Are you planning a pregnancy or better health and fertility this year?
Let’s make this year different than any before!
I’m suggesting we skip the lofty New Year’s resolutions that often leave us deprived and unhappy and trade it in for living an intentional and mindful year that prioritizes self-care. Especially if we’re looking to prioritize our health for us and our family building plans, we don’t need deprivation or restrictive lifestyles to get us there.
While self-care has become quite the trendy term, it simply boils down to prioritizing one’s own physical and mental health. It requires turning inward to uncover the things that bring happiness and joy, and ensuring we do more of those things!
So this year, instead of creating a rigid list of foods or activities you’re swearing off, consider creating a list you can draw upon whenever you’d like to revitalize your commitment to self-love and self-care. Begin this self-care list by taking inventory of all of the things that bring you joy. This list may include people, places, activities, hobbies, and perhaps even smells and tastes! Know that this list is ever-evolving, so remain flexible and update it as needed.
To help you succeed at this ongoing self-care practice, I’ve created a list of foods you can draw on to incorporate as part of your self-care practice.
Foods to help you focus and boost fertility:
Salmon (and other fatty fish) — Many researchers consider DHA to be the most important fat found in the human brain, and the unusual concentration of this omega-3 fatty acid in salmon helps explain the research-documented benefits of salmon including better brain function, better overall cell function, and improved control of the body’s inflammatory processes.
If you’re planning a pregnancy this year, fatty fish is essential for baby’s brain development as well as nourishing your body for conception. The right kinds of fat fuel us, keep us full, and boost our fertility.
Strawberries — The strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits provided by strawberries have proven to improve brain function. Certain research studies have shown the connection between strawberry consumption and new nerve generation in the hippocampus, which is often involved in the learning and recall of new information.
As for the impact on fertility, antioxidant need increases as we age to maintain healthy eggs and reduce oxidative stress that can cause abnormalities and reduce egg quality. As I describe in this article, it takes about 3 months for an egg to undergo final maturation before it is ovulated, during which it is susceptible to damage or improper development. Increasing antioxidants in the diet is helpful to combat this possibility.
Cinnamon — Just smelling the wonderful aroma of this sweet spice boosts brain activity! Purchase cinnamon in its dried stick or powder form to add to recipes like my hormone healthy hot chocolate recipe or my dairy free chai “latte” recipe for additional nourishment.
Other suggested foods include avocado, blueberries, oranges, and walnuts.
Foods to decrease stress and tension and benefit fertility:
Turmeric — Prized for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, recent studies have shown the spice plays an active role in treating various central nervous system disorders as well as offering a protective action against stress. Turmeric can be utilized either fresh or dried and is easily incorporated into many types of cuisines.
Inflammation has also been linked to hormone imbalances, and fertility and pregnancy complications, so adding this anti-inflammatory spice is a great step to support your health. One of my favorite ways to eat turmeric is to make this buttery, cauliflower rice with turmeric recipe!
Eggs (and other proteins) — Incorporating high-quality, pasture-raised and organic, protein, like eggs, is key to supporting your body through stress as it will fuel your system from a cellular level, ensuring your body will return to balance. Eggs are also an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that has been shown to play an important role in brain health and may protect against stress. Choline is critical for baby’s brain health, so make sure you get plenty by eating eggs and other choline containing foods, and supplementing with a high quality choline supplement if needed during pregnancy.
Leafy greens — Leafy greens, including spinach, kale, and chard, all contain choline as well, which as mentioned above, play an important role in baby’s brain development. Additionally, the antioxidant richness found in leafy greens is helpful in the reduction of oxidative stress. They also help in the detoxification of estrogen metabolites aka they help balance hormone levels in the body.
Other suggested foods include broccoli, parsley, organ meats, sweet potatoes, and water.
Foods to soothe and relax you (that also benefit fertility!):
Walnuts — A fascinating aspect of walnuts and their potential health benefits involves their naturally occurring melatonin. Melatonin is a widely-active messaging molecule in our nervous system and is critical in the regulation of sleep, daily (circadian) rhythms, light-dark adjustment, and other processes. If you’re looking for improved sleep and relaxation, grab a handful of walnuts!
Proper melatonin levels can contribute to improved egg quality too, most likely due to melatonin’s antioxidant properties. Incorporating melatonin rich food for dinner could be a great way to naturally support better sleep and better fertility!
Bananas — Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium, an important mineral that relaxes your muscles and activates your parasympathetic nervous system that regulates “rest and digest”. A body that’s stressed isn’t going to prioritize healthy hormones and reproduction, because it doesn’t feel safe doing so! Getting into the rest and digest state more often than not is a great way to start gently telling your body that there it’s safe and there are abundant resources to grow another human.
Other suggested foods include honey, nuts, seeds, and eggs.
Foods to energize you:
Cacao — Cacao is a superfood that will boost your energy! It comes in many different forms, including powder and nibs, and can be added to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal. The powder is a yummy addition to the hormone healthy hot cocoa mentioned above.
Apples — Due to its comprehensive macronutrient and micronutrient profile, this fruit provides a burst of energy in the form of carbohydrates and natural sugars, while also stabilizing blood sugar. I recommend pairing it with the walnuts or some other fat source, like nut butter, for best blood sugar results.
Other suggested foods include rice, quinoa, potatoes, pineapple, and dark chocolate.
Here’s to a new year where we swap the complicated resolutions for clear intentions and fuel our bodies with foods that support our goals! Wishing you only health, happiness, and joy for 2021.