Food Is Medicine: Eating Your Way To A Positive Pregnancy Test
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates
Whether you're deep into TTC or just beginning, or need to tame your hormones, you'll want to know what to nom and what not to nom to nourish all the right places. We've got you covered:
What Food Helps Fertility?
Eggs. Jeiran, our Eastern Medicine resident Doc, recommends an egg a day. She let us in on a Chinese Medicine secret: eggs beget eggs- a whole egg is one of the most perfect foods you can eat. Skip the egg whites and go for the whole deal.
Whole Milk. From Jersey cows (or free-range organic, hormone-free), recommends Jeiran. Although it is best to avoid saturated fats, especially from animal sources, if you are going to consume dairy do it in its whole form and in moderation (in Eastern Medicine dairy in excess has been thought to make the cervical mucus sluggish). Studies have shown that natural hormones in milk fat boost fertility and improve ovulation.* By removing the fat, ovulation can actually be compromised.
Water. Seems obvious, but most people don't get enough. Here's a little visual for ya that might keep water more forefront in your mind: when your dehydrated your body will conserve water in less vital areas and redistribute H2O to life-sustaining functions. Loins lose out unfortunately, as does skin (why you look ashy when dehydrated) and lips, and other things that don't necessarily keep your heart pumping. Blood also thickens when dehydrated, decreasing circulation in the uterus and ovaries. The more water the better, as it is also capable of balancing hormones, flushing out toxins, and helping deliver nutrients to the body. Please, go drink a glass, right now.
Avocados. Have we made your day yet? Monounsaturated fats have been proven to improve fertility. Read here to learn why you should be eating these 3 times a day.
Balance of Whole Grains. Try these gluten-free options: quinoa (actually a seed of a plant, high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients), millet (highly alkaline and acts as a prebiotic feeding microflora to your inner ecosystem), buckwheat (has fertility-friend B vitamin Inositol), amaranth (another seed of a plant, has a ton of iron, Mo loves to add these to salads to add some crunch) check out our Instagram to see how to pop it, or brown rice or wild rice.
Cooked Greens. Spinach, kale collards, and dark leafy greens in general. Make sure you're reading this to learn about fertility-killing pesticides and which produce to buy organic.
Salmon. Halibut too. There are so many reasons to love omega-3s, and these fish are to the gills with them. We teamed up with our resident Eastern Medicine Doc to outline the best supplements for TTC here.
Lean meats and beans. Protein, zinc, and iron. Learn more about how these optimize fertility here.
Pumpkin, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds. You notice a trend here, eat your seeds to make good seeds. Enjoy your Bird seed Birdies! They are packed with protein, omega 3s, zinc and vitamin E. In both Ayruvedic and Eastern Chinese traditions they are believed to promote healthy eggs/seeds/follicles in women.
Ginseng is great for men and women, boosting immune systems, increasing sperm count and motility, raising low testosterone, boosting libido and lowering blood glucose levels, while supporting a healthy stress response.
Berries. Vitamin C and antioxidants. Antioxidants are a universal fertility optimizer. See which ones you should be buying organic here.
Choline. Never heard of it? That's because most people don't get enough of it, and it has the potential to reduce harmful gene effects responsible for birth defects. Also supports brain function. Foods high in choline are egg yolks, beef liver (mmmm Pâté), and cauliflower.
What Foods are Bad for Fertility?
Gluten. We know the struggle is real (cause, pizza...), which is why we created our guide to gluten here. Unexplained infertility has high links to celiac or gluten sensitivity. Get tested. That being said, it's best to avoid paleo, keto or low-carb diets, and instead consume a good amount of balanced, whole grains (see list above). Picking the right grains can have weight-loss benefits as well!
Wine. We hate it as much as you do, which is why we've written your guide to those wine-filled weekends here.
Icy Cold Drinks. According to Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, cold drinks or food draw blood circulation away from the pelvic organs. Cold drinks also force the body to expend energy and work overtime neutralizing the temperature of your body, causing a decrease in nutrient abortion and hydration.*
Ice Cream. Same reason as above. Hey, at least we still have avocados, right?
Fish that have a high mercury content (due to their environment). These include swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark. We love the Monterey Bay's guide to healthy and sustainable fish.
*Recent studies point to a link in between drinking whole milk and increased fertility rates in women. In fact, researchers found that women who drank 3 or more glasses of whole milk a day were 70% less likely to be infertile due to failed ovulation.8 It appears the natural hormones found in whole milk fat seem to give a boost to fertility in women. If the milk fat is removed, the natural hormones left in non-fat milk seem to decrease fertility in women by increasing ovulation failure rates. Therefore, it is recommended that women switch to limited amounts of whole milk while trying to conceive. Try replacing the milk in your morning cereal with whole milk. For dessert at night, try whole-milk ice cream instead. If you are not a milk drinker, try wholemilk yogurt for a snack.
8 Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner B, Willett WC. “A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility”, Human Reproduction, 2007 May;22(5):1340-7. Epub 2007 Feb 28
(No conflicts of interest present in the above sources)