Are you thinking about having a baby? Eeeek!
Maybe you're trying to figure out how to get healthier and optimize your fertility in anticipation of trying to get pregnant. Maybe you've recently found out that your health during pregnancy not only affects your long-term health, but the health of your children and grandchildren (crazy, right?!?). That was me a few years ago before my pregnancy with Ellington.
After I resolved my IBS health issues, I began looking forward to the future. I started researching how I could nourish my body in preparation for pregnancy so I could increase my chances of getting pregnant easily and having a healthy pregnancy.
And while there is no one food that is the magic fertility "pill," a healthy diet and an abundance of certain nutrients may help balance your hormones, improve egg quality, affect your cervical mucus, and help sustain a healthy pregnancy. These are my favorite fertility foods that have now become a daily staple in the last few years (especially during Ellington's pregnancy, breastfeeding, and now my second pregnancy).
1. Organic, pastured eggs
Eggs have so many nutrients that are supportive of hormone balance, a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Eggs are loaded with healthy fats (in the yolk) and six grams of protein each (three in the white and three in the yolk). This mix of protein and fat helps keep your hormones regulated.
Eggs also have folate (important for baby's nervous system), vitamin D (important for hormone balance and immune health), and choline (an essential nutrient that is known to be an integral part of a baby's brain development). Two eggs a day provide about half of the daily choline needs during pregnancy, but new research indicates we may need more choline than previously recommended. For that reason, I do not limit my egg consumption during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when eggs are one of the few foods that sound appetizing!
If you are already pregnant, please practice safe consumption of eggs. I personally do not eat eggs that are cracked when purchased to avoid salmonella. Before and during pregnancy, I do eat eggs with runny yolks from trusted sources (a personal choice based on my research) and ask for eggs to be cooked through when eating out.
2. Sardines + Salmon
Fish are rich in healthy protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids - all important nutrients for cycle regularity and a healthy pregnancy. I personally consume 3 servings of fish per week before and during pregnancy and took supplements on the days I did not.
When choosing fish during preconception, pregnancy and nursing, check the latest research on mercury contamination in fish published by organizations like Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch and the Environmental Working Group. This is why I stick with sardines and salmon, and usually avoid other fish during pregnancy.
3. Organic Nutrient-Dense Greens
Greens contain essential minerals and vitamins, including folate, potassium and magnesium. For most meals, I try to include a handful or more of greens + another vegetable (such as sweet potato, beets, zucchini or broccoli). To get the benefits from your greens, vary it up! Try spinach, chard, kale, arugula and bok choy. Also vary up having raw greens and greens cooked in healthy fats. Both methods allow for better absorption of certain nutrients, so mixing it up is good. To reduce my ingestion of toxins, I also choose organic varieties.
I am pretty sure the phrase should be changed to "an avocado a day keeps the doctor away." And while it isn't advised to completely keep the doctor away during pregnancy, avocados are such an important food during preconception and pregnancy. They are rich in vitamins E and K, potassium, folate, mono-saturated fats and fiber. I usually eat one avocado a day: half in a smoothie and half in a bowl or sandwich later in the day.
Well you had to see this coming, right? Ghee is a daily staple in my life. Ghee contains vitamins E and A, beta-carotene and CLA. Eating plenty of healthy fats is important for hormone production, healthy ovulatory cycles and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Your body also needs fats to build your baby's body, and it is important to consume adequate amounts.
I use ghee to scramble eggs, sauté vegetables, slather on toast and blend in golden milk. I always choose ghee from grass-fed animals because studies show it has higher levels of nutrients and less toxins.
NOTE: If you have a sensitivity or allergy to one of the foods above, avoid eating that food. Avoiding foods that your body reacts poorly to is better than including those foods for their nutrients.