Fertility-Boosting Foods + Recipes To Support A Healthy Conception & Pregnancy
If you’ve been following along on the blog or insta for awhile, you probably know helping people eat real, nutrient-dense food that tastes good and helps them feel even better is my JAM.
But the more in depth I work with clients and the longer I participate in the coaching community, the more glaringly obvious it’s become there is an abundance of hormonal health imbalances affecting our population’s energy, vitality, fertility (in both men and women), weight, digestion, pain + inflammation and overall health.
I want to help my clients and the community heal on an even deeper level, and am so excited to announce along with being a certified nutrition + healthy lifestyle coach I am now accredited through the Institute For Integrative Nutrition’s Physician-Approved Hormone Health Certification.
This means I’ve now completed and passed training designed specifically to understand hormonal health imbalances (i.e. thyroid, adrenal, gut, fertility, menstrual, menopausal and ovarian imbalances) and support clients in healing them in order to achieve optimal health.
That being said you can expect me to mix in a lot more info about hormonal health (along with the usual delicious + nutritious recipes) — starting with a topic that the CDC reports one out of seven couples currently struggle with — fertility.
This is a sensitive, extremely personal topic and I do want to advise anyone reading this to always, always check in with 1) yourself and what feels right for you and 2) a licensed health practitioner (MD/OB) before making any drastic changes to your health and lifestyle. Keep in mind you are unique and different from anyone else on this planet, and what works for one person ultimately may not be best or feel right for you — and that’s OKAY.
I encourage you to take these recommendations into consideration with an open mind, and again check in with yourself and your licensed practitioner prior.
Why Food Matters —
Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. These cells are constantly dividing and making new cells daily, and the food we eat is majorly responsible for the quality of these cells. This is amazing because it means we have a lot more control over our health then what we’re lead to believe, as well as the genetic code of our future baby.
Keep in mind even if you’re not ready to get pregnant yet (but perhaps it’s not too far off down the road) the quality of both the egg and sperm begin developing 90 days prior to conception, so it’s never too early to begin incorporating these foods if that’s the direction you know you’re heading.
It’s also important to note if you are a woman currently pregnant, what you eat has the ability to affect fetal development, the baby’s DNA, and their long-term health (otherwise known as fetal programming) and the foods below are both optimal for fertility and pregnancy.
5 Fertility-Boosting Foods For A Healthy Conception & Pregnancy —
+ Bone Broth —
Bone broth made from organic, pasture-raised cows or chickens is rich in macro-minerals essential for a healthy conception and pregnancy — including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sulfur. It also contains gut-healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline that reduce intestinal inflammation. This is important because when our guts become inflamed it can lead to leaky gut, which can result in autoimmune diseases and disrupt hormones critical for fertility like estrogen, progesterone and your thyroid gland.
Where to Buy/How to Use —
Look for brands that are labeled organic and pasture-raised (like this brand) and use in soups, stews and casseroles, or just heat in a mug and drink straight up. I also love incorporating Collagen Bone Broth Protein Powder into my smoothies.
+ Healthy Fats —
Try crowding out GMO and overly-processed (aka heated to high temperatures/bleached with chemicals) oils like soybean, canola and vegetable with nutrient-dense fats like avocado, coconut or olive oil, grass-fed butter or ghee and duck fat. Healthy, quality fat (particularly saturated fat) contributes to healthy levels of cholesterol, and cholesterol is necessary to make sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone and progesterone). Because of this consuming quality fat helps to balance hormones and improve fertility and conception odds, as well as to help your babies brains fully develop.
Where to Buy/How to Use —
I like cooking or baking with unrefined, organic coconut oil , avocado oil or grass-fed ghee. I use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in salad dressings and love blending in a scoop of coconut butter to my smoothies or coffees.
+ Pasture-Raised Meat, Eggs + Wild Fish —
Not to sound like a broken record but I do want to emphasize that quality saturated fat is vital to make enough cholesterol, which the body then uses to make fully-functioning sex hormones, which are of course necessary to make a healthy baby! While coconut fat is a great source, you can also get plenty of high quality saturated fat from grass-fed and pasture-raised meat and eggs, as well as wild salmon.
Where to Buy/ How to Use —
This is a great opportunity to head to your local farmers market and chat with the vendors about how they source and care for their protein (and you can find some of the tastiest options to boot). You can also look for a local butcher in the area that practices sustainable farming practices or many grocery stores (even Costco) now offer options that are grass-fed, wild, pasture-raised, organic and hormone-free.
I like to use Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs in scrambles, on top of (gluten-free) toast or soft-boiled in salads/bowls. Wild smoked salmon and organic roasted chicken are my easy, go-to options to top bowls, tacos, soups, or pastas with. We occasionally buy grass-fed lamb, bison or buffalo to make burgers with lettuce wraps and sweet potato fries (my fave!)
+ Leafy Greens —
You can think of leafy greens as your body’s natural cleanser — they work to do everything from scavenging disease-causing free radicals, improving your circulation, purifying your blood and supporting optimal liver and gall bladder health (key for hormonal balance). They also help to alkalize your body’s pH, which is important because if your body’s pH is too acidic (due to too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol, low-grade meat or processed foods) the sperm won’t survive to fertilize the egg.
Where to Buy/How to Use —
I truly think the easiest and tastiest way to get in a solid dose of leafy greens is to mix them in with a smoothie, especially one that incorporates bone broth protein powder and healthy fats like avocado, coconut or cashew butter (killing two birds with one stone). You can also use them in non-boring salads, chop them finely to use in pastas, casseroles, meatballs, burgers, soups or dips, or steam/sauté them for stir-fries, stuffed sweet potatoes and as a base for curries.
+ Thyroid-Boosting Foods —
This one goes into a category all on it’s own as the thyroid is such a key player in hormonal balance. It regulates our heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism and body temperature and has a huge impact on weight, fertility, menstruation, skin tone, energy levels, sleep, memory and digestion as a result. The thyroid being off can prevent ovulation and, therefore, fertility or cause a miscarriage, but luckily you can support your thyroid health by adding in the foods listed above, as well as the five other key nutrients it needs below (especially when trying to conceive).
Where to Buy/How to Use —
+ Iodine — Foods rich in iodine help the thyroid make the hormones it needs to regulate metabolism. Try adding artichokes (I love roasting or grilling them and dipping them in aioli), roasted seaweed snacks, nori wraps for homemade sushi, hand rolls or wraps, onions, and pineapples.
+ Essential Fatty Acids — These are essential for implantation of the egg and play a key role in thyroid health. Sneak in wild salmon and leafy greens and try adding a tablespoon of flax or chia seeds to your smoothie, oatmeal or yogurt bowl.
+ Coconut Butter + Oil — Raw saturated far is quickly converted into energy and helps to regulate thyroid function. Try cooking or baking with it or drizzling it over toast, oatmeal, or adding to smoothies.
+ Copper + Iron — Having enough iron will help your body manufacture thyroid hormones and copper supports hypothalamus function, which communicates with the thyroid and other hormones to make sure everything is running smoothly. Lentils, spinach, dark chocolate, beans, red meat, eggs, broccoli and pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, while most nuts, seeds, seafood and dark chocolate are a good source of copper.
*One caveat to this is with a copper IUD. If you’ve been using a copper IUD for birth control (aka Paraguard) you will need to detoxify from copper before getting pregnant as it can really throw your mineral balance off. Try adding chlorella drops to your water or a scoop of spirulina to your smoothie.
Wanna get the most bang for your buck and combine all these foods into one easy, delicious recipe? Try my Green-Baby-Makin’ Machine Smoothie Recipe (also great for pregnant or nursing women, or just anyone who wants a tasty AF smoothie in general :))
Green Baby Makin' Machine Smoothie
A delicious, creamy and satiating green smoothie jam-packed with fertility-boosting foods to help you achieve a healthy conception and pregnancy.
Brazil Nut Milk:
- 1 cup raw brazil nuts
- 3 cups filtered water
- 2-4 dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean pod, chopped
- sprinkle of sea salt
- 1 - 1 ½ cups Brazil Nut Milk (if not making sub for unsweetened hemp, cashew, almond or coconut milk)
- 1 large handful frozen spinach
- 1 large handful frozen kale
- 1 scoop Vanilla Bone Broth Protein Powder
- 1 tbsp cashew, almond or coconut butter
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1-2 dates, pitted and chopped (depends on how sweet you like it, I prefer two :))
- 1 tsp spirulina powder
- ¼ avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
- ½ frozen banana
- If making the Brazil Nut Milk (delicious and supports optimal thyroid function) soak ALL nut milk ingredients in a bowl overnight, or for at least 8 hours. When done soaking, mix well in a high speed blender, then pour through a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag (you will want to do this to remove small particles, otherwise the texture of the milk won't be as smooth).
- If making the Brazil nut milk, use as a base of the smoothie (if not sub an alternative unsweetened nut milk) and add in all other ingredients to a high speed blender and mix until smooth.
- This recipe makes a really thick, creamy smoothie (just the way I like it) but if you like smoothies on the more liquid-side, try adding more milk to thin the consistency.
- Top with desired toppings. I love adding a dollop of probiotic-rich coconut yogurt, sprinkle of paleo granola and scoop of cashew butter.