This article was written in partnership with Balance Fertility, a UK-based company specialising in fertility and reproductive health, with a strong focus on positive diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes for people trying to conceive.
Many women fail to take their diet and nutrition seriously until they are pregnant, but there is now a body of scientific evidence that stresses just how important it is to keep a healthy lifestyle when trying to conceive too.
Read more to understand the key dietary and lifestyle changes that women should be making in order to help boost chances of a successful conception.
Why is a healthy lifestyle important for women trying to conceive?
Ensuring you are getting all the right nutrients from a healthy, balanced diet is essential. This might mean you need to speak to a specialist fertility nutritionist, who can suggest the lifestyle changes to make in order to improve your chances of conception.
A woman’s diet before falling pregnant can not only affect her health, but the baby’s too, since the lifelong health of a child starts before they are even conceived. As such, a healthy diet ensures that there are sufficient levels of the key nutrients needed for fertility and the healthy development of the baby.
Many women enter pregnancy with low levels of iodine, iron, vitamin D, amongst other essential nutrients. However, these with simple dietary changes and supplements, this can be easily improved.
With regards to food, eating a varied diet will allow women to gain a plethora of different nutrients. Naturally, eating a variety of fruit and vegetables helps maintain a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in essential vitamins and nutrients. Green, leafy vegetables, in particular, are important.
Be sure to include a good intake of protein too, including meat, wild fish, eggs, quinoa and nuts. Many people wrongly believe that fats are bad for you and should therefore be avoided, but actually, the brain is made up of 60% fat, and moderate intake is therefore important for healthy brain development.
Complex carbohydrates like wholegrain pasta, oats and brown rice are favourable to the sugary, refined carbs found in white bread and pasta that many of us are fond of eating. Oily fish products like mackerel and salmon have a lot of essential fatty acids and omega-3 and 6 in them, which are good for regulating the female reproductive cycle too, but they should be consumed in moderation (once or twice per week), since overconsumption can cause mercury to build up to toxic levels.
Of course, we all know that drinking alcohol and smoking is a no-no when a woman is pregnant, but it is also generally advised against when trying to get pregnant.
Other important lifestyle factors which influence fertility
There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that our body clocks (circadian clock) directly impact the reproductive pathway, which is why it is important to have a set routine with regards to sleep and meal times. Lifestyle habits, such as irregular meal times and disrupted sleep, are detrimental to your natural body clock which can, in turn, negatively affect your metabolism, fertility and overall health.
Being overweight is a significant cause of infertility, since it affects a woman’s egg quality and endometrial function, as well as leading to increased chances of gestational diabetes and poorer IVF success rates. Reaching a healthy weight via a combination of a good diet and exercise is, therefore, very important to improve chances of conceiving and protecting the future health of your baby. For those trying to conceive, a mixture of low and medium intensity cardio and weight-bearing exercise is best.