By Dr Jaee Khamkar, Dietician, Fortis Hospital Kalyan, India

Most people don’t focus on food, unaware of the fact that food and fertility are closely related. When planning for baby it is essential that you eat a healthy diet with a balanced intake of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Pulses & legumes: Pulses and beans are rich in Protein & Iron, which helps increase fertility and libido. They are also called fertility-boosting food.

Brown Rice: Brown Rice is an exceptional source of complex carbohydrates; that will help improve a woman’s fertility by promoting regular ovulation. Also, brown rice retains a good amount of Folic Acid that aids in the blood production and is important for preventing Neural Tube Defects in newborn babies.

Whole Milk: Whole milk retains a good amount of Calcium which is good for reproductive health, as well as bones. Also, whole milk contains fats which are needed for pregnancy. If one does not like whole milk, they can include full-fat ice cream, Yogurt or Cottage Cheese in the diet to get similar benefits.

Quinoa: It is an excellent source of B-vitamins, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Fiber, Vit-E and Folate. Both Vitamin B12 and Folate are transferred from the blood into reproductive organs, and the concentration of B12 strongly parallels sperm concentration. Vit-E enhances reproductive health and sperm motility.

Fatty fish: Bombay Duck, Pomfret, Surmai, Ravas and Salmon are rich in Protein, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which may help regulate reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to the reproductive organ, reduce inflammation, and help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Eggs: Egg yolks are rich in Vit-D, which help in improving fertility levels in women. Infertile women many a times suffer from Vit-D deficiency. In addition, Eggs are high in Antioxidants and Carotenoids which boost fertility in women. Vit-B12, Folate and Omega-3 Fats in Eggs will minimize possibilities of birth defects.

Oil seeds & Nuts: Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds, Chia seeds, Gingili seeds, Garden cress seeds, Walnuts & Almonds are packed with Zinc, Vit-E, and Iron, which have been found to boost sperm count. High source of Zinc helps in egg development.

Berries: Berries are full of antioxidants which help protect eggs from damage and also increase libido. These natural antioxidants & anti-inflammatory Phytonutrients, help boost both female & male fertility.

Broccoli: Broccoli contains Folic Acid and Vit-C which are needed for good egg and protects the egg from DNA damage. Also, it is rich in Phytonutrients and compound Fibers that help the body to get rid of excess Estrogen.

Spinach: Spinach is a must for fertility diet. It is one of the most nutritious superfoods packed with the antioxidants, Vit-K, A, C, and E, Vit-B2 and B6, Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Dietary Fiber, Copper, Protein, Phosphorus and Zinc.

Avocados & Olives: Avocados & Olives are a rich source of Vit-E, which is necessary for DNA replication.

Bananas: Banana is one of the most important foods that escalate fertility in women. It is a good source of Vit-B6, Manganese, Vit-C& A, Potassium, Dietary Fiber, Magnesium, Folate, Riboflavin and Niacin.

Eat more Fiber: Fiber helps your body regulate Blood Sugar level which helps reduce fertility issues such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOD), decreases immunological issues and promotes healthy hormone balance. Some examples of high fiber foods are fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, and beans.

Increase Iron intake: Consuming Iron supplements and non-heme Iron, which comes from plant-based foods, may decrease the risk of Ovulatory Infertility. Sources of Iron-green leafy vegetables, sprouted pulses, beans, Liver, Egg, Bajara, Ragi, Watermelon & Oil seeds.

Avoid unfermented Soy products: Soy foods have been shown to contain Estrogen-mimicking properties. It is best to avoid processed Soy foods such as Soy milk, Soy Burgers, Soy Protein powder, Soy chips, Soy Meats, and Soy Cheeses to avoid a negative impact on your hormonal balance. If you have Hypothyroidism, avoid Soy completely.

Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant that helps to protect the Eggs and Sperm from free radicals. Free radicals can cause chromosomal damage, which is known to be a cause of miscarriages and birth defects. Selenium is also necessary for the creation of sperm. In studies, men with low sperm counts have also been found to have low levels of Selenium.

Food sources: Liver, Snapper, Cod, Halibut, Tuna, Salmon, Sardines, Shrimp, Crimini Mushrooms, Turkey, Brazil nuts etc.

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