In the months, and even years, leading up to conception and pregnancy it is ideal that a couple is at their optimal state of health and fitness. Adopting healthy lifestyle practices has a major influence in optimising the chances of conception and paves the way for a healthy pregnancy. It also influences the life and future health of the little person and the adult they will become.
The simplest dietary recommendation for reproductive health and the health of your offspring is to eat clean foods. These are foods with a minimum of human interference. It is also prudent to avoid foods that have been processed or far removed from their original or natural form.
Eat organic wherever possible: this minimises your exposure to toxic pesticides and herbicide residues which can have negative effects on your hormones and subsequently your fertility.
Lots of colourful vegetables and fruit: green, red, yellow, orange, pink and purple fruit and vegetables provide a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Eat your greens: It is well known that folate is essential for proper cell division especially in the early stages of pregnancy. Many prenatal supplements contain the artificial form - folic acid. There is a small percentage of the population that are unable to metabolise this form so eating various sources of your greens EVERY DAY will help to ensure you (both) have optimal folate levels. Go for Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, rocket, etc
Eat organic, whole fat dairy: In its whole state the nutrients are preserved and you further avoid exposure to the pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics that can be present in conventional dairy products. These can also interfere with your hormonal balance. If dairy is not your thing then try almond or coconut milk or and other natural alternatives.
Eat free-range, grass fed meats and poultry: Conventionally farmed meats and poultry are often raised with growth-promoting hormones and are treated with antibiotics. Altered feed increases the levels of undesirable fatty acids in their meat. Grass fed and free-range meats supply a quality source of protein and also essential fatty acids.
Eat Omega-3 rich fatty fish: Fish such as wild caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel provide a good source of protein and essential Omega-3 fatty acids. The Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory, support hormone balance and reproductive health.
Eat natural whole grains and legumes: When grains are processed it removes the majority of the vitamins and minerals and increases the effect on they have on blood sugar levels. Unprocessed grains preserve their nutritional value. Try quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, chickpeas, and lentils.
Drink lots of clean, purified water: and avoid drinking out of plastic bottles to avoid exposure to oestrogen mimicking chemicals. Staying properly hydrated also supports the production of healthy reproductive fluids.
Avoid sugars and refined and processed foods: We all know this but, these foods are calorie rich and nutrient poor. Most of them also contain myriad chemical preservatives, flavour enhancers, trans-fats and other nasties.
Feed your gut flora: Optimising your gut flora well before he/she arrives will give your baby the best start. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha help promote healthy gut flora. A newborn’s sterile gut is inoculated with its mother’s flora during birth and breastfeeding.
Minimise caffeine: Caffeine in all forms can have negative effects on your hormone balance, liver function and in large doses may increase the risk of miscarriage.
Limit alcohol: Drinking alcohol regularly may lead to a 50% decrease in fertility in both men and women.
Be lean: Not only does being overweight affect both partner’s fertility but it also greatly increases the chances of gestational diabetes and other
complications. A mother’s weight during pregnancy has shown to correlate to a child’s body weight later in life. Research also indicates that a woman’s obesity leading up to pregnancy can cause
genetic abnormalities that subsequently are passed through the female bloodline to at least three generations, increasing the risk of obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart
The above guidelines are simple but effective and should be applied not only those in their fertile years but anyone wanting to maximise health and lower chances of disease.