Like many couples, Charlotte Grande and her husband Jeremy have struggled to get pregnant.
Diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” three years later, they proceeded with IVF and eventually had two sons. But before that happened, Grande started figuring out how to nourish her body to help boost her fertility as much as possible from the inside out.
She found what she learned very compelling, quit her fashion job and trained as a nutrition therapist – and went on to write the nutrition and lifestyle cookbook The Fertility Kitchen and create an Instagram channel. Tweet embed.
Grand suggests that “food is the most powerful ingredient in creating optimal fertility.” “It provides the building blocks for new cells, so a pre-conception diet literally lays the foundations for your baby’s future health.
“Your health is made up of many small daily steps, including stress, sleep, movement, environment and mentality, and my approach understands that the foundation of optimal health is lifestyle. Have you heard the saying “mother yourself before your mother is another”? It is essential to embrace this concept to improve your fertility.
“How do you expect to grow and feed a child if you are not feeding yourself?”
Of course, fertility can be a very individual thing, and sometimes there are complex medical issues – so see your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your health. In general, some may find it helpful to think about how nutrition and lifestyle play a role.
Here, Grand shares 10 ways to help support your fertility through diet and lifestyle…
1. Balancing blood sugar
“High blood sugar levels and insulin resistance are a problem for both female and male fertility,” Grande says.
Diets high in carbohydrates and sugar are associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, increased risk of ovulatory infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women, and lower testosterone levels and decreased sperm quality in men.
her suggestion? “Aim for three nutritionally balanced meals per day that contain high-quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (vegetables), to help maintain energy levels and keep you feeling full and satisfied.”
2. Eat foods rich in nutrients
Grand recommends “eat foods rich in nutrients and avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.” “Real whole foods (meat, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables) have plenty of nutrients in every meal, help stabilize blood sugar and nourish your body — while refined foods (sugar, cereal, potato chips, refined flour, cereal, fruit juice and drinks) sodas, sweets, and fast foods) provide little to no nutrition or are “empty calories,” meaning they are high in calories but low in nutrients.
“These foods are usually addictive, cause blood sugar to spike and energy to drop, and they won’t serve your fertility.”
3. Eat plenty of antioxidant nutrients
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body, and help protect egg and sperm cells from damage. Your body makes its own antioxidants, but they are also found in food, especially fruits and vegetables.
“Make plants the basis of your plate and eat the rainbow. Vegetables are also an important source of fiber, which helps slow digestion and manage blood sugar levels, and is also important for gut health.”
4. Avoid foods that increase free radicals
Grand recommends staying away from “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from burnt and grilled foods, nitrosamines found in processed meats such as bacon, and acrylamide, which can form during high-temperature cooking such as frying, oxidized and trans fats found in vegetable oils, margarine. margarine and anything made with these foods, such as fast food and ready meals.”
5. Take good quality vitamins
“Taking a multivitamin will cover nutrient gaps and deficiencies in your diet and provide additional fertility support,” Grand suggests.
“A prenatal multivitamin that contains methylated B vitamins, such as folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6, as well as antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc, help protect egg cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.”
6. Include fertility superfoods in your diet
“These are nutrient-dense foods that contain an abundance of nutrients important for fertility, such as eggs (for complete protein, healthy fats and choline), green leafy vegetables (for calcium, folate, iron, vitamin K1 and beta-carotene), liver (for vitamins A, B6, B12, and K2, choline, copper, and acid folate, iron, selenium, and zinc), oily fish (for the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA, vitamin B12, choline, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc), bone broth, slow-cooked meat, skin, and poultry with the bone (for gelatin, collagen, glycine, and trace minerals).”
7. Prioritize sleep to support the quality of eggs and sperm
“Adequate and good sleep is also essential to help you manage stress” — but this may be easier said than done if you’re worried about not getting pregnant, so be kind to yourself, Grande says.
Lack of sleep and stress go hand in hand, and sleep deprivation is linked to high cortisol levels. Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle and reduce blue light in the evening. Exposure to blue light (from devices such as phones and tablets) suppresses melatonin secretion, delaying the onset of normal sleep and disrupting the circadian rhythm. “
8. Stress management
“Chronic stress directly affects hormone synchrony and can contribute to insulin resistance, decreased thyroid function, low progesterone, elevated prolactin, and an increased risk of autoimmune disease, all of which can affect fertility,” Grande suggests.
“Build self-care practices into your week: Acupuncture, massage, reflexology, meditation, and yoga can be great ways to relax and reduce stress. If necessary, schedule a non-negotiable self-care time in your diary.”
9. Exercise at least three times a week
“Keeping active can help improve weight, reduce oxidative stress, and boost mood. Moderate exercise at least three times a week is ideal. Increase your mobility throughout the day, especially if you sit for long periods.”
10. Reduce plastic
Plastics contain and leach dangerous chemicals, including endocrine disruptors that threaten our health. These chemicals mimic our hormones and are found in human tissues in much higher concentrations than the hormones our bodies make.
“They can overstimulate, block or disrupt the natural actions of our hormones. To minimize exposure, do not heat or store food in plastic containers – use ceramic or glass, use a glass or stainless steel bottle/cup for water and hot drinks on the go, and replace plastic wrap ( and aluminum foil) with beeswax wrapping, and replace baking paper and greaseproof paper with plastic-free paper.
The Fertility Kitchen by Charlotte Grand is published by Quercus. Currently available.