As you decide to get pregnant, it becomes imperative to include some vital nutrients in your diet. It’s possible that you were not eating a healthy and well-balanced diet earlier but now that your body needs to prepare for pregnancy, you can no longer afford to be negligent about your diet. Your daily meals should include a healthy combination of whole grains, protein, dairy, vegetables and fruits. In addition, you should also consume certain important micro nutrients like folic acid and iron to support your body for the oncoming change. Not to forget, you have to avoid alcohol and smoking as well. If you are at a healthy weight and not suffering from any medical complications, a healthy unprocessed diet combined with essential vitamins and minerals can increase your fertility and the chances of conceiving a baby naturally.
The OneFitplus team of dietitians recommend the following to be consumed when you are trying to conceive:
Healthy Diet: Choose healthy complex carb options like whole wheat flour, oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, potatoes and legumes to provide sustained energy and nourishment. Whole grains also provide you with dietary fibre to keep your digestive system in top shape and give a boost to your fertility by removing excess hormones from the body. Make sure to include protein rich items in your diet including pulses, dairy, soya and eggs to build and repair tissue and help in making important enzymes, hormones and muscles. Also have plenty of fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables to provide your body the required vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Do not forget to have at least 2 litres of water per day to prevent dehydration.
Folic Acid: Folic Acid or folate is important for the synthesis of red blood cells, cellular growth and nervous system. However, its considered to be the most important vitamin to be consumed before and during pregnancy due to its role in cell division and the repair and production of DNA. This water soluble vitamin should be consumed as soon as you plan to get pregnant as it aids the optimal development of the embryo and foetus. A lack of folic acid in the mother’s body can lead to deformities in the baby such as spina bifida and also may cause premature delivery. Since the body doesn’t produce this vitamin on its own, you can have folic acid through leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, egg yolk and fruits like banana, apple and kiwi etc. You can also take folic acid supplements in the form of tablets.
Iron: Needed for the creation and healthy functioning of blood cells in the body, a low level of iron in women may cause anemia leading to infertility. Low iron level also reportedly prevents ovulation and hampers the health of the egg. According to some latest studies, serious iron deficiency may also cause brain abnormalities in the baby Dietary sources of iron can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, tofu, fortified cereals, red meat, egg, nuts and dried fruits. Speak to your doctor to prescribe you’re the right amount of iron required to be consumed while trying to conceive.
Calcium: This all important mineral is not just good for bone health, it also plays a role in upping your chance of getting pregnant. Women who consume sufficient amount of calcium have a lower risk of developing endometriosis and ovulation related problems. Calcium aids the growth of the embryo and also the development of a baby’s heart and bones. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that women get at least 1000 mg of calcium a day if they are considering getting pregnant. Calcium can be obtained through various sources such as milk and dairy products, almonds, spinach, broccoli, flax seeds and sesame seeds.
Omega 3 fatty acids: The Omega 3 fatty acids are useful in regulating hormones, promoting ovulation and stimulating cervical mucus, thereby boosting fertility. They also increase blood flow to the uterus. Besides, they support the development of baby’s brain and eyes and brings down the risk of pre term delivery. Natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include flax seeds, flaxseed oil, salmon, sardines, anchovies, walnuts and eggs. The active ingredients of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA, DHA and ALA are also found in over the counter fish oil supplements.
Vitamin B 12: Useful for our brain and nervous system, this water soluble vitamin is important for women’s fertility as well. A vitamin B 12 deficiency in a woman’s body can prevent fertilized embryo to implant itself in the uterus. This increases the risk of miscarriage and developing blood clots during pregnancy. A low level of vitamin B 12 is also associated with irregular ovulatory cycle. The main sources of Vitamin B 12 are milk, eggs, chicken, yogurt, beef, pork, salmon etc.
In addition to the above, you also need healthy quantities of Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin D. With due consultation from your physician, you can consider having a pre-natal multi vitamin, comprising all the major elements, to support your body during the pre-conception stage. These nutrients will go a long way to prepare your body for pregnancy. A well balanced diet, good amount of sleep, lack of stress and regular exercise are other non-negotiable factors that promote fertility and good health, required for conception.