Women’s health: 5 tips for improving fertility
The importance of nutrition when trying to conceive
When you are preparing your body for pregnancy, optimal nutrition and a healthy body weight can have a positive effect on fertility. As part of Women’s Health Week, Lite n’ Easy dietitian, Melissa Holloway shares her top tips on the fertility diet.
1. Optimise your weight
Your weight matters when it comes to fertility. Obesity is one of the most common causes of preventable infertility in women. If you have a high BMI, bringing it closer to the healthy range before trying for a baby will increase your chances of getting pregnant as well as improving the health of your future pregnancy and child. Studies show that if you’re overweight or obese, losing as little as 5% of body weight can improve fertility!
2. There are no pregnancy superfoods
You may have seen people post on Instagram about the ‘top 10 fertility foods’ or ‘best supplements to boost your fertility’. But unfortunately, there is no evidence that particular superfoods or supplements will improve your chances of getting pregnant. Eating a grapefruit a day doesn’t mean you’ll instantly get pregnant and most supplements are just a waste of money. Eating a well-balanced diet is what matters, and not a handful of fertility superfoods. Focus on eating a variety of foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables each day.
3. Focus on FOLATE
Folate is the one nutrient you need lots of in the first three months of pregnancy but is also really important before you realise you’re pregnant. It is essential for your baby’s normal growth and development, especially to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. If you are planning to become pregnant, take a folate supplement every day. Plus, fill you diet with plenty of folate-rich foods. These include; avocado, yeast extract, wholegrain breads, baked beans, split peas, nuts, citrus, folate-fortified cereal, and green leafy vegetables. Eat green leafy vegetables preferably raw, because cooking destroys folate.
4. Increase your IRON
Getting enough iron before falling pregnant is also important. Women who are already iron-deficient prior to conceiving can find it very difficult to rebuild their iron stores once pregnant. Having good iron stores in the first trimester, more so than later in your pregnancy, may have the most impact in terms of a healthy pregnancy. Studies have shown that iron-deficiency anaemia has been linked to pre-term delivery and low-birth-weight babies. Aim to incorporate iron-rich foods such as beef, lamb, chicken, salmon, eggs, lentils, spinach, nuts and seeds into your diet regularly. Another handy tip to get as much bang for your nutrition buck when eating iron-rich foods is to pair them with vitamin C rich foods. These include citrus fruits, capsicum, broccoli and tomatoes — this helps to boost iron absorption.
5. What to avoid
Smoking should be avoided and alcohol should be limited when trying to conceive. Some evidence suggests that as few as five standard drinks a week may impact on a woman’s fertility. The jury is still out on whether caffeine avoidance is necessary. But a high intake may increase the risk of low-birth-weight babies or miscarriage in some women. Consuming no more than 200mg caffeine a day (roughly two small coffees or 2–3 cups of tea) shouldn’t be a problem. Avoid foods with high levels of trans-fat commonly found in chips, biscuits, and other junk foods are to be avoided as much as possible.
If you are concerned about your fertility, book an appointment with your doctor or for a more detailed eating plan, contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Why Lite n’ Easy?
Lite n’ Easy delivers great tasting, healthy food that makes it easy to lose weight and manage your weight. Lite n’ Easy offers a range of healthy meals and healthy convenience meals which take all the guesswork out of eating well. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to order now.
Melissa Holloway is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive experience across a range of industries including aged care, elite sport and in hospitals. She is passionate about ensuring people have access to not only fresh and healthy food options but also that people get to choose food that they truly enjoy. As a mum, Melissa loves preparing healthy and delicious food for her family.