The Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Fertility

When it comes to fertility, diet and lifestyle play a significant role. Making healthy choices can improve your chances of conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term. Here's what you need to know about the link between fertility and lifestyle factors.

Diet and fertility

What you eat can have a big impact on your fertility. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help improve your fertility. On the other hand, a diet high in processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats can negatively affect fertility.

Certain nutrients are especially important for fertility. These include:

  • Folic acid: This B-vitamin is essential for the proper development of a baby's neural tube. It's important to get enough folic acid before you get pregnant and during the early weeks of pregnancy. Good sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, beans, and fortified grains.

  • Iron: Adequate iron is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues. Iron-deficiency anemia has been linked to fertility issues in women. Good sources of iron include red meat, poultry, fish, beans, and fortified grains.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These healthy fats are important for fetal brain and eye development. They may also improve fertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

  • Zinc: This mineral is important for the production of healthy eggs and sperm. It may also improve fertility in men with low sperm counts. Good sources of zinc include seafood, meat, poultry, beans, and whole grains.

Lifestyle and fertility

In addition to diet, other lifestyle factors can affect fertility. These include:

  • Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption can interfere with fertility in both men and women. It's best to limit alcohol intake or avoid it altogether when trying to conceive.

  • Caffeine: Large amounts of caffeine have been linked to fertility issues in some studies. It's generally recommended to limit caffeine intake to 200 mg per day (about one 12-ounce cup of coffee) when trying to conceive.

  • Smoking: Smoking can harm fertility in both men and women. It's best to quit smoking before trying to conceive to improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

  • Weight: Being either underweight or overweight can affect fertility. A healthy body mass index (BMI) is generally considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9. If you're outside of this range, talk to your doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight.

  • Stress: Chronic stress can interfere with fertility. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or counseling, can improve your chances of conceiving.

Making healthy lifestyle choices can improve your fertility and increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. If you're having trouble conceiving, consider making changes to your diet and lifestyle. Talk to your doctor for personalised advice and guidance.