Pre-Conception Health

Preparing your body for pregnancy by eating right and decreasing exposure to toxins is important and can boost your fertility and make your pregnancy easier. When starting to consider trying for a baby I think it is important to not get too focused on becoming pregnant straight away as this can quickly become quite stressful, which isn’t going to help your body conceive. Instead, give yourself time to enjoy it and let nature take its course. Focus on being the healthiest you can be before getting pregnant and make it a time where you gradually prepare yourself and your body for what is going to be an amazing 9 months.

Below are some healthy diet & lifestyle pointers to help you prepare yourself & your body for a healthy pregnancy.

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{Women}
  • Start taking a good quality pre-natal vitamin. It is a well known fact that adequate nutrients, particularly folic acid, is essential for pregnancy and a healthy development of a growing baby. Make sure your supplement has between 400-800 mcg folic acid and is free of harmful additives such as red 40, artificial sweeteners and the like. Check with your local health food store to find a good quality supplement that suits you. 
    Besides supplements, good food sources of folic acid include lentils, green leafy vegetables, broccoli & asparagus.
  • Healthy oils are great for boosting fertility and good for both you and your future baby. Including avocados, flax seeds, fish, nuts and good quality cold pressed unrefined flax seed oil & extra virgin olive oil in your daily diet is a good way to get healthy mono and poly-unsaturated fats (remember to use these oils cold as the heat from cooking can destroy their volatile fats). A good quality fish or cod liver oil supplement is also a great way to boost your intake of omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). Omega 3 fats aid fertility by promoting a healthy hormone balance, increasing healthy cervical mucous production & promoting regular ovulation. Aside from supporting fertility, omega 3 fatty acids also promote healthy hair, skin & nails as well as healthy blood sugar levels, which can help curb sugar and carbohydrate cravings before and during pregnancy. For cooking, I recommend a good quality extra virgin coconut oil (you can get ones without the coconut taste as well if you don’t like the taste). Coconut oil is rich in healthy saturated fats and is very heat stable, making it ideal for cooking as well as desserts.
  • Detox your environment step by step by eliminating or decreasing your use of toxic household cleaners, skin care products and other harsh ingredients. For more tips & info on this read (Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals & 5 Simple Tips For A Healthier & Greener Lifestyle. Some of the by-products in plastic, cleaners and toxic skin care products can interfere with the body’s hormone balance and cause toxic overload on your liver, which is an important organ during pregnancy.
  • Another good way to decrease toxin exposure is to use a good water filter. Pure water is the best way to cleanse your body and a water filter will help eliminate harmful contaminants that can build up and affect your health & hormones long term. There are plenty of fancy ones out there but if you want to start out low key, a Brita water filter is easy, does the job and is inexpensive to buy.
  • Cut out of limit your caffeine intake to max 1 cup a day – if at all. It is best to get into the habit of skipping the coffee early on as too much caffeine can put your baby at risk in the early stages of pregnancy and it’s stimulating effects can affect your hormones as well as your baby’s birth weight and heart rate. During pregnancy caffeine is metabolised much slower than usual and can worsen nausea, heart burn and headaches. Swapping coffee for a cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice will benefit your body and your digestion majorly. Not only is it alkalising – it also promotes internal cleansing, boost digestive enzymes and is great for your liver.
  • Buy organic produce when possible and make sure to thoroughly wash all your fruit & veggies to decrease dietary consumption of residual pesticides & fertilizers, which can impact fertility in both men and women. Read How To Best Clean Fresh Produce for an easy & effective cleansing method.
  • Limit foods high in heavy metals before pregnancy is very important since metals, such as mercury, are stored in fatty tissue and can remain in the body for months. Predatory and larger fish, such as shark, swordfish and some types of tuna, have the highest levels of mercury while salmon, cod and sardines have lower levels.
  • Be good to your liver and stay away from alcohol, tobacco, drugs & painkillers. Avoid refined foods, all artificial sweeteners and too much sugar, since none of these nourishes your body but can lead to a sluggish liver function, poor digestion and imbalanced hormone levels.
  • Staying active & exercising regularly is a great way to boost your fertility. Whatever you can do, start there. It could be stretching 15 minutes a day or doing a 30 minute walk. It doesn’t have to be in the gym or anything fancy. Most physical activity that will help you de-stress is great and will promotes a healthy hormone balance, lift your mood and help you relax, all of which are key for fertility.
{Men}
  • Taking a good quality multivitamin to ensure an adequate supply of zinc, selenium and B vitamins, all of which are very important for the production of healthy semen.
  • Keeping active and exercising regularly is a great way to prepare for pregnancy as it helps decrease stress, which is known to negatively impact male fertility.
  • Avoid continuous exposure to heat in the reproductive area as this can decrease the sperm count and quality. A lot of cycling, saunas, hot tubs, daily car rides with a hot seat heater etc. can all negatively affect male fertility.
  • Eat a nutritious diet full of fertility boosting foods. For men these include, oats, brazil nuts, oysters, pumpkin seeds, lots of fresh fruit & vegetables, organic eggs and organic lean meats.
  • Be aware of toxins in your environment. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, ongoing exposure to certain things like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, lead, nickel, mercury, chromium, ethylene glycol ethers, petrochemicals, benzene, perchloroethylene, and radiation can lower sperm quality & quantity. It is also important to be aware of toxins in skin care products, especially those used daily and in large quantities. (Check out this post on healthy skin care for more info).
  • Healthy oils are as important for males as they are for females and essential for the male reproductive system. Particularly omega 3 oils, such as those found in chia seeds, walnuts, fish and cod liver oil, are particularly beneficial and have shown to promote healthy sperm production.
  • Avoid tobacco, marijuana and any illicit drugs and limit alcohol consumption. Drugs directly affect sperm quality while too much alcohol decreases zinc levels, an essential nutrient for semen production.
  • Drink filtered water to eliminate ingestion of harmful contaminants (see above).
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