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7 Tips for Optimizing Your Fertility Potential Through Nutrition

7 Tips for Optimizing Your Fertility Potential Through Nutrition

Whether you are trying naturally to get pregnant or working with a reproductive endocrinologist and going through assisted reproductive technology (ART) services like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), there are complementary ways that you can increase your fertility potential. 

One of the best ways to work towards increasing your fertility potential in your own home is to be mindful of your nutrition and what you are eating (or not eating) every day. We believe every meal is an opportunity to fine-tune your health and nourish your body with optimal nutrition. Below are seven best tips for optimizing your fertility potential through daily nutrition. 

7 Tips For Optimizing Your Fertility Potential Through Nutrition

  1. Ditch the “fad” diets. Whether you are concerned about your weight or just looking to eat better, these “fad” diets are not the way to go. In most cases, they don’t offer the nutrition your body needs or a long-term solution to your health needs. It’s better to develop better eating habits over time instead of jumping into a “fad” diet that will only last a few weeks or months at most. 
  2. Eat more whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are not processed or processed very minimally. Whole foods include those with whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. When looking at products with labels, if it has more than two ingredients, it likely has preservatives that can be harmful to your body.
  3. Reduce Your Intake of Processed Foods. Find a better balance in your meals by buying more products that don’t require a label. As mentioned above, try to avoid products that have more than two ingredients listed. This can be a challenge for someone constantly on the go or just enjoys the taste and convenience of a bag of chips or cookies. The recommendation here is to consider replacing a meal a day with whole food, and over time, you will develop the habit of naturally eating more nutritional foods.
  4. Find better sources of protein. We eat too much protein in the standard American diet (SAD). Excess protein, especially from animal products, is detrimental to healthspan and lifespan. Focusing on protein from plants such as broccoli and beans, and lentils get you all the protein you need without the detrimental saturated fats that animal products contain.
  5. Get More Antioxidants. Foods rich in antioxidants are essential for healthy living and reducing inflammation in the body. Endometriosis is one of those disorders that can be greatly improved by reducing inflammation. By reducing inflammation, you not only reduce pain and feel better, but it also increases your reproductive potential. You can find the most antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, so it’s important to ensure you get enough of these antioxidant-rich foods daily. The focus should be to get no less than 9-11 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  6. Fiber up! Less than 2% of Americans get enough fiber a day. The best way to clean the body of excess hormones is to have adequate fiber in the diet. For women, this is a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day, and for men, 37 grams of fiber per day. This allows the body to get rid of the “old” hormones and allows your reproductive system to function at its peak performance level. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can do the job, animal products have no fiber and no antioxidants.
  7. Intermittent Fasting. Consider a window of eating and allow your body to recharge and become more insulin sensitive. Taking a break from eating for at least 13 hours and up to 16 hours can dramatically improve insulin sensitivity and let your body perform “maintenance” in the all-important “fuel cells” of the body, the mitochondria.

While the research is convincing, we are still gathering data on what we should and shouldn’t eat, there is some strong evidence to suggest eating whole foods and considering a plant-based diet will help maintain a healthy body. Reducing inflammation from a healthier diet can also directly contribute to optimizing your fertility potential. 

While I’m not a fan of “fad” diets, I agree with some of the basics of the Mediterranean diet. This diet offers some of the same guidelines I’ve mentioned above and focuses on a plant-based diet that offers lots of opportunities to get those extra antioxidants every single day. 

The most important part of healthy eating is consistency and creating a sustainable nutritional lifestyle. The choices you make at every meal give you the sum total of your overall health and your potential to prevent disease. Choose nutrient density, which will guide you to better health and fertility.

Dr. Schmidt pictured at work at NOVA IVF in the Silicon Valley Dr. Richard Schmidt Richard J. Schmidt, MD, FACOG, is the medical director and laboratory program director at NOVA IVF. He is passionate about delivering compassionate, patient-centered fertility care to his patients, resulting in thousands of babies and recognition as one of the nation's Top Doctors.

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