Author: Renu Puri
India’s National Family Health Survey 2019-21 (NFHS-5) has recorded a decline in the total fertility rate (the average number of children a woman has) from 2.2 in the previous survey ( 2015-16) to 2.0 in the latest one. The world is experiencing a major crash in fertility rates. Scholars and researchers are baffled looking at the rapid decline in fertility and a burgeoning demand for IVF treatments in urban India due to the overall decline in health and nutrition.
With this in mind, we have created a list of 10 foods that can help boost fertility. Through this blog, we aim to destigmatize the concept of infertility. We want to empower people and help them increase their chances of conception through some dietary and lifestyle changes.
A couple of days back, I was reading an article in the newspaper that elucidated how India has surpassed China to become the most populated country in the world, as per estimates. Although this may make you feel like there is no problem with fertility, it is far from the truth. Asia’s third-largest economy is ironically facing a severe decline in the fertility rate. If you talk about the era of our grandparents or great-grandparents, it was rather simple, with simple food, little to no technology, pleasant weather, and an active lifestyle. Around that time, fertility was not a topic of interest as it was something that happened organically unless one had some medical reproductive issues, which also was very rare. The statistics have drastically changed as the lifestyle of a common man or a woman today is poles apart from what it used to be in previous generations. We are subjected to so much radiation from being on our phones or laptops, we indulge in processed and unhealthy foods to save time, the nutritive value of food is declining due to adulteration, and many other factors.
According to a report by Apollo Fertility,
Doctors say that issues like increasing urbanization, hormonal changes, pressures due to the job, pollution, and delayed age of parenthood are some of the possible reasons for the decline in Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in India. Also, it has been found that the problem of declining TFR isn’t gender-specific. Both male and female partners are equally responsible for the inability to conceive a child. Unawareness about fertility issues is also something India should focus on, as it indirectly adds to the problem of low TFR.
Although some of the advancements in our lifestyle are uncompromisable, our diet is one thing that can be fixed with proper guidance. In this blog, we will be discussing the relationship between diet and fertility, what dietary practices you can follow to conceive in a healthy manner, foods to avoid and some fertility-boosting foods to incorporate into your diet.
In today’s world where pollution has crossed alarming boundaries and processed foods are being advertised as healthy, fertility is one aspect that seems to have taken a huge toll. The relationship between diet and fertility has been under scrutiny for years now and many scholars have established a deep impact on the implications of bad diets on fertility for both men and women.
India is known for being the land of superstitions and sacred rituals. The lack of awareness about nutrition has caused people to believe bogus myths like “Infertility is a female-only problem”, “If you get your period every month, you’re fertile” or “you will get pregnant only if you are successful at calculating ovulation”. These myths are deeply ingrained in the minds of people as they have been passed down through generations. Although fertility is very subjective to an individual, it could be affected by many things – lifestyle, genetics, diet, stress, ailments, etc.
A lot of women in today’s age who feel like they are ready to conceive choose to give up alcoholic beverages, smoking, or any external stressor in their life but fail to understand that altering your diet also plays a pivotal role. We have had lots of clients that came to us post-pregnancy for weight loss as they had gorged on fatty foods throughout their pregnancy as advised by their mother-in-laws but ended up gaining tons of weight. On the contrary, we have also had clients that were trying to conceive but could not, and diet was their last resort.
The idea of “boosting fertility through foods” may sound like some old wives' tale but you need to understand that if your body is undernourished, how can it be prepared to provide nutrition to you and your baby at the same time? When you’re following a diet for good reproductive health, certain foods are incorporated to help lower cortisol (stress hormone) and improve the blood flow to the uterus.
Although there is no magic potion or pill that will magically increase your chances to conceive, the consumption of certain foods in a balanced diet can supplement your overall reproductive health. It’s also pivotal to understand that conditions like PCOS or low testosterone level are very much reversible through a nutritious diet but certain conditions that cause infertility in women like Endometriosis can’t be fixed by dietary changes. So even though we recommend these foods to boost your fertility, we also recommend you check up with a medical professional followed by a registered dietitian to know the exact cause and remedy to your condition.
With that being said, our certified nutritionists have teamed up to curate a list of 10 foods that can enhance your odds of conception: -
Beans are considered to be lean proteins and are packed with fiber and folate. Beans also offer great iron levels so you don’t have to go through a condition called “anovulation” which inhibits you from producing healthy and fertile eggs. Pulses should be incorporated into your day-to-day healthy diet if you are trying to get pregnant as it contains spermidine, a natural polyamine that stimulates conception.
Sunflower seeds are filled with folate, vitamin E, zinc, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Consuming sunflower seeds have been found to be an excellent way to increase sperm count and enhance sperm quality. It also contains selenium which helps boost male and female fertility. We would recommend roasting the seeds and consuming them as a whole but if that is not your preference, crush the seeds and sprinkle them on a smoothie or a pudding for a burst of flavor.
It would be really hard to believe how aged cheese made it to this list but believe it or not, it is considered one of the top foods to boost fertility in men. If you are looking to increase your sperm count, enhance sperm quality and overall improve your male reproductive health, try incorporating aged cheese into your diet. Cheddar, Manchego, or one of the cult favorites – Parmesan! These aged cheeses are rich in polyamines (the same compound that is found in pulses). Not just for male reproductive health, aged cheese is phenomenal for female reproductive health too. Although it is really good for you, make sure to have it in limited amounts as you could end up gaining weight if you do not control your daily intake. We suggest sprinkling it on a bowl of chicken or just snacking on it alongside a fistful of nuts.
For anyone who is not lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, it is a great food choice to supplement fertility. Dairy is full of saturated fats and has ample fat-soluble vitamins like K2, K, D, E, A, etc. Consuming one to two servings of dairy per day has been associated with improved fertility. High-fat foods like Yogurt, milk, and cottage cheese may help you conceive easier. But don’t be confused – You do not need to overindulge in fatty foods just because niwi.ai said that high-fat foods can help you conceive easier. Saturated fats, if consumed within a limit, are absolutely great for you, unlike unsaturated and trans-fat that you find in all the processed foods in your nearby grocery store. Unsaturated fats can do quite the opposite for you so keep cautious as to what really is good for you and what isn’t. We always recommend our clients spare 2 minutes to read food labels before purchasing any food item.
Tomatoes should be your holy grail food item if you’re battling infertility. They are packed with lycopene, a non-provitamin A carotenoid that exhibits antioxidant properties with many benefits like good heart health, shielding from the harmful rays of the sun, and lowering the risk of deadly types of cancers. Lycopene also is very well known in the medical community for its function in treating male infertility. This is also used in a lot of supplements that claim to fix problems with male fertility. You can cook it or consume it raw. The method of consumption we recommend is as soups, stews, or just slicing it up and mixing it into a delicious salad!
Not just for fertility, Oysters have also been considered powerful aphrodisiacs for hundreds of years now. They are packed with Zinc and essential vitamins and minerals that improve the production of great quality, healthy eggs. A serving of oysters contains 9gm of protein, 4 gm of carbs, 3 gm of fats, 555% zinc of the daily value, 538% vitamin B12 of the daily value, 493% copper of the daily value and 56% selenium of daily value. In Indian culture, Oysters are not widely consumed. Due to the complexity of cooking it and because of the unusual slimy texture it has, not many people desire to incorporate it into their daily diets. Although eating it raw is best for your health, you can enjoy them baked as well.
Eggs are a fertility superfood that men and women both can consume to improve their reproductive health. They are awesome for someone who wants to amp up their protein intake but does not want to shell out big bucks. Packed with protein, Vitamins B-12 and E, and good monounsaturated fats like DHA, eggs are the top food choice for couples trying to conceive. You can consume it in any form – boiled, poached, sunny side up, or an omelette. If you want to have something more flavourful, you can mix it in with your quinoa or salad or just whip out a sandwich with guacamole, eggs, and Ezekiel bread.
Since cinnamon is included in delightful desserts, one may think that it is not the healthiest option to consume, especially when you’re trying to conceive and be healthy. We can’t blame you, after all, desserts like pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, chocobons from Cinnabon, and apple cinnamon pie from Theos have cinnamon as the main ingredient. But don’t get it twisted, Cinnamon can really help you with fertility, especially if you are someone who is suffering from PCOS, which is a common cause of infertility. Although we don’t recommend gorging on scrumptious desserts for the sake of consuming cinnamon, we do suggest sprinkling cinnamon on oats or putting it into your morning tea or coffee.
Fruits and vegetables should be an integral part of your everyday diet. Fruits and vegetables contain great amounts of fibres that keep you satiated, essential vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy, and nutrients that will help you from any ailments or diseases. Vegetables also contain a lot of folic acids and vitamin C that will not only help you conceive but will also ensure that you can carry them safely. Incorporate loads of citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables into your diet. Some of our recommendations would be Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Berries, and Avocado.
Walnuts are nutrient powerhouses. Apart from being rich in antioxidants, they can really help fight off inflammation and free radicals that pose a threat to the eggs. They are considered to be one of the best nuts for fertility in women. Walnuts contain large amounts of Omega-3 and magnesium that aid in enhancing the progesterone level in the body which results in a steady blood supply to the uterus. Munch on 7-10 walnuts every day to keep the fertility clinic away! :)
Pregnancy is a pivotal time in a couple’s life and requires you to be in the best of your health. Ensuring that you are at your healthiest for the life you’re creating in your womb is entirely your responsibility. Air pollution crisis coupled with bad nutrition can put you and your child at risk of birth defects. These environmental stressors also lead to a lot of problems in conceiving a child. Seeking professional nutritional guidance before, during, and even after your pregnancy will help you and your child be safe from any external hazards.
Our certified nutritionists curate diets for pregnant women, women who are planning to conceive, women who have suffered early miscarriages, as well as lactating mothers. These diet plans are created considering your body type, genetics, activity levels, pregnancy timeline, and even your tastebuds! Yes, you heard it right. We believe that a diet should never feel like a compromise, but rather a lifestyle that you can sustain, and that is why we recommend mouth-watering recipes that will take care of any cravings and make you feel like you never left junk food.
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