Any tweaks or new ‘superstar’ foods to try?
The basic fertility-optimised diet is a great start, but tweaks and new additions can be supportive. Remember,
- Variety is so important. Each and every food gives us a different set of nutrients, and therefore eating a broad range (especially fruits and vegetables) maximises the nutrients we consume.
One great way to get variety with fruits and vegetables is to try and eat your own, personal rainbow each day. This means aiming to have something red, orange, yellow, green, purple and white – think red peppers, apricots, yellow courgettes, romaine lettuce, dark berries and alliums like onions and garlic, and you’re there!
- Food quality helps, too. Organic foods often come with a lower pesticide residue and fewer antibiotics, if we’re talking about animal products. There’s some evidence to suggest these and other toxins create something called oxidative stress in the body, and this is thought to link to impaired egg and sperm quality.
So, washing fruits and vegetables well and buying fresh and frozen where possible is a good habit to get into, if you can, to nab the best quality nutrition possible.
- Avoiding ultra-processed foods (UPFs) is important, because these are a big stress on the body, and potentially damaging.
These are foods that have added ingredients in them to make them last longer, look better or keep the costs down. Typically, UPFs are full of sugar, salt, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilisers, trans fats, saturated fats and/or artificial sweeteners, and low in nutrients.
Depending on the ingredients you see listed on the packaging, many ready meals, sliced breads, cereal bars, biscuits, jarred cooking sauces, breakfast cereals and crisps are examples of UPFs, and good to reduce in any healthy eating plan.
- Frying and cooking at high temperatures is likely to damage foods and reduce their nutrient content. Aim to oven cook, slow cook, steam and grill for the best outcome.
- Look at when to eat. A ‘grazing’ type of eating pattern – little and often – is actually quite a stress on the digestive system. A better rule of thumb is eating three meals and having a snack only if the time between meals is greater than five hours.
There’s no evidence that intermittent fasting is beneficial or damaging for fertility, so if you like that pattern, it comes down to personal choice. That said, fasting may help with weight management. So if losing a bit of weight is part of your fertility plan, it may be worth trialling a 12-14 hour overnight fast for a few weeks.