“What foods are especially good for optimizing fertility?”
I get asked that question pretty much everyday, and I honestly never get tired of answering it. So today I’m giving you the top superfoods that nourish the hormonal system and enhance fertility — essentially, they get your body primed for baby-making!
Some of the foods below are both inexpensive and highly nutritious, while others cost a bit more but can go a long way toward improving your fertility and normalizing your hormones without resorting to drugs.
Maca is a root-like vegetable that’s shaped like a turnip. It grows at 12,000 feet above sea level and is only found in the high Andes of Peru and Ecuador. For more than two millennia, native Peruvians have used Maca root as food and medicine to promote fertility, endurance, energy, vitality, and sexual virility.
What makes maca good for fertility?
Maca has the ability to affect key hormones in both women and men without containing hormones itself. It stimulates and nourishes the pituitary gland, acting as a tonic for the hormone system. When the pituitary gland functions optimally, the entire endocrine system becomes balanced, because the pituitary gland controls the hormone output of the other three glands.
In women, maca works by controlling estrogen and progesterone in the body. Estrogen or progesterone levels that are high or low at the wrong time can keep a woman from becoming pregnant or keep her from carrying a pregnancy to term. Taking maca can help to balance the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio, which is essential for getting pregnant and a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
Maca can also help to balance estrogen levels in men, just like it does in women. Too much estrogen in men produces erectile dysfunction or lack of libido, low sperm count, and lowered production of seminal fluid. Studies have shown that men who regularly consume Maca experienced an increase in libido, sperm count, motility of sperm, increased DHEA levels, decreased anxiety and stress, lowered blood pressure, balanced iron levels and an increase in adrenal androgens.
To find out more about why aaca is great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Maca Root: A Real Superfood To Improve Your Fertility.
In traditional Chinese medicine, eggs have a long history of being used as a fertility booster, energizer, and blood strengthener. Eggs are symbols of rebirth and renewal — life bursts forth from this otherwise inanimate object that gives no hint as to what it contains.
What makes egg yolks so good for fertility?
Egg yolks are like nature’s multivitamin. The yolk supplies almost all of the whole egg’s iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B-6, folate and vitamin B-12. It also contains 100 percent of the egg’s vitamin A, which includes two antioxidant carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin. BUT — where you get your eggs matters, a lot.
Egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens contain significantly more nutrients than factory-farmed eggs — up to TWENTY TIMES more omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Pastured eggs are also rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, vitamin K2 (important for healthy bones, blood clotting, and regulated menstrual cycles), and an important nutrient many people have never heard of: choline – which is absolutely essential for the development of the fetus.
To find out more about why egg yolks are great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Egg Yolks: Nature’s Multivitamin for Fertility.
Chia – also known as salvia hispanica L – literally means “strength” in Mayan. It can be traced back over 3,000 years to Central America where the Aztecs utilized it as one of their primary plant sources of food – notably their third most important crop next to corn and beans! Chia was considered more valuable than gold, and was often used to pay taxes and tribute to the Aztec nobility.
What makes chia seeds good for fertility?
Chia seeds are chockablock full of all sorts of nutrients critical for fertility health. The most important? Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 EFAs are essential in regulating hormones, increasing blood flow to the uterus, reducing sensitivity to the hormone prolactin (which can suppress ovulation), normalizing your cycle, and – most importantly – increasing your cervical mucus, which is needed to help the sperm reach the egg. Our body needs Omega-3 EFAs to function, yet the human body is unable to manufacture them itself, so we have to get them in our diet.
Chia has the highest Omega-3 EFA content of any plant-based source, containing 64% alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Flax, another popular source of ALA, only contains 55%.
In men, Omega-3 EFAs help to improve circulation to the genitals, which helps to support the prostate – another key element needed in reproduction. You know what else happens when we improve circulation to the genitals? NO MORE ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. That’s a definite bonus for fertility ;).
To find out more about why chia seeds are great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Chia Seeds: A Real Superfood To Improve Your Fertility.
Mollusks – specifically oysters, clams, and mussels – are nutrient-dense foods that featured widely in the diet of early humans. Diets from back in the day had a best-practice that translates into modern diets – consuming the whole animal. Organ meat in animals is rich in important fat soluble vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients, so consuming shellfish makes this practice rather easy. The same can be said about wild-caught fatty fish – consume the whole fish to ensure you are getting everything that the fish has to offer.
What makes wild caught fish and seafood good for fertility?
Like chia seeds, wild caught fish is also loaded with Omega-3 EFAs. In addition to all the other benefits mentioned above, Omega-3’s also help reduce inflammation in the body. It’s especially important to reduce inflammation in the pelvic area for healthy fertility.
In addition to EFAs, fish and seafood contain Vitamin D. For women looking to get pregnant, Vitamin D is of particular importance as several studies indicate that low levels of vitamin D negatively impacts fertility. It’s not entirely clear how, but researchers suspect that Vitamin D makes the uterine lining more receptive to pregnancy. Research also indicates that vitamin D plays a role in reproductive hormone production. Bottom line: Vitamin D is super important for optimal fertility, and wild caught fish is a fantastic food source.
Another important fertility nutrient found in fish and seafood is zinc. Found in high amounts in oysters, clams, and mussels, zinc is capable of improving sperm quality in men – it has been shown to improve sperm count and motility, thereby improving conception rate.
In women, a zinc deficiency can disrupt your menstrual cycle and negatively impact egg quality – neither of which is ideal for your fertility health.
To find out more about why wild caught fish and seafood are great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Wild Caught Fish and Seafood: Superfoods for Fertility.
Bone broth (or stock) is a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling the bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices. It has been used for centuries in many traditional cultures as a healing, fertility-enhancing food.
What makes bone broth good for fertility?
Bone broth is one of our most healing diet staples. It contains valuable minerals in a form your body can easily absorb and use, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals that are vital for baby-making.
Gut Health: Your gut health is directly linked to your hormonal health – if you have a leaky gut, your body is unable to properly absorb the nutrients and minerals it needs to produce hormones. So no matter how much healthy food you eat, if you have poor gut health, it won’t matter. That’s how vital your gut health is to a balanced hormonal system.
The majority of the women I work with to improve fertility have some kind of digestive challenge – constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, IBS, food allergies, etc. Bone broth heals and seals your gut, preventing leaky gut (and resulting food allergy development) while also promoting healthy digestion.
Amino Acids: Bone broth is a rich source of the amino acids proline, glycine, glutamine and arginine. These amino acids are essential for hormone production and for proper liver detoxification, which allows your body to get rid of the hormones already used up. Otherwise, those hormones continue circulating in the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on hormone balance. Having a strong supply of amino acids in your body ensures the best hormonal ecosystem for optimum fertility.
To find out more about why bone broth is great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Bone Broth: A Fix All Elixir.
The nutritional wisdom of our ancestors has been mostly lost in our modern day society. Traditionally, native cultures had sacred foods that were fed to newly married couples, pregnant women, and children. These foods contained a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals that nourish growing babies and children. One of these sacred foods is liver.
What makes Liver good for fertility?
Liver is perhaps one of the most important foods couples who are planning to conceive can eat. Liver is a rich source of folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin A — all of which are necessary for healthy fertility. It also packs a punch of Vitamin B12, which is required for proper formation of red blood cells and DNA.
Besides being the ultimate source of true vitamin A and folate, liver is also a rich source of essential saturated fat, cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins – all crucial players for fertility, pregnancy, and fetal development.
To find out more about why liver is great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Liver: A powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.
Lacto-fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation that has been around for thousands of years. Many different cultures around the world have used this technique in some form or another – for food preservation and also for increasing the nutritional benefit of various foods. Lacto-fermented foods are not only preserved, but are nutrient-dense, enzyme-rich, and alive with probiotics.
What makes fermented foods good for fertility?
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worthy of repeating: a healthy gut is one of the first steps in preparing your body for pregnancy. Everything you eat now will affect the health of your future baby. The baby that will soon be growing in your womb? That baby’s digestive tract will be colonized by the same bacteria as yours! How crazy is that?!
Fermented foods provide beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and lauric acid —not only in your stomach, but in your vagina too. When your vagina is ph balanced, you’ll have optimal cervical mucus, which, in turn, is essential for conception. When you’re harboring unhealthy bacteria in your vagina, it can reduce your cervical mucus so much that your chances are conceiving are dramatically decreased.
To find out more about why fermented foods are great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Fermented Foods: The secret ingredient to a healthy gut.
This probably won’t come as a surprise to you, but cows were grass fed – and only grass fed – long before you and I were born. Before hormones and GMO’s were introduced into the world of farming and food production.
For thousands of years people have been using derivatives of coconuts. Some of the earliest documented evidence for coconut oil uses goes back to the Ayurvedic medicine in Sanskrit from 1500 BC! In traditional medicine, coconut oil has been used to treat a whole myriad of ailments including: asthma, bronchitis, constipation, hormone imbalance, thyroid dysfunction, dysentery, gingivitis, kidney stones, irregular or painful menstruation, nausea, skin infections, and ulcers … among a number of other things!
What makes grass-fed butter and coconut oil good for fertility?
Fat intake is essential in preparing your body for a baby. We need a certain amount of saturated fats to produce cholesterol. All of our major reproductive hormones – specifically estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol – are produced from cholesterol. Cholesterol is literally the mother hormone that turns into each of the hormones necessary to make a baby! Saturated fats like grass-fed butter, ghee, and coconut oil are vital for balancing reproductive hormones and virility.
Grass-fed butter and coconut oil are amazing healthy fats that provide the building blocks for hormone production. Bright yellow butter – raw and from grass-fed cows – is a wonderful source of fertility-supporting vitamins A, D, E, K2 and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (an antioxidant with anti-viral properties if sourced from grass-fed cows). The amazing fats found in butter helps the body absorb and use key minerals like calcium, magnesium, selenium, and iodine.
Coconut oil is extremely good for proper thyroid function, which is essential for regulating hormones and ovulation cycles. Coconut oil also helps with increasing insulin sensitivity which is very important for increasing the likelihood of pregnancy and reducing the occurrence of gestational diabetes. Coconut products also contain a high amount of lauric acid, one of the main fatty acids found in breastmilk, responsible for building your baby’s immune system.
To find out more about why grass-fed butter & coconut oil are great for fertility (and a recipe!), check out this blog post: Grass-Fed Butter & Coconut Oil: My favorite fats!
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has been been consumed for thousands of years by many cultures. The Aztecs gave it to their runners and warriors for strength and endurance.
What makes Spirulina good for fertility?
Spirulina is a true superfood as it is densely packed with vitamins such as vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), B vitamins, iron, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and phytonutrients that help to alkalinize the body and nourish the eggs. It’s also a great source of protein.
Unlike most vegetable sourced protein, spirulina is over 50% “complete” protein. The nourishing, regenerating, immune supporting, balancing, and immense benefits of spirulina make it an incredible fertility superfood.
Looking to have a more in-depth conversation about how to improve your fertility? Schedule a consultation with me!