Many couples, upon deciding to conceive, will be filled with a sense of inexplicable excitement and anticipation at the thought of having their own child. For every couple trying to conceive, the magic moment is when it dawns upon them that they will soon become parents.
Although having a child is a very natural process, often on the journey to conceiving a child, some may have it easier than others. The chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy are dependent on a lot of other factors including age, physical health, congenital disorders and so on. Aside from prior preparations such as undergoing physical examinations, cutting down on tobacco and alcohol as well as maintaining certain lifestyle habits, anything else to help conception, such as dietary guidelines, should be taken note of. By eating right, we’re able to boost the body’s physical conditioning and aid in potential pregnancies. Below are some healthy foods that are great for couples planning to start a family:
Salmon is rich in nutrients, including protein, Omega-3 fats (including EPA and DHA), selenium, vitamin B12, iron and so on. Omega-3 fats are ‘good’ fats that maintain the important chemical substances in our body cells. When the body has enough Omega-3 fats, it naturally aids the production of eggs. In addition, studies have shown that essential fatty acids are vital to the growth and development of the foetus and infants, especially in the development of the brain and visual sight.
Selenium inside the salmon has antioxidant functions, protecting the body's cells, while enhancing the body's reproductive functions, thus improving the quality of the eggs. Salmon is not only suitable for pre-pregnancy, but consuming it during pregnancy also has great benefits for the mother’s body and the baby's development too.
Lentils are not only a natural source of protein, it also has hefty amounts of iron in it. According to a study by Harvard University, if women are able to gain enough iron from plant sources, they are able to reduce the probability of infertility by as much as 40%. The more frequent the consumption of iron from plant sources, the lower the risk of infertility; however, obtaining iron from animal sources have no effect on lowering any risk. Therefore, experts believe that by eating these nutritious lentils, it will better prepare women for conception.
Avocados are a favourite health food of many because it’s packed with various nutrients that the body needs, including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fibre and protein. Studies show that avocado is a premier source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is thought to have a close relationship with the reproductive system, and is able to nourish the endometrium, hence likely assisting smooth embryo implantation. Avocado is also a good source of folic acid for both men and women, which is an indispensable nutrient for women preparing for pregnancy. Eating foods rich in folic acid can help prevent spina bifida (split spine) problems in infants.
The bright crimson beetroot is not only a great source of iron, but also contains antioxidants to protect cells. Beetroot helps to promote the body’s blood circulation, and some experts believe that eating beetroot promotes uterine blood circulation, nourishing the uterus, so that a more healthy development of the embryo can take place.
Said to be native to Persia, the fruit of the pomegranate tree is rich in vitamin C, folic acid, minerals, antioxidants, and has a myriad of other health goodness. Aside from its anti-ageing properties, pomegranate is able to protect cells from free radical damage, while promoting blood circulation too! Drinking pomegranate juice during pregnancy can also help prevent the foetus from impaired brain development.
6. NUTS AND SEEDS
For women preparing for pregnancy, nuts and seeds are an essential way of obtaining the desired nutrients such as essential fatty acids, protein and zinc. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only beneficial to the development of healthy eggs, it also helps regulate hormones. Protein also helps foetal development, while zinc is an indispensable mineral that ensures the health and balance of the reproductive system is well-maintained.
Highest protein-containing nuts and seeds:
- Sunflower 1oz = 6g
- Flaxseed 1oz = 6g
- Almonds ¼ cup = 6g
Highest Omega-3 containing nuts and seeds:
- ¼ cup walnut = 2270 mg
- 2 tablespoons of flaxseed = 3510 mg
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds = 2300 mg
Highest zinc-containing nuts and seeds:
- Pumpkin seeds ¼ cup = 2.7 milligrams
- Sesame seeds ¼ cup = 2.8 milligrams
If the nuts and seeds have undergone a heating process, it will cause nutrients to be lost. So the best way is to choose raw nuts and seeds that have not been baked.
Oyster contains the highest levels of zinc in any food, and sufficient zinc intake is vital for any couple planning to conceive. Zinc deficiency causes the body to mess up the menstrual cycle, which will subsequently slow down and affect the production and condition of the eggs. Undoubtedly, zinc has a strong role in helping pregnancy – but if you aren’t a fan of oysters, other foods such as eggs, nuts, and hormone-free reared chickens are also good alternatives.
In addition, here is a list of foods that should be avoided as they affect the body’s hormones adversely:
- Foods with high sugar content (cakes, soft drinks, and other junk foods/snacks)
- Meat/fish that contains antibiotics and artificial hormones in it (pork, chicken, beef)
- Trans fatty acids in food (fried or packaged food)
- Plastic packaged food or those containing plasticizers
- Genetically modified foods such as soybeans and corn
- Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts, The Natural way to a better pregnancy, pg 26-68, 1999
- Fallon, Sally. Enig, Mary G., Ph.D. Nourishing Traditions: The CookBook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. NewTrends Publishing, Inc. 2001