Diet and exercise are both major factors not only during pregnancy, but also while trying to conceive. However, while the internet is filled with advice about what not to eat while you’re expecting, information about which foods negatively affect fertility can be harder to come by. To help balance things out, here’s a list of five things you shouldn’t eat (or drink) when trying to get pregnant.
You already know you’ll be giving up alcohol once you see those two pink lines, but giving them up sooner may make it easier to conceive. Alcohol affects your hormone balance, which is especially important during the follicular phase of your cycle, and drinking too much can disrupt your cycle. It’s also acidic (more on that later) and dehydrating. If you’re dehydrating, your cervical mucus may get too thick.
Likewise, it’s a good idea to lower your caffeine intake while trying to conceive. Less than 200 milligrams per day should be fine, but amounts higher than that have been linked to fertility problems. You’ll have to cut back eventually anyway, since too much caffeine can also increase your risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.
Image via Flickr by DaveCrosby
By definition, junk food is never a healthy choice, but it’s especially important to avoid it while trying to conceive. Many processed foods, fried foods, and baked goods are high in trans fat, which inhibits your body’s ability to process insulin. This, in turn, can contribute to irregular ovulation.
However, this same logic does not apply to every kind of fat; some are actually helpful. Studies have indicated that whole milk, for instance, can provide some protection against ovulatory infertility, while skim and low-fat milk do the opposite. The monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, meanwhile, increases insulin sensitivity to reduce the inflammation that can interfere with ovulation and conception.
Need another reason to cut back on coffee and wine when you’re trying to get pregnant? It’s also acidic. Consuming acidic foods and beverages during ovulation can make your cervical mucus inhospitable to sperm. Alkaline foods, such as baby carrots and green vegetables, can have the opposite effect.
Fish is generally one of the healthier proteins available, but you need to be selective with seafood. The high levels of mercury in certain fish (such as marlin, orange roughy, tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and ahi and bigeye tuna) make them dangerous to consume before and during pregnancy. Mercury has been linked to infertility, and it can stay in your system for more than a year — long enough to affect your little one’s brain and nervous system in the womb.
Still, there’s no need to avoid fish altogether, as omega-3 fatty acids can be crucial during ovulation. Wild salmon, which is high in omega-3s and low in mercury, is a particularly good choice.
A healthy diet and exercise are both important factors in fertility, but don’t overdo it. Consult with a doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. You’ll need personalized recommendations to make sure you don’t deprive yourself of too many calories.