By Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC
Today a lot of women are waiting later to have babies and our 30’s is when we are starting to prepare our bodies for pregnancy. One thing that helps improve fertility is improving your diet. Here are some tips that will help with get your oven ready when you are:
- Cut back on the caffeine. A study in The British Journal of Pharmacology concluded that caffeine prevented eggs in the fallopian tubes from reaching the uterus. While the study was conducted on mice and not humans it still shows some potential fertility issues when consuming too much caffeine. Be sure to stick to 200 mg a day.
- Limit alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol can also play a role in fertility. According to a 2016 study by Danish researchers drinking two bottles of wine or more a week can decrease your fertility by 18 percent.
- Take a quality vitamin. If you’re considering trying for a baby in the next 6-12 months it doesn’t hurt to start taking a high quality prenatal vitamin to make sure you are preparing your body with the right nutrients. Folic acid is often recommended for women who are preparing for pregnancy. However, not every woman can convert folic acid in which case you should also make sure that you are getting an active form known as methyl folate from your diets. This can be found dark leafy greens, such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, beans, peas, lentils, asparagus, okra, and brussel sprouts.
- Get in that workout. Getting adequate exercise is also important for fertility but balance is key. Too much high intensity workouts can alter hormone balance and prevent you from getting pregnant. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that high-intensity, strenuous and prolonged exercise increases cortisol levels, while lowering thyroid hormones. When your body is not producing adequate thyroid hormone your metabolism will drop and this is not something you want to happen when you are trying to have a baby.
- Be positive! Have a positive mindset to keep fertile. The mind is a powerful thing. If you feel like you won’t get pregnant your body may sense the stress and be a hindrance on your fertility. Negative attitude can lead to stress and this can affect your hormones and prevent you from conceiving.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure you’re at a healthy body weight. Often women who are overweight or obese will have a harder time conceiving. Try to limit major fluctuations in weight gain or weight loss during this time.
- Get adequate nutrition. While taking a multivitamin is important it does not make up for a subpar diet. You want to continue to eat a diet rich in vegetables. The more color the better to maximize your vitamin intake. Make sure you are getting enough healthy fat, little to no added sugar (strive for 25 grams or 6 teaspoons), and plenty of protein.
Another concern for women in their 30’s is this the time when bone mass starts to decline. Lifestyle factors like heavy drinking, lack of exercise, and a diet high in processed food with little vegetables can lead to poor bone health.
You are especially at risk if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia in your family.
Contrary to what the milk ads tell us milk alone will not do a body good. So you cannot just down a few glasses of milk and think your bones will be fine. What you really need is a delicate balance of minerals calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium along with vitamin D to maintain adequate bone health.
The best foods for strong bones include: kale, eggs, nuts, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), spinach, kefir, sardines, salmon, tuna, and colorful vegetables.
Avoid any foods that are processed and contain phosphorus preservatives. These compounds strip the bones of nutrients and can lead to weak bones. Look for the word “phos” on ingredient labels and stay away!
In addition to having a good diet, adequate exercise is needed to strengthen your bones. Building muscle will not only help increase your metabolism but it will help protect your bones which will be important for later in life. Some of the best exercises to do are: lunges, along with high intensity activities like running, jumping rope, squat jumps, and burpees. Getting at least 3 to 4 days of strength training will help build your muscles and protect your bones.
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