I couldn't possibly list all the benefits of these foods or their complete breakdown of nutrients. But I have written why I have chosen these 15 foods as the best foods for supporting fertility as well as pregnancy. These foods should be eaten on a regular basis to ensure a well balanced diet of macro and micro nutrients.
Apart from being an excellent source of protein, eggs are full of amazing nutrients. Lecithin, found in the yolk helps with the digestion of fat and cholesterol and is also a the source of choline. Choline is vital to the development of the foetal brain so its important to keep eating eggs during pregnancy too! The yolk also has a good range of antioxidants: carotenoids and glutathione, vitamins: D, E, folate, B12, plus B1, B2, B5 and B6 and minerals: calcium, selenium, iron, zinc and phosphorus. And if they couldn’t get any better, they just did! Egg yolks also contain a good ratio of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Ultimate food ever huh! Just make sure you eat the yolks, don’t go crazy on an egg white diet, your body NEEDS that yolk! Free range organic eggs are also superior in nutrient quality and quantity so make sure you add that to your list.
I think we all know by now that salmon and other oily fish, such as mackerel and sardines, is the best source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. When it comes to essential fatty acids Omega 3s are the most bad ass, they contain DHA and EPA which are vital for brain health and development. Did you know a woman stores DHA in her hips and thighs preconception? Then when she is breastfeeding they pretty much start to “melt” away as baby is taking all that DHA and growing a big as brain!
As far as nuts go, Brazil nuts are a favourite of mine. They are one of the best sources of the mineral selenium. Selenium is usually suggested as a must have for males as it is very protective of sperm and does increase quality. But it also does the same for a woman’s eggs so it is definitely worth popping a couple a day. Brazils are also a good source of protein, vitamin E and thiamin (B1). And on the mineral front they are AWESOME for magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and a bit of zinc and calcium too.
Dark green leaves, its a no brainer. These bad boys are full of folate, that B vitamin that is needed to reduce the risk of spina bifida. They also have an abundance of vitamin K1, a fat soluble vitamin that is needed for blood clotting. We also need plenty in our diets as it in turn makes K2 which is used for putting calcium in to bones. Make sure you add some fat when you eat your greens, olive oil for a dressing, butter if you're sautéing or coconut oil in a smoothie. The fat helps with the assimilation of the fat soluble vitamins, the body doesn’t uptake them as efficiently without.
When it comes down to it, avocado is just an amazing source of fat. It has a good combo of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with a dose of omega 3 and omega 6 thrown in too. And something super cool about avocados, they are anti-estrogenic. They contain a sterol called diindolomethane (DIM) which blocks and binds excess oestrogen to prevent it from being absorbed. It also promotes the production of progesterone, and progesterone is a pretty important hormone for retaining a pregnancy!
Pretty much a wonder food in my opinion. A great source of fat soluble vitamins A, D. E and K as well as a rich source of iodine. Vitamin A is really important in preconception and pregnancy, as it is needed for optimal thyroid and adrenal function. It is also needed for the foetus particularly during the stage when their eyes are growing. Make sure you do get your vitamin A from whole foods such as butter, as supplementing with synthetic vitamin A can cause development issues with a foetus.
Full of collagen and gelatine, chicken broth is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. They are very healing to any inflammation in the gut resulting in a healthier gut for better nutrient absorption. Collagen and gelatine are also amazing for joints, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, these get a pretty big work out during pregnancy so it is important to keep well stocked with a nutritious broth. Chicken broth is also brimming with calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, and if you feel like making a fish broth instead, you will get a good whack of iodine thrown in too. Please try and make your broths with organic free-range chicken, this way you avoid the nasties that come along side factory hens.
It is important to keep on top of your gut health as it is the base of the health of your entire body. This includes your mind too!! Poor gut health does have an affect on mood, anxiety and depression. Along with keeping on top of regular doses of chicken broth, having small amounts of sauerkraut daily will help keep your gut ship shape. Full of an astronomical amount of probiotics in a variety of strains, it will boost your immune system, your digestion and the health of your mind.
The easiest food on the planet, bananas are full of vitamin B6 which it turns out can be very useful at curbing morning sickness. So if you are suffering from nausea and vomiting keep a banana handy. Bananas are also a decent source of potassium, a mineral vital for good muscle contraction. Ever get muscles cramps? Bananas are pretty sure fire way to stop them in their tracks. Along with sodium and chloride, potassium is needed for nerve transmission. So it is mega important that we get enough in our diet especially when preparing it for conceiving and carrying a pregnancy.
Along with insane levels of carotenoids and also a hearty dose of vitamin C, sweet potato is an awesome form of fibre. In a cooked sweet potato, around 20% of the fibre is soluble in the form of pectin, and the other 80% is insoluble fibre in the forms of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Fibre is crucial for keeping our digestive track ticking along smoothly and keeping our bowel movements awesome. Soluble fibre can also help in preventing spikes in blood sugar.
Firstly, a little goes a long way. Ideally you really only need 50g per serving, 100g max. And just stick to 2-3 servings a week, this will provide a good amount of heme iron. During pregnancy, the foetus basically sucks you dry of iron like a little vampire. It is one of the biggest causes of tiredness in pregnancy. After pregnancy, some women can take 1-2 years to build up their iron levels! So getting a head start before you conceive is important. Make sure you get your levels tested with a blood test so you can establish where you are at. If you find you don’t absorb iron overly well, I would recommend booking in with a Naturopath or your GP as there can be a number of causes behind poor absorption. There are also many foods to try and avoid whilst eating iron rich foods, these include dairy, black tea, oxalates (found in many green leafy vegetables) and phytates (found in non-activated nuts and grains).
A spice worth adding to every dish you can think of. Cinnamon is the business for balancing blood sugar levels and reducing nausea. It has also been used for reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and type II diabetes. Whilst you don’t want to go crazy on the stuff, a sprinkle on your meal or in your smoothie a couple of times a day is perfect.
Adding a bit of lemon to your water first thing in the morning will help you set up your digestion for the day. And healthy digestion means more absorption of macro and micronutrients plus the effects it has on your skin, your mood and bowels. Although you might think it is super acidic, lemon water is actually very alkalising and conception and pregnancy definitely favours an alkalised body over an acidic one. When a woman has a highly acidic diet, her cervical mucus becomes more acidic and more hostile!
These have been chosen because they ARE a bad ass form of vitamin C. It is easy to absorb and tastes amazing! I must warn you though, if you think getting your orange dose in by drinking juice is the greatest idea ever? Please don’t. Just eat the orange. You want to get the fibre that comes with orange so that you don’t have a big old blood sugar spike.
I am a big fan of sourdough bread, especially if you can get organic and made with spelt. You also need to get sourdough that has been made with a decent fermentation time, at least 20 hours is needed. A proper authentic sourdough has a large proportion of the gluten and sugars broken down and deactivated to make it far easier to digest. It also breaks down phytic acid preventing it from stealing and excreting all the lovely minerals that you have been consuming. Sourdough also has the added benefits of some probiotics, plus it's high in B vitamins!
And an extra bonus because it seems I can't count (probably need to eat more salmon!!!).
One of the easiest (and tastiest!!!) ways of getting minerals into our diet is through unrefined sea salt. It is important to ditch table salt and switch to sea salt as sea salt has a further 80 minerals to buffer the effects of sodium chloride. It is needed for detoxification, metabolism, hormone function, nervous system function and the immune system. It contains iodine naturally which is essential for pregnancy because a foetus needs a good dose for brain formation and development. So get sprinkling!!