Foods that May Help Boost Fertility
Having trouble getting pregnant? Take a closer look at your diet. A healthy diet that includes a variety of foods, including wheat germ, may help with fertility.
It’s no wives’ tale. Findings from The Nurses’ Health Study II, a comprehensive eight-year research project involving thousands of nurses between 24 and 42 years old, show that a diet rich in certain foods may help prevent or reverse ovulatory infertility. Harvard researchers Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, and Walter C. Willett, MD, with writer Patrick J. Skerrett, translated piles of data from the study to offer recommendations in their 2009 book, The Fertility Diet. Though their advice below can’t guarantee pregnancy, it offers a safe and natural way to improve fertility.
1. Enjoy some full-fat dairy. The American Heart Association recommends a low-fat diet to reduce heart disease risk. But for women trying to get pregnant, one serving of full-fat dairy each day may help with ovulation. Enjoy 1 cup of regular milk, 1/2 cup of ice cream (not the whole pint!), 1 cup of full-fat yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese.
2. Get some of your protein and iron from vegetarian sources. Include nuts, seeds, grains, beans and other legumes, wheat germ, tofu and dark leafy greens as part of your regular diet. Try preparing a meatless meal at least once a week.
3. Switch to whole grains and higher-fiber foods. Keeping blood sugar and insulin levels under control may boost fertility, according to the Nurses’ Health Study II. Eating carbs that digest more slowly, such as legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains—like those found in this Summer Quinoa and Wheat Germ Salad—will help you do just that.
4. Drink lots of water, and avoid soft drinks. While water keeps you hydrated and feeling energetic, soft drinks may inhibit you from getting pregnant, according to findings from the Nurses’ Healthy Study II.
5. Eat “good” fats, found in avocado, fish, olive oil, nut oils and nut butters. Monounsaturated and polyunsatured fats help with fertility by reducing inflammation and improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Cold-water fish such as salmon and sardines also provide these healthy fats.
What are your favorite ways to get good fats into your diet?