Fertility and diet are popular topics today, and during the cold winter months, they can be an especially hot topic (think soup!!!). Can eating certain foods boost your fertility? They certainly won’t hurt, and especially if there is an underlying endocrine disturbance they can certainly help!!
Your overall diet does matter. Researchers have found that unhealthy eating habits can harm fertility. There’s even stronger evidence that your weight impacts your fertility (both underweight or overweight can have bad effects).
So, will a particular food “cure” your infertility? No. There is no single food that does that, but that shouldn’t stop you from considering the so-called fertility superfoods. Certain nutrients play a vital role in the reproductive system – and what we eat is an important way to get those nutrients. Eating nutrient-rich foods is usually safer than concentrated supplements. The exception to this is with folic acid, which studies have proven to be a very important addition when you’re trying to conceive.
But, we should keep in mind that there is a preponderance of evidence showing that certain food types or classes of nutrients can affect fertility. Some of the fertility superfoods on this list fall into that category. Overall good nutrition leads to good health. Good overall health can (sometimes) protect your fertility.
Let’s check out some special fertility foods:
Sunflower seeds and walnuts, the extracts, and the butters are excellent sources of vitamin E. Supplementation with vitamin E has been shown to boost male fertility. Specifically, it’s been shown to boost sperm motility, improve sperm counts, and improve DNA fragmentation. Sunflowers are also a great source of many other fertility friendly nutrients. One ounce will give you:
- 49% of the recommended daily value of vitamin E
- 16% of your daily folate needs
- 31% of your daily recommended value of selenium
- 10% of your daily recommended value of zinc
- Good source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Fresh grapefruit and orange juice. Grapefruit juice and orange juice are very high in the polyamine putrescine, which may improve semen health. Putrescine may also improve egg health. In one study, older female rats were given water rich in putrescine in the time just before and up to ovulation. The rate of chromosomal defects in the ovulated eggs decreased by more than 50 percent! It may be that putrescine helps both egg and sperm cells maintain their chromosomal integrity. The boost in vitamin C from these juices may also help. Low vitamin C levels may negatively affect female hormonal balance.
Mature cheeses like cheddar and parmesan. Mature cheeses are high in putrescine, and like grapefruits, they are thought to improve both egg health and sperm health, especially in women over 35 and older men.
Full-fat yogurt and ice cream. Full-fat dairy products, like whole milk, full-fat yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, and other cheese. A Harvard study found that women who ate full-fat dairy products were less likely to experience ovulation problems than women who ate primarily low-fat dairy products.
Cow Liver, is high in many nutrients that are vital to reproductive health.
One serving of cow liver (68 grams) contains:
- 431% of the daily value of vitamin A
- 800% of the recommended value of vitamin B12
- 137% of your daily value of riboflavin, another important B vitamin
- 43% of your daily value of folate (the naturally occurring form of folic acid)
- 35% of your daily value of selenium
- 290 mg of choline (Choline may reduce the risk of birth defects.)
- 24% of your daily value of zinc, a mineral important for semen health
- Naturally high in coenzyme Q10, which may boost egg quality and sperm motility
Lentils and beans, (especially black beans)are a good source of protein, and research has found that women who get more of their protein from plant-based sources instead of animal sources are less likely to experience ovulation problems.
Lentils contain high levels of the polyamine spermidine, which may help sperm fertilize the egg. Interestingly, research has found that spermidine levels are markedly lower in the seminal ejaculate of men experiencing low sperm counts when compared to men with healthier semen. Lentils and beans are also a good source of folate and fiber.
Remember, there is no cure all and the most important thing is to have a balanced diet with healthy portion sizes. Avoid processed foods as much as reasonably possible and be careful with your cookware. Non-stick can have carcinogens, and the utensils can melt into your food. Avoid plasticware and go with glass containers as much as possible.
Until next time, stay warm and take good care of yourselves, both physically and emotionally.
“May you always know my little one you were wished for, longed for, prayed for and wanted. I love you.” —- anonymous