Our environment today can easily disrupt our hormone system and cause us to come up against difficulties conceiving. A recent study showed that 11.5% to 15.7% of Canadian couples struggle with infertility, which is close to 1 in 6 couples. That number has more than doubled since 1984, where the estimated percentage was 5.4%.
Why has infertility become so common?
As with most issues, there are many contributing factors. Here are a few of the most common:
Chronic stress and anxiety
Digestive issues such as intestinal permeability
The MTHFR genetic mutation
Hormonal dysfunction from birth control use
Inefficient hormonal detoxification
Lack of healthy fats
Lack of Vitamin D
Lack of lymphatic circulation
Although the media tends to focus on age, you can see from the list that there are 11 additional contributing factors relating to infertility issues and miscarriages today. Not just our age, but how we eat, move, think and live play a huge role in our ability to conceive.
How do we boost fertility and combat the factors contributing to infertility?
The answer is by detoxifying our bodies and boosting our health. One of the simplest places to start is with what we are putting into our bodies every day. The food we put into our bodies becomes our cells, tissues, and organs. There are foods that hinder fertility, and there are also foods that support healthy hormones and fertility. I like to call these fertility foods. The bonus is that the same foods that help us get pregnant also help us stay pregnant, and help restore us postpartum.
Foods That Improve Fertility
1. Bone Broth - Bone broth can help reset the foundation for those who are lacking in proper nutrition as it is full of nutrients that every cell in our bodies need, including the cells that make up our eggs and sperm. Bone broth naturally heals the gut (which is linked to hormone health), calms inflammation, and enhances nutrient absorption from the foods and supplements we’re consuming to build healthy hormones. Bone broth is packed with the amino acids proline, glycine, arginine, and glutamine, which support our body’s hormone detoxification process. This prevents estrogen dominance, which can cause all sorts of infertility issues such as PCOS and endometriosis. Bone broth is also rich in minerals and collagen, which are necessary for hormone balancing and tissue repair.
2. Omega 3 rich fish, nuts, and seeds - Wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all great sources of omega 3 fatty acids. It’s important to consume omega 3 rich foods regularly as they combat inflammation and support healthy hormone levels.
3. Cinnamon - This ancient spice has a compound that makes fat cells more responsive to insulin, which in turn helps stabilize blood sugar and supports regular ovulation. My favourite ways to use cinnamon are to sprinkle it on fruit and oatmeal or blend it in my morning energizing tea.
4. Leafy greens - High in many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate, and chlorophyll, these nutrition powerhouses are essential for healthy ovaries and help regulate ovulation. Make sure to rotate between greens and consume two servings per day on a preconception plan. 1 serving = 1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw. Having trouble getting enough into your diet? Try sneaking them into baked dishes, sauces, and smoothies.
5. Healthy Fats - Yes, healthy fats. You might be thinking, but isn’t fat bad? Not all fat is bad because not all fat is created equal. There are certain fats that are unhealthy and cause inflammation and weight gain, but there are also healthy fats that decrease inflammation, boost our hormones and brain function, and actually help us lose weight. Healthy fats to consume are virgin coconut oil, MCT oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and grass-fed ghee.
BONUS TIP: Fats to avoid are high omega 6 fats such as canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oil. These oils contribute to inflammation that is linked to long-term fertility issues. Read labels to look out for them. These oils are often used in restaurants so watch out if you are someone who eats out regularly. If you’re not consuming omega 3 rich foods or supplementing with omega 3s then even just a little exposure to these oils can do harm.
A nutrient-dense diet full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, along with adequate intake of healthy fats and high quality protein will not only improve our overall health, but also increase the chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried any of these fertility foods? What did you notice? Share and let me know!