Supporting Fertility Through Food
Sometimes fertility can feel very outside of our control – like something that happens to us, rather than for us. But our fertility is truly a gift and an invitation: an invitation to awareness of how our body responds to stress, to thoughts and emotions, as well as to the foods we eat.
Fueling our bodies with nutritious foods helps promote hormone balance, normal blood clotting and optimum health, which are all foundational for the reproductive system. Let’s cover some basics of healthy eating because these will not only help to regulate your cycle, but also help you feel your absolute best. The key here is in maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Whole, plant-based foods for the win.
Think whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. You almost cannot eat too many servings of non-starchy garden vegetables and greens. Fruits do contain natural sugars, so it is best not to eat them alone. Whole grains and other starchy carbs release glucose as they are digested, so choose unrefined grains over refined, processed grains like white rice and white bread.
Eat a variety of colors.
Different colors on your plate signals a greater variety of vitamins and minerals for your body. Shoot for five colors a day to ensure that you are getting a good mix of nutrients. Plus, colorful food is much more appealing – and delicious – to eat.
Make sure every meal (and snack) includes a source of protein.
Proteins are found in muscle tissue, skin cells, and bones. They also are involved in the production of enzymes, hormones, and clotting elements, among other functions. Because our body uses protein in so many ways, it is important we consume enough through our diet. Animal proteins, such as poultry, fish, eggs, and yogurt, are considered complete proteins. Plant-based proteins, such as beans and nuts, are best paired with a complex carbohydrate to help slow digestion and prevent spikes in blood sugar. Examples of complex carbs are brown rice, whole grain bread, and high fiber pastas. Eating protein also has the benefit of keeping you fuller longer and provides you with extra vitamins and minerals.
Don’t forget healthy fats and oils.
Healthy fertility cycles depend on a woman having sufficient body fat. Healthy fats are needed to make sex hormones, form cell membranes, support the nervous system, and absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Examples of healthy sources of fat are olive oil, flax seed, whole milk dairy, and avocados. When combined with protein and carbohydrates, healthy fats slow digestion, stabilize blood sugar, and provide energy.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
The importance of adequate water intake cannot be emphasized enough. Our bodies are roughly 60% water and it plays a part in nearly every structure and function of our body, including our reproductive system. Rule of thumb for minimum consumption is your weight in pounds (lbs.) divided by two; aim to drink at least that number of ounces of water in a day. Our body can confuse hunger with thirst, so try drinking water in between and before meals.
Watch your sugar intake.
Excess sugar in food leads to added weight and inflammation in our bodies. It also aggravates symptoms around the cycle and, of course, spikes our blood sugar levels. The brain reacts to sugar in a similar way that it reacts to cocaine; sugar addiction is real! Check the label for “added sugars” in each serving; it is even commonly added to savory processed foods, like tomato sauce and mustard. Keep in mind that 4g sugar equals one teaspoon. We should try to not consume more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.
Amanda is a degreed nutritionist, with a B.S. Nutritional Science and M.S. Medical Science with a concentration in Women’s Health. She founded Temple and Table to nourish our culture by drawing a connection between physical and spiritual health. For more information, visit templeandtable.com.