How to Support Female Fertility

May 3, 2021

Infertility can be a frustrating and an emotionally draining journey, With infertility on the rise, we want to support and nourish our body the best we can to help in the fight. There are many reasons why women (and men) can have a hard time conceiving, so here are a few reasons why and some lifestyle and diet recommendations that may help. 

Include Nutrient Dense Food Into Your Diet

Some key minerals and vitamins that support fertility include zinc, selenium, Vitamin C, folate, B12, B6, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and magnesium. Some foods that contain these nutrients are as follows:

Zinc: Sprouted seeds and nuts* like pumpkin and hemp seeds, cashews and pine nuts, shellfish, grass-fed beef, sprouted legumes, full fat grass-fed dairy, eggs, and sprouted* whole grains

Selenium: Sprouted* brazil nuts, shellfish/fish, pork, grass-fed beef, turkey, chicken, sprouted brown rice, cottage cheese, mushrooms, and oatmeal

Vitamin C: Papaya, peppers, citrus fruits - particularly orange juice, strawberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, and potatoes

Folate: Dark leafy greens, sprouted* beans, sprouted* whole grains, animal liver, seafood, and eggs

Vitamin B12**: Animal liver and kidneys, some seafood like sardines, salmon, and clams, eggs, bee pollen, nori, and dairy.

Vitamin B6: Poultry, some fish, wheat germ, sprouted*oats, bananas, fermented* soy, grass-fed dairy, animal liver, spinach, and avocado.

Vitamin E***: Wheat germ oil, sprouted nuts and seeds, beet greens, collards, spinach, some fish, and fruit like mango and kiwi.

Vitamin A (retinol): Animal liver, fermented cod liver oil (mercury free), some fish, eggs, and full fat dairy

Magnesium: Dark chocolate, avocados, sprouted* nuts, seeds, and legumes, some fatty fish, fermented soy, and dark leafy greens

Note: The Birth Control Pill can deplete these nutrients so make sure you are getting enough in your diet and/or supplementing when needed

*It is important these foods are prepared properly (sprouting, fermenting, etc.) as nuts, seeds, and legumes contain anti-nutrients like phytates that can prevent absorption of these key nutrients. 

**Most plant sources of B12 have extremely low bioavailability and conversion in to active B12 in the body or have such low quantities that you can not consume enough to meet the required daily amounts. The best source of B12 for vegans is Nori and/or a whole food supplement.

***Vitamin E is found in vegetable oil, but I do not mention it above as vegetable oils can cause a lot of inflammation in the body. 

PCOS and Balancing Your Blood Sugar

A common condition called PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a major cause of fertility issues in women. Without diving too much into PCOS, in short, it causes hormone imbalances such as higher than normal amounts of male hormones. We need the right ratios at the right time to ovulate, so in some cases this can cause fertility issues. Some common symptoms of PCOS are:

  • Obesity
  • Acne around the jawline, oily skin
  • Hair loss and/or thinning hair
  • Irregular periods or none at all
  • Hirsutism (excess hair on the stomach, face, back or chest)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Skin tags
  • Infertility

If you suspect you might have this condition it is advised that you see your practitioner for further testing and treatment options.

While the exact cause is not clear, many women with PCOS have insulin resistance. This means that your body doesn’t respond well to insulin and that your cells cant utilize glucose efficiently. This can cause insulin levels to rise, which may cause an increase in androgens (testosterone and androstenedione). Genetics, inflammation, and obesity can also increase your chances of developing PCOS.

Let’s discuss a few ways we can support blood sugar balancing:

  • Eat 30-45 minutes upon wakening
  • Eat a large breakfast that contains sufficient protein, some fat, and carbs. One study found that eating a large calorie meal in the morning reduced insulin levels by 8% and testosterone by 50% (1)
  • Eat every 3-4 hours and include a carb and protein at each meal. And dont forget about getting some fiber in there too!
  • Skip the coffee first thing on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning – have your coffee after breakfast to prevent a spike in cortisol
  • Fasting might not be right for you, especially if you are having trouble conceiving. While there is good evidence behind the benefits of fasting, it is not right for everyone. This is time we should be trying to nourish the body.
  • Have a snack 30 minutes – 1 hour before bed.
  • Make sure you are getting enough calories. So many women don’t get enough calories, which may be preventing you to lose weight (if needed). It’s about balance here – having too many calories can be an issue too. You need to find the right amount for you and your body’s needs.
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Manage stress

Cut back on refined carbohydrates

Refined carbs include white bread, white rice, and white pasta. Because these types of carbs do not contain enough fibre and other nutrients, they are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and can cause spikes in blood sugar.  Focus on eating whole grains and lower glycemic carbohydrates.

When insulin is continually elevated from spikes in blood sugar, it can signal the body to produce less reproductive hormones. This is because insulin is similar to ovarian hormones,

Try a supplement

While food and lifestyle should be always be the primary focus, adding supplements can be helpful. A whole food multivitamin, like Whole Earth & Sea, is a great option to cover your full spectrum of minerals and vitamins. In addition, you get antioxidants, natural occurring enzymes, and phytonutrients.

If you are concerned about PCOS, there are supplements like Lorna Vanderhaeghe Glucosmart, that can help with blood sugar balancing and lowering serum testosterone.

As with all supplements, please check with your practitioner before taking.

(1)    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effects-of-caloric-intake-timing-on-insulin-and-in-Jakubowicz-Barnea/6c92385dff136e21fb7fa42fd5d1b983a2beee4d?p2df

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-fertility-tips-to-get-pregnant#7.-Swap-protein-sources

All information and tools presented and written within this article are for educational and Informational purposes only. Any nutrition, lifestyle and product recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before starting any new supplements, diet and exercise program please check with your doctor or practitioner.

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