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14 foods that boost fertility, from fish to fruits to veggies – AOL

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March 22, 2024 at 6:18 PM
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Carlos Bezz

Many aspects of a person’s lifestyle can affect their fertility, so if you’re looking to start a family soon, you may be wondering: What can I eat to get pregnant faster? While changing your diet may not have an immediate impact on your ability to conceive, there are some foods that can boost your fertility, research shows.

“It’s clear that having a general healthy balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight is advantageous,” Abbey Sharp, a registered dietician and content creator at Abbey’s Kitchen, tells TODAY.com via email. “There are some nutrients and dietary patterns that may offer extra support when trying to conceive.”

Founder and chief medical officer of Carrot Fertility, Dr. Asima Ahmad says one pattern of eating, in particular, shows great benefits.

“The Mediterranean diet can improve fertility,” she tells TODAY.com. “It has anti-inflammatory properties.”

Here’s what to know about food and fertility if you’re trying to conceive.

Can diet help you get pregnant faster?

While changing your diet to include certain foods can’t fix medical conditions affecting fertility, research shows some foods may help you get pregnant.

For example, foods that reduce blood sugar levels and inflammation can help with fertility, Sharp says. Others that are are high in antioxidants and fiber can improve the function of your reproductive hormones.

Eating a Mediterranean diet in particular seems to boost fertility, according to Ahmad. She notes that some studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can improve sperm concentration and the number of viable embryos produced with in vitro fertilization.

Foods that boost fertility

There are a few types of foods that can boost fertility.

“A plant-heavy diet has been shown to be advantageous (for fertility),” Sharp says, adding that research shows eating more plant-based protein instead of animal protein can reduce the risk of ovulation-related infertility.

Plant protein can include tofu or legumes, for example.

Eating more fruits and veggies can also mean you’re boosting your fiber intake, which Sharp notes can have positive effects on ovulation. A study from 2007 found that eating 10 grams a day of cereal fiber can decrease the risk of infertility due to not ovulating by 44% in women over 32.

Taking a closer look at what you eat on a Mediterranean diet, many of the common foods can also improve fertility.

“Olive oil has been linked to improved sperm quality,” Ahmad says.

Foods high in vitamin E — such as nuts, plant-based oils and asparagus — may also improve sperm count and motility.

And of course, fish likes salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies, are a central component of the Mediterranean diet. Because they’re packed with omega-3s, Ahmad says they may be able to increase the number of follicles in the ovaries, which contain eggs.

Folic acid is another important nutrient when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. It “plays a significant role” in the quality of eggs, implantation, fetal growth and the formation of the placenta, Sharp says. Foods high in folic acid include leafy greens, fruits, peanuts and whole grains.

Research also shows that women with higher concentrations of vitamin D tend to have higher ovarian reserves and egg quality, Sharp explains. Vitamin D is found in oily fish, egg yolks and foods, like breakfast cereals and plant milks, that are fortified with it.

List of foods that can improve fertility

Here’s a quick list of foods that bolster fertility include:

  • Beans

  • Lentils

  • Peas

  • Chickpeas

  • Salmon

  • Anchovies

  • Sardines

  • Tuna

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Dark leafy greens

  • Yogurt

  • Whole grains, such as quinoa

  • Olive oil

Foods to avoid

For those worried about their fertility, skipping some foods might help.

“The big ones are trans fats … and high glycemic index carbs,” Sharp says. “Trans fats are generally inflammatory. High GI carbs can increase insulin resistance, which can disrupt hormonal balance and reproductive ovarian function.” Examples include fried foods and white bread.

People might also want to eat fewer steaks and burgers.

“When we think of diets that might be at the high end of inflammation, that’s the Western diet … higher in carbs and red meats and saturated fats and processed foods,” Ahmad says.

She knows that it can be tough to make big dietary changes so she often suggests that her patients take things slowly.

“What I say is, ‘Let’s try to eat fewer processed foods, order out less, try to buy your fresh ingredients, make food on your own, and if you’re buying something off the shelf, you just need to read the ingredients,’” Ahmad says.

Supplements that improve fertility

Ahmad says people should talk to their doctor before taking supplements because what they might need varies based on their individual health.

“Sometimes people can have a very good diet where they might be get getting some of this through their nutrition,” she says. “We also look at their overall health because some of these vitamins may also be more beneficial for certain patient populations or people where they might have for example, pre-diabetes or insulin resistance or polycystic ovarian syndrome.”

Supplements that can improve fertility include:

  • Coenzyme Q10

  • DHEA

  • Fish oil

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin E

  • L-arginine

Natural ways to boost fertility

People trying to improve fertility should incorporate exercise and regular stress relief into their lives, the experts say.

“Fertility is a component of your overall health,” Ahmad says. “Promoting a healthy lifestyle in your day-to-day life will not only improve your overall health but also your fertility.”

She encourages people to move their bodies daily.

“Having that physical activity in your day-to-day life can also improve your mood and your emotional wellness,” she says. “We have to make an active effort to be more active.”

Engaging in meditation, yoga or anything relaxing can also bolster fertility.

“Stress, whether that’s mental or physical, can impact cortisol levels,” Ahmad says. “Chronic elevations of cortisol can affect your ovulation. You can have decreased libido.”

Sleeping well will also keep stress levels down, so prioritizing rest also helps.

Ahmad also encourages people to consider using fewer plastic products and things with nonstick coatings due to the presence of microplastics and PFAS, also known as forever chemicals. Though, she adds that research into their impact on fertility is ongoing.

“It’s just trying to remove a lot of extra things from our lives that don’t necessarily benefit us and might be adding (more things that do),” she says.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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