Anytime we’ve got a health query, we always turn to Nutritionist, Angelique Panagos! She’s our go-to for advice on balancing hormones, boosting energy, improving digestion AND trying for a baby! Here, she reveals her top foods for fertility…
Thinking of starting a family? It’s such an exciting time, and fertility is a hot topic at the moment! However, more and more, I see many women come through my doors who are struggling to fall pregnant, stay pregnant or even carry to full-term.
Unfortunately, this is something I know all too well – I am one of the many women who fall into this heart-breaking category, and it can be a really dark place. However, there’s still plenty that you can do to support your body and boost your chances of getting pregnant.
Nutrition is always a good place to begin when it comes to trying to conceive. For starters, we need a steady stream of nutrients from the foods we eat to keep our hormones happy and in tip-top condition. And don’t think that this just applies to the ladies! With sperm counts dropping over the last decade, and an increase in the occurrence of sperm abnormalities, it’s not simply women who need to eat well for fertility.
So, which nutrients do you need in particular? Well, for both men and women, the following are key when it comes to reproductive health: zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, folate, selenium and essential fatty acids. But what does this look like on a plate?
Here are my top five foods for fertility to incorporate into your daily diet:
Delicious Brazils are rich in zinc, essential fatty acids and selenium, a natural anti-oxidant which helps to support our bodies during the early stages of conception. Selenium also plays a big role in keeping our ovarian follicles healthy, which produce eggs.
Other studies have found that antioxidant vitamin E, another nutrient found in abundance in Brazils, can help to make sperm more fertile and increase fertilisation in women.
Why not add a few nuts to your breakfast, have a few as a snack or make your own brazil nut milk – blitz 1 cup of Brazil nuts with 3 cups of water, then strain through a nut bag and voila it’s done!
Avocados are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins, folate, hormone-helping essential fats, protein, carbohydrate and fibre. They’re a wonderful source of vitamin E, which supports fertility in both men and women. Some scientists even believe that this clever little vitamin can strengthen the lining of the uterus and help with implantation.
I know many avocado lovers, and there are all kinds of ways to enjoy these creamy, delicious fruits (I know, weird to think of them as fruit)! I like to mash mine on toast, toss into a salad, chuck in smoothies, or even enjoy straight out of the skin with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt.
Popeye’s favourite food is my favourite ‘leafy green’ as it is packed with goodness. However, for couples trying to conceive, it’s also important to know that it’s high in folate.
I encourage anyone thinking about a baby to boost folate levels three months before trying to conceive. It’s a pregnancy essential as it can prevent spina bifida and neural tube defects.
To enjoy a folate boost, load plates with sautéed spinach and eggs, add the leafy green by the handful to green smoothies, juices and salads, or wilt as a side dish. I also recommend adding a good-quality folic acid supplement to your diet.
Fresh, vibrant wild salmon is fantastic for a healthy reproductive system. It’s a great source of lean protein, but it’s also full of essential fatty acids, such as anti-inflammatory omega 3.
Not only are fatty acids crucial for keeping our hormones balanced and healthy, but studies have also shown that high levels of omega-3 can support fertility in women. It’s also great for growing babies as it helps with developing brains and eye health.
Eggs are fantastic easy addition for conception and pregnancy diets. What makes them so special? For starters, they’re full of protein, zinc, choline and vitamins A and E, as well as some key B vitamins and folate.
Choline is a crucial nutrient which studies have shown can support foetal development. Eat enough of it, and researchers have even shown that babies enjoy these positive effects all the way through to adulthood.
Other great sources of folate include spinach, peanuts, sprouts, asparagus, root vegetables, and avocados. For the ultimate fertility-boosting breakfast, why not try serving up scrambled eggs and salmon on wholemeal toast with a side of wilted spinach topped with sprouts and some delicious avocado? If you try this one please take a photo and tag me on social media, I would love to see!
A Final Word…
If it all seems a little confusing, then please try not to worry! The most important thing to remember it’s not about perfection but rather consistency and nourishment. So pile plates high with nutrient-dense foods – veggies, whole grains and good-quality proteins.
Enjoy a diet that is as natural and nutritious as possible, and try to start this three months prior to conception to increase fertility, sperm health and female health to support growing babies and mums. If you need more perosnalised advice please do get in touch, I am happy to help.
Wishing every success in your fertility journey!
Pre-order Angelique’s book, The Balance Plan, here!