I have compiled a list of my top ten lifestyle and diet changes that can be made to improve fertility before conception. In our clinic we see how daunting it can be for clients to work out where to start on the fertility journey, so I hope this little list is a big help for you.
1. Eat real food
When we talk about eating real food, we are talking about avoiding processed packaged foods that are high in unhealthy fats, sugars and chemicals, wherever possible.
Instead choose vegetables and fruits (spray-free/organic is best), grass-fed meat and eggs, good fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and olive oil, and wholegrains like quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat.
2. Take care of your gut health
Poor gut health is a common cause for nutrient deficiencies, mineral imbalance, poor ability to detoxify and increased inflammation in the body. Bad gut health can also give rise to autoimmune problems which can directly affect your fertility.
Research into the microbiome is revealing the important connection between gut health and overall health status, immune function and hormone production.
3. Drink lots of water!
So many of us aren’t drinking enough water. However adequate water intake can improve fertility by aiding in cell division, metabolism and reproduction. It can also aid in the development of a healthy egg, as without sufficient water, your body can’t process nutrients and hormones.
To increase your water intake, start the day with a big glass of water, have a drink bottle with you to sip during the day and drink herbal tea and sparkling water to mix things up.
4. Quit Smoking
No matter how much you smoke, you are affecting your ability to conceive. Studies have shown it is particularly harmful for male fertility, affecting all aspects of sperm health.
5. Take a good quality prenatal vitamin
Getting good quality supplements is essential. A lot of cheaper vitamins do not contain enough active ingredients and are full of unnecessary fillers. Talk to your natural fertility practitioner about which supplement would best suit your needs.
6. Start taking your temperature
Taking your BBT (basal body temperature) each morning is an excellent way to see what is happening with your hormones and to know which day you ovulate. Grab a BBT thermometer from a pharmacy and take your temperature each morning when we wake up before you get out of bed. Using an app like Fertility Friend means you just have to enter the temp and the app will create a chart for you.
Your natural fertility practitioner will be able to use your charted temperatures to gain further insight into your cycle, estrogen, progesterone and ovulation.
7. Get enough sleep
Sleep really is vital to fertility, having adequate melatonin levels aid the production of healthy hormones. Studies have shown that women with low melatonin and serotonin levels have a shorter luteal phase, this is the time between ovulation and menstruation. If this phase is too short the ability to conceive is reduced.
Lack of sleep also impairs the body’s ability to properly regulate adrenaline, cortisol, and insulin, making conception more challenging.
8. Get the right amount of exercise
Exercising regularly has many health benefits and helps with fertility by reducing stress and helping to maintain a healthy body weight. However, too much intense exercise can have a negative effect on the body’s ability to ovulate and just as losing weight can greatly improve your fertility, if you do not have enough body fat your body can go into an anovulatory state, meaning ovulation is not occurring.
We love walking, Pilates, yoga and PT sessions to keep us fit.
9. Limit the amount of chemicals and toxins in your life
Chemicals and toxins are damaging to the body and add extra pressure to all organs, in particular the liver which is important in hormone production and elimination. By limiting caffeine and alcohol, eating spray-free and organic produce, changing to natural household cleaners, beauty products and skin care and avoiding tinned food and plastics, we reduce the toxic load on our bodies and improve fertility. Chemicals such BPA mimic hormones in the body, increasing the production of some hormones and decreasing the production of others. Chemicals also interfere with hormone signalling, compete with essential nutrients and accumulate in organs that produce hormones.
10. Reduce Stress
Our lives are busy and stressful, and sometimes the stress of eliminating stress is just overwhelming! But the truth is we all get stressed, it’s part of life, therefore we need to manage stress and nurture our nervous systems to improve fertility. Incorporating activities like meditation, yoga, walking, journaling and acupuncture into your routine will improve how you deal with stress. And eliminating things like working late, too much social media and overcommitting will reduce the stress you have to deal with.