Eating Healthy

Poor nutrition can have an impact on fertility, so when trying to conceive, both men and women should try to eat healthy. Rather than focusing on any specific foods, couples should aim for overall good nutrition. A variety of low-fat, nutrient-rich foods from all food groups will help ensure couples get the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal reproductive functioning. These are lifestyle adaptations that should be done prior to trying to conceive, and can be maintained throughout pregnancy and thereafter.

Try to keep in mind that more does not always mean better and extremes need to be avoided. Similarly, low-calorie diets, nutrient deficiencies and obesity can affect ovulation.

Listed below are some tips that help keep the reproductive system in prime shape:

Seafood

Seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women. It is a good source of high quality protein and other nutrients and is low in fat. However, some fish contain high levels of a form of mercury called methylmercury that can harm an unborn child's developing nervous system if eaten regularly. By being informed about methylmercury and knowing the kinds of fish that are safe to eat, you can prevent any harm to your unborn child and still enjoy the health benefits of eating seafood.

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Alcohol

Women: Research shows that even a moderate level of alcohol can increase the risk of a miscarriage. Although experts have yet to define a safe level of alcohol for women who are pregnant because the harmful effects of alcohol are well known, women trying to conceive and those already pregnant should avoid alcoholic beverages.

Men: High intake of alcohol has been shown to reduce sperm count.

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Caffeine

Drinking more than 6 cups of coffee per day can reduce fertility in women.  If removing coffee completely from the daily routine is a hard adjustment, try limiting it and consider switching to decaffeinated coffee. It’s important to note that certain types of soda and chocolate contain caffeine.

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Calcium

Women: Although women tend to know about the importance of calcium for many health reasons, some may not be aware of the role calcium plays during pregnancy. In pregnant women who don’t get enough calcium in their diets, the fetus’s supply will come from stores of calcium in the mother’s bones. And, once the mother is pregnant, the baby will need calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, healthy nerves, heart and muscles.

Good Sources: Yogurt, skim milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, rice, and tofu.

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Folic Acid

Women: Women who don't get enough folic acid may increase the chance of birth defects. It is important for women trying to conceive to have adequate folic acid intake (400 micrograms or 0.4 milligrams) prior to getting pregnant, since the fetus needs folic acid early on in order to prevent neural tube defects.

Good Sources: Leafy green vegetables, carrots, cauliflower, peas, and potatoes. As well, women should consider taking multivitamins or supplements containing folic acid.

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