Falling pregnant is one of life’s greatest gifts, but in our fast-paced world, it doesn’t always happen immediately or easily. Even if all the stars are aligned, healthy food choices can boost fertility and embryo health. Here are ten superfoods that you can start adding to your diet today.
Leafy Greens: Start adding spinach salads, kale and Swiss chard to your diet. They are high in folate, which is crucial for cell division during the early stages of pregnancy, preventing birth defects and aiding in embryo development.
Top tip: Add spinach and kale to smoothies for easy intake.
Whole grains: Rich in fibre and important B vitamins, whole grains help stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels, which is important for hormonal balance. Choose from options like whole wheat, quinoa, and brown rice.
Top tip: An easy change is to switch to whole grain bread for sandwiches.
Healthy fats: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts. They support hormone balance and are crucial for embryo development. They may even improve egg quality.
Top tip: Incorporate flaxseeds in your breakfast for a fast Omega-3 boost.
Lean proteins: Options like chicken, turkey, and tofu provide essential amino acids without excessive fat. Essential amino acids are good for the repair and function of body cells, including reproductive cells.
Top tip: Choose grilled chicken over fried to keep things healthy while avoiding ‘bad’ fats.
Dairy or dairy alternatives: Calcium-rich foods and probiotics are important because they support reproductive health and overall well-being. Choose low-fat dairy or fortified plant-based alternatives like almond milk.
Top tip: Opt for yogurt with live cultures.
Legumes: Beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein and fibre, and they also provide iron and folate, which are important for ovulation.
Top tip: Add lentils to salads or soups.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds (amongst others) are a good source of essential minerals and vitamins that support hormonal balance and reproductive health.
Top tip: Snack on a handful of almonds when you need a little boost, but don’t overdo it.
Fruits: Vitamins and antioxidants in fruits can improve egg quality and general health. Focus on fruits that are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, like berries, oranges, and kiwis.
Top tip: Try including a variety of coloured fruits in your diet to ensure you are receiving a range of vitamins.
Complex carbohydrates: Foods like sweet potatoes and other root vegetables provide sustained energy and fibre and are rich in fertility-friendly nutrients.
Top tip: Replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes.
Water: Staying well-hydrated is essential for overall health and can help support reproductive health because proper hydration is essential for cervical fluid production, which is important for fertility.
Top tip: Carry a water bottle with you, sipping throughout the day, and you will naturally stay hydrated.
Supporting your fertility journey with good lifestyle choices
While your food choices can support your fertility journey, lifestyle choices can also play an important role while you are trying to conceive. Engaging in regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, which is crucial for reproductive health. A combination of cardiovascular activities and strength training can be particularly beneficial, contributing to better weight management and improved overall health. Exercise also reduces stress.
Unfortunately, high stress levels have been shown to disrupt hormonal balance and ovulation, potentially hindering the chances of conception. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindful breathing exercises are effective ways to reduce stress. Additionally, ensuring adequate sleep is vital as it helps to regulate hormones that control ovulation. Establishing a consistent sleep routine in particular can promote hormone balance.
If you’re serious about adding an addition to your growing family, it may be a good time to make some lifestyle changes. Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake is a good first step. Both substances, when consumed in excess, can negatively affect hormone levels and the health of eggs. Opting for herbal teas and non-alcoholic beverages can mitigate these risks. Similarly, smoking can lead to damage in the reproductive organs and a decrease in egg quality, so if you’re a smoker, now is the ideal time to quit.
Regular medical check-ups are crucial for addressing any underlying health issues that might impact fertility, and tracking menstrual cycles can provide invaluable insight into your most fertile periods.
Take a look at Profmed’s maternity benefits, find a network hospital closest to you, and sign up on the Profmed App to join our Tums2Tots Baby and Toddler Programme.
Find out when the best time to join a medical aid is if you’re planning on getting pregnant:https://profmed.co.za/pregnancy-and-medical-aid-when-is-the-best-time-to-join/