Special thanks to Becca, a fertility dietitian at Little Life Nutrition, for today's post! Becca is passionate about helping moms and dads-to-be uncover the root cause of fertility challenges, using nutrition, lifestyle, and functional lab testing to optimize her clients' chance of getting pregnant — a true "no-stone-left-unturned" approach.
If you're looking for help with preconception planning or experiencing difficulty conceiving, we highly recommend connecting with Becca. She offers virtual fertility counseling and free 30 minute consultations to chat about your fertility goals and discuss how she can help you throughout your fertility journey.
It truly takes two. As a fertility dietician, I recommend that both partners focus on optimizing their diet and lifestyle for the best shot at conceiving. It is a common misconception that only the health of the mother matters and this couldn't be further from the truth. Focusing on diet and lifestyle in the preconception period not only boosts fertility but also has a positive effect on the development and health of your future child. Here are some tips for both partners to optimize fertility.
1. Include a colorful fruit and/or veggie at every meal
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain a compound called antioxidants. Think about the beautiful vibrant color of fruits like blackberries and strawberries and vegetables like beets and spinach. That color is a good indicator of a high antioxidant content. These powerful compounds have been found to aid in both male and female fertility (1). I recommend aiming to get at least two different colors at each meal. Think spinach in your eggs and blueberries on the side at breakfast. Red peppers and carrots to dip in hummus as part of lunch. Roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes as side dishes at dinner. You got this!
2. Eat organic whenever possible
Let’s continue the conversation about produce. While actually including adequate amounts of fruits and veggies into your diet is very important, we also need to consider how that produce was produced. The pesticide residue on non-organic produce has been shown in studies to have a negative effect on both female and male fertility (2). Pesticide residues have specifically been shown to reduce sperm quality in men (2). I realize that it can be difficult (and expensive) to buy all organic produce and food products. I recommend checking out the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list. This list can give you an idea of which specific fruits and vegetables are most important to buy organic and which tend to be cleaner.
3. Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake
I know, this one is tough. Let’s be honest with ourselves, alcohol just is not good for you. It is best avoided especially when you are trying to conceive. Alcohol creates something called oxidative stress, which can have a negative effect on both sperm and egg quality and ability to achieve pregnancy (3). As we discussed above, antioxidants are good for fertility so it makes sense that “oxidants” or oxidative stress in the body is something we want to avoid.
4. Don't skip breakfast
Intermittent fasting has become an extremely popular diet trend. However, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Eating breakfast is an opportunity to get in quality nutrients. For women especially, skipping breakfast can have a negative impact on hormones (4). When trying to conceive, having an adequate calorie intake is also very important and skipping breakfast may make it hard for you to achieve adequate energy needs for the day. So go ahead and enjoy a delicious and colorful breakfast!
5. Take a prenatal vitamin!
Last but certainly not least, take a prenatal! Yes, both you and your partner should be taking a prenatal. I recommend men take a prenatal at least four months prior to conceiving and women start taking one twelve months prior to conceiving. Not all prenatals are created equal. The Beli formulation has the most absorbable form of all nutrients and contains ingredients such as choline, which is not found in all prenatal vitamins. The men’s formulation is a perfect all-in-one-formula so you don’t have to worry about which individual nutrients to include to optimize male fertility. A prenatal is necessary for both men and women because unfortunately our food isn't as nutrient dense as it once was due to depleted soil (6).
Following these five steps can help to boost both male and female fertility. Including nutrient dense food along with prenatal vitamins are the best things you can be doing to have a positive impact on your fertility and to set yourself up for a healthy pregnancy.