Many women complain about having problems in conceiving due to various reasons that raise the odds of infertility. In this video, Hana Feeney, a registered dietitian in Tucson, Arizona, tells about how eating certain foods and avoiding others can increase your chances of a healthy conception. Your body processes harmful carbs (like cookies, cakes, no-fiber breakfast oats, sugary beverages, chips, white bread and rice) rapidly, and transforms them into blood sugar. On the other hand, healthy carbs (those containing fiber, for example, natural products, vegetables, beans and whole grains) are processed gradually and have a more steady impact on glucose and insulin. As Hana explains, high insulin levels can have an adverse effect on ovulation, hampering the conception process. So you must look to avoid hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils.  Instead, foods that are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, like vegetables and herbs, ought to be included in your diet. Also, it is important to have a sound supplement regimen comprised of a healthy prenatal diet. Your prenatal diet must contain three ingredients namely, folic acid, iron and vitamin D, as they are extremely beneficial for the women trying to conceive.

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Hana Feeney

Registered Dietitian

When you are trying to conceive, you want to be thinking about an anti inflammatory diet which should be a diet that is colorful and full of unprocessed foods and still quite flavorful. So, colorful means that you’re looking at vegetables which have a lot of color in them. Those pigments that make the carrots orange and the tomatoes red and those literally are the antioxidants that your body needs when you are trying to conceive. And so if you’re trying to put more color on your plate, that’s one very simple way of getting more antioxidants into your diet. When it comes to unprocessed foods, this is particularly important for carbohydrate rich foods. So, the bulk of the carbohydrate in your diet should come from things like greens like rice or Quinoa, starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, fruits and then beans, peas and lentils. So, those foods still have color to them which means that you’re not only getting carbohydrate but you are also getting antioxidants. What you want to be avoiding would be processed grain foods and those are things like breads and pastas, crackers, cookies and baked goods. And so what you’re getting there are lot of additives, preservatives, added sugars, different types of vegetable oils and those are all inflammatory, which worsen your chances of a healthy conception. You also want to be thinking a lot about fats. Sometimes when people think about eating healthy, they think of cutting out fat or eating a little fat diet. But, when you are trying to conceive you actually need quite a bit of fat in your diet. You have to be picky though about what kinds of fat. And so, you want to be thinking about things like nuts and seeds, or avocado, olives, coconut. These are all again fats that are foods that are high in fat but they also contain antioxidants which help you to conceive. There’s two different types of fats that you really want to avoid. One is hydrogenated oils and they’re also known as Trans-fats. Those will extend the time until you conceive. And another group of fats to avoid would be vegetables fats or vegetable oils. Things like soybean oil or corn oil, cotton seed oil. And so you want to read your ingredient list and avoid the hydrogenated oils and those vegetable oils as well. Another really important thing is the flavor. So, it’s a human nature, human desire to want food that tastes good and we want to do this with foods like herbs and spices which add, again, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Our diets tend to be quite low in herbs and spices, but when you are trying to conceive by using those to flavor your food, you are again optimizing your chances of conception by eating foods that are higher in antioxidants. Your basic supplement regimen would start with a prenatal. A prenatal is going to have two really important nutrients, iron and folic acid. People who don’t get enough of those nutrients will take longer to conceive and they are at higher risk for negative outcomes.  Another important nutrient would be Vitamin D and that may or may not be in the prenatal. It might need to be taken in addition. But vitamin D acts much like a hormone and so, you can imagine how important this is for reproductive health. You might also be thinking about things like fish oils or probiotics, but the basic place to start with your prenatal regimen would be a good quality prenatal with those three nutrients, iron, folic acid, and vitamin D. It’s not all about your diet and what you eat. We do want you to also be thinking about stress managements, sleep habits and exercise. Having good habits around exercise, sleep management and stress will optimize your fertility, but also impacts nutrition because when you are doing those three things, getting good sleep, managing your stress and exercising, we actually use the nutrients from food in a different way. Our hunger and our satiety levels are different and we are overall better able to manage our appetite and eat in a proper way for healthy conception. Taken as a whole, when we are talking about diet and exercise, sleep and stress management, what we’re doing is balancing blood sugars, lowering inflammation and combating oxidative stress. And those three factors are what contribute to all infertility, no matter who you are. And for some people it’s going to matter a lot and for others it won’t matter quite as much. But no matter who you are, no matter what the situation is, when your blood sugars are balanced and oxidative stress is low and inflammation is low, you are in a better position to optimize your fertility.

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