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Are you trying to conceive? If yes, is your diet packed with nutrients that can boost your fertility? No? Ladies, it is important that you pay attention to this aspect. Although we have all the information around leading a healthy lifestyle, no one really pays attention, until they are trying to conceive.
Nowadays, infertility is on the rise among women. According to a study published in the journal of Reproductive Biology Endocrinology, infertility affects about 15 percent of women. Isn’t that alarming? But the good news is you can beat infertility by consuming a healthy and balanced diet!
In a chat with Health Shots, Ms Prachi Jain, dietitian, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram reveals that nutrition is of utmost importance for the human body, especially in case of a disease. It is equally important at all stages of life, even before birth.
“Preconception nutrition status and weight is important in pregnancy planning. An underweight mother may deliver a premature baby, IUGR, small and low birth weight babies. On the other hand, overweight mothers have a high risk of gestational diabetes or high BP, so maintaining a healthy weight is advised,” says Ms Jain.
You must be aware that iron deficiency leads to anaemia, which can affect the chances of getting pregnant. According to Ms Jain, “Women must take iron, as it plays an important role in carrying oxygen to red blood cells. Low levels of iron before conception may lead to a lack of ovulation and an optimum level of iron may help to avoid ovulatory issues. It also helps to prevent anaemia during pregnancy.”
She also suggests some iron-rich foods, which include multigrain rice flakes, soybean, kidney beans, bengal gram, dried dates, green leafy vegetables, lotus stem, celery, nuts, flax seeds, etc.
If you’re planning to have a baby, it’s important that you include folic acid in your diet. “Folic acid is another essential nutrient that boosts fertility in women. It increases foetus weight and reduces congenital abnormalities. A folic acid deficiency can lead to major, lifelong birth defects,” says Ms Jain. So, if you’re not already taking folic acid, now’s the time to start.
Spinach, asparagus, pumpkin, carrot, okra, broccoli, beef liver, and avocados are some good sources of folate.
Eating a variety of healthy foods can help prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy. Another important nutrient to keep in mind is calcium! Ms Jain says, “Calcium is vital for building healthy bones, teeth and nails, both for the mother and child. Women with calcium deficiency are at a higher risk for osteoporosis in later life.” So, if you’re trying to conceive, make sure to increase your calcium intake.
Calcium-rich sources are milk, curd, paneer, nuts, whole grains, ragi, and makhana.
“Zinc is recommended for women who are planning to conceive. It helps in cell division, fertilization, DNA regulation, and foetus development. It also improves sperm quality, improved conception, and pregnancy outcome,” according to Ms Jain. A woman who is trying to conceive should receive the recommended daily allowance of 8-12mg.
Foods that have high zinc content are whole grains, pulses, soybean, black til, walnuts, chia and pumpkin seeds, eggs, and chicken, etc,”
When it comes to fertility, your weight determines and influences many things. If you’re overweight or underweight, it can hamper your hormonal balance and menstrual cycle, which can lead to a lack of ovulation or no ovulation at all. So, try to lose weight if you’re overweight, and gain weight if you’re underweight.
Both smoking and alcohol can increase the risk of ovulation disorders. They age your ovaries and deplete your eggs prematurely. According to a study published in the journal American Society for Reproductive Medicines, it was found that the chemicals found in cigarette smoke, including nicotine and carbon dioxide, can increase the rate of women’s egg loss.
Besides, according to a study published in Fertility and Sterility, it was found that women who consumed heavy alcohol faced more infertility issues.
With a good diet, regular exercise, and healthy body weight, make sure to maintain your stress levels too. Stress is linked to infertility, because it causes hormonal imbalance that can affect your reproductive hormones, and thus your fertility.
A study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior also found that stress can affect fertility in a negative way. So, if you want to improve your fertility, you need to stress less and stay more calm!
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that refined carbs can increase the risk of ovulatory infertility. So if you’re planning for a baby – you’ve got to cut down on those refined carbs from your diet.
In fact, trans fats present in fried food, processed baked goods, and hydrogenated vegetable oil too were found to cause infertility in women, as per another study conducted at Harvard.