Nutrition for Fertility and Pregnancy

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Having children is a gift from God but we need to do our bit to look after our bodies and maximise the health benefits of good nutrition to get pregnant, for the healthy growth of the baby and also for the health of the mother.  Post natal depression can be greatly enhanced by poor nutrition.  Here are some nutrition facts that are important for fertility and pregnancy.

THINGS TO DO
FRUIT AND VEG:
•    Fruits and vegetables not only deliver a wealth of vitamins and minerals, they’re also overflowing with free-radical-busting micronutrients, like phytochemicals and antioxidants. (Free radicals are harmful molecules that sneak into the body on the heels of everything from sunlight to car exhaust and can damage the ova, sperm, and reproductive organs)
OMEGA 3:
•    Oily fish and shellfish have essential fats called omega-3 fatty acids, which your body needs for optimal fertility – and seafood is the best source.
•    Can also be found in nuts and seeds
•    Omega-3s are important for a baby’s brain and eye development and have many other pregnancy-related benefits, including lowering your risk of preterm birth, reducing your chance of preeclampsia, and easing depression. It’s important to get omega-3 fatty acids from food because your body doesn’t make them.
IRON:
•    Load up now, because once you’re expecting, your body has difficulty maintaining its iron stores as your baby takes the mineral from you. Too little iron at the start of pregnancy puts you at risk for postpartum anemia — a condition affecting new mums that causes your red blood cells to fall below normal and drains your energy level. Can be found in dark leafy vegetables, lentils and other beans.
WATCH OUT FOR LISTERIA:
•    Listeria is a harmful bacterium found in ready-to-eat meats, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized dairy products. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get sick from eating listeria-laced food. Those trying to conceive should also be on alert because listeriosis (the infection caused by listeria) can cause a miscarriage early in the first trimester – possibly before you even know you’re pregnant.
•    To kill listeria, heat high-risk foods in the microwave until they’re steaming hot.. Toss any food that’s been at room temperature for more than two hours. Foods to avoid completely: Raw sushi, refrigerated smoked seafood, refrigerated pâté or meat spreads (canned or shelf-stable spreads are safe to eat), soft cheese made from unpasteurized (raw) milk, and other unpasteurized dairy products.

VITAMIN D:
•    Vitamin D is needed to help the body create sex hormones which in turn affects ovulation and hormonal balance. Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels. Found in eggs.
ZINC:
•    Without zinc, your cells can not divide properly; your oestrogen and progesterone levels can get out of balance and your reproductive system fully function. Low levels of zinc have been directly linked to miscarriage in early stages of a pregnancy, according to The Centers for Disease Control’s Assisted Reproductive Technology Report. Found in nuts, seeds, fish.

THINGS NOT TO DO

SOY FOODS:
•    Soy foods have been shown to contain oestrogen mimicking properties. It is best to avoid processed soy foods such as soy milk, soy burgers, soy protein powder, soy chips, soy meats, and soy cheeses to avoid a negative impact on your hormonal balance. If you have hypothyroidism, avoid soy completely.
FAT FREE FOODS:
•    Foods which are altered to be reduced in fat or fat-free are highly processed and high in sugar. When choosing foods always chose the foods as nature intended. Full fat dairy is one example that was shown in a study by Harvard to increase fertility over the fat-reduced options. Again, fat is what our bodies need to produce hormones.
ALCOHOL:
•    Although studies of alcohol’s effects on fertility are inconclusive, some do show a slight link between drinking and difficulty conceiving.
•    The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that if you do drink, have no more than two drinks a day if you’re trying to get pregnant.

CAFFEINE:
•    The American Pregnancy Association says that caffeine can hinder your body’s ability to absorb iron and calcium which are required  when expecting a baby
TOO MUCH MEAT:
•    Experts at Harvard Medical School say that replacing a serving of meat each day with vegetable or dairy protein such as beans, peas, soybeans or tofu, or nuts can boost fertility.

TOO MUCH VITAMIN A:
•    Make sure you don’t have more than the daily recommended dose of vitamin A, unless it’s all in a form called beta-carotene. Getting too much of a certain kind of vitamin A can cause birth defects. (The kind that occurs naturally in food is safe, so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it by eating foods rich in vitamin A.)

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