Nutrition and Diet
Nutrition and diet play an essential role in fertility health and your microbiome. The various foods we put in our bodies contribute to our physical health. Our relationship with food is also complicated by our emotional associations with food. Many foods are known to improve fertility health, but it is important to recognize and rule out foods that impair our fertility health. However, if you have struggled with disordered eating in the past please consult with a specialist before making changes to your diet.
Nutrition and Your Microbiome
Most of your microbiome is in your large intestine, so nutrition and your microbiome are directly connected. Your microbiome helps you to break down and digest food, producing the vitamins that are help support a healthy body and immune system. According to research, a strong and healthy microbiome can promote nutrient absorption, hormone balance, vaginal health, blood sugar balance, stress and mood, and immune health. These are all areas that are important to our fertility health. The gut microbiota can change within just a few days of a new diet.
Nutrition and Your Fertility Health
There are many ways you can improve your nutrition and diet to benefit your microbiome and fertility health. Start by taking out foods from your diet that hinder fertility.
- Avoid processed foods containing emulsifiers, sweeteners, and saturated fat.
- Skip farmed meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
- Tap water contains chlorine which should be avoided; try to drink filtered water instead.
- Skip refined foods or low fibre foods.
- Avoid following a gluten-free or FODMAP diet, unless you have been advised to for medical reasons.
While there are many things you should avoid in your diet, there are also foods you can add to enhance your fertility health.
- Try to add in some probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, non-dairy yoghurt, non-pasteurised pickled vegetables.
- Prebiotic foods such as whole grains, asparagus, garlic, bananas, onions/leeks, leafy greens, beans and lentils are also healthful.
- Add in some gut superfoods including oats, olive oil, and olives. 12 olives a day for 30 days has been shown to have a positive probiotic effect and increased levels of good bacteria.
- Eat a variety of plant foods. Strive to eat 30 plant foods in a week.
- Eat a high fibre diet.
- Enjoy some polyphenol-rich foods such as berries, grapes, pomegranates, green tea, chocolate, coffee, red wine, red onions, cabbage, black beans and spices. However, watch your caffeine and alcohol intake (see our Lifestyle article for tips).
While changing your diet can be overwhelming, many yummy recipes include several of the foods listed above. You can introduce changes gradually with one new recipe a week, or a few meat-free days. To make a change in your diet, plan out your meals for the week ahead so you aren’t stressed about what to make. Batch cooking and freezing portions can make it easier and reduce the temptation to go for processed food or order a takeaway when life gets busy.
Making the necessary changes to your diet will help to improve your overall health and fertility health. When adjusting your nutrition, you should also consider your Lifestyle and your Microbiome.
- How Nutrition Connects to the Microbiome