatty acid which provides EPA and DHA. These are important for brain development (our brains are 60% fat) and nerve development in your baby. Eating smaller fish like mackerel and anchovies reduces the risk of them containing high levels of mercury.
Omega-3 fatty acids are needed as the building blocks for our hormones and to ensure that every cell in our body has the correct fat structure around them, allowing them to communicate with each other and allowing nutrients to cross the barrier so they can function properly. Aim for 3 portions of oily fish per week.
Eggs are amongst the most nutritious foods you can eat containing protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals all needed for fertility and optimal health.
They also contain choline, a phospholipid (fat) that is essential for your baby’s brain development, as well as having other benefits.
All orange foods get their colour from carotenoids which are converted to vitamin A in the body as and when your body needs it, thus making it a safe way to consume vitamin A. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant and much needed for healthy skin and eyesight in your developing baby. Sweet potatoes have high levels of the beta-carotene form of vitamin A and they are also a great source of fibre and vitamin C. Have a look at the American Pregnancy Association for the importance of vitamins when trying to conceive.
Dark leafy greens
Folic acid (or folate) is vital in lowering the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida and it is important to make sure you are supplementing this up to 3 months before you conceive. Dark green leafy veg is our best source of folates and as it is a food, it comes as a complete complex with all the other vitamins and minerals that it needs to function in our cells. Alongside any supplements you use, make sure that you are eating your greens in abundance. The Zita West Fertility Clinic highlights the important of folates in laying the foundations for a healthy foetus.
AUTHOR: KATE WATERS
NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST, SURREY
Kate Waters is a registered nutritional therapist with a special interest in fertility and women’s health. She offers personalised nutrition, supporting clients to reach their goals in a realistic and healthy manner.