Unfortunately, many young couples today have problems conceiving and successfully carrying children. Reproductive function is influenced by a number of genetic, behavioral, and external factors. Modern medicine offers many methods and tools to improve fertility, but most of them are expensive or invasive. Research shows that in many cases, revising your daily diet and adopting new eating habits can have a positive impact on fertility and effectively complement medical interventions.
Proper nutrition for conceiving and bearing children – tips for men
Zinc and folic acid
What a man consumes affects the formation and composition of sperm and its quality (in particular, sperm motility). Therefore, if a couple is planning a pregnancy, the man should switch to a proper diet at least three months in advance. Two food components are particularly important for healthy sperm. These are zinc and folic acid.
Zinc is essential for both spermatogenesis and normal sperm motility. Good sources of this trace element are oysters, red lean meat, and egg yolk.
Vegetarians can get zinc by eating more green leafy vegetables and tofu. Seeds, such as pumpkin or zucchini seeds, pecans, pine nuts, and cashews, also contain a lot of zinc.
Folic acid is essential for the synthesis of sperm DNA. Good sources of folic acid are vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, whole grains and cereals, and wheat bran. Studies show that additional intake of zinc and folic acid (as prescribed and under medical supervision) can increase the number of sperm in semen. The very mechanism of the effect of food rich in zinc and folate on spermatogenesis is not fully understood and requires deeper study.
Free radicals – highly reactive compounds that are formed and circulate in the body – can damage sperm. This is prevented by antioxidants – molecules that can neutralize free radicals.
Antioxidants include such food components as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are usually rich in them. Brazil nuts, meat, oily fish, mushrooms, and oysters are particularly good sources of selenium. Milk, cheese, and eggs also contain selenium and vitamin E. Garlic is also a good source of selenium, but it should be consumed with caution in case of heart problems.
In places where soils are poor in selenium, this trace element may be present in foods in smaller amounts. Therefore, it is worth checking this information about your place of residence and, if necessary, consulting a doctor about additional selenium intake.
Proper nutrition for conceiving and bearing children – tips for women
In recent decades, science has confirmed the link between celiac disease and fertility.
Women with untreated disease experience significantly delayed menstrual onset, an increased risk of secondary amenorrhea, significantly higher miscarriages, and early menopause. Switching to a gluten-free diet improves the chances of a successful pregnancy in women with untreated celiac disease.
A balanced diet
Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that a well-balanced diet that includes low-glycemic carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, and proteins from mostly plant sources can increase fertility. Some scientists attribute the problem of imbalance of reproductive hormones to their re-entry into the bloodstream in case of sluggish intestinal motility or constipation. Therefore, a sufficient amount of dietary fiber in the diet, which normalizes intestinal motor activity, will prevent this problem. It is clear that the above studies do not guarantee pregnancy, but the proposed healthy diet can be implemented safely and without high costs.
What is known for sure today is that a woman with a healthy body weight has better fertility than a woman who is too thin or overweight. Normalizing weight in women can prevent ovulation disorders.
Lower-than-normal body weight and low body fat reserves can disrupt the menstrual cycle, while extra pounds can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation and pregnancy. And reducing sugar intake as a prevention of insulin resistance will reduce the risk of developing polycystic ovaries, follicle maturation and ovulation disorders. That is why women are advised to reach a healthy weight for their body constitution before trying to get pregnant.
In general, everyone can improve fertility by eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, including whole grains, fruits, nuts, and protein sources such as lean meat, fish, beans, lentils, and other legumes. Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, are important, as well as foods rich in calcium, such as dairy products or seeds or cereals. Enriching the diet with antioxidants will also help improve fertility by preventing free radical damage to the germ cells. Sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, and supplementation if necessary, reduces the risk of early miscarriages.
Frequent alcohol consumption impairs sperm formation and morphology, and in women, causes fluctuations in hormone levels. Processed meats, sausages, and foods high in trans fats also increase the risk of ovulation disorders and negatively affect sperm quality.
Of course, changing your diet won’t solve all your fertility problems, but it can be a good start!