Trying to Get Pregnant
A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found many women aren’t eating as well as they should be when they’re expecting a baby. But if pregnant women are not nailing their diets once they’re already get pregnant, odds are their diets during the trying-to-conceive time aren’t exactly full of greens and lean proteins either.
So we wanted to know: What exactly constitutes a healthy diet when you’re trying to conceive? Part of it is eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are good for you, of course.
Don’t freak out if you’ve eaten any of these things recently—they are not likely cause much harm in moderation. But if you want to be safe, your best bet is to keep these foods to a minimum when you’re trying to get pregnant, and keep them mostly off the list once you get a positive test too.
Mercury can damage the nervous system, which means that consuming mercury-rich seafood like swordfish and bigeye tuna while pregnant could directly harm the fetus, says registered dietitian Kendra Tolbert Eating high-mercury fish before you’re pregnant could build up stores of mercury in your body, which could also affect the development of the baby’s nervous system. “The fetal nervous system is being formed before most woman even know they are pregnant,” explains registered dietitian Suzanne Fisher. Mercury may also decrease fertility.
Which are found in foods like certain chips or microwave popcorns, baked goods made with shortening, and fried foods, can cause inflammation and insulin resistance, which lowers fertility, says Tolbert. And in excess they can damage your blood vessels, disrupting the flow of nutrients to the reproductive system. Men should also go easy on trans fats while trying to conceive because they decrease sperm count and quality.
High glycemic-index foods
To increase your fertility, avoid foods that make your blood sugar spike, especially if you’re not pairing them with foods that slow down that rise. “Blood sugar spikes can cause inflammation, alter our hormones, and impede ovulation,” says Tolbert. Try to choose slow burning carbs, like whole-wheat bread and pasta and brown rice over refined ones when possible, and combine them with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Low-fat milk, yogurt, and other dairy products may contain androgens, male hormones that get left in when fat is removed, says Tolbert. These foods and drinks may spur your body to produce androgens, which can interfere with your menstrual cycle.
The Centres for Disease Control recommends that women who could get pregnant avoid alcohol entirely (not exactly realistic), but if you’re going to drink, Tolbert suggests capping it at seven drinks per week. Alcohol, like mercury, can contribute to infertility, and it depletes your body of the vitamin B, which improves your chances of pregnancy and supports a fetus’ growth.
Raw animal products
Seafood, Raw meat and eggs might contain salmonella, coliform bacteria, or toxoplasmosis, which can infect a fetus if it passes through the placenta, says Fisher. Make sure to cook all animal products thoroughly, and skip sushi, carpaccios, and the like.