The holiday season brings families together. It’s also a popular time to start a family.
U.S. birth rates show conception rates peak in December. Nine of the 10 most common birthdays range from Sept. 9-20, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Social Security Administration. Given that pregnancies average about 38 weeks, many women are conceiving around Christmas.
But holiday festivities can also wreak havoc on diet, and healthy nutrition is an important factor for optimal fertility, says Hethir Rodriguez, founder and president of Natural Fertility Info.com and a certified herbalist specializing in women’s health.
“Eating a fertility diet in preparation for pregnancy and to boost fertility is one of the most powerful health changes you can make,” Rodriguez says. “Numerous studies have shown that specific changes to the diet can improve fertility, prevent recurrent miscarriage, and support a healthy pregnancy.
“A natural fertility diet supports your body in its reproductive efforts, including foods that are dense in nutrients needed for hormonal health, fetal development, egg health, sperm health and much more.”
Rodriguez gives five diet tips that can help improve fertility:
Eat Organic. Rodriguez recommends consuming organic produce when available. “Conventional produce could contain harmful herbicides and pesticides, which have been shown to negatively affect both male and female fertility,” Rodriguez says. “Studies have shown that organic vegetables and fruits may have more nutritional value as well.”
Cold-water fish. Fatty acids aid in the production of hormones, reduce inflammation and help regulate the menstrual cycle. Fish supplies omega 3, an essential fatty acid. Rodriguez says stay away from deep-water fish, such as tuna and swordfish, due to their potential concentrations of mercury. “Focus on cold-water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, cod and halibut,” she says.
Grass-fed organic meat. This is a great source of essential fatty acids and protein while being low in saturated fat. Rodriguez says women should eschew conventionally raised cattle that contain high levels of added hormones and antibiotics.
Superfoods. Rodriguez suggests Royal jelly, which comes in capsules or in a base of honey and is rich in numerous vitamins, calcium, iron and has all the essential amino acids; and maca root, a Peru-produced superfood that helps increase egg and sperm health. Superfoods are easy to add to your diet as they are taken in small amounts and can be added to nearly any recipe.
Eat your greens. Dark leafy vegetables are packed with minerals, antioxidants and vitamins; all essential to healthy fertility. Examples of dark leafy green vegetables that are readily available over the holidays are spinach, swiss chard, kale, arugula, and collard greens. Green veggies are rich in fiber, which Rodriguez says helps regulate blood-sugar levels and remove excess estrogens from the body, which may in turn help to reduce fertility issues. These vegetables are easier to incorporate in to the diet than you may think. They can be eaten in salads, juices, sauteed, or added to fruit smoothies and warm winter soups.
“You want your diet before conception and throughout pregnancy to build up nutrient stores and provide all the healthy building blocks for a healthy child,” Rodriguez says. “A fertility diet gives you and your future child the best start in life.”
About Hethir Rodriguez
Hethir Rodriguez is founder and president of Natural Fertility Info.com (www.natural-fertility-info.com), a website focusing on many aspects of natural fertility, infertility, and reproductive health. She’s the author of e-Book Fertility Smoothies: Elixirs for Optimal Fertility, and has been a certified herbalist for nearly 20 years, specializing in women’s health and natural fertility. Rodriguez holds a B.S. degree in nutrition sciences, and is also a certified birth doula. Since she founded Natural Fertility Info.com in 2007, Rodriguez’s research, articles and guides have been read by over 40 million people.