Today I am sharing ten of my favorite fertility foods. These are a selection of the foods I am eating and recommend to clients to create a nourished home for our future babes.
Fertility is a complex subject and I want to share about it not as an expert on the subject at large but from my personal experiences. There are loads of articles and books to read, many that I will reference in posts, but please know I am focusing these posts on myself as a way to create community. If you feel comfortable please chime in down in the comment section. I love hearing and learning from all of you.
Nourishing our bodies preconception is very important. What we eat on a daily basis either promotes or discourages fertility. Smart nutrition is the foundation to fertility. The more nourished we are before we conceive, the more nourished our little babes will be too. The foods I am going to talk about in this post are great to eat before, during and after pregnancy. Learning what to eat and how to take care of ourselves before our new babe comes into our world, gives us a foundation to lean on for the rest of our lives.
There are many foods that are amazing for fertility. I’ve chosen these ten because they are so nutrient dense and are easy to access and prepare. With the exception of fresh berries, these nutrition powerhouses can be purchased or made year round which was another consideration when developing this list. These foods should be eaten in addition to a variety of local and seasonal produce. If you incorporate foods from the list into a well rounded meal plan loaded with vegetables, legumes and moderate amounts of seasonal fruit and whole grains (if you can tolerate them) you will be off to an incredible start.
My goal is to make this information as accessible as possible. When it comes to berries and leafy greens choose varieties that are in season where you live. Since fresh berries are not available year round I buy them frozen off season. Good companies freeze produce when it is in peak season, meaning it has the highest nutrient content. A bag of organic frozen wild blue berries in winter is going to be much more delicious and nutritious then fresh organic berries flown in from other countries around the world. It is well documented that shipping fresh produce dramatically reduces its nutrients.
A few quick notes before we dive into the list. Buy what is in season when it comes to leafy greens and weeds and purchase organic everything. When creating a healthy and safe home for your future babe, organic does matter. There are so many toxins in our environment that our bodies have to process daily. Take care to spend the extra money on organic food, it is worth it in the short and long term.
Organic, grass fed, pasture raised animal products are a must. I know there is a significant price difference, but again it’s worth it. We are just like the animals that we eat, we store toxins in our tissues. The less stress the animals are under during their life the better it is for everyone on the food chain.
Antioxidants are important phytonutrients for fertility and during pregnancy. Berries have high concentrations of antioxidants which protect our cells, including the egg and sperm from free radical damage. Antioxidants keep reproductive tissues healthy which is very important for those of us who want to conceive later in life. Berries also contain anti inflammatory properties which help release healthy eggs during ovulation.
Bone broth is a deeply healing food. If you had told me two years ago I would be stuffing my crock pot with marrow bones, chicken feet and all sorts of other animal parts I would have gasped. This nourishing ancestral elixir is hands down one the best foods for fertility.
In Chinese medicine bone broth is considered a jing (life force) builder. Many women are energy and nutrient depleted when they are trying to conceive. Bone broth is one of the quickest and safest ways to build up your body so that is has the energy and nourishment it needs to create a new life.
Drinking 1 cup of bone broth ideally preconception through conceiving is a great way to supply your body with many of the minerals it needs to create new life. The wonderful thing about broth is that is it a perfect food to consume while pregnant and nursing as well.
Learn more and get the recipe.
Coconut oil is an amazing fat that strengthens hormones. Having adequate body fat when trying to conceive is very important. Underweight women often have issues with cycle regulation, hormone imbalances and are at a higher risk for miscarriage.
Coconut oil is a great source of saturated fat which helps our bodies build up their own fat stores. These fat stores are key in maintaining consistent energy while preparing for pregnancy and while pregnant. Coconut oil also has high levels of lauric acid which is antiviral, antibacterial and has also been shown to have the ability to kill parasites in the body. Lauric acid supports our immune systems and is key ingredient in breast milk.
Some easy ways to get your coconut oil in is to put a tablespoon in your smoothie or breakfast porridge. Because coconut oil is stable at high heat it makes an excellent oil for cooking. You can also use coconut milk in place of cow/goat milk and if that’s not enough, coconut oil makes an excellent body oil. I use coconut oil in the warmer months in place of almond oil, it makes skin super soft. It’s great during pregnancy to help with stretch marks and itching.
GheeGhee is a medicinal powerhouse. Like coconut oil it is a great source of saturated fat and has a host of healing properties that will help get your body ready to conceive. Ghee is viewed as an ultimate reproductive food in Ayurveda. The hormones that make women fertile, estrogen and progesterone are made from cholesterol. Consuming the raw materials to make these essential hormones gives our body a greater chance of being able to conceive.
High quality fats like ghee and coconut oil are crucial for the development of your babes brain and are great to eat before conception, through pregnancy and beyond. Developing a relationship with these strengthening foods now will help you create a good foundation for your future child.
Learn how to make ghee under the full moon here.
Eggs are really the perfect food. They come in their own container and are delicious any time of day. Egg whites are loaded with protein and the yolk is a great source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin for reproduction. Eggs yolks are also a great source of cholesterol and yes we need lots of cholesterol to make babies! All of our sex hormones are made from this amazing fat and we need an extra dose of it while pregnant to support the growing fetus.
Another interesting note about egg yolk is that it provides the richest source of choline which is critical for brain development. It is important to be in the habit of consuming egg yolks before you get pregnant because it makes such a difference in the life of your future babe.
If you’re in CA, Lilly’s eggs are amazing. We like the sprout fed ones. At organic markets Vital Farms are the best option, pasture raised. Note: the harder the egg shell the greater the mineral content.
A healthy gut is essential to our long term wellbeing. Our growing babes digestive tract will be colonized by the same bacteria in ours! How amazing is that?! As I know you are learning by now everything we eat effects our future children which is why it is important to take really good care of ourselves and nourish our bodies before they get here.
If you don’t like fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir or beet kvass, now is the time to get used to them! These healing foods provide beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and lauric acid, which promote a happy digestive tract. Don’t worry about eating a giant portion of sauerkraut right off the bat. It’s is fine to introduce these foods at a pace that feels comfortable to you and you have lots of options.
I’ve grown to love making lacto fermented foods. It’s such a simple and fun process. Here are a couple of incredible books to get you started if you’re interested in learning more: The Art of Fermentation and The Noma Guide to Fermentation. If you want to purchase lacto fermented foods I love this brand based in Santa Cruz, California. Start with a table spoon and work your way up. Ideally you will be consuming some form of fermented foods daily.
Leafy greens are valuable source of folate which is a crucial nutrient in developing fetuses. These veggies help regulate hormones and boost libido. Leafy greens are loaded with fiber to keep our bodies detoxing safely and have plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for prepping our bodies to conceive.
When choosing leafy greens reach for spinach, romaine, kale, mustard greens, dandelion, and watercress. Rotating your greens is important. Be sure eat a variety of greens and don’t be afraid of the super bitter ones like dandelion, they are especially great for liver support. Our livers get rid of excess hormones in the body and taking good care of the pre and post conception improves our overall health.
Leafy greens can be juiced, eaten in salads, blended in smoothies, and cooked. In warmer months opt for cooler preparations like juices, smoothies, and salads. In cooler months go for lightly steamed or sautéed options. For maximum nutrient absorption consume greens with fat.
Eat leafy greens at two meals per day.
Any legume your body can digest well is great for fertility. I am highlighting lentils because they are higher in protein and folic acid. One cup of lentils gives your body about 90% of its daily needs. You want to have good levels of folic acid in your system before getting pregnant and during your pregnancy. Folic acid plays a key role in healthy reproductive cycles and very important for the growing fetus.
Lentils are loaded in fiber as well which helps keep digestion moving smoothly. While many lentils don’t need to be soaked you can sprout the larger varieties for a nutrient boost and fun warm weather project. Eat lentils in soups, sprouted in salads, and as a warm dish with veggies.
These potent seeds are loaded with zinc, a key fertility mineral. Many American women are low in zinc and it is very important to get it from food sources. Zinc helps to create genetic material and is great for sperm health as well. Eat pumpkin seeds sprouted for optimal nutritional value. They are great sprinkled on salads, tossed in smoothies or eaten as a snack.
Pumpkin seed milk is also easy to make and very tasty – just beware it will be slightly green. Follow this recipe switching out the almonds for raw pumping seeds. Be sure to soak them over night and use purified water.
Spirulina is a nutrient dense, fresh water blue green algae that contains the highest levels of protein in all plant foods. It is a wonderful source of trace minerals and supports the endocrine, immune, nervous, and metabolic systems. Spirulina is rich in antioxidants which are important for our egg health and it also very alkalizing to the body.
Add spirulina to your morning cup of bone broth, to a green juice, smoothie, or mix in a little water. You can also take it in capsules which is super easy and great for travel. I suggest taking it once per day for fertility.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. They are immune boosting, hormone regulating, uterus supporting and help to stabilize blood sugar. Regulating hormones is key in fertility and One sweet potato has more than 700% of the daily recommend intake of Vitamin A which also enhances follicle development. These beautiful tubers are high in potassium which is great for balancing our nervous system and are high in antioxidants which decrease inflammation and give us radiant skin.
Sweet potatoes are great baked or steamed. One of my favorite desserts is a bit of cooked sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon—it’s divine! Eat these nourishing potatoes weekly as breakfast pancakes or as my personal favorite, sweet potato fries.