Guest blog by Jennifer Redmond, a certified integrative nutrition health coach and fertility expert.
Planning to get pregnant naturally or with the help of fertility treatment? Now’s the time to get your body in the best shape possible to improve your ability to conceive. Studies have shown correlations between a healthy diet, reduced stress, quality sleep and improved fertility.
What you eat can have a positive impact on hormone health and fertility. In fact, your diet can influence your menstrual cycle, ovulation, egg quality and your immune system. Eating a diet consistent with the Mediterranean Diet, is an excellent model and looks like this:
- More plant-based protein (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds) than animal protein. A diet higher in plant-based rather than animal protein has been shown to reduce the risk of infertility, including ovulatory infertility.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense. Eating a wide-variety gives you a wide variety of nutrients for a healthy mind, an healthy endocrine system and healthy fetus.
- Gluten-free whole grains. Research has shown a possible link between gluten sensitivity and infertility. Plus, wheat is one of the 8 most common allergenic foods and can cause reactions including inflammation and hormonal imbalance.
- Healthy oils and fats (olive oil, avocado). A Harvard study has found that these healthy fats can reduce insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and support fertility.
Be Less Stressed.
The relationship between stress and fertility is evident. Studies have demonstrated that using mind-body techniques to manage stress will help you have a more positive outlook and increase your chances of getting pregnant. These might include meditation, developing a gratitude practice, and deep breathing exercises.
Deep breathing exercises help reduce anxiety and diminish stress and can be done anywhere, sitting or lying down. The 4-7-8 breath, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, is a great tool:
- Exhale fully through your mouth making a “whoosh” sound
- Inhale quietly through your nose to a count of 4
- Hold your breath to a count of 7
- Exhale fully through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound, to a count of 8
- Repeat the 4-7-8 pattern three more times, for a total of four breaths
While you sleep your body releases hormones, including fertility-related hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle and ovulation. Studies have shown a correlation between insomnia, infertility and disrupted menstrual cycles in women who don’t get enough sleep. To help get a better night’s sleep:
- Develop a consistent sleep schedule. Plan to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
- Unplug. Turn off your phone and other electronics an hour or more before bedtime.
- Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature and reduce or eliminate ambient light and noise.
- Use breathing exercises or meditation to transition your body and mind to sleep.
Jennifer Redmond is a certified integrative nutrition health coach and fertility expert. She helps women boost their fertility, take control of their health, and feel deeply supported by taking a 360-degree view of their wellness.
Jennifer has worked in the infertility field for more than 15 years and has been featured in Prevention magazine, Inc.com, FertilityAuthority, the publications of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and RESOLVE New England and on many fertility clinics’ websites.