Weight loss is a good thing for most of us, but it can be especially helpful for women who are trying to get pregnant. Reducing their weight to a normal range after being overweight has been shown to balance their insulin levels, which can positively impact fertility and conception.
One way to get the weight-loss program rolling is to cut down on carbohydrates, studies have shown. And one such program that reduces carbs, the popular ketogenic diet, nutritionists say, can possibly improve a woman’s fertility status. Evidence continues to mount that a high-carb diet results in low fertility.
Still, the right kinds of carbohydrates can be helpful to a couple wanting children, and both the egg and sperm benefit in terms of fertility when healthy carbs are consumed in a regular diet, says Hethir Rodriguez, founder and president of Natural Fertility Info.com (www.natural-fertility-info.
com) and a certified herbalist specializing in women’s health.
“Recent research shows that reducing the carbohydrates in your diet may improve egg quality,” Rodriguez says. “But our long experience with nutrition shows us the issue is more complex than just ‘go low carb’ or ‘go keto’ for fertility.
“Remember, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Complex carbohydrates from whole grains – gluten-free is best – and vegetables burn slowly in the body, keeping your energy and mood high during your fertility program. Healthy sources of carbohydrates are those that are fresh, organic, and whole, because they are high in fiber and low in sugar.”
Rodriguez adds that a major problem with fertility is often caused by eating refined carbohydrates – white flour, pasta, white rice, baked goods, cereals, white potatoes.
“Fertility problems are aggravated when refined carbs are combined with simple sugars and processed foods,” Rodriguez says. “And women who rely too heavily on carbs from any source without adequate protein also frequently have hormonal imbalance or fertility concerns. Eating the right carbohydrates is important for your fertility.”
Rodriguez says the carbohydrates that are necessary and enhance fertility can be found in the following food sources:
Fruits. Blueberries, raspberries, apricots, apples, grapefruit, oranges, pears, avocado, melon, watermelon, prunes and plums.
Vegetables. Acorn and butternut squash, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, green and yellow beans, peas, carrots, celery, Brussels sprouts, bitter greens, cabbage, turnips, kale, chard, zucchini, peppers, leeks, onion, garlic, cucumber, lettuces (not iceberg), radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips.
High-fiber foods. Dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beans – navy, black, french, pinto – chickpeas, lentils, fresh-popped organic popcorn (not microwave) and whole fruits.
Whole grains. Barley and quinoa, sprouted bread, oats, rice pasta, brown rice, teff, millet, amaranth, or buckwheat, and wild rice.
Nuts and seeds. Cashews, pistachios, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
“Following a low-carb diet could be a good short-term option for women with egg health concerns as they prepare for natural conception or In Vitro Fertilization,” Rodriguez says. “Whatever your choice, be sure that you don’t end up with deficiencies in any key area and choose only nutritious foods that encourage natural fertility.
“It’s the overall composition of the diet, not just carb intake, that’s critical for reproductive health.”
About Hethir Rodriguez
Hethir Rodriguez is the founder and president of Natural Fertility Info.com (www.natural-fertility-info.
com), a website focusing on many aspects of natural fertility, infertility, and reproductive health. She has been a certified herbalist for nearly 20 years, specializing in women’s health and natural fertility. Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition sciences and is also a certified birth doula. Since founding Natural Fertility Info.com in 2007, Rodriguez has written and co-authored over 1200 articles on fertility. Her research, articles and guides have been read by over 40 million people.