Learn how to improve your diet for a healthy conception

Infertility affects around one in seven couples in the UK and one in six couples in Ireland; this can be due to female or male factors such as hormone issues or low sperm count. Dietary habits and the food you eat also plays a significant role in fertility. Learn about foods to boost fertility and how to improve your diet for a healthy conception.

How diet affects fertility

What you eat on a daily basis not only impacts your general health, it significantly affects your hormone health and fertility.

Foods that negatively impact fertility include:

  • Sugar, including refined carbohydrates (pasta, pizza, bread, cakes, pastries, biscuits) spikes your insulin levels which can affect how your reproductive hormones work. A high-sugar diet may impede fertilisation as it interferes with egg maturation.[1][2]
  • Pasteurised dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurts, cream) especially low-fat dairy has been linked to ovulatory issues.[3]Milk-based products also cause acidity and inflammation in the body.
  • Trans fats found in margarine, vegetable oils like rapeseed oil (canola), fried and baked foods, cookies and crackers are very harmful for your health and can increase your chances of having heart disease, diabetes and fertility issues. One study suggests that women who eat trans fats increase their risk of infertility by 73% for every 2% of calories they eat derived from trans fats.[4]
  • Caffeine and alcohol consumption negatively impacts sperm production and ovulation. Caffeine also increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol which has been linked to reproductive hormone imbalances (oestrogen and progesterone) in women and lowered testosterone levels in men. 
  • Fizzy drinks, juices and cordials are high in sugar and often made with artificial sweeteners which are toxic for the body and have been known to disrupt endocrine glands (the glands which secrete hormones into the blood).[5]

Poor dietary habits promote inflammation and rob your body of essential nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies linked to infertility include folic acid, B12, zinc, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Foods to help fertility

Optimise your diet for preconception and pregnancy by eating a nutrient-dense, organic and whole food diet that is:

  • Rich in vegetables and fruit, especially leafy greens, the brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale), asparagus and blueberries as they contain an abundance of B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C.
  • Healthy fats (avocado, nut butters, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds) as your body needs fats to produce sex hormones which are made from cholesterol. Eating a low-fat diet can compromise your fertility as it reduces the production of oestrogen and progesterone.
  • Quality protein (lentils, beans, peas, nuts) is also essential for ovulation, hormone production and regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Wholegrains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wholegrain rice) provide a good source of fibre which keeps digestive health in check and constipation at bay. Regular bowels motions are important for hormone metabolism and detoxification.

To learn more aboutfertility promoting foods,join Natural Chef graduate and Fertility Expert Sally Dixon at the upcoming foods to boost fertility workshop. Sally will be discussing the different foods and food groups that can contribute to optimum fertility health and sharing some delicious recipes you can make at home.

If you are experiencing fertility issues, seek the help of Naturopathic Nutritionist, Naturopath, Acupuncturist or Herbalist who are trained to advise you on diet and lifestyle, nutrition and herbal medicine for fertility health. Learn more about natural ways to boost fertility.