You might be on a difficult road with your fertility, and it can feel frustrating not knowing why things aren’t working out for you, especially when you’re left wondering if anything you try will ever work. When all you want is to hold a baby in your arms, use that as a motivator for getting the fundamentals for natural fertility sorted, so you can confidently say you are doing everything you can to maximise your chances of pregnancy success.
These 11 steps will take you through how to improve your fertility naturally, by using diet and lifestyle.
- First – heal your gut. Hippocrates was on the right tracks over two thousand years ago when he said all disease begins in the gut. If you suffer with digestive symptoms, whether reflux, bloating, gas, constipation or loose stools, or if you have skin symptoms such as eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, this is a sign that you need to improve the health of your gut. Comprehensive stool testing with the help of a qualified nutritional therapist is one of the best ways to help you figure out exactly what is going on so that you can work on healing it.
- Follow a whole foods, Mediterranean diet. This is what the research tells us is the best generic diet for fertility. It focuses on nutrient rich, whole foods, good quality proteins and healthy fats. I have another blog post outlining more on this which you can find here, and a podcast episode which you can find here.
- Never cut food groups without the guidance of a qualified professional. So many people are out there preaching what you should and shouldn’t be eating for fertility. Whilst there are some guidelines which should be seriously taken into consideration (sugar and other refined carbohydrates, trans fats and burnt foods, for example), I do not advocate cutting out certain foods just because someone on Instagram said that’s how they got pregnant. This is PARTICULARLY true if you have a complex relationship with food or a history of disordered eating.
- Love your liver. The liver does a HUGE amount of work, including metabolising any environmental and dietary toxins we may be exposed to, but also processing our sex hormones and breaking them down to be excreted safely out of our systems. When the liver is overworked, it can mean that toxins and hormone metabolites stick around in your system longer than they ought to, and can cause oxidative stress.
- Get enough sleep – and if you’re not, work on your sleep hygiene. Sleep is a hugely overlooked aspect for fertility, but there is more and more coming out on the critical importance of a restful nights sleep for out metabolism, hormone production and stress levels. Making sure you have a good bedtime routine, stay consistent with sleep and wake times, avoid too much screen time in the evening, keep your bedroom cool and dark, and get exposure to natural light on rising will all help to improve your sleep quality.
- Move your body, and move it with joy! Find a physical activity that you genuinely like, and do it regularly. This helps with gut health, metabolism, hormone production and delivery, improving blood flow to the uterus, stress reduction, and general wellbeing.
- Eat a wide variety of plant foods daily, and include all the colours of the rainbow. This is a really fun and joyful principle to live by. Dietary diversity and eating different colours is the best way to ensure you are covered for a range of antioxidants and phytonutrients which help healthy hormone production and preserve the health of egg and sperm.
- Go full fat. Research has shown that the right kind of fats is of critical importance for foetal development, hormone production and to absorb fertility friendly fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K. If you tolerate dairy, try to go for organic full fat versions rather then skimmed.
- Find a way to buffer your stress. I get it, infertility is SH*T, and chances are you have a million and one other things going on in your life to deal with at the same time. Whilst in an ideal world we would all be keeping daily stressors to a minimum, if that’s not possible then it’s down to you to actively put things in place to buffer that. It doesn’t matter how you get there, but taking time to journal, breathe, meditate, practice gratitude, connect with your partner etc are non-negotiables for keeping those stress levels at bay.
- Get support. You do not have to do this alone. To repeat a little louder for those at the back: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS ALONE. Infertility can feel like such a rollercoaster, and a lonely one at that. Especially when friends one by one get pregnant and you feel like you have no one to be open and honest with. I offer group programmes as well as a membership plan which means you are building a network of friendly, familiar faces who you can confide in and be your true self with.
- Test, don’t guess. If you have been implementing all of the above and still feel like things are not right, work with a fertility nutritionist who can support you with a range of functional lab tests to help uncover some of the root causes of your fertility problems. It is always worth getting the foundations right, and addressing any underlying causes before diving into fertility treatment, because it can maximise your chances of success.
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