It’s a nine-month exercise in figuring out what to eat and drink. For a woman who is not yet pregnant, her questions are a little bit different. She wonders: What foods are bad for her fertility? What foods can help her boost her ability to conceive?
What foods should she just plain avoid, limit, cut, or abandon? You don’t exactly need a degree in nutrition to understand that the foods you eat before you get pregnant are important, especially if children are on your mind.
That being said don’t expect to eat a bunch of kale, blink twice and think: “I’m going to get pregnant, I’m going to get pregnant.”
Fertility issues are complex and very often beyond the reach of the leafiness of kale Still, there are certain bad foods for fertility, which can impact your chances to conceive. Oh and before you do the deep dive, I wanted to keep this list simple without the barrage of “dos” and “don’ts” that can sometimes be stressful just reading them.
Hear me out because it may just be this. These foods aren’t just bad for your fertility, some of them are just plain bad for your general well-being too!
Ok, time to dive in. Here are 10 food items you should avoid when trying to get pregnant.
1. Trans Fats
One of the bad foods for fertility you should steer clear of is trans fats. Foods that contain trans fats promote inflammation and make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
The solution is to go for the healthy fats – monounsaturated fats such as nuts, avocado, avocado oil, and olive oil. Make sure to avoid food with trans fats such as baked products like pastries, cakes, biscuits, candies, fast food, and chips if you are looking to conceive. Put them on your list as one of the bad foods for fertility.
2. Refined Carbs
Speaking of carbohydrates and fertility, the quality of the carbs you consume has a direct effect on your ability to conceive. Refined carbs are high-processed carbohydrates that have their fibre and other essential nutrients removed.
The fact that they don’t have fibre makes them increase the chance of medical problems like insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances.
This can lead to disturbed sex hormones while can lower the chances of getting pregnant. Try to avoid white bread and white rice, instead go for healthier options like quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread, or whole wheat foods.
The toxins present in processed foods may lead to inflammation in the body and could even have a negative impact on the cells lining a woman’s womb. This works as a barrier between you and a successful pregnancy, so consider refined carbs one of those bad foods for fertility.
Canned drinks and bottled sodas, sugar-sweetened soft drinks or energy drinks are likely to affect fertility. Artificial sweeteners are considered one of the bad foods for fertility. Why? They lead to metabolic changes and inflammation by causing blood-sugar spikes and altering your healthy gut bacteria.
Studies reveal that women drinking one soda daily may have up to a 25% lower rate of conceiving than women who don’t consume soda. These drinks can increase insulin resistance, weight gain, and metabolic syndrome. All of these are associated with PCOS, which is one of the leading causes of female infertility.
Fructose, preservatives, and artificial flavours in fizzy soft drinks may also turn toxic for the body, making it difficult to ensure you have good nutrition. All in all, you are best off avoiding soft drinks and sodas altogether and going for plain water instead.
4. High-Mercury Fish should be on Your Bad Foods for Fertility List
While different varieties of fish are good before and during pregnancy, make sure to avoid fish that are high in mercury. Mercury-rich fish like tuna and swordfish can damage the nervous system and might have adverse effects on your fertility. That definitely makes it one of those bad foods for fertility.
In fact, mercury-rich fish can also directly harm the growing fetus in pregnant women. Eating high-mercury fish while you are trying to conceive could build up mercury reserves in your body, thereby affecting the baby’s nervous system later.
There is no need to avoid healthy fish, which is great in your diet. Just make sure and go for low-mercury fish and seafood in your diet. Items like shrimp, cod, haddock, trout, light canned tuna, anchovies, and salmon work wonders for conception. In fact, they work as a great source of micronutrients, as well as anti-inflammatory omega-3s that boost fertility.
5. Red and Processed Meats
Consuming red and highly-processed meats, such as bacon, beef, sausage, and hot dogs may have a negative impact on fertility. Such meats are likely to be high in saturated fats and trans fats that may contribute to lower fertility.
Consuming large quantities of animal protein may also reduce your chances of conceiving. Women who prefer going for vegetable protein are less likely to suffer from ovulation disorders and have lower rates of infertility.
On the other hand, eating loads of processed meat increases the chances of ovulatory dysfunction (problems with egg growth and release) by 40%. If you are not able to ovulate regularly, your chances of conceiving also decrease.
A single extra serving of processed meat daily is associated with a 32% higher risk of ovulation troubles. Lastly, the harmful chemicals and nitrates used to preserve processed red meats may also impact your fertility.
6. Alcohol and Bad Foods for Fertility
We all are well aware that alcohol is harmful to the growing baby in pregnant women. But did you know that it might also reduce your chances of conceiving too? Women who consume seven or more alcoholic beverages in a week are likely to face more fertility problems.
Alcohol impacts ovulation and the regularity of your menstrual cycle. Additionally, it alters reproductive hormones such as testosterone, estradiol, and LH. These might be some of the reasons that alcohol reduces fertility. So, make sure you limit your alcohol intake when planning a baby.
7. Sugar is One of Those Bad Foods for Fertility Too!
Too much sugar is not recommended when you want to have a baby. A diet high in added sugar increases the risk of many health problems, including Type 2 diabetes. Make sure to avoid sugary foods, especially when you are trying to conceive with PCOS.
The refined sugars in such food items undergo processes that remove some essential nutrients that boost fertility. Plus, a lot of sugar increases the insulin levels in your body, affects the ovaries and lowers your chances of conceiving.
Major blood sugar spikes can alter your hormones, cause inflammation, and might also affect ovulation.
8. Low-Fat Dairy
The idea of low-fat may sound good for weight loss. However, skim milk or low-fat milk could have adverse effects on a woman’s fertility. Consuming low-fat dairy products regularly has been shown to cause anovulatory infertility (problems with eggs growing and releasing) in some women.
The processing of full-fat milk into skimmed milk alters the hormone composition of the milk, which influences your hormonal balance when you consume it. Low-fat dairy may also be rich in the male-type hormones called androgens and may make the female body produce androgens.
The production of this hormone alters your menstrual cycle.
Women consuming more than two servings of low-fat dairy daily have been shown to be more likely to suffer from infertility than those who consume it once a week. You can choose to go dairy-free or have plant-based milk or consume dairy options with varying quantities of fat.
9. Unpasteurized Soft Cheeses
While you don’t need to stay away from cheese, unpasteurized soft cheese is something you should avoid in pregnancy and while trying to conceive. Any type of cheese that’s prepared using unpasteurized milk, or that is ripened using mould is likely to contain bacteria that may affect fertility.
If you still choose to eat these cheeses, make sure you always cook the cheese before consuming it. Listeria may be present in cheeses like Roquefort, Brie, Gorgonzola, and Camembert. Listeria has been shown in some rare cases to hamper conception.
Pasteurized milk is heated to temperatures high enough to kill dangerous bacteria, and that’s why it’s safe to have pasteurized hard cheese. In fact, it works as a great source of protein and calcium, which promotes a healthy growing baby.
The last one on the list of bad foods for fertility is caffeine. This one is controversial though, because there have been very few studies. According to the experts, the recommended daily dose for caffeine before and during pregnancy is 200 milligrams. This equals two cups of coffee, so you don’t need to miss your morning cup of coffee.
However, if you crave for more during the day, you might want to consider cutting back on that extra caffeine. A few extra cups of your favourite beverage daily might cause some problems. Check out your daily caffeine consumption with this brilliant caffeine calculator.
Research suggests that caffeine interferes with the production of oestrogen and other hormones that play a major role in conception.
A Healthy Start Includes Avoiding Bad Foods for Fertility
When it comes to planning a baby and trying to conceive, the key is to avoid the above bad foods for fertility. Period! Your diet plays a significant role in a successful conception. A careful regime may not only help you conceive but also make sure that your baby gets a healthy start!