16 Lifestyle Tips to Help Boost Fertility-image

16 Lifestyle Tips to Help Boost Fertility

If you’re looking to conceive soon, nutrition can have a big impact on your fertility and reproductive health—both positive and negative. Get to know which foods are natural fertility boosters and valuable lifestyle changes that can improve your journey to conception. Quick facts: Why are diet and nutrition important for fertility? As the saying goes, we really are what we eat. Our diets and nutrition impact almost all of our body’s processes—all the way from our metabolism to our mental health. But one often overlooked area is how food can impact our fertility. When trying to conceive, you’ll need a high-nutritional diet. This can increase your chances of conceiving and help to create a healthy home for your baby during their vital first 9 months. Even making small changes to your lifestyle and nutrition choices can go a long way. Here are 16 evidence-backed tips from our Registered Nurse and Associate Nutritionist, Emily Moreton to help prepare your body for pregnancy. You can also book an appointment with a Hertility Nutritionist for a personalised plan. 1. Follow a Mediterranean-style diet Whilst there are no specific guidelines for a recommended fertility diet, the Mediterranean diet, is associated with improved fertility in both women and men. Known for its abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, the Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants. These have been shown to protect sperm and eggs from DNA damage and oxidative stress. A study involving 15,396 participants, which looked at how different diets affect fertility, showed that sticking to the Mediterranean diet improved birth and pregnancy rates significantly, with a 91% higher chance of success. This diet is also high in fibre and rich in vitamins and minerals that support fertility and pregnancy. Think lots of veg, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, olive oils, avocados and oily fish. 2. Eats foods high in antioxidants Eating a diet rich in a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables can provide a wide range of antioxidants that support fertility and overall health. Think making a rainbow on your plate. Foods high in antioxidants include fruits (such as berries, apples, and citrus fruits), vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, kale, and carrots), nuts, seeds, and whole grains. 3. Increase intake of plant-based proteins In general, you should focus on lowering your intake of red and processed animal meats and focus on adding plant-based protein sources into your diet.  This can include fertility-friendly and micronutrient-rich beans, lentils, peas, soya beans, and chickpeas. Plant-based protein sources help to support healthy ovulation and are high in antioxidants and nutrients, such as iron and fibre, which are really important during pregnancy.  Low iron levels can add to your tiredness or even could cause iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency during pregnancy can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. It is also important to keep your iron uptake up postpartum too, to replace any iron lost at birth.  You’ll also find some protein in whole grains such as quinoa. If you are opting for plant-based meat alternatives (‘fake meats’), choose a brand that is not ultra-processed and low in additives. 4. Cut down on sugar Cutting down on sugar can be beneficial for fertility. This is because too much sugar can lead to insulin sensitivity, disrupting certain reproductive hormones and causing inflammation. Insulin spikes have been associated with poor egg quality and sperm production and could affect implantation. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2018 found that women who consumed two or more servings of sugary drinks per day had a 50% higher risk of ovulatory infertility compared to those who consumed less than one serving per month. Reducing sugar intake and opting for a balanced, low-glycemic index diet can help improve insulin sensitivity and overall reproductive health. Limit sugary foods and high glycemic index foods such as cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, sweets, white rice and white bread. Check the labels for high sugar content. 5. Take pregnancy supplements Folic acid Folic acid is an important supplement during pregnancy because it decreases a risk called neural tube defects. This is a defect that can occur during the development of the baby’s brain and spine.  If you are currently trying to become pregnant, it is advised to take at least 400 mcg of folic acid supplement every day for 12 weeks before conception and for at least three months after conceiving. Some people are at an increased risk of their baby having a neural tube defect and so it is advisable to speak with your doctor as they may recommend and prescribe you a higher dose.  Prenatal vitamins Prenatal vitamins typically contain a combination of various vitamins and minerals that are important for both maternal and foetal health. While folic acid is a main component of prenatal vitamins, these vitamins usually contain a range of other nutrients as well.  These include iron, calcium, vitamin D and other essential vitamins and minerals needed to support maternal health and the baby’s development during pregnancy. Tip: More often than not, doctors will suggest taking prenatal vitamins instead of just folic acid supplements because they cover a wider range of needs for both mum and baby’s health. However, it’s essential to consult with your doctor to determine the most appropriate approach for your unique needs.  6. Take Vitamin D for pregnancy  A previous study has shown that both men’s and women’s vitamin D levels impact fertility and IVF results. It showed that Vitamin D supplements reduce risks for mums and babies, might prevent bone problems, and play a role in foetal development.  How much Vitamin D should I take? It’s recommended that all adults at all stages of life should supplement with 10 micrograms a day of Vitamin D, in the UK. This is particularly true if you are trying to conceive, or you are pregnant—so be sure to supplement right through from the preconception period to breastfeeding.  Prenatal vitamins often contain vitamin D, but the amount can vary […]

Veganism and Fertility: How Does a Vegan Diet Impact Your Fertility?-image

Veganism and Fertility: How Does a Vegan Diet Impact Your Fertility?

The vegan diet is often hailed as having many health benefits, but what about when it comes to our fertility? In this article, we’ll cover the benefits veganism can have for your conception journey and which nutritional deficiencies to be aware of with a plant-based diet.  Quick facts: What is a vegan diet? A vegan diet omits any produce derived from animals including meats, fish, dairy products, eggs and even honey. Vegans tend to eat lots of vegetables, fruit, beans, pulses, soya products, tempeh and sometimes meat alternatives.  Plant-based diets have become increasingly popular and ubiquitous in recent years. The Vegan Society estimates that the number of UK vegans has quadrupled over the last five years, with lots of people going either fully or partially vegan for health, environmental or animal welfare concerns.  As veganism grows in popularity, the range of vegan food substitutes has rapidly expanded. You’ll now find different varieties of plant-based milk and the fake meat industry has boomed. As such, adopting a vegan diet is now easier than ever, but will switching to a plant-based diet improve your health and fertility? Health benefits of a vegan diet A vegan diet has a multitude of health benefits. Vegans typically have lower BMI and are up to 78% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This is because plant-based foods are typically lower in sugars and fat.  Consequently, many people make the switch to a plant-based diet to lose excess weight. Indeed, studies show that individuals following a vegan diet lose more weight on average than those following calorie-restrictive diets. Veganism and fertility benefits Diet and lifestyle factors can greatly impact your fertility. Will veganism boost your fertility? No, not directly. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t fertility benefits to a vegan diet.  The link between obesity and infertility is well-documented. Being overweight or obese not only makes you less likely to conceive but also increases the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications.  In this way, following a vegan diet may be beneficial if you are currently overweight and trying to conceive—helping you to reach a healthy pre-baby body weight.  In addition, following a vegan diet has been shown to decrease your risk of gestational diabetes. However, regardless of the diet you follow, it is important to ensure that you are obtaining all required nutrients when trying to conceive and then throughout pregnancy.  Veganism and fertility risks You can definitely follow a vegan diet and have a healthy pregnancy, but a vegan diet can put you at greater risk of some nutrient deficiencies which may impact your fertility. Whilst a vegan diet may be low-fat, a plant-based diet can increase the risk of certain nutrient deficiencies.  It’s important to remember that with the correct planning, supplementation and nutrition, these deficiencies can be avoided even with a vegan diet.  Iron deficiency Low iron intake can cause anaemia, a condition in which you have a lower-than-normal red blood cell count. As red blood cells are responsible for providing cells with oxygen, anaemia can cause fatigue, breathlessness and headaches, among other symptoms. Iron deficiency is common in pregnancy, even if you eat meat. However, vegans are at a much higher risk of anaemia. Whilst anaemia is detrimental to general health, the direct effects of iron deficiency on conception and fertility remain unclear.  However, anaemia has been shown to increase the risk of preterm birth and can also lead to developmental delays in the foetus. Anaemia can be easily treated by taking iron supplements. Vitamin B12 There is evidence that vitamin B12 deficiency can decrease your infertility and that, in severe cases, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause infertility. This infertility is normally temporary and can be resolved by taking vitamin B12 supplements.  In addition, vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anaemia. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products such as milk, eggs and meat, and is essential for metabolism. With the exception of fortified cereals, vitamin B12 is not found in plant-based foods and so vegans are often unable to obtain sufficient vitamin B12 from their diet. Therefore, to avoid health risks and maintain good reproductive health, it is really important that vegans take vitamin B12 supplements.   Vitamin D Whilst we obtain vitamin D from sunlight, it is also found in lots of animal products. As such, vegans can be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, particularly throughout the winter months. It’s generally recommended that everyone in the UK take a vitamin D supplement throughout the autumn and winter regardless of their diet or conception plans. The links between vitamin D deficiency and fertility are unclear and require further research. However, observational studies indicate that vitamin D deficiency is a risk marker for subfertility (not being able to conceive after a year of trying). Therefore, if you are following a vegan diet whilst trying to conceive, it is worthwhile taking vitamin D supplements. Deciding if a vegan diet is right for you Switching to a plant-based diet may seem daunting, but if you ensure you’re eating a balanced diet with the correct nutrition and supplements, there is little risk to a vegan diet whilst trying to conceive.  In fact, arguably, with the required vitamins and supplements, the preconception health benefits to a vegan diet are significant. A vegan diet won’t work for everyone, but if you want to get healthy before trying to conceive then it may be worth giving it a go. Even switching to a plant-based diet for a few meals a week has been shown to have health benefits. If you need some help with your diet and nutrition to switch to a plant-based diet, book a consultation with one of our fertility Nutritionists today. Resources: