Eating To Conceive

If you’re looking to get pregnant it can pay dividends to be nutritionally savvy from the offset, not just once your periods stop and the morning sickness starts.

The reasons for this aren’t obvious until you realise that it can take 2½ - 3 months to develop fully-mature, ready-to-be-ejaculated sperm. Equally it can take just as long for an egg to mature before it reaches ovulation. During this process of maturation certain nutrients are essential in both the mother and the father[more] for the crucial stages of cell DNA replication and transcription. A healthy diet for both partners can ensure that when the sperm and egg finally meet they’re carrying all their correct genetic information and both are resilient enough to finish the journey.

Of course, even when actively trying to get pregnant, many women won’t realise they’ve achieved their goal until the first missed period. By this stage they could already be 3 weeks down the line of foetal development, at this point there has already been a massive multiplication of cells and the resulting blastocyte is in the process of burrowing into the uterine lining. Great nutrition at this stage will not only result in the best foetal health but also help to make the uterine lining as receptive and nurturing as possible.

So, to help you get in the best health for pregnancy, make sure that you have plenty of the following in your diet

Zinc

This mineral is commonly associated with male fertility and is crucial for cell division. asparagus sperm Found in seafood and asparagus (hence their reputation as aphrodisiacs) but also in eggs, fish, whole grains, lean meat and seeds and nuts.

Folate / Folic Acid

As the neural tube is one of the first things in the developing embryo (the precursor to the central nervous system) it is crucial that you keep folate levels up. It’s so important in fact that many health providers recommend that the mother supplement with folic acid before and during pregnancy. Recent research has shown that vitamin B12 is additionally vital for the same reasons. Consequently ensure that your daily multi-vitamin has a broad spectrum of B vitamins which specifically include folic acid and B12. Alternatively ensure your diet is rich in yeast products, pulses, leafy green vegetables and whole grains.

Iodine

As with folic acid iodine is important in the development of the early central nervous system, specifically the brain. Research has shown that low levels in pregnancy have been connected with many mental health issues in the child such as cretinism, ADHD and autism. Iodine is most easily found in fish, seafoods and seaweed but also dairy products.

Anti-oxidants

Several nutrients can work as cellular anti-oxidants which is important when cell multiplication is happening so rapidly. These include selenium, co-enzyme Q10 and vitamins E and C. Whole grains, seeds and nuts are good sources of selenium and Vitamin E whilst Vitamin C can be found in abundance in all fruits and vegetables. Co-enzyme Q10 can be found in fish, sesame seeds, broccoli and eggs.

Omega 3

Not only important for sex hormone synthesis but Omega 3 polyunsaturated oils have been also recommended to increase sperm quality and count. Most easily found in oily fish but also flaxseeds walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Protein

Used again as the basis for sex hormones but equally needed for sperm creation and cellular replication. There are many sources of protein but look for quality sources such as lean meats, eggs, fish and dairy which will help you to obtain all the essential amino acids.

Making sure your kids eat right doesn’t start at the kitchen table it starts 3 months prior to even the twinkle in his eye.

See, spot the apples? This couple know what they’re about…

For more pre-natal, ante-natal, and post-natal advice please contact me at saffron@thislifenutrition.co.uk.

By Saffron Rogerson

26 May 2015