Many of us wait until we are into our thirties to start our families, meaning that by the time we are ready to contemplate another baby, we might be searching for natural ways to boost fertility. According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, a woman is half as fertile at 35 as she was at 25. And it’s not just women that experience a decline in fertility: as men age the quality of their sperm reduces.
Despite these sobering facts, there are many changes you can make to your diet and natural ways to boost fertility:
- Drinking any alcohol can halve a woman’s fertility, and the more you drink the less your chances of conceiving
- Cut out coffee: even one cup of coffee a day can decrease your fertility. Two to three cups a day may increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
- Stop smoking: smokers take longer to conceive; their rates of infertility are higher, and smoking can cause an increased rate of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy
- Ensure that you are not significantly over or underweight, as this can cause your menstrual cycle to become irregular
Ensure that you and your partner are getting sufficient amounts of the key nutrients for fertility from your diet or via supplementation:
- Folic Acid and the other B vitamins are present in whole grain foods such as oats, wholemeal bread and pasta, beans and brown rice, and vegetables such as spinach, asparagus and lettuce. We need Folic Acid for producing DNA and protects the baby’s neural tube. This becomes the spine and spinal chord. Deficiency in folic acid is likely in people with chronic diarrhoea or digestive disorders, and alcohol causes the body to excrete folic acid.
- Zinc is present in spinach, beef, asparagus, shellfish, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Zinc is vital for fertility and is the most widely studied fertility nutrient for both men and women. A deficiency can lead to reduced fertility, hormone imbalance and an increased risk of miscarriage. It is also necessary for the proper development of sperm.
- Selenium is present in brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, eggs and lentils. It is an antioxidant which protects cells from free radical damage. Therefore, it is important in the process of cell division. It is also essential for sperm formation and testosterone production. Soils in the UK have become depleted of selenium and it is difficult to obtain optimum levels from our diet.
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are found in vegetable oils, oily fish, nuts and seeds. One group of EFAs, called Omega 3 fats, are vital for sex hormone regulation and boost the development of the baby’s brain, eyes and central nervous system. Signs of EFA deficiency include dry skin, depression and menstrual irregularity.
- Vitamin C is present in most fruit and vegetables, with peppers, broccoli, strawberries and raspberries being particularly rich sources. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is closely linked to ovulation. A deficiency in Vitamin C can decrease sperm quality. Signs of deficiency include tiredness and weakened immunity
- Vitamin E is present in almonds, avocados, olives, sunflower seeds and spinach. It is another vital antioxidant which has been linked with increased fertility in both men and women.
- Ensure that your diet is free from processed foods and contains lots of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables (for their antioxidant properties); whole grains (for vitamins, minerals and fibre); water; and good protein sources.
Nutrition and lifestyle changes can have a powerful impact on fertility: 75% of previously infertile couples have gone on to have babies using the Foresight programme which addresses the underlying health of couples through a nutritional programme.
If you are interested in an individualised list of natural ways to boost fertility or would like help with fertility issues, please call Emily Fawell DipION, Nutritional Therapist and Foresight Practitioner on 07967 639347 or contact me via email Emily@4wellpeople.co.uk