How Diet Affects Fertility and Recommended Food Choices

March 13, 2019
A diet rich in certain nutrients can promote fertility if you're trying to conceive. This applies to both men and women. Knowing how your diet affects fertility can help you increase your chances of conceiving. 

When you’re trying to get pregnant, eating a balanced diet is very important. Here you’ll learn about how your diet affects fertility.

Having problems with stress, excess weight, hormonal disorders, or defects in the reproductive system are some aspects involved in fertility. In addition to the link between nutrition and fertility, below you’ll find some recommendations for improving your diet. 

How diet affects fertility

Eating healthy can be complicated these days. When food is processed it loses most of its natural nutrients. An example of this would be refined foods.

On top of that, industrial agriculture adds certain chemicals to their crops, such as pesticides. These end up altering our bodies, particularly our hormonal systems.

As a result, it’s likely that there are few truly nutritious foods in your diet, or none at all. This alone is a clear first indication that nutrition and diet affects fertility.

Recommendations for improving your fertility through nutrition

Eating healthy should be a priority for everyone, and especially for women who would like to get pregnant. Below, you’ll learn a few nutritional guidelines you can use to guarantee excellent reproductive function.

Low fat foods

Consume foods from all food groups, making sure they’re rich in nutrients. Vegetables are an excellent choice because they have a high nutritional value and are low in fat.

Folic acid

A deficiency in folic acid increases the possibility of miscarriage and birth defects. That’s why it’s very important to have reserves of this nutrient in your body before getting pregnant.

How Diet Affects Fertility and Recommended Food Choices

Omega

These fatty acids are present in certain vegetables and in fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna. They’re fundamental to the ovulation process and thus influence conception.

Vitamins and minerals that promote fertility

Vitamins and minerals are essential for all people. However, when you’re trying to conceive, they’re even more important, because the body must be ready to sustain two lives for 9 months. 

To that end, below we suggest a few foods that are full of various vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin A

Both vitamin A and beta carotenes keep the body’s mucous functioning correctly. This includes the uterine mucous, which is where the fertilized egg is implanted. It’s also involved in menstruation.

Vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables are sources of vitamin C, and have anti-oxidant properties. Lack of vitamin C in men leads to lower sperm fertility.

Vitamin E

This nutrient, found in vegetable oils such as olive oil or in dry fruit, contains a powerful antioxidant. It also protects tissues from external agents and fights free radicals and other environmental toxins.

“Learning how diet affects fertility is fundamental because it allows you to prevent possible issues that may arise.”

Calcium

It’s very important to increase your consumption of calcium. Calcium can be found in fruits, vegetables, milk products, fish, beans, and fortified foods. 

Iron

Iron is an essential nutrient for women who want to get pregnant, so it’s vital to include it in your diet. This also helps prevent problems before conception or during pregnancy, such as anemia. 

You can find iron in meats, legumes, fish, dried fruit, eggs, and vegetables such as spinach.

Zinc

Zinc is a key nutrient that affects fertility and ovulation. Eating foods that contain zinc will help you slow cellular and follicular aging. As a result, it increases your probability of getting pregnant.

However, lack of zinc can lead to various complications such as miscarriage, developmental disorders and even genetic malformations.

How Diet Affects Fertility and Recommended Food Choices

Avoid coffee, tobacco, and alcohol

Finally, when talking about how diet affects fertility, it’s relevant to note that ingesting large amounts of coffee is harmful. If you find it very difficult to quit caffeine completely, opt for reducing consumption to a maximum of two cups a day. Or try to drink decaf coffee.

Likewise, alcohol and tobacco are harmful to your health and negatively affect fertility. It’s best to avoid them altogether if possible.

Learning how your diet affects fertility is fundamental, as it can help you avoid issues that may arise. 

Remember that too much or too little of vitamins can also interfere with your fertility and that of your partner. Take these recommendations seriously when trying to start a family.

  • Shmerling, R; Shmerling, A. (2018). Fertility and diet: is there a connection? Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. [En línea] Disponible en: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fertility-and-diet-is-there-a-connection-2018053113949
  • Panth, Neelima et al. “The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States” Frontiers in public health vol. 6 211. 31 Jul. 2018, doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211
  • Shekhar, Anuradha. (2016). Effect of Diet and Nutrient Intake on Women Who Have Problems of Fertility. International Journal of Pure and applied Bio sciences. 4. 198-204.