Diet and Fertility

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Sunday, I curled up on the couch to watch “Life,” an 11 part  documentary on Discovery Channel about just that: “LIFE.”  It takes a look at all living things on earth and the challenges they face everyday. It is an amazing show and definitely a must-see. One particular moment struck me. There was a lizard that lived in the desert and she just walked and walked until she found a mate. Once, she found a suitable bachelor, they did the deed and off she went to wander the desert alone again and then lay her eggs. One time was all it took, and she was pregnant. WOW!! How does that happen? I am definitely not an expert on the reptilian reproductive system, or fertility in general, for that matter, but I do know that most humans do not get pregnant, or it seems to me, on the very first time.

Fertility issues are becoming more and more common, and although causes are known for some infertility cases, many remain unknown. Your health will play a huge role in your chances to conceive. Abstaining from caffeine, alcohol and tobacco are obvious, but taking a prenatal multivitamin with iron and folic acid is also very important.  Diet seems to play a larger role as well.  A recent study linked the Mediterranean diet to fertility. Women who ate a diet rich in vegetables, vegetable oils and fish had a higher chance of becoming pregnant, especially after infertility treatment.

Here are some other food choices that may help boost fertility:

1. Whole grains: Oats, brown rice, whole wheat and other complex carbohydrates give you energy and are full of vitamins B and E.  These vitamins are essential for cellular reproduction, production of healthy eggs and sperm, and hormone balance.

2. Protein: Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines have omega-3 and omega-6 in them.  These help to regulate reproductive health, improve blood flow, and enhance the quality and speed of sperm.  For those who don’t like fish, flaxseed oil is a great alternative. Finally, enjoy your meat for a change! Lean red meat is full of iron, which helps to prevent anemia, decrease the risk of ovulation issues, and help with red blood cells.

3. Greens: Spinach and other leafy vegetables provide your body with folic acid.  Folic acid is an essential ingredient for healthy sperm and ovaries and for preventing neural tube defects during the early stages of pregnancy. It also has iron and vitamin C, two items that enhance the quality of sperm and keep you healthy.

4. Garlic and Honey: Garlic has selenium in it, a mineral that may help to reduce the chances of miscarriage in women and that is said to enhance male fertility. It also contains vitamin B6, which regulates hormones and builds your immune system.  Honey has been used for centuries to boost fertility. It is rich in minerals and amino acids that are good for the reproductive system and that help with the function of the ovaries.

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March 2010
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