When preparing your body for pregnancy it is vital to flood your cells with foods that contain a huge array of nutrients as well as providing enough carbohydrates, proteins and fats. For example, antioxidants will protect an egg as it matures while optimal levels of omega 3’s will hydrate the egg and boost its vitality.
In the three months prior to actively trying to conceive, it is advisable for both partners to complete a period of cleansing. This involves avoiding alcohol, caffeine, sugar, smoking as well as eating more organic food and reducing stress levels.
Your requirement of three palm-sized portions of protein every day can be derived from meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses. Healthy fats can be found in avocado, fish, (avoid shark, swordfish & tuna), nut spreads, seeds, coconut and extra virgin olive oil. Don’t be afraid of fat as it forms the basis of your hormones and is necessary to nourish your baby’s brain in pregnancy.
Always eat low glycemic carbohydrates to avoid the glucose rush from high glycemic products such as sugar, white pasta and white bread. Insulin resistance is becoming more prevalent in Australia and is well known to play a role in infertility.
Here are my top 5 easy ways to increase your nutrient intake:
- Aim for five different colored vegetables at every dinner
- Juices – aim for 75% vegetables and 25% fruit with a nutrient driver such as ginger, lemon or parsley
- Salads – raw, fresh salads contain a mountain of goodness, always add fresh herbs at the end
- Swap the caffeine for herbal e.g. rosehip is high in vitamin C while licorice root tonifies your adrenals and reduces stress
- Smoothies – start with a base of coconut water or almond milk, add natural yoghurt, chia seeds, frozen berries and finish it off with your favorite Superfood such as Acai
Lastly, there are some foods that can really support your nutritional requirements during the preconception period. I would recommend having at least one of them on a daily basis.
The sulphur rich compounds as well as the anti oxidant glutathione will support your liver in breaking down toxins and fats. According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus contains more glutathione, a super antioxidant, than any other fruit or vegetable. Asparagus has high levels of folic acid, also called vitamin B9. In fact per half cup serving, asparagus has the highest folate content of any vegetable!
Apart from their astounding antioxidant capacity, studies have shown that pomegranate juice boosts libido in both men and women. I love pomegranate seeds in salads and they work well with feta, mint and rocket.
Kale has one of the richest nutrient profiles per calorie than any other vegetable. Not only does it contain anti cancer properties it increases your body’s ability to detoxify. Quickly blanch kale then stir fry with your favorite herbs and serve with a squeeze of lemon and extra virgin olive oil.
Contains glucosinolates which increase your body’s ability to detoxify. 1 cup of broccoli contains over 80mg of the antioxidant vitamin C as well as 58mcg of folate.
Guest article by Emma Sutherland
Naturopath, Presenter, Author