Hectic lifestyle, stress, bad food choices, and various other factors are essential in keeping female reproductive health at its best and avoiding fertility problems. While food alone cannot cure all the problems, it can undoubtedly support and maintain your overall health. Eating an excellent, well-balanced diet is the key to a healthy and fit body. However, many times the infertility problem has nothing to do with a person’s diet. Problems like blocked fallopian tubes or ovarian cysts are widespread in young women and have no connection with their diet.
We live in a society where childbearing and related stress function from societal pressure and family expectations. Therefore, the stress of not reproducing by a certain age leads to more emotional and physical damage. This tension messes up the female hormones and makes it difficult for a woman to conceive naturally. Therefore, along with a good diet, leading a stress-free and self-satisfying life is also vital to avoid fertility problems.
The food we eat and the nutrients we provide to our body directly affect our systems and functioning. A lack of essential nutrients can gradually lead to severe health issues and even affect your fertility in the long run. Therefore, it is vital to pay acute attention to what we eat and how we eat it.
A combination of a well-balanced diet along with an active and stress-free lifestyle can help you improve your fertility. The female reproductive system is complex and needs proper nourishment to function smoothly. Therefore, it is imperative to include nutrient-dense foods in your daily diet to improve the health of your reproductive system.
This article will focus on infertility caused by PCOS, excess body weight, irregular menstrual cycles, and foods that can help alleviate your PCOS disorders.
Are you looking to improve your chances of conception by eating the right kinds of food but are not sure what the root cause of your infertility is? Then you have first to identify that.
Foods that boost fertility can be helpful only once you understand the reason behind infertility. Then you can look for nutrients that can help overcome your condition.
Identifying the gaps and then incorporating the proper nutrients through the right food sources to fill the gaps. It is the right way to approach your infertility problem. This logic holds good for both men and women facing fertility issues.
Causes of Infertility
Infertility is not a disease. It’s a condition you can correct with a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle. Some of the reasons that can lead to infertility are:
PCOS or polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the major causes of infertility in women. It leads to a hormonal dis-balance in females, causes enlarged ovaries with cysts, and affects ovulation. It also leads to insulin resistance, obesity, excessive hair growth on the face or body due to an increase in the male hormone androgens, and acne.
2. Hypothalamic Dysfunction
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH) are the two hormones that stimulate ovulation each month in a female body. Excessive emotional or physical stress, sudden weight gain or weight loss, obesity, etc. It can affect their production and impact monthly ovulation.
Women have to deal with a lot of societal pressure once they reach a certain childbearing age. This stress can mess up their menstrual cycle and affect ovulation. Excessive emotional or physical stress after conceiving can also lead to miscarriages and infertility in the long run.
Endometrium is the lining that the uterus sheds every month as periods in women. Excess growth of this tissue in the uterus can block the fallopian tubes and prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. Endometriosis can also affect the implantation of the fertile egg.
The quality of the female eggs begins to deteriorate after 30 years of age in some cases. The follicle loss in the mid-30s leads to less and poor quality of eggs. Therefore, it may be difficult for some women to conceive naturally and can also lead to sudden miscarriages.
Smoking is a big no if you want to conceive naturally. It can damage your cervix and the fallopian tubes. Smoking can also lead to ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages.
If you are a regular drinker and wish to conceive naturally, then stop drinking now. Excessive drinking can cause severe infertility problems.
Being overweight or underweight can affect your ovulation. Maintaining a proper weight according to your BMI can help you to avoid infertility problems in the future. So start eating healthy and exercise regularly.
Foods to Boost Fertility in Women
Since PCOS is one of the most primary concerns that lead to infertility, let us address that through, top 7 foods choices and dietary changes.
It is almost true when you hear your mothers and grandmothers say that you probably have to start eating like one if you are trying to get pregnant. But, unfortunately, we often dismiss such advice, thinking they mean to eat for two. Actually, no, they tell us to focus on how well you choose the right foods and how much you can avoid the wrong ones.
Green leafy vegetables are superfoods. You do not have to pick fancy kale and Swiss chard only. Go for local forage grains from spinach, methi, coriander, mint are rich in iron, calcium, folic acid and heaps of fibre. So, to combat PCOS, you need to add greens to your diet so they can support your fertility. Ensure that you have your greens at least twice a week to gain maximum benefit.
Beetroot is a great way to boost nitric oxide in your body. They are essential to improve the blood flow to the uterus to support embryo implantation. You can also have beet greens. These are almost the must-have foods when planning your conception and even during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Have them in summer juice, roast them and add them to your raitas, or make your favourite sabzi with the grated beetroot. They are inexpensive and offer a myriad of health benefits.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3, vitamin E, magnesium, and so many more essential nutrients, which help to boost fertility in both men and women. So walnuts, including other nuts like almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios and seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds, have tremendous benefits, especially for women with PCOS.
4. Lentils and Legumes
No Indian main course is complete without the presence of lentils in them, right? It is because they are excellent sources of folic acids and proteins. But if you are not regular with your consumption of dals, legumes like chana, green moong, chole or sprouts, then it is time you start incorporating them into your diet. When combined with rice, they give you all the essential amino acids making your meal a complete protein-rich meal. In addition, this simple daily staple helps manage insulin resistance in PCOS and supports general fertility.
They are also great probiotic sources that improve your gut health and, in turn, help manage female hormone variations. It is a simple, effective way to improve your fertility levels.
We all understand the importance of antioxidants for every specific problem in our bodies, starting from skin health, stress damage, and high cholesterol issues. You name a concern, and antioxidants have a role in managing them.
Reasonable amounts of antioxidant intake can also help manage infertility issues. It is because they are essential to deactivate the free radicals in the body. These free radicals can damage the egg cells affecting fertility levels.
Fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables are the simplest and the most readily available sources of antioxidants. Ensure you have 3-4 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables every day as part of your daily diet and snack. Also, snack on 1-2 seasonal fruits daily.
Fibre, zinc, folic acid, vitamin C, and all other vitamins, minerals and flavonoids not only boost your chances of conception but also help to improve your overall health, skin and body weight.
6. Home-Set Curd
We all know that dairy products are the richest sources of dietary calcium. They also have good levels of vitamin D. We have enough research to support that vitamin D is highly crucial for health. It helps in managing reproductive hormone levels both in men and women.
Therefore, vitamin D deficiency can affect one’s fertility along with causing other health concerns like lower bone density, higher risks of cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Including 1-2 servings of dairy products, especially home-set curd, is the easiest way to meet your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are essential to support female fertility.
Choose a homemade, full-fat curd over store-bought curd. Home-set curd is the richest source of probiotics. These passive bacteria control almost every aspect of your physical and mental health.
If you are intolerant to dairy products, you can get your dose of calcium from greens like millet, ragi, or even non-vegetarian sources.
7. Yam and Sweet Potatoes
Yams, sweet potatoes, Arbi and pumpkins are low in the glycemic index. Suppose you have insulin resistance due to PCOS. In that case, these low GI complex carbohydrates are good sources for managing female hormones in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
They can also help regularize the menstrual cycle, which is mostly the concern in women with PCOS and thus support fertility.
These superfoods can help you manage sugar cravings, PMS, acne, and excess weight gain before your menstrual cycle. They are also critical to boosting your fertility. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can eat your omega-3s from salmon and sardines.
PCOS is a metabolic disorder, which requires an overall lifestyle modification. Therefore, along with incorporating the above fertility-boosting foods, you should also pay attention to regular exercise.
Abstinence from alcohol, smoking, packaged foods and excess processed sugar is a must. Along with this, get sufficient sleep and include a variety of foods in your daily diet.
Too much stress can also disturb your menstrual cycle and hamper your fertility. To manage your stress levels, you can practice mindful meditation, read good books, practice yoga and always be grateful for all that you have. All of these together will increase your chances of conception and help boost your fertility.
Sometimes, infertility can still occur even after following a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. Experts call it unexplained infertility. In such a case, emotional and physical incompatibility, work demands or any other external reason may create stress between two partners. The actual cause of infertility is unexplainable. Even minor problems in both partners can lead to this situation. However, timely counselling and fertility treatment along with a healthy and stress-free lifestyle can help you correct it quickly.