The Ideal Fertility Diet
Does the right diet help you fall pregnant? Numerous studies have shown that specific changes to the diet can improve fertility, prevent recurrent miscarriages and support a healthy pregnancy. Everything in our body is made up of what we have eaten, so the right nutrition is essential for a healthy body and reproductive system. The building blocks for hormones are found in the foods we eat. The antioxidants, which help protect the egg and sperm from free radicals, come from the foods we eat. And just as the nutrients in foods can improve fertility, there are some foods and chemicals added to foods that can be harmful to your health, falling pregnant and carrying full-term.
What is the Fertility Diet?
The Natural Fertility Diet assists your body in its reproductive efforts. It includes foods which are high in specific nutrients needed for hormone production, hormone function, hormonal balance, foetal development, egg health, sperm health, blood health, and much more. It is a diet that is designed to help your body with any fertility issues that you may have, build up nutrient stores and provide all of the building blocks for a healthy child. It is also focused on giving you a healthy pregnancy and your child the best start in life.
Why Follow the Natural Fertility Diet?
Did you know that
- There are specific nutrients that are needed by the young foetus before you can even detect pregnancy, and a deficiency in these nutrients could cause serious birth defects?
- The foods you eat today impact the health of your eggs and sperm 90 days from now?
- Hormones build themselves from the ingredients you provide through your diet?
- An important treatment for PCOS and falling pregnant despite PCOS is diet?
- What you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat?
- The number one cause of infertility is anovulation (not ovulating) and that it can often be remedied by changes in the diet?
Eating a Natural Fertility Diet is something everyone can do regardless of age, time, or fertility issue. Since we have to eat, why not eat in a way that improves your fertility?
Natural Nutritional Practices for Healing
Nature has created foods to help nourish and feed the body. When the body is optimally nourished and unhealthy foods are avoided, the body is then able to repair and rebuild itself. This is very helpful for fertility, especially if there is an underlying imbalance or fertility issue. The cells in the body are constantly dying off and new cells are being created to replace the old cells. This is occurring in every organ, muscle, tissue, etc. of the body constantly. The building blocks of these new cells are provided from the foods that you are consuming. The Natural Fertility Diet is also designed to help support a healthy body which in turn can heal itself and create healthier cells.
How the Natural Fertility Diet Was Developed
The Fertility Diet is a combination of modern scientific research and thousands of years of ancient wisdom and experience.
- Harvard recently completed a study which showed that women who followed a combination of five or more lifestyle factors, including changing specific aspects of their diets, had an 80% decrease in infertility, according to a paper published in Obstetrics & Gynecology. The women with the highest fertility diet scores ate less trans fats and sugar from carbohydrates, consumed more protein from vegetables than from animals, ate more fibre and iron, took more multivitamins, had a lower body mass index (BMI), exercised for longer periods of time each day, and, surprisingly, consumed more high-fat dairy products and less low-fat dairy products. The results were not affected by age or whether the women had been pregnant in the past.
- Dr Weston Price extensively researched traditional diets followed in times when humans were at their most fertile, before industrial foods.
- Dr Tom Brewer developed a diet which has been shown to reduce the risks of pregnancy complications, specifically pre-eclampsia. It includes an abundance of protein, minerals, calcium and healthy oils.
- Naturopaths are trained in diet, nutrition, herbs and supplements to treat disease, create wellness and maximise health. Their work is based on scientific research on nutrition, and traditional herbal and diet treatments, backed up by modern research and thousands of years of empirical clinical evidence.
- Chinese medicine has an extensive history of over 3,000 years of detailed herbal and dietary treatments, which has been used to treat literally billions of people. It is a major therapy in China and is commonly used throughout the world.
The Benefits of Eating a Natural Fertility Diet
- It provides antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which help to protect egg and sperm health from the damage caused by free-radicals.
- The Diet helps the body maintain hormonal balance by providing the fats needed for hormone production and function.
- It provides the body with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients needed for optimal health.
- It may decrease the chances of a miscarriage due to insulin resistance and damage from free-radicals to the ova (eggs), sperm and DNA.
- The Diet helps to build important nutrient stores for pregnancy.
- It supports a healthy reproductive system.
- It also promotes energy and vitality
The Most Important Nutrients for Fertility
While all nutrients are important for health, there are some that have been specifically shown to have a direct impact on fertility. Below is a list of these nutrients and the best food sources of them.
Micronutrients (Antioxidants, Vitamins & Minerals for Fertility)
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation and hormonal balance. Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a tiny 7% had normal Vitamin D levels.
Best food sources: Eggs, fatty fish, dairy, cod liver oil. You can also get vitamin D from exposure to the morning sun for 15 minutes per day.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E has been shown in studies to improve sperm health and motility in men. Studies have also shown a diet deficient in Vitamin E to be a cause of infertility in rats. The meaning of the name for vitamin E ‘Tocopherol’ literally means to bear young. Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant to help protect sperm and egg DNA integrity.
Best food sources: Sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, papaya, dark leafy greens.
CoQ10: Necessary for every cell in the body for energy production, CoQ10 has also been shown in studies to increase ova (egg) and sperm health. It is necessary for good sperm motility. It is also an important antioxidant to protect the cells from free radical damage and to prevent DNA (genetic) problems.
Best food sources: Found in seafood though it is very difficult to obtain enough through the diet. Levels in the body also decline with age.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women with luteal phase defect, according to a study published in Fertility and Sterility. As for men, vitamin C has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage, which helps reduce the chance of miscarriage and chromosomal problems. Vitamin C also appears to keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
Best food sources: Vitamin C is in many plants and fruits including red capsicums, broccoli, cranberries, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and citrus fruits. However levels are decreased by cooking and decline with storage.
Lipoic Acid: Lipoic acid is a very important antioxidant because it helps to protect the female reproductive organs, has been shown to improve sperm quality and motility, and helps the body to continually re-use the antioxidants in the body.
Best food sources: Found in small amounts in potatoes, spinach and red meat.
B6: Vitamin B6 may be used as a hormone regulator. It also helps to regulate blood sugars, alleviates PMS, and often helps relieve morning sickness. B6 has also been shown to help with Luteal Phase Defect.
Best food sources: Banana, turkey, salmon, cod, spinach, capsicums, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts.
B12: Vitamin B12 has been shown to improve sperm quality and production. It also may help to boost the endometrium lining in egg fertilisation, decreasing the chances of miscarriage. Some studies have found that a deficiency of B12 may increase the chances of irregular ovulation, and in severe cases stop ovulation altogether.
Best food sources: Clams, oysters, mussels, caviar (fish eggs), fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, eggs.
Folic Acid/Folate (B9): One of the best known vitamins required for pregnancy is folic acid, the supplement form of the naturally occurring folate. This vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects as well as congenital heart defects, cleft lips, limb defects, and urinary tract abnormalities in developing foetuses. Deficiency in folic acid may increase the risk of pre-term labour, foetal growth retardation and low birth weight. Deficiency may also increase the homocysteine level in the blood, which can lead to spontaneous abortions and pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption (where the placenta peels away from the lining of the uterus) and pre-eclampsia.
Best food sources: Folate is found in many foods, especially lentils, asparagus, spinach.
Iron: Studies have shown that women with low iron levels may suffer anovulation (lack of ovulation) and possibly poor egg health, reducing their pregnancy rates to only 60% compared to women with sufficient iron stores in their blood.
Best food sources: Lentils, spinach, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (raw), beef.
Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant which protects the eggs and sperm from free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage to chromosomes, which is a known cause of miscarriages and birth defects. Selenium is also necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies, men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of selenium.
Best food sources: Snapper, cod, halibut, salmon, sardines, shrimp, Brazil nuts from Bolivia (just one nut contains nearly 100% of the RDA for selenium).
Zinc: In women, zinc works with more than 300 different enzymes in the body to keep things working properly. Without it, your cells can not divide properly, your estrogen and progesterone levels can get out of balance and your reproductive system may not be fully functioning. According to The Centers for Disease Control’s Assisted Reproductive Technology Report, low levels of zinc have been directly linked to miscarriage in the early stages of a pregnancy.
In men, zinc is considered one of the most important trace minerals for male fertility; increasing zinc levels in infertile men has been shown to boost sperm levels, improve the form, function and quality of male sperm, and decrease male infertility.
Best food sources: Oysters (hence the idea that oysters are an aphrodisiac), beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, green peas, prawns. Zinc can be damaged by cooking so it is important to eat some foods high in zinc in their raw forms.
Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 acids have been shown to improve fertility by helping to regulate hormones in the body, increase cervical mucous, promote ovulation, and overall improve the quality of the uterus by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Omega-3 fats also contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA and EPA. These two acids have been shown to help many forms of disease. Low levels of DHA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. During pregnancy, a lack of DHA may be associated with premature birth, low birth weight and hyperactivity in children.
Best food sources: Flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, halibut, prawns, snapper, scallops, chia seeds.
Macronutrients (Protein, Fibre, Fats, Carbohydrates)
In addition to the micro-nutrients, macro-nutrients are important as well. This is a time for nourishing and providing building blocks for your body in preparation for conception. The foods that should be focused on are nutrient dense foods to provide the following:
Proteins: Eating healthy amounts of protein from a wide variety of sources is an important part of a healthy fertility diet, as the amino acids from protein are the building blocks for every cell, organ, enzyme and hormone in your body and your baby’s body. Make sure to include both animal sources and vegetable sources of protein daily.
Fats: A wide variety of fats are very important for fertility and the development of the foetus. Not only are essential fatty acids important, but saturated fats and good quality cholesterol are important as well. Cholesterol is a precursor to all the hormones produced in the body, including progesterone. Just make sure it is from the right foods like coconut oil, grass-fed meats, fish, nuts and seeds, and avoid hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils cooked at high heat.
Fibre: Fibre helps your body get rid of excess estrogen and xenohormones (man- made chemicals that disrupt your own hormonal system), and keeps your digestive tract functioning properly.
The Natural Fertility Diet Nutrition Guidelines
Eat Organic Vegetables and Fruits
Regular produce contains harmful herbicides and pesticides which have been shown to be very detrimental to both male and female fertility. Studies have also shown organic vegetables and fruits to have more nutritional value. (See The 5 Major Causes of Low Fertility, and The Solutions for Them for more details.)
Eat Organic, Grass-Fed, Whole Fat Dairy
Organic, grass-fed, whole fat dairy is the best choice of dairy sources. Take note that dairy foods such as milk and cheese may be congesting to the body, so in cases of congesting fertility issues such as PCOS and Endometriosis, dairy foods may aggravate the imbalance. Many people are lactose-intolerant or have a dairy intolerance, so check your tolerance by substantially increasing your dairy intake temporarily and observe how you feel. Dairy which is not organic should be avoided, as it contains added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to increased estrogen levels in the body. There are many healthy alternatives to dairy such as fresh almond milk.
Eat Cold Water Fish
Fish provides important essential fatty acids (omega 3) to your diet. These fatty acids are needed for hormone production, to reduce inflammation, and they help to regulate the menstrual cycle. Fish is also a great source of protein and vitamin A. Avoid large fish at the top of the food chain, such as shark (flake), swordfish, barramundi, gem fish, and southern bluefin tuna, as these often contain higher levels of toxins. Also stay away from warm water fish; as a general guide, the warmer the water, the lower the omega 3 fatty acid level. The best fish are herring, sardines and mackerel, as they have high omega-3 fatty acid levels and are low in toxins. Tinned salmon are also very good, but look for brands that state they are wild caught.
Choose Meat that is Grass Fed and Organic
Conventionally raised cattle contain high levels of added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to estrogen-dominate conditions. However grass fed meats are a good source of essential fatty acids, are low in saturated fat, and are a great source of protein. If you are experiencing endometriosis you may want to reduce the amount of red meat that you eat as a study has shown a connection between high red meat consumption and endometriosis.
Choose Free Range/Organic Chicken
Conventionally raised chickens are fed antibiotics and colourings to make the egg yolk an orange colour (whereas the yolks of organic free-range eggs are orange because of the antioxidant-rich diet of the hens). Organic and free range chickens will be pesticide and chemical free, and contain higher omega 3 levels.
Eat Grains in their Whole, Natural Form
Whole grains are filled with fibre, important vitamins, and immune supporting properties. Fibre is important for helping the body to get rid of excess hormones and helps to keep the blood sugar balanced. Avoid processed and refined white foods and grains such as white bread, semolina pastas, and white rice. Instead choose whole wheat or sprouted bread, rice or whole wheat pasta, quinoa, and brown rice.
Eat High Fibre Foods with Each Meal
Fibre helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which assists fertility issues such as PCOS, immunological issues, and promotes healthy hormonal balance. Examples of high fibre foods are fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, and beans.
No Soy Except Fermented (such as miso and tempeh)
A study has found that a compound in soy known as genistein impairs sperm as they swim toward the egg. Even tiny doses of the compound in the female reproductive tract could destroy sperm. When researchers exposed human sperm to genistein in the laboratory, the soy chemical was found to create a premature reaction in the sperm, forcing them to peak long before they could fertilize an egg.
Avoid Refined Sugars or Fruit Juices (unless freshly juiced)
Most pasteurised juices such as bottled apple juice, orange juice, and other bottled fruit juices contain concentrated sugar, which can disrupt your blood sugar levels and negatively affect your immune system. Also avoid any processed/refined and artificial sugars. Some great alternatives are stevia, or honey in small amounts.
Drink Enough Clean Water
A rough guide is to drink 2 litres of clean, purified or filtered water daily, however the colour of your urine is the best guide. Your urine should be a light straw colour, so if it is darker than this you are drinking too little, and if paler you are drinking too much. It is best to avoid bottled water as some of the plastics in the bottle such as BPA can contribute to hormonal imbalances due to their estrogen mimicking chemicals. Avoid unfiltered tap water, due to the variety of chemicals it contains.
Important Foods Specifically for Fertility
The foods mentioned below are high in the nutrients most important for fertility, and are all nutrient dense, meaning they pack a lot of nutrition per serving.
Eggs – Vitamin D, B12, Protein
Nuts and Seeds – Omega 3, Zinc, Vitamin E, Protein
Eat nuts and seeds in their raw form as essential fatty acids and zinc are sensitive to heat and can be destroyed if cooked.
Grass-Fed Meats – Omega 3, Iron, B12, Protein
Grass-fed meats are high in omega 3, have been raised without antibiotics and hormones.
Dark Leafy Vegetables – Iron, Folic acid, B6, Vitamin E
Fruit – Vitamin C, Flavonoids, Antioxidants
Antioxidants are heat sensitive, so to get their benefit eat your fruit fresh, ripe and raw.
Colourful Vegetables – B6, Vitamin C
The colour of a vegetable will tell you what nutrients and benefits it will provide for your body. For instance vegetables that are red or green in colour are high in vitamin C, vegetables that are orange have high vitamin A, white ones tend to have sulphur, etc. The easiest way to get a high dose of nutrients is to eat a wide variety of vegetables. Make sure you are eating a variety of colours daily.
Fish and Shell Fish – Vitamin D, Omega 3, Zinc, Selenium, B12, CoQ10
Fish provides an abundance of these nutrients.
Liver – Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Folic Acid, B12, CoQ10
One way that you can make liver tasty is to make pâté with chicken liver and have this with whole grain crackers 1-2x’s a week. Make sure to use liver from grass-fed/free-range animals only.
Lentils and Beans – Iron, Folic Acid
You can use them to make soups, hummus, as a side dish, or in stir-fries.
Foods to Avoid
Studies have shown that caffeine can affect your hormonal balance, increase your chances of a miscarriage and prevent you from ovulating.
Foods which are altered to be reduced in fat or fat-free are highly processed and high in sugar. The right fats are very important for fertility and health.
The Fertility Superfood
Maca is a wonderful superfood from Peru that helps to balance the hormones, increase egg health, increase sperm count and sperm health, and is a tonic for the hormone system. Maca also helps increase progesterone if your body is low in this crucial hormone. A high-quality Maca in capsules is available from our clinic.
Free Comprehensive Fertility Assessment
Have you been trying for a family for months with no rewards? Some of the other causes of decreased fertility include hormonal imbalances, oxidative stress damage, excess chemical load, sluggish blood supply, and nutritional deficiencies.
For over 20 years, our naturopaths have been providing support for couples to conceive, stay pregnant, have an easier and safer birth, and to produce a healthy baby. In that time we have learnt what works and what doesn’t. With any condition, to get good results it is important to treat the causes of the problem, not just the symptoms, and even more so with natural fertility. Otherwise you could end up wasting a huge amount of time and money on treatments that aren’t effective.
Our approach is to only offer treatment when we have completed a thorough, detailed assessment to establish:
- What is going on in your body, and if there are any problems
- The key factors affecting your fertility
- The best way to overcome these issues
That way we can give you the correct advice on how you can fall pregnant as quickly and easily as possible. Some of the areas a Comprehensive Fertility Assessment covers include:
- How your body is functioning as a whole:
- If there any significant deficiencies influencing your fertility
- If there are significant levels of toxins in the body, that could be affecting your fertility, or potentially affecting your baby’s health
- Whether your stress levels are showing up as a factor
- Your hormonal balances, including:
- Your reproductive hormones (oestrogen, progesterone)
- Your adrenaline levels (which can disrupt your reproductive hormones)
- Your thyroid hormones (which can directly affect your fertility)
- How well your reproductive organs are functioning, including your ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes
Once we have completed your Fertility Assessment, we explain in clear and simple terms exactly what is going on in your body. If you like, we can then design a treatment program for your specific fertility needs.
Acupuncture and Fertility
It is becoming more common for our acupuncturists to work in conjunction with medical fertility specialists whilst a woman is undergoing ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as IVF, IUI and ICSI). There is continuing research about how acupuncture can assist with the effectiveness of IVF treatment, and there is also broad agreement by acupuncturists and other health practitioners about using acupuncture in these cases. Please contact our Principal Therapist if you would like to find out if acupuncture may be able to assist in regard to your specific situation.
The outcome of acupuncture for fertility Brisbane treatments depends on the skill and expertise of the therapist, and on the methods that they use. We only use Japanese acupuncture techniques at our clinic, since when performed by a highly-trained therapist, we have found this style to be more effective that the standard Chinese acupuncture. (All of our acupuncturists were originally taught Chinese acupuncture, but since being trained in the Japanese style they now only use that method.)
Free Fertility Assessment Offer
Normally an assessment such as this could cost $500 or more, however we are currently have a special offer of a Comprehensive Assessment free of charge. (Limited places are available.) There is absolutely no obligation whatsoever attached to your Assessment.
Whenever possible, please book your partner in to our clinic for an assessment too. We also recommend you and your partner attend each other’s assessment, so that you don’t miss out on any key information.
If time keeps ticking by, and you are looking for answers on why it seems everyone you know is getting pregnant except you, please call our Brisbane clinic now on 3376 6911 to book in for your free Comprehensive Fertility Assessment.