As a nutritionist, I have always enjoyed working with women pre-conception to postpartum to ensure their nutritional intake is optimal for reproductive wellness, guiding them on their journey toward parenthood and beyond. What’s great about a whole foods plant-based diet, well, is EVERYTHING, but in particular, the obscene amount of nutrients one gets by incorporating and sticking to this clean way of eating.
I find that once I have coached a future mother to eat this way, chances are, she is going to stick to it – for herself, and the good of her family. We woman lead by example, and we are FIERCE.
So … onto some simple ways to ensure optimal nutritional wellness pre-pregnancy (and beyond…..):
According to Harvard Medical School, the true fertility foods are whole grains, healthy fats, and excellent protein packages, and most of the suggestions focus on getting these macronutrients from PLANTS.
This finding comes from the Nurses’ Health Study: the first comprehensive examination of diet and fertility, an eight-year study of more than 18,000 women that uncovered ten evidence-based suggestions for improving fertility.
The recommendations below are for those looking to reverse or prevent ovulatory dysfunction/infertility, not those suffering from physical challenges such as blocked Fallopian tubes. These suggestions are meant to serve as complimentary support on your journey towards parenthood, and not meant to replace advice from your doctor. Just so we’re clear!
Obviously, these tips don’t guarantee a pregnancy but it’s sound advice that’s free, easy to follow, and makes for a great foundation for a healthy, plant-forward fertility-promoting diet.
9 Ways to Ensure Optimal Nutritional Wellness Pre-Pregnancy and Beyond
(+ my 2 cents as always)
AVOID GROSS TRANS FATS
These fats threaten fertility as well harm the heart and blood vessels. Although naturally occurring in some foods, they usually appear in highly processed foods in obscene quantities. AVOID!
INCORPORATE WHOLE FOOD PLANT OILS
Healthy fats help improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin and combat inflammation, which is fantastic for optimal fertility. Add in more raw plant oils by consuming, nuts, seeds, avocados and legumes.
OPT FOR PLANT PROTEIN
Pulses (beans, legumes, peas), tofu, and nuts can improve fertility. I read in Dr. Victoria Maizes’ book Be Fruitful, that by eating just one less serving of meat per day can really up your chances of conceiving. Plant Power!
CARBS ARE YOUR FRIENDS (and the love of my life)
Choosing complex carbohydrates that are rich in fibre, like whole grains, fruit, veggies, and pulses, instead of simple carbohydrates like white/refined foods, can promote fertility by keeping the body’s blood sugar balanced / insulin in-check.
PRE-NATAL VITAMINS FOR FUTURE MOM (and Dad!)
Getting extra phytonutrients like folic acid (400 micrograms a day) PRIOR to pregnancy may help speed up the process! One with DHA is an obvious choice as DHA is linked to brain health in both parents and fetus. Both potential parents (mother and father) should be taking a pre-natal / good quality multi-vitamin as early as six months prior to wanting to conceive. Well that’s what I tell my personal clients anyway.
Extra iron from plants, including whole-grain cereals, black strap molasses, spinach, beans, nuts, seeds, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, tomatoes, and beets, appears to promote fertility.
The best beverage for keeping your body hydrated is water. Coffee, tea, and alcohol are okay in moderation. Avoid sugar-laden drinks. Brew herbal tea, and chill! It’s my favourite.
The best range for fertility is a body-mass index (BMI) of 20 to 24. Work towards this ideal to promote fertility as being overweight, as well as underweight, may hinder your chances of conceiving.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Stay active, but don’t over do it! Moderate cardio for 60 minutes, 3x per week should do it. Join a run club!
Now go forth and procreate young plant-based Jedis! *cue Barry White
This Article was Adapted from The Fertility Diet McGraw-Hill) by Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Walter C. Willett, M.D., and Patrick J. Skerrett.*
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