One of the most common questions that my fertility patients ask me is “What should I be eating?” While I may make more specific suggestions depending on a patient’s constitution or presenting symptoms, here are some guidelines that I think could benefit almost anyone.
- Eat Real Food! By real food, I mean food that is unprocessed and unrefined. If it feels like you need a chemistry degree to understand a food’s label, then it probably isn’t that good for you. If a food has been fortified, it’s because it is absolutely devoid of nutrition on its own.
- Don’t be afraid of a little red meat. I know we’ve all been told that red meat is full of saturated fat and thus, should be eaten sparingly. However, grass-fed organic beef is actually a superfood! All red meat is loaded with vitamins B12, B3 and B6. But, grass-fed beef offers more vitamin A ,E and micronutrients such as potassium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus than conventional beef. In addition, grass-fed beef is richer in health enhancing and inflammation fighting fatty acids than conventional grain-fed beef.
- Have a hot meal. Although many people believe that yogurt, smoothies and salads are the cornerstones of a health diet, we acupuncturists disagree. An important concept in Chinese medical theory is the idea of digestive fire. This fire processes and transforms food into energy. Too much cold food weakens this fire and can lead to a deficiency of energy and an accumulation of internal dampness or phlegm. For most people, an occasional smoothie or salad does not typically cause a problem.
- Just say no to lowfat. High consumption of lowfat dairy products seems to correlate with infertility so go ahead and let yourself indulge. Look for organic, grass-fed dairy products over conventional dairy products. If you are prone to mucus and phlegm, you may want to avoid dairy altogether or stick to raw milk products.
- Go nuts! Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds are all excellent sources of omega -3 essential fatty acids. These healthy fats play a role in thinning the blood, regulating the immune system, and decreasing inflammation. They are also very important in fetal brain growth and development. To get the best nutrition out of your nuts, buy them raw and soak them overnight before eating. I like to then dehydrate them in order to give them a little crunch.
- And, eat your veggies, of course! I think this one goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Because they are rich in iron, dark leafy greens make a particularly good choice for women trying to conceive.