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In our quest to enhance fertility, we are often bombarded with a whirlwind of information which can, at best, seem perplexing and at worst, diminish our chances of conception. However, research-backed insights do exist, capable of bolstering both men and women’s reproductive health.

A crucial aspect of fertility enhancement lies in the preconception phase, ideally three months before trying to conceive. A wholesome diet and a healthy lifestyle can play a pivotal role here.

Lisa Simon, a registered dietitian, and author of The Plant-Based Dietitian’s Guide to Fertility, shares her knowledge on what we should know on fertility and diet.

  1. Rethinking Meat Consumption: Animal products can adversely affect fertility due to components like haem iron, saturated and trans fats, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They can incite oxidative stress, damaging sperm and egg cells, and obstruct implantation by triggering inflammation. Minimizing animal products and amplifying plant food intake can significantly enhance fertility. But remember to supplement B12 and iodine, vital for fertility and overall health.
  2. Harnessing the Power of Plants: A plant-based diet, rich in phytonutrients, provides anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-oxidant benefits. Strive for 30 different plant foods weekly, incorporating vegetables in every meal, opting for fruit snacks, and including legumes and whole grains. Spices and herbs can also contribute to your “plant points”.
  3. Micronutrient Magic: Vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, and non-haem iron are potent fertility boosters. Aim for a diverse plant-based diet featuring daily fruit, vegetable, legume, whole grain, and minimally-processed protein intake. Soya products like tofu and edamame beans are commendable choices.
  4. Nitrate-Rich Foods for Sexual Health: Nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of sexual dysfunction by facilitating nitric oxide production, crucial for blood vessel dilation and organ blood flow. Add blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and leafy greens to your diet, along with walnuts, a rich source of omega-3.
  5. The Fibre Factor: Fibre can help manage hormone-driven conditions like PCOS and endometriosis by binding with excess hormones for removal from the body. It also aids in blood glucose and insulin regulation, essential for PCOS patients at risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  6. Friendly Fats: For men, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) or omega fatty acids are key, improving sperm quality and reducing DNA damage. Chia, flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, and soya foods are great sources. For women, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) can improve ovulatory infertility and reduce pre-term delivery risk, found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Ultimately, nurturing fertility isn’t about drastic dietary transformations overnight but about adopting small, sustainable changes that can make a big difference. This may mean substituting mince for lentils in your spaghetti bolognese or replacing ham with smoked tofu in your sandwich. Whatever the change, remember that your fertility journey is unique, and what works best is a diet and lifestyle that you can happily maintain.

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