Before and during pregnancy, you want to do what’s right for you and your baby so they can live a healthy and happy life. The number of environmental and food-based toxins we consume makes this process complex, but it is absolutely possible if you have the right know-how. As a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner and health coach, I want to arm you with the five best ways to boost your fertility and good health for your baby. These three tips are designed to help nurture your hormones, fuel your body, and remove unwanted toxins and stressors which makes getting pregnant easier.
1. Follow a (very) clean diet
Food can either be the best form of nourishment or the worst form of stress on our bodies. To optimize fertility, you need to be extremely diligent about the food you put in your body. Many foods today, unfortunately, contain toxins that are endocrine system disruptors, which can cause your hormones to get out of balance. For someone who has been in the deep end of adrenal dysfunction not too long ago, rebalancing your hormones from this damage is not an easy process, so start today by committing to a squeaky clean diet.
Here are the foods to avoid before and during pregnancy (as well as when you’re breastfeeding):
- Gluten: This includes wheat products, most processed foods, and many name-brand makeup products
- Dairy: Most of us cannot digest it well as adults, causing inflammation and stress in the body
- Soy: Many supplements and medications contain these, so check the ingredient label!
- Corn: Again, many supplements and medications contain these, too
- Canola oil: Many restaurants cook with this, so beware!
- Refined sugar: Sugar hides in the sneakiest places, so start reading ingredient labels
- Caffeine: A staple for many, it can stress out your adrenal glands and compromise normal hormone production
- Alcohol: This one goes without saying and clogs up our body’s detox pathways
- Eggs: These are a top allergen for many people
- Factory farmed beef, chicken, and fish: These contain endocrine-damaging hormones, antibiotics and allergens
- Other foods that your body is sensitive to: I recommend running a food sensitivity panel to find out
- All of the product in EWG’s Dirty Dozen list that are non-organic
- GMO foods: Cottonseed, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and yellow squash, as well as soy, corn, and canola listed above
Now, I know the list above is quite long and you may be feeling overwhelmed just looking at it. The best way to begin working on it is by removing just a few foods at a time. Gradually over time, you’ll get used to avoiding certain foods.
To help you in the process, here are the foods to focus on that can help boost fertility:
- Foods you test least reactive to on a food sensitivity panel (you can run it with a practitioner like myself or ask your doctor)
- Organic versions only of the foods on the Dirty Dozen list
- Foods on the Clean Fifteen list
- Honey, raw maple syrup, date sugar, coconut sugar, or stevia instead of sugar
- Dandelion root tea, tulsi tea, or raspberry tea instead of caffeinated tea or coffee
- Non-dairy milk products made from coconut, cashew, or hemp
- Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil instead of canola oil
- Pasture-raised, free range chicken, grass-fed beef, wild caught fish
2. Hormone-supporting supplements
Next to eating clean, you need to pay particular attention to all of your nutrient intake levels. Unfortunately today, even some of the cleanest organic produce are still void of proper levels of vitamins and minerals due to over-farming and declining soil quality. Because of this, it’s important to supplement short-term to bring these levels back up.
There are several vitamins and minerals that are particularly important to ensure adequate levels of before and during pregnancy:
- Vitamin C: This is the first to be depleted in a chronic stress state. We need about 1,000mg per day to optimize adrenal and hormone production.
- B Complex: Vitamins B12, B5 and B6 are precursors to healthy hormone production, so be sure to get 500mg of a B complex two to three times a day.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a calming mineral which helps your body respond to and reduce chronic stress levels. Magnesium glycinate, in particular, at about 400-600mg per day, is fantastic for stress reduction.
- Probiotics: The gut-brain connection is real, so to produce enough hormones, starting in your brain, you need a proper balance of gut bacteria.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These help to lower inflammation caused by stress, infections, and toxicity.
3. Aim to de-stress three times a day
Stress does a number on the body, and even I didn’t realize the magnitude of it until I worked on my own hormone health. Chronic stress caused by everyday things can put our bodies in a constant fight-or-flight mode, which over time exhausts the body and its ability to crank out the right levels of hormones. If, overtime, you deplete your body’s ability to produce normal levels of estrogen and testosterone, conceiving will become that much more difficult.
There is a lot we can do to re-train our body to cope with stress and reduce overall stress levels.
Here are a few of my favorite techniques:
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes a day using apps like Headspace or Calm
- Come back to your breath. Here’s a breathing pattern that works well: Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. Repeat this three times.
- Take an Epsom salt bath, which is rich in calming magnesium
- Schedule time each day and find a fun activity like being with a friend or watching a funny movie
- Avoid people and things that drain you of energy and learn to say “no” to things that don’t light you up
Because many of these require only a few minutes of your time, you can fit them in periodically throughout the day. I believe that if you can do one stress-relieving activity three times a day, you will enable your body to better respond to stress and lower overall stress levels.
Nurturing Your Body to Good Health
Boosting fertility starts with you. How you feed your body and live your life has an incredible impact on your ability to conceive. Clean eating reduces the overall burden on your body by unclogging detoxification pathways and allowing your body to cleanse itself naturally to prepare to make life. But also recognize that you can’t always get a full profile of nutrients, even from the cleanest food sources, which is why it’s wise to supplement strategically with vitamins and minerals that will boost hormone health. Last, your hormone pathways will never be optimal if chronic stress resides in your life. Finding techniques that help you reduce and adapt to stress can’t be stressed enough.
Implement these three fertility boosting tips and you’ll not only increase the chances of getting pregnant, you’ll improve your overall health and that of your baby.
Guest author Kristin Thomas is a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner (FDN-P) and holistic health coach. She is the founder of Thrive by Food and works with women worldwide who are looking to balance their hormones, improve digestion, and live a clean and naturally healthy life. Kristin went through a hormone battle herself, triggered by stress and environmental toxins and relieved by strategic diet and lifestyle changes. She is trained to help others revive their hormone pathways much in the way she did using advanced testing techniques and strategic healing protocols.