Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fertility Foods

They say you are what you eat.

Well if that is the case, I should have twenty babies by now!

But even though food alone will not cure infertility, it has been proven that what you eat, or fail to eat, can increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant.

I have done hours of research on the subject, and take my list of fertility foods with me to the grocery store every single week. It is important to note that women and men's reproductive system works on a 90 day cycle -- so what you eat today will affect your egg and sperm for the next 90 days. And what you didn't eat 3 months ago, could have an effect on why your eggs or sperm are not looking so great today. I have come to beleive that diet really is a key factor in fertility and we must do all that we can to help the process.

So without further ado, here's Lisa's Fertility Food List:

Pineapple - Contains bromelain which can act as a blood thinner, that can increase blood flow to the uterus. Bromelain is found in fresh pineapple, specifically in the core. Pineapple also contains selenium that helps to thicken the uterine lining and promote a healthy womb lining which aids with implantation.

Brazil nuts -- A top source of selenium, a vitamin that helps keep sperm cells healthy while also helping sperm motility and quality. Brazil nuts are also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect sperm cells against free-radical damage. Brazil nuts also help with implantation and to thicken the uterus lining.

Yams - Wild yams are said to be a fertility superfood that have also been linked with multiple births. A tribe in Africa whose diet consists mostly of yams was recently found to have exceptionally high rates of twins and multiple births. Yams are thought to contain chemicals that stimulate hyperovulation, increasing your chances of conceiving.

Maca - A fertility superfood from Peru which helps to balance the hormones, increase egg health, increase progesterone in the body, increase sperm count and health, and is a tonic for the endocrine system.

Royal Jelly - A fertility superfood which is said to increase egg health, quality of egg, and general fertility. It is rich is vitamins, calcium, iron, amino acids and immune stimulating properties. Interestingly, royal jelly is the food that is fed to the queen bee which is what makes her the queen bee. She goes on to live 6 years and lays up to 2000 eggs per day. Other bees live less than two months.

Bee Propolis and Bee Pollen - Two fertility super foods that are rich in nutrients to help the immune system, and it also helps women who have endometriosis.

Whole grains - Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa are complex carbohydrates that contain an abundance of B and E vitamins that are essential for cellular reproduction, hormonal balance and the production of healthy ova and sperm. Women should be sure to eat lots of oatmeal.

Oily Fish - Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are the best source of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 which play an important role in regulating reproductive functioning, improving blood flow and enhancing sperm quality and mobility.

Full Fat Dairy - Research has found that women who eat at least one portion of full fat dairy a day are significantly less likely to suffer from fertility problems that those who eat half fat or non dairy options. Whole dairy is a great source of calcium which is important in the development and maintenance of the nervous system, bones and blood. Great sources are whole milk, whole yogurt, cheese, ice cream. Have fun eating up!

Olive Oil -- Provides a rich source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and an essential fertility nutrient for both men and women as it improves the viability of sperm and helps to regulate both ovulation and the production of cervical mucus and healthy hormone functioning.

Garlic - Contains an abundance of fertility boosting nutrients which enhance male fertility and help prevent the chromosome breakage that may play a role in early miscarriage. Garlic also contains vitamin B6 which helps to regulate hormones and strengthens the immune system.

Blueberries - A superfood loaded with antioxidants. They are a natural disease fighting food, high in fiber, and contain a potent dose of proanthocyanidins beneficial for cognitive function, cardiovascular, and reproductive health.

Avocados - One of the most potent antioxidants and disease fighting foods available.

Green tea -- This one is controversial, because it contains caffeine, which is a fertility no, no. But, if you are so inclined to have a cup, this miracle tea contains antioxidants useful for cancer protection and, if taken regularly, can help to lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar balance and increase your energy and fertility.

Wild Fresh Salmon -- A miracle food that is extremely high in essential fatty acids. All of the cell membranes in the body are comprised of fatty acids and our brain is over 70% fatty tissues. These fats are crucial for a healthy mind, memory, blood pressure regulation, and fertility enhancement.

Raw Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds - A great food for male fertility, as they contain high levels of zinc and essential fatty acids which are vital to healthy functioning of the male reproductive system. These seeds have been shown to help with male fertility. It is recommended that a man with a low sperm count eat 1/4 cup a day.

Almonds & Walnuts - these raw nuts are rich in healthy oils, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E that can increase sperm and egg quality.

Flaxseed - A miracle food that in known for it's cancer protective ability, along with providing a good source of fiber and essential fatty acids that will aid fertility.

Lean Red Meat - Lean red meat is a great source of iron which helps to prevent anemia, decreases the risk of ovulatory infertility and plays a role in the production and function of red blood cells. Red meat is also a good source of vitamin B12 which is essential in the maintenance and development of the nervous system.

Honey - Honey has been used to enhance fertility throughout history as it is incredibly rich in the minerals and amino acids that nourish the reproductive system and stimulate ovarian function.

Whey protein powder - Getting enough protein in your diet can have a huge effect on fertility. If you do not get enough protein in your diet, consider a protein powder that is organic or raised without hormones and antibiotics, and the protein source should never be soy.

Spirulina - A tiny aquatic plant that has more protein than soy, more Vitamin A than carrots, more iron than beef, and is easy to digest.

Spinach - Spinach and other leafy greens are an excellent source of folic acid which is important in optimizing sperm production, facilitating regular, healthy ova production and helping to prevent neural tube defects during early pregnancy. It is also a great source of iron and vitamin C which helps to enhance sperm quality by protecting the DNA stored within it from damage.

Oysters -It is the abundance of zinc that gives it its fertility boosting qualities. Zinc is often considered to be the most important fertility nutrient as it has been shown to help with both healthy sperm and egg production.

Chillies - Have been known to increase the flow of blood around the body, ensuring that the reproductive system gets a healthy supply. Chillies also stimulate endorphin production which means more fertility boosting, stress releasing, happy hormones circulate around your body. But don’t eat them after ovulation/transfer.

Red, Orange, & Dark Geen Vegetables - Getting enough vegetables is important for boosting overall reproductive health.

Citrus Fruits- Contain folic acid and can help with fertility.

Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, garbanzo)-- A good source of protein that can aid with fertility.

Eggs - High in selenium to help create a healthy uterus for implantation. Also a great source of protein to help with egg and sperm quality.

Quinoa -- A superfood that is a great source of protein that is linked to fighting cancer and increasing fertility.

2 Liters of Filtered Water Per Day(preferably not bottles) -- It should be filtered and clean to help flush out toxins from the body and increase general reproductive health. Plastic bottles could have PCB chemicals that leak into the water and contribute to cancer and low fertility.

** Remember to take a prenatal vitamin daily with extra folic acid.

** Try to buy organic wherever possible, because chemicals in non-organic foods have been linked to infertility. All vegetables and dairy should be organic. Fish should be wild, chicken should be free-range or organic, all red meats should be grass fed or organic, All grains should be whole and naturally grown.

So now you know what you should be eating. But what about what NOT to eat? Well, I have also compiled a list of no-no's, which can be just as important or even more so!

Lisa's List of Fertility Food No-no's:

No Regular Bananas -- If you eat bananas, which is a good thing, you must buy organic. There is pretty clear evidence that a common agricultural chemical used in growing bananas effects sperm morphology and motility---to the point of sterilizing farm workers. The chemical is absorbed into the growing fruit, so peeling it doesn't help. So make sure your bananas are organic men!

Cut out all Alcohol -- Alcohol can reduce your fertility by up to 50%.

Cut out Caffeine -- Caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate has been shown to reduce male & female fertility. As little as one cup of coffee a day can cut your chances of conception in half.

Cut out Junk Food, Processed Foot and Saturated Fats -- This speaks for itself, but you need to be sure that your body is gaining nutrients from food, not empty calories.

Do Not Diet -- Even though it's tempting to want to fit into those new jeans, diets could be counterproductive to fertility.

Decrease Sugar -- Refined sugars not only make you gain weight but can disrupt your body's blood sugar levels. They will initially give you energy but later on you will suffer from an abrupt crash, and even more fatigue.

No Artificial Sweetener -- Although there has been a great deal of debate, studies have found that artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, may be linked to cancer and decreased fertility.

Watch your Herbal Supplements: Some people swear by herbs, but many doctors feel that you should cut all herbs while on fertility medications, because they can interfere with the process. This includes herbal teas, even chamomile. Instead try steamed milk, hot lemon with water, or apple cider!

After Ovulation/Transfer avoid Fish: Don't eat sushi or any raw fish. Avoid fish that have high mercury content due to their environment—including swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, shark, and shell fish.

No Soft Cheeses after Ovulation/Transfer: Avoid cheeses such as brie, feta, and anything that is creamy or unpasturized.

So there you have it, a list of foods that can help increase/decrease our fertility odds. And hopefully bring us one step closer to holding a healthy baby in our arms.

Happy (and healthy) Eating!


Nikki said...

Man, now I'm guilty! I don't eat half of those things, and I ALWAYS only have fat free dairy products. I know , I've read about fertility foods and how diet helps, but I somehow don't make the changes I need to.

I guess better late than never. I'm going to incorporate some of those changes now! Thanks for pointing these out! Great post!

Polly Gamwich said...

Love your list ... the only thing I would add is to say that the Selenium in Brazil Nuts also help decrease antithyroid antibodies - for women with Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism. And you can get too much Selenium, it's best to only eat 2-3 nuts per day as you get other Selenium in your diet.

I would also mention wheatgrass for women trying to lower their FSH.

Thanks for your lovely list!!

mom said...

Hello My wonderful daughter
I am so happy that I will see you this Sun. They say a hug goes a long way-I know it will help me and I hope you to. Read your lists of food and am willing to learn to cook anything you and Dave need. See you soon.Can't wait. Love always mom

Lisa said...

Great Additions Girls!

I agree with you both. Actually, Wheatgrass was on my list, don't know how I even missed it! And I drink Acai berry all the time because I agree it's a great food with so many wonderful benefits, including antioxidants. They have a really nice Acai/blueberry juice blend that is to die for! Drink up :)

Kuteog said...

I bought Acai caplets and took them for a while. Can those be taken during the 2WW or during early pregnancy??

Melissa said...

I really like your summary...it is well-organized and you explain how these foods can help. Very thorough!

RockabillyMama said...

Thank you so much for your blog you are an angel. You and Dave and your little one are in my thoughts and prayers. You'll get that BFP! You deserve it, your helping so many couples right now!

Anonymous said...

Green tea can interfere with folic acid metabolism. Just an FYI.

London Calling said...

Thank you ever so much for this. I'm doing my best to comply. Great to see that ice cream is a yes!,!,!,!

I will add one thing: my endometrium was 7.5 at my first follicle scan. It had only increased to 7.8 by my second scan. Concern was expressed that i would not hit the triple layer/ and at least 8 by the day of egg collection. One of the nurses (a former midwife) recommended one pint of milk a day. It worked I hit 8.6 and triple layer by my third scan!!

erin darr said...

Awesome list! Thank you so much for compiling it! I've read a lot online about fertility foods and your list seems on target with others...but yours is concise and easy to follow.

Anu Verma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I know this is an old site but could you clarify what you mean by a yam. I'm in the UK and some websites refer to yams as sweet potato.

Lisa said...

Yams are a certain type of sweet potato. Your food store should know. Good luck!

Pali said...

Is it okay to take these with a multivitamin? Just want to make sure I don't overdo it with the vitamins and minerals. Thanks.

Lisa said...


Pali said...

Wow thanks for the quick reply! I was shopping at Whole Foods while reading your blog. I ended up picking up these supplements: Spirulina, Wild Yam, Royal Jelly, Flax Seeds, Vitamin B6, Maca, and Red Clover. My plan is to take each nightly along with my Prenatal vitamin, Evening Primrose Oil, and Omega 3's. Hopefully I'm all set. Thanks again for the info!

santamonicafertilityLA said...

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Tracey said...

Thank you for this very easy to follow list. I am eating some of these but not all so will be off to the shops soon :-)
P.s I wish I had a mum as supportive as yours, it would be a great comfort to me as 5 years down the line it's getting harder to be optimistic. Xx

Lisa said...

Hang in there Tracy. Keep working at it. And give CCRM a chance if you haven't thought of it already. xo

reallytotally said...

Bit late to the party too; but just wanted to say a great list, sounds comprehensive and the items make sense! (Especially if you've had a baby twice since :)

But, I'm avoiding pineapple myself, although it's been recommended in many places. I've heard it's used as a contraceptive in some cultures, and bromelain chops proteine and is therefore used as a meat tenderiser. Just sounds a bit...iffy to me, when trying to conceive!

Here's some further information, also warning about papaya and pomegranate, which were news to me:

If looking for alterhative natural blood thinners (which could help the blood flow to uterus) besides bromelain, here's some good information (though you've covered many of these items already!):

Most of these are officially forbidden if on blood thinner medication, so there must be some effectiveness :)

Ginger has been proven to be one of the best natural blood thinners, but since it can cause birth defects, I'd avoid it while trying to conceive. My own go-to spice is turmeric for the anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning properties.

I've heard a lot about grapefruit juice too (to increase the quality of cervical mucus), here's some information that seems to back it up, so who knows:

Anyway, glad to read about all these options, much rather try the natural options, than pump myself full of medications or hormones...

Anonymous said...

Sweet potatoes are not yams. The plants are not even closely related. Yams are tropical and starchy. Here is an article from the Library of Congress website. http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html

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Clc said...

Is goat milk and goat cheese ok?

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