Toolkit

Fertility Foods

Posted by srevell on June 01, 2011

 

When I first encountered infertility, I poo-pooed the notion that changing my diet would help me have a baby. Sure, forgoing a sub sandwich loaded with coldcuts would help my waistline but what does that have to do with my ovaries? I didn't believe my infertility was linked to my daily Starbucks latte (just a tall!) or the afternoon candy bar or the weekly margarita or the occasional social cigarette. After all, we all know plenty of women who smoke like chimneys, drink too much and suck down Grande Frappucinos to soothe their hangovers and seem to get pregnant all the time (even when they don't want to!). I can't explain Mother Nature's cruel paradox of how easily women get pregnant when they have no business being mothers (I started to think God had a twisted sense of humor) but I do know that my fertility improved when I made major changes to my diet.

And I was wrong to think there’s not a connection between the stomach and the uterus: your fat cells and your ovaries both regulate estrogen, which you need to produce healthy eggs and ovulate. Also studies have proven a link between weight and fertility. A BMI (body mass index) of 19 - 24 is considered best for conception. Click here to check your BMI.

One OB/GYN told me that for women with irregular periods (me) sometimes even gaining two or three pounds, regulates their cycles.

In my experience by cutting out caffeine, tobacco, fast food and booze (other than the occasional red wine) and adding in lots of fertility-boosting foods, I lowered my FSH, improved cervical mucus, regulated my cycle and ultimately got pregnant. I now believe that some foods act as poison (highly-processed foods with trans fats and high sugars) and some act as medicine (spoonful of wheatgrass, anyone?). The more of these fertility foods you eat, the better you'll feel and the more fertile you'll become.
See this passage from fertility expert Katie Singer:

I've wondered why so many women have problem cycles. Geraldine
Matus, a Canadian midwife and psychologist who has taught FA for
twenty-five years, told me that when she started teaching the
method, her students usually had charts that reflected healthy
menstrual cycles. Now, she says, "I rarely see women with normal
charts. I think this reflects the use of hormonal birth control--by
today's women and their mothers...the typical North American diet
(which includes hormonally treated animal products, fast foods, and
a deficit of fresh, non-processed foods) also interferes with the
normal functioning of male and female reproductive systems."
I know of no pharmaceutical treatment that can help a woman
normalize her cycles. When a student asks about her options, I often
inquire about her diet. I've had numerous students who are vegan, or
who were vegan during their teenaged years; many have been on
the Pill for several years or more. (The Pill is known to deplete the
body of key nutrients, including thyroid hormones1 and zinc, which
are both crucial for reproductive health.) Some women have no
"obvious" history that might cause their cycles to be irregular.

When Jenny, 23, took my class, she realized that she hadn't had a
period in six months. Jenny was in school full time. She ate most of
her meals in her college's cafeteria, and drank coffee to keep herself
going. Once she understood basic reproductive anatomy and
physiology, could read her own chart, and realized that not having
periods also meant not ovulating, she asked for a way to start
improving her health. I introduced her to Dr. Price's nutritional
principles.

Still, she decided to eliminate sugar and tofu from her diet, to
decrease her coffee consumption, and to drink more water. She
began ovulating almost immediately, and has had 35-40-day
(ovulatory) cycles in the six months since.

I've seen many women's temperatures increase significantly when
they cut soy out of their diets. Yet others become ovulatory after
they cut back on sugar and increase their consumption of cod liver
oil, butter and eggs.

Katie Singer is the author of The Garden of Fertility: A Guide to
Charting Your Fertility Signals to Prevent or Achieve Pregnancy--
Naturally--and to Gauge Your Reproductive Health.
www.GardenOfFertility.com

I relied on two books primarily: The Infertility Diet by Fern Reiss and Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type (I'm A+, by the way). I would not classify either of these as the perfect prescription (Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type for instance, recommends for my blood type drinking coffee and red wine (!), (not the ideal fertility beverages) but both books got me headed in the right direction of sprouted grain breads, legumes, greens and seeds that I believe did tilt the scale in my favor.