My lovely wife Liz likes to say, “My husband has gotten a lot of women pregnant.” Being a part of the journey, from thinking about having a baby to seeing the smiles on their faces when they tell me that they are pregnant, along with the pictures of fat, happy babies, are some of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
How you eat can be a powerful tool in your quest for a visit from the stork. Keep in mind that it is best to eat in a deeply nourishing way for at least three to six months before conception to build up healthy stores of nutrients in the body and help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
We all know eating fruits and veggies is important. You don't need another article explaining the benefits. With that being said, fruits are particularly important.
Try to get several servings of fruit per day, not juice, especially focusing on colorful fruits such as berries, pineapple, papaya, guava, mangos, and melons.
When it comes to eating for conception, fat is king. Nothing contributes more. Not just any fats, though, the right ones. The right fats are full of fat-soluble vitamins and cofactors that are essential to getting the body ready to support a baby.
Here is a list of these wonderful fats:
Grass-fed Animal Fats
Grass-Fed, full-fat dairy products
Wild-caught fish, fish roe, and shellfish
Grass-fed Organ Meats, especially liver.
The higher the percentage of your diet that these fats make up, the better!
While the right fats can heal and help, the wrong fats can have a huge negative impact. One of the issues with our modern diet is the massive amount of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids we consume. Reducing consumption of omega-6 fats is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Avoid these foods, which are rich in those bad fats:
Fake butter spreads
Yes, even the ones from the health food store are not good
Avoid processed foods that contain these oils
Yes, butter really is better.
Next up is protein. High-quality protein is essential for building healthy bodies. The average person needs at least sixty grams of protein per day; those are who active will need a bit more. Keep in mind that if that protein comes from plant sources, you will need to eat significantly more to get the equivalent amount of animal protein. This is because most plant proteins have a lower PDCAA value. PDCAA is a basic measure of how well utilized a protein is by the body. In addition, plant proteins tend to be lacking in essential nutrients like zinc and b-12, so those will need to be made up elsewhere in the diet.
Here are some good sources of protein:
Wild Caught Fish and Shellfish
Grass-Fed Dairy Products
Remember to leave the fat on the meats, as these are important sources of nutrients.
There are some foods that are leaps and bounds above others for supporting conception.
The incredible edible egg is first up on our list. Pastured eggs are a rich source of so many nutrients like vitamin E, inositol, b12, selenium, choline, DHA, and much more. Eating just two eggs a day can provide your body with a host of benefits. Make sure to get good pastured eggs from your local farmer if possible. The yolks should be a deep orange color. Check out eatwild.com to find a farmer near you.
Grass-Fed organ meats are the most nutrient-dense foods available. These foods provide important vitamins and compounds either not found or only found in small amounts in other foods. In the past, we tended to eat more of them, but now people tend to shy away from them because our tastes have changed. If people went back to eating them, it would greatly improve the health of everyone. Fortunately, these meats are starting to make a comeback, and some wonderful cookbooks and recipe guides are out there. For those of you that are thinking, no way, I am not going to eat them; then good organ meat capsules are the way to go. These capsules are freeze-dried to preserve all the nutrients and have the same nutritional value as fresh organs. So no excuses not to get them in your diet.
Grass-fed liver is a treasure trove of goodness. Rich in choline, vitamin A folate, b-12, zinc, iron, and so much more. Many women have low iron levels, which can make it hard to pregnant. Eating liver is a great way to reverse low iron levels without the side effects of traditional iron supplements. If you are having trouble getting enough iron, check out our article, all about iron. It is nourishing, energizing, and builds health like no other food. It is one food that too many people don’t include in their diet. Here is the perfect recipe to turn a liver hater (or those who have never tried it) into a liver lover! If you still say no way, then liver capsules are the right way to go.
Wild-caught fish eggs are another amazing food rich in a cornucopia of valuable fat-soluble nutrients. Ancient cultures prized them for their ability to nourish and support a healthy pregnancy and build strong, happy children. Check out our blog article, all about fish eggs, to learn more about them. For those of you that say nope, I cannot eat those, fish egg capsules are a good way to get these nutrient-dense superstars into your diet. Many of you already enjoy them on sushi, so it should not be as stretch to add some to your diet.
Grass-Fed full-fat dairy products are incredibly nourishing. Foods like yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses are nutrient-dense foods that make it easy to nourish your body. These foods are rich in nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, b12, omega-3 fatty acids (found in grass-fed, not grain-fed dairy products), protein, and much more. While dairy products have gotten a bad rap (some of it deserved, some not), grass-fed dairy products provide a rich, important source of nutrients that will help you on your quest to get a visit from the stork.
Lacto-fermented foods are rich sources of good bacteria that help keep your gut and immune system healthy. The bacteria in your gut are essential to so many body functions. They can have a huge impact on your nutritional status. Eating Lacto-fermented foods like pickles, yogurt, and kefir are great ways to get those good bacteria into your gut.
Maca is a root vegetable grown high in the mountains of Peru. In Peru, Maca represents the divine feminine and is a sacred food. Maca is a plant like no other.
“She (Maca) grows at altitudes with such extreme environmental conditions, yet she endures and thrives. This resilience to stress is what she will gift you if you respect her and connect with her. She will bring you back to balance and build strength and resilience to stress.”
Unfortunately, much of the maca sold in the United States is adulterated or improperly processed and dried, depriving many of the true benefits of this incredible plant. Properly dried maca contains many nutrients, such as iron, potassium, copper, and b6, as well as compounds like macamides that help support the reproductive system. Maca also supports healthy adrenal function and a healthy response to stress. Keep in mind you should never eat raw Maca. To learn more about Maca, check out our Maca center. If I had to recommend only one food for conception, it would be Maca.
Making sure to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day is essential. These are some simple steps you can take to help with this.
Eat a big breakfast. Eating a good breakfast can help to start your day off right and help keep you on the right track. A good breakfast example would be two eggs cooked in grass-fed butter with avocado and strawberries or grass-fed yogurt with berries and walnuts.
Eat throughout the day. Make sure not to skip meals and have snacks between them. Make sure each meal and snack has some good fat and protein. One of the best snacks is pemmican. Pemmican was food used by Native Americans to help keep them sustained over long periods of hunting and foraging. Here is a great recipe for it, or you can buy it already made.
Have a cup of bone broth before bed. The amino acids and protein will help you to have a great night's sleep.
It has been said a thousand times, but it needs to be said again that it is very important to reduce refined grains and sugars in the diet. It is not that you can never have a cookie, but people eat way too much of them. So have that cake on special occasions, but reach for good dark chocolate instead of cakes and doughnuts daily. Raw cacao is a great substitute for sugary desserts. It is rich in nutrients like magnesium and potassium and loaded with antioxidants. Check out some wonderfully delicious healthy dessert recipes, and get more chocolate in your life!
Swap out grains and flours for more nutrient-dense foods, such as meat, fruit, and grass-fed dairy products.
Limit caffeine intake. Large amounts of caffeine can have a negative effect on fertility. Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee a day. Keep in mind a cup is 8 oz, not a carafe! Never have caffeine before breakfast; it causes your body to run on stress hormones all day. Consider trying Cacao instead. It has less caffeine than coffee, lots of wonderful antioxidants, and is rich in compounds that with relaxation and stress relief.
Reduce alcohol intake. While a glass of wine is ok, drinking a lot of alcohol can have detrimental effects on fertility. Try not to have more than one drink per day.
Get active. Exercise can be one of the best things you can do to help with fertility. There are a number of great exercises, especially yoga, but whatever exercise you can do is great, even if it is just taking a walk each day. However, there is some research that high-intensity exercise can negatively impact fertility. So switch to more gentle ones if possible. Check out this great pamphlet on exercising for healthy fertility.
Last but certainly not least is practicing good stress reduction. Reducing stress and anxiety levels is so important. There are a number of things you can do on this front. Check out our blog article, stress 101, for helpful tips.
We hope that this article gave you some valuable information for your journey. Don’t forget to see the rest of our pregnancy center for more great information on everything from healthy eating during pregnancy to choosing a good prenatal vitamin!
If you have questions about eating for conception or need some prenatal support, click the button above to schedule a free call, and we would be happy to help you!