Fertility

My real-time IVF prep plan – Part 2: superfoods

Eloise Edington  |   24 Jul 2023


IVF superfoods – trust me, I know them. Having been here four times before, and now prepping for my fifth cycle, I’ve pretty-much googled every powder and protein in the book, dug deep into maca and gorged myself on royal jelly. 

The thing is, do they work? Often expensive – especially if you’re going for superior quality and potency – and a lot to cram in every day on top of meds and supplements, they need to be truly worth the input, during this often overwhelming process. 

I really want to shed light on this topic for our community, and no time like the present, as I pack for my flight to New York, where I’ll be in the care of the amazing Weill Cornell Medicine team for my fifth round of IVF. 

Have you read Part 1: supplements? If not, be sure to nip over there first for all the background of my IVF story to date, and the supplements I’m taking while prepping for my next egg retrieval and IVF.

IVF superfoods – what I’m buying, blending & eating before egg retrieval

Just like my IVF prep supplements plan, the IVF superfoods list I’m working with (put together with the help of expert fertility nutritionist Melanie Brown, my go-to for all-things IVF prep nutrition), is all about: 

  • egg quality at age 38 – for me, this is all about optimising and preserving (without obsessing about my age!)
  • antioxidants – I’m focusing right now on cellular health and getting my body in the very best place for ovulation stimulation, retrieval, transfer and implantation
  • hormone regulation – what it says on the tin! It’s crucial to ensure my hormone levels are looking as they should pre-IVF
  • healthy blood flow & circulation – ensuring tip-top functioning across my reproductive system
  • anti-inflammatory support – inflammation is a big no-no when preparing your body for IVF, and certain superfoods deliver dynamic results

Plus, eating well – and strategically! – with the knowledge that every meal, mouthful and drink is an opportunity to optimise for the treatment plan ahead. So I’ll shortly be including my daily IVF prep smoothie here – a fantastic way to squeeze all these amazing IVF superfoods into your daily intake.

First time around, I wish I’d had all of these tools at my fingertips – and done a little more nutrition prep for IVF. Back then, I quit drinking for three months, took a prenatal, and that was (kind of) it. Which is fine, but at age 38, I know a bit better.

This is IVF at 38, superfoods and what I go for. Let’s do this!

ROYAL JELLY, PROPOLIS & POLLEN: APITHERAPY

Queen bee’ has a certain ring to it, when preparing for conception and IVF! If you’re into fertility and IVF superfoods, you’ll probably have read about royal jelly, and the Apimist and Apimist Plus blends from forum favourite Apitherapy are my new go-to. Right now, I’m taking Apimist Xtra Pollen – their bestselling combination of fresh royal jelly, propolis and pollen, in a base of pure honey with an extra measure of pollen. 

So what is it about these beautiful bee products? Do they really support fertility? Here’s my why for each: 

foods to improve female egg quality

Royal jelly

This potent substance is rich in amino acids, vitamins – particularly B vitamins – minerals, fatty acids and key proteins. It also contains acetylcholine, which supports cellular health and function. Royal jelly has also been shown to support natural hormonal balance, and a healthy uterine lining.  

Propolis

This is really a botanical substance, made up of a blend of sap, buds and leaves – all things used by bees while building the colony. It’s a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, and may also contain beneficial properties for autoimmune-related fertility concerns. 

Pollen

Bee pollen is a well-known superfood outside of just fertility – I remember seeing it come onto the shelves in the 00s and get some attention for its powerful immune-boosting properties, and seeing influencers use it to decorate their smoothie bowls! 

Fast-forward to 2023, and it has an established reputation for fertility support, too, with its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content. 

I love the Apimist Plus blends, because they pack all of the above into one, with a recommended one heaped teaspoon a day.

PRENATAL COLLAGEN: Beli

I’ve also learnt that taking a collagen supplement can really help to boost fertility, as well as ensure that my body has the right levels of this essential protein.

Collagen is fab for supporting your intake of glycine, as well as other amino acids that are key for a healthy pregnancy. What’s more, collagen also helps maintain balanced blood sugar levels, and supports digestion and nutrient absorption – so crucial when you’re trying extra hard to nourish your body and make sure your fertility is fully supported!

fertility superfoods ivf

Whilst our bodies make their own collagen, production starts to decline after the age of 30. Right now, I’m taking the Beli Prenatal Collagen Boost, which gives you full body benefits in just one simple scoop.

With its many pluses for baby as well as mum, I’ll definitely continue adding this into my diet during pregnancy, if we get a BFP after our two-week wait.

Team TRB bonus: Get 15% off Beli’s range of supplements here.

WILD BLUEBERRIES: ARCTIC POWER BERRIES

Berries are one of the most accessible go-tos for a superfood boost – it helps that they’re delicious, too! IVF and fertility nutritionist Melanie Brown recommended I put a focus on blueberries – and as a superfood, go for the wild variety used in the Blueberry Powder by Arctic Power Berries

This amazing company sources the highest quality berries from Finland, creating 100% pure powders ready to blitz into a smoothie or breakfast bowl – or as a luxurious yoghurt topper. I’ve also added a teaspoon to my porridge in colder months – and with every teaspoon equal to a handful of fresh berries, I know I’m packing a serious antioxidant and blood circulation punch, every morning. 

fertility superfoods ivf

I love wild blueberries during IVF for: 

  • their rich antioxidant profile 
  • a really dynamic anthocyanin boost, for cellular support
  • immune boosting properties
  • 3 x higher antioxidant content than cultivated berries (the ones we see in our UK supermarkets, although these have their place too!)
  • their dietary fibre content (see Part 1 and supplements for IVF, where we talk about fibre)

Head to Arctic Power Berries for lots more info on nutritional content – plus options to grab lingonberry, blackcurrant, cranberry and lots of other blends – and gorgeous recipes for building berries into your diet, from berry overnight oats to chia puddings and pancakes. 

Team TRB bonus: Get 10% off any Arctic Power Berries product (excluding bundles) with code NUTRITIONIST10.

ACAI: buywholefoodsonline.co.uk

Acai berries are a super-famous superfood these days, and for good reason. These dark blue berries produce a gorgeous purple pigment – you’ll have seen it across your Insta feed in countless acai breakfast bowls – a sure sign of their insanely high nutrient content. 

Plus, they pack in:  

  • loads of fibre, which we’re all about for healthy digestion and hormone metabolism
  • polyphenols (antioxidant micronutrients, found in plants)
superfoods for fertility

There’s some really promising research for using acai for fertility and improved ovarian function, in particular when used to improve IVF outcomes, so it’s one of those superfoods which, for me, stands the test of time. It’s also really easy to build into my everyday diet, because so many brands and juice bars are on the acai bandwagon. Grab and go is pretty easy with acai, I’ve found!

For my at-home IVF prep smoothies and breakfast bowls, I build in acai with a teaspoon of the Organic Acai Berry Powder (freeze-dried) from buywholefoodsonline.co.uk.

FLAXSEED: buywholefoodsonline.co.uk

Also known as ‘linseed’, flaxseed can be a dynamic support if you’re dealing with hormonal imbalance, or even just trying to really optimise your hormonal picture across IVF. The big ticks for flaxseed and fertility include: 

  • phytoestrogen content (plant estrogens), which can block the xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogens) we find in many household products, and the environment we’re living in 
  • high omega-3 content (and the right amount of omega-6), which can also support hormonal balance
  • a rich anti-inflammatory profile

Flax is also high in B vitamins – crucial for all that cellular energy we need across IVF – plus magnesium and manganese which come with a whole host of fertility and IVF-supporting benefits. 

Again, I get my flaxseed/linseed from buywholefoodsonline.co.uk and go for the organic ground option. I tend to aim for one large tbsp in my daily smoothie pre-egg collection, reducing this to two tsp after. One final tip (thanks to Melanie!) – store it in an airtight (non-plastic) container in the fridge. Flax is best kept as fresh as possible.

WHEY PROTEIN: THE ORGANIC PROTEIN COMPANY

Thanks to Melanie’s insight and support across my IVF cycles, I can’t stress enough how important protein is, and how not all protein powders and supplements are created equal. 

If supplementing your diet with protein powder, ideally it’s whey protein. And, I try to go for pure, unflavoured options, and always concentrate, rather than isolate. The fact that the Organic Whey Protein from The Organic Protein Co is organic and produced by grass-fed cows makes it a fantastic choice for almost any IVF prep menu. It’s also super-creamy and smooth, making it a doddle to drink up!

what to eat before egg retrieval

I love grass-fed whey protein ahead of IVF for cell-building amino acid action, plus: 

  • immune support (thanks to its impressive immunoglobulin content) 
  • its cysteine and glutathione content, for essential detoxification
  • antioxidant support, plus lots of lactoferrin for an anti-inflammatory boost

My plan is to begin including this in my IVF prep smoothies ahead of stims, stop after egg collection, or continue if ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS) is an issue.

That’s it! My IVF preparation superfood shopping list. And, just like my pre-egg collection supplements list, most of these are packed in my carry-on for IVF in NYC. Again, love and  thanks to expert fertility nutritionist Melanie Brown, who’s shown me how to build everything from flax to royal jelly into my daily intake, with delicious food at the centre of my IVF prep. 

Watch out for part 3, where we’ll be covering all-things pre-egg retrieval and IVF testing, from vaginal microbiome profiling to DHEA and AMH. 

All products in this article have been selected by us. While we only ever recommend products we actually use and love, we may make commission on some of them.

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