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Which foods affect a woman's fertility?

For diet to affect fertility, there isn't any one particular food that people should or should not eat. Fertility specialists advocate having as clean an eating lifestyle and consumption lifestyle as possible before trying to conceive, and to not take in anything that creates cellular damage. Other suggestions:

  • Avoid eating the types of foods that contribute to insulin resistance or prediabetes.
  • In order to lose 5 or 10 pounds or 10 percent of your body weight to improve ovulation, watch carbohydrates and refined sugar intake.
  • Keep caffeine intake to under 2 cups of coffee a day.

Some people believe that eating certain foods between the time when you ovulate and when you get your period (the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle) might help boost fertility. The two most commonly referenced are carrots and pineapples. There is no good data to support this as fact, but eating carrots and pineapple probably won't cause you any harm.

It's not clear how what foods you eat can affect fertility. Despite that, it makes sense to eat a healthy diet while you are trying to get pregnant. It may increase your odds of getting pregnant, but, beyond that, it nourishes your body so that it is at its healthiest the moment that you do get pregnant.

If you're trying to become a mom, focus on the following foods to help your body function at its peak right now. That will improve your fertility environment as well as create the best nutritional foundation for fetal growth and development. Eat more of the following types of foods:

  • whole grains to gain B vitamins, vitamin E and fiber
  • fruits and vegetables to gain vitamin C and antioxidants
  • lean meats and beans to gain protein, zinc and iron
  • low-fat dairy to gain protein and calcium
  • DHA/omega-3—salmon, canned light (not albacore) tuna and some egg brands—as this benefits fetal brain and nervous system development and reduces the risk of premature birth
  • multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid as this reduces the risk of spinal cord and brain defects, especially in the weeks before conception and the first trimester of pregnancy

In addition, you should consider the following:

  • Consume choline, which is a nutrient with the potential to reduce harmful gene effects that may result in birth defects. It also is important for brain function, among other benefits. Most women don't get enough choline; many prenatal vitamins don't even contain it.
  • Watch your herbal teas and supplements. Some herbs—including licorice, sassafras, ginseng, St. John's wort and ephedra—should be avoided while in fertility treatment or pregnant.
  • Avoid fish that have high mercury content due to their environment—including swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark. Don't eat raw fish or sushi, either.
  • Drink water. When you don't drink enough water, your cervical fluid (the stuff that helps the sperm find the target egg) becomes sluggish. The same goes for a man's ejaculate fluid. Drink enough water so that your urine is a light yellow color.
  • Cut caffeine. High caffeine intake interferes with conception. Once you're pregnant, caffeine also crosses the placenta and can affect the fetus and even cause miscarriage.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.