Infertility is an intricate problem, which could stem from various factors. Diet modifications alone may not abruptly increase the sperm count or dramatically reverse our ovulatory disorders but intelligent dietary choices could certainly assist us in the journey to conception.
Diet is always important to maintain optimum health, and proper nutrition gains utmost importance from the perspective of reproductive health. We may be already aware that eating a healthy, balanced diet; drinking lots of water, exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes are the best ways to get our body in shape for conception. There are however specific nutrients that work to boost (or at least optimize) fertility and certain foods that are especially helpful to combat infertility and improve the chances of conception.
Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a man or a woman to contribute to conception over an 18-month period of regular trials. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term. It’s a growing problem globally and mostly results from low sperm count, hormone irregularities, tubular obstruction, certain medical conditions, deficiency of B-vitamins or zinc, strenuous exercising, excessive weight loss or gain, stress, and of course poor nutrition.
It is indeed heartening to note that many young women, in their obsession to be skinny, resort to crash dieting and unknowingly sabotage their chances of conceiving. If your body is devoid of fat, as is likely if you are too thin, your estrogen levels may also drop and healthy levels of this female hormone are crucial for fertility. Likewise, being overweight also significantly impedes our chances of conception.
Overweight men are often found to have atherosclerosis (obstruction of blood flow due to fat deposits on the inner walls of the arteries) – a combination which often lowers sperm count and interferes with the blood supply to the sex organs thereby affecting reproductive health. Generally, when both partners maintain ideal body weight, it not only increases the chances of conceiving but makes all other infertility treatment techniques more effective too. The link between fertility and diet has been established through research studies and evidence based scientific observations. Nutrients linked to fertility are vitamins A, C, E, B6, B12, folate and important fertility promoting minerals include zinc, manganese, iron, selenium as well as essential fatty acids and amino acids.
What’s more? The natural approach to combat infertility through diet strategies has no side effects, and sets the stage for a healthy pregnancy, motherhood and beyond.
The natural approaches to combat infertility include the following considerations-
1. Begin by eliminating junk foods, fried foods, smoking and drinking alcohol from
your lifestyle- all of these could deprive your body of nutrients such as zinc
and Vitamin C which are essential for a healthy sperm count.
2. Research links ‘inactive’ sperm in males to a diet low in Vitamin C. Increase your intake of raw fruits and vegetables to ensure that you get adequate amounts of Vitamin C. Supplementing with 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily is a good way to restore your vitality.
3. Zinc is another mineral that is critical for testosterone production but unfortunately, most people are deficient in it. Rectifying a zinc deficiency could enhance the sexual function and sperm count. Women require a minimum of 15mg of zinc daily, 20 mg when pregnant and 25 mg when lactating. But do not exceed a dosage of 50 mg- as excess zinc hampers copper absorption and brings on other problems. Good sources of zinc include oysters, beef, chicken, fish, whole grain cereals such as wheat, wheat bran and dahlia.
4. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are the best source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and omega-6 which play an important role in regulating reproductive functioning, improving blood flow and enhancing sperm quality and mobility. Flaxseed oil is a good vegan EFA alternative.
5. Including whole grains such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat and millets in diet is also a great way of incorporating complex carbohydrates, which not only give you lots of energy for baby-making by releasing sugar into your blood slowly and evenly, but also contain an abundance of B and E vitamins that are essential for cellular reproduction, hormonal balance and the production of healthy ova and sperm.
6. Spinach and other leafy greens are an excellent source of folic acid which is important for better sperm production, facilitating regular, healthy ova production and is also a great source of iron and vitamin C.
7. Green tea and herbs like gingko are both excellent fertility enhancers. Tea contains a high level of antioxidants which aid in healthy immune systems and gingko improves blood circulation.
8. While adequate amounts of proteins are crucial to fertility; certain amino acids (building blocks of proteins) such as L- Arginine (nuts and seeds) and L-Lysine (milk) are specifically linked to fertility. Studies conducted on men having low sperm count showed that 80% of the participants reported an increase in the sperm count by having 4 gms of L-Argimine (an amino acid) daily.
9. As discussed above, the body weight makes a difference too. It is crucial for women that fat constitute at least 18 percent of body weight, otherwise hormone imbalance could lead to the failure to ovulate. Adopt appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications to achieve your ideal body weight whilst strictly avoiding crash and fad diets.
10. Regular exercise in form of 30-40 minutes of brisk walk and certain specific yoga postures will increase fertility by stimulating the blood flow to some organs and making your uterus more conductive to conception
There is no one food that will guarantee conception. Everyone should eat a healthy diet, manage stress and exercise regularly and this is especially true for fertility health. Though certain cases of infertility do need medical intervention, for others, the solution to a problem as painful as infertility could, to their surprise, be a simple diet and lifestyle change.
Written by- Panchali Moitra
(If you seek personal diet consultations for your specific health problems, you may connect at email@example.com.)