Having a child is one of life’s most rich and rewarding experiences, but for most women it can also be a time of uncertainty as we become inundated with information from all angles. It’s so difficult to know which “experts” to trust and where to find the right guidance for your journey to motherhood.
Before we started trying for a baby, James and I both put a huge focus on detoxification and rejuvenation. Part of this process involved eating the best quality organic foods that we could find and putting a particular emphasis on providing my body with the vitality it needed to be able to support a new life.
There are many complex factors that can influence fertility, so it’s fundamentally important that you provide yourself with the most amazing nutrients possible while you work toward creating that little miracle. Here are some of our top recommendations for foods to eat before and during pregnancy.
1. Fermented Foods
Some women are known to crave pickles during pregnancy! While this might sound a little unusual, it typically indicates that the body has a healthy desire for fermented foods and the benefits they provide. According to internationally renowned health expert Dr. Mercola, "maintaining optimal gut flora by eating raw food grown in healthy, organic soil and 'reseeding' your gut with naturally fermented foods may be one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health and your baby’s during pregnancy". Sadly, most commercial fermented foods are pasteurized, which means you won't get the full health benefits from those products. However, there are many emerging artisan food companies on the market that have started creating fermented foods using only unpasteurized, organic ingredients.
Hot Tip: If you're unable to find good quality fermented foods in your local area, the other alternative is to make your own - and it's really not as difficult as you might think! Check out our "Simple Sauerkraut" recipe here.
Avocado’s link to fertility originally stems from "The Doctrine of Signatures", which suggests that fruits, vegetables, and herbs resembling different parts of the body can sometimes be used to remedy ailments in those body parts. The appearance of an avocado is thought to resemble that of a pregnant woman; being shaped like the uterus and possessing a large "seed" inside. This naturally led to a belief in traditional cultures that avocados were a food which promoted fertility in women.
A recent study published in the human nutritional journal, Nutrients, states that "avocados are a unique nutrient-rich plant-based food that contain many of the critical nutrients for fetal and infant health and development. They fit within the guidelines for a Mediterranean-style diet, which is known to be beneficial for disease reduction in most populations including pregnant and lactating populations".
Avocados are also an incredible source of vitamin E, which can be beneficial in developing the lining of your uterus as well as helping with embryo implantation - the point at which the embryo embeds itself into the uterine lining.
Hot Tip: Avocados are always harvested "unripe" but will ripen well when stored at room temperature. If you want to speed up the ripening process, just get a paper bag, place your avocado inside along with a ripe banana, tomato or apple, and seal the bag. These fruits naturally produce ethylene gas as they ripen, which will accelerate the ripening process of your avocado!
Salmon has long been recognized as a rich source of essential nutrients for human health. In recent years there has also been a lot of discussion surrounding the benefit of eating salmon for women who are trying to conceive.
Many experts agree that salmon possesses fertility-boosting properties due to its high level of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients allow for increased blood flow to reproductive organs and may even assist in regulating reproductive hormones.
Hot Tip: When deciding what type of salmon to purchase, choose wild-caught fish whenever possible. If you can’t access wild-caught salmon, try to find out as much as you can about the origin of the fish and the environment in which it was farmed before purchasing.
Berries, in particular blueberries and raspberries, are full of antioxidants which help prevent damage and aging to your body’s cells - including cells in your reproductive system - namely, your eggs. Therefore a diet that is rich in berries may help to keep your eggs healthy and increase their “shelf life”.
Hot Tip: Conventionally grown berries are often covered with all sorts of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other scary-cides. Due to their thin skin, they absorb large amounts of these chemicals, which can be very harmful to your health. So try to buy certified organic berries whenever possible.
5. Leafy Greens
The Natural Fertility Diet places a strong emphasis on the significance of greens, suggesting that women should eat at least "one salad per day as well as one dark leafy green vegetable such as kale, spinach, or chard". Our bodies require a balanced acid/alkaline content to function optimally and thrive, yet most modern diets are quite acidic (full of meat, sugar and processed food). This can present a serious issue for the male’s sperm, as it requires a healthy alkaline environment to be able to survive and ultimately reach the egg.
Hot Tip: An excellent way to get your daily intake of greens without losing the benefits of their high fiber content is to add them to a smoothie! You can find a great green smoothie recipe here. Feel free to substitute the spinach for any of your other favorite leafy greens!
If you would like to know more about our personal experience with the birth of our son Hugo, we recorded a series of interviews covering the time from preconception to birth, and 6 months postpartum. It is called Baby Matters, and you can view it here.