How Your Diet Affects Your Fertility

Trying to conceive is a trip, isn't it? I got to a point where I (thought) I knew everything that could or would affect my chances at getting pregnant, from basics like knowing my cycle to old wives' tales about what I should eat. But I wondered, "can my diet make me more fertile?" Some say yes, including tenured researchers at Harvard University.

Fertility is one of those things many take for granted when they're busy trying not to get pregnant. It's easy to fall into the belief that it will happen quickly and easily. Surely, getting pregnant is as simple as not trying to not get pregnant.

If only. Luckily, there are ways to boost your chances by watching what you indulge in. (And indulging extra hard in some of your favorites.) According to a study published in The British Medical Journal, what you drink is as important as what you eat. Women who drink up to seven glasses of wine (just wine) are shown to get pregnant more quickly than those women who do not drink at all, or who drink other spirits.

In their book, The Fertility Diet, Harvard researchers Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D. and Walter C. Willett, M.D. wrote that what women eat certainly impacts their ability to conceive. The strategies and suggestions they put forth deal primarily with ovulatory infertility, so if you're struggling to conceive because of implantation problems or idiopathic infertility, these might not work for you. However, if you're just looking for an overall fertility boost, this could be what you needed.

The diet strongly suggested that you start out your fertility journey by making sure you are a healthy weight for your body, citing that women whose bodies are healthier are simply more prone to fecundity than those who are not. (This goes both ways, whether you're underweight or overweight.) The researchers also make suggestions like avoiding soda because the sugary beverages inhibit fertility, staying hydrated, and cutting back on your caffeine. All of these things affect your ovulation, which, in turn, affects your fertility. I am a self-confessed terrible water drinker. I had the hardest time switching from tea to water when I was trying to conceive, but I found that adding berries made it nominally more tolerable. As luck would have it, those berries contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that The Fertility Diet found to be very beneficial when trying to get pregnant.

Other suggestions they make are to amp up your veggie protein intake, so foods like soybeans and legumes, which are dense with vegetable protein, are good choices. Adding some full-fat dairy to your diet is also a good choice, like whole milk.

Don't forget plenty of whole grains and iron from vegetable sources, too. According to the research, however, if you are eating an iron-rich food, don't mix it with a calcium-rich food, because that inhibits absorption of both nutrients.

When it comes down to the facts, there are more factors involved in fertility than just what you eat, but multiple studies have shown that what you eat matters. Maybe this is the time you start experimenting in the kitchen, or ordering from a new place on Seamless. If you get really worried that things aren't doing what they should, you should check in with your provider about your worries. Until then, pass the Cabernet.