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Fertility Diet: What Should You Eat When Trying to Conceive?
We all know the "usual" things to do when trying to conceive — test for ovulation, "baby dance" on your fertile days, maybe chart a cycle or two.... But are there other things we can be doing to enhance our chances of conceiving?
Increasingly, it's looking like the answer may be a resounding "yes".
As it turns out, diet plays an important role in setting the stage for successful conception — both in the form of indulging in healthy choices and avoiding the unhealthy ones...
"First, Do No Harm..."
Let's start with the items to avoid, or at least limit your intake of, while you're trying to conceive.
Alcohol: I know — not much fun... But alcohol, even moderately consumed, appears to exert a negative impact on one's fertility and increase the likelihood of having a miscarriage. Particularly important while trying to conceive is avoiding alcohol during the second half of your cycle (during the infamous "2 week wait").
Caffeine: Caffeine in excess is a no-no. But there is a silver lining: word on the street is that "low to moderate caffeine intake" while trying to conceive is acceptable (less than 300 mg/day, equal to about 3 cups of coffee per day).
Smoking: Nothing good to say about smoking while trying to conceive. Even second-hand smoke appears to diminish your chances of achieving conception.
Foods to Avoid: There are a number of foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, and you may also wish to avoid them while trying-to-conceive in the interest of erring on the side of caution. These foods include: soft cheeses (which may carry listeria), foods containing high levels of vitamin A (such as liver), raw or lightly cooked eggs (risk of salmonella), and sushi. You may also want to steer clear of artificial sweeteners which can affect blood sugar levels — a factor that influences hormonal balance.
Bring on the Good Stuff...
With the no-no's out of the way, we move on to a number of fertility-friendly items you can add to your alimentary repertoire.
Whole Grains: Consuming 6 ounces per day of whole grains will provide you with a power-punch of antioxidants, B vitamins, and iron — a definite plus when trying to conceive.
Vegetables: Eat lots of colorful veggies — the brighter the color, the better! 3 cups per day of vegetables is ideal when trying to conceive. Note that since dairy foods (cheese, milk, etc) should be consumed in moderation, you can get your daily dose of calcium from produce such as broccoli, kale, or oranges.
Fruit: Eat around 3 cups per day to maintain good reproductive health.
Fish: The rising mercury levels in fish have gotten quite a bit of press lately, and to be certain, it's a trend to monitor. That said, eating up to 12 ounces per week of low-mercury fish (salmon, catfish, shrimp, or even canned light tuna, etc.) will provide you with an all-important boost of Omega-3's, which are vital to fetal development. (Note that Pregnancy Plus Omega-3 is a molecularly distilled source of Omega-3's designed specifically for trying-to-conceive and pregnant women.)
Prenatal Vitamin or Comprehensive Fertility Supplement: Everyone knows you should take a prenatal vitamin once you become pregnant, but less well-known is the importance of prenatal supplementation while trying to conceive. You can ensure you're receiving comprehensive nutrition by taking a prenatal vitamin, or in the form of a complete fertility supplement such as FertilAid for Women.
And For Men?
Don't worry — you're husband's not off the hook. Men, too, need to avoid smoking and drinking when trying to conceive, as both activities are detrimental to sperm health. (It goes with out saying that marijuana and other drugs negatively impact male fertility.)
There are vitamins and nutrients that help with the production of healthy sperm — zinc, folic acid, selenium, L-Carnitine and vitamins C and E in particular have been shown to help. All of these can be found in a healthy, balanced diet; however, an extra boost of these nutrients can help to improve sperm count, motility, and morphology. FertilAid for Men is a clinically proven supplement designed to increase the total number of motile sperm a man produces.
The bottom line: Both men and women must work to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and a eating a balanced diet is a key ingredient. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for your fertility.