November 19 2020
Last month we welcomed a new of group women into our Prepare for Pregnancy Protocol, and there was one thing we heard over and over:
Women are confused about what they should be eating to support their fertility.
The Cultivate Fertility Diet is a cornerstone of our programs. Using food as medicine, we consistently see the powerful impact that the Cultivate Fertility Diet has for people trying to get pregnant.
Because nutrition plays a huge role in ovulation (1), egg & sperm quality, pregnancy, and early development, and your nutrition starts with your diet (even if you’re taking vitamins, you want to make sure you’re eating right!).
So today, we’re walking you through some of the basics around what we recommend as part of the Cultivate Fertility diet.
Let’s talk about the most popular myths holding women back.
Myth #1: Keto or “low carb” diets are good for fertility
If you try to research a great fertility diet online… you're probably going to find 100 different diets that all say different things.
There are so many misconceptions today about what foods you should eat to support your reproductive system. One of the most common ones we see is that a low carb diet like the Keto diet is good for fertility.
Even outside the fertility space, there’s a common misconception that carbohydrates are bad for you. The truth is that healthy, complex carbs can support your reproductive health, including balancing your hormones, improving your gut health, and providing you with antioxidants.
Complex carbohydrates provide your body with pre-biotics such as fiber that balance your gut microbiome and your hormones.
Balancing Hormones with Complex Carbs
Often in our clinics, we see the connection between constipation from lack of fiber and irregular hormones. The solution? More complex carbohydrates to balance the gut.
Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance, meaning that their cells can’t use insulin properly — resulting in excess circulating insulin.
Excess insulin plays a role in the development of PCOS. Extra insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones.
Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate. Dietary fiber helps stabilize insulin levels by slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream and binding to excess cholesterol AND testosterone for excretion
Studies have shown that intakes of 28-36g fiber/day, consisting of both soluble and insoluble fiber, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce circulating insulin in adults.
Antioxidants for Reproductive Health
Complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and winter squash are full of red and orange bioflavonoids, antioxidants that support the reproductive system.
While these vegetables are often excluded or limited in a carb-free diet, we recommend to our patients that they eat as many red and orange vegetables as possible.
Having a colorful plate means you are giving your body the antioxidants it needs to thrive.
Carbs also promote serotonin release, which is essential for limiting stress, a huge strain on the reproductive system.
All in all…
Bringing healthy, complex carbohydrates into your diet can support your fertility more than limiting carb intake would.
Want more inspiration?
Myth #2: Sugar doesn’t impact fertility
Instead of cutting out carbs, there’s one thing we should all try to limit in our diets…
Studies have shown that managing your glucose levels can improve your egg quality and reduce pregnancy risks for both the mother and the unborn child. (2)
High sugar levels have also been reported to impact male fertility. (3). So for partners on a journey to conceive, it’s a great idea to reduce the amount of sugar in both of your diets.
Eating a lot of sugar in the pre-pregnancy phase can:
1) Contribute to poor egg quality
2) Be detrimental to the development of the early embryo, which can impact health of baby long-term
3) Increase the risk of gestational diabetes
Especially when you’re stress-eating sugar!
Sugar and stress are two of the worst things for your reproductive system.
What’s more, studies in mice have shown that sugar can be equally as addicting as cocaine. (4)
Which means that once you have a diet high in refined sugars, it’s hard to make a change to a healthier lifestyle. But changing your diet to reduce your intake of refined sugars can make you feel healthier and happier, and completely transform your fertility journey.
Think you’ll have a hard time giving up sugar?
In our Cultivate Fertility Diet Course, we review strategies to regulate blood glucose and to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Plus, we’ve included dozens of delicious recipes that can satisfy your sweet tooth without flooding your body with harmful and addictive sugars.
So… what should you eat?
Your diet is your best medicine.
Sub-optimal nutrition can lead to pregnancy issues for you and long-term impacts on your baby, so it’s really important to focus on your diet as part of your pregnancy plan. (5)
The ideal diet for your fertility is high in good-quality fats and low sugar.
The Mediterranean Diet is a Good Base for Starting a Fertility Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is built around plant-based foods: fruits and veggies, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Eating a diet rich in these foods supports your body in getting the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.
The Mediterranean Diet also has more, higher-quality fats than the average American diet - things like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and lean meats.
Most importantly of all: your plate should be colorful!
Bright colors in fruits and vegetables signal antioxidants, which have been shown to benefit embryo development and assist in fertilization.
For an easy and delicious way to get more healthy fats and antioxidants in your diet, check out our Avocado and Raspberry Smoothie recipe.
We’ve talked about the need for a diet rich in fiber and multicolored fruits and veggies for pre-biotics.
Probiotics are equally as important for optimal gut health and hormone balance.
We recommend probiotic-rich foods such as greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
The Cultivate Fertility Diet
Knowing what to eat and making changes to your diet can be hard, but now you don’t have to do it alone.
Our Cultivate Fertility Diet Course is a comprehensive nutritional guide including hours of cooking instruction w/ printable guides, our favorite fertility recipes, nutrient supplementation guidance, sample menus, shopping lists and more to help you give your body exactly what it needs to be supported during conception and pregnancy.
The Cultivate Fertility Diet is complete with the most essential macro and micro nutrients to prime your reproductive system for the best chances of conceiving, and addresses the most common nutritional deficiencies that women face.
Whether you have just decided to start a family, have been trying to get pregnant for years, or are considering IVF, the Cultivate Fertility Diet Course is for you!
No matter where you are in your fertility journey, we’ll provide you with a wonderful foundation for starting your family.
Click below to learn more and register for the
1) Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Nov;110(5):1050-8. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000287293.25465.e1. PMID: 17978119.
2) Wang Q, Moley KH. Maternal diabetes and oocyte quality. Mitochondrion. 2010;10(5):403-410. doi:10.1016/j.mito.2010.03.002
3) Chiu YH, Afeiche MC, Gaskins AJ, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverage intake in relation to semen quality and reproductive hormone levels in young men. Hum Reprod. 2014;29(7):1575-1584. doi:10.1093/humrep/deu102
4) Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Jul;16(4):434-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c8b8. PMID: 23719144
5) Panth N, Gavarkovs A, Tamez M, Mattei J. The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health. 2018;6:211. Published 2018 Jul 31. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211