Dream of being a mamma one day but not any time right now? Kind of eating well but also kind of ‘yolo-ing,’ it not really thinking about the long term future yet?
As a millennial, latest studies show we are choosing to have children later on in life, with research finding pregnancies are occurring mostly with women who are 35 + years. In fact, the rate of first-time births for women between age 40-44 has doubled from 1990-2012.
But what this means is, while we are choosing to forge our future (power to us!) we do have to do the best we can to keep our bod prime for preconception (‘cos biological clock’ *rolls eyes*). And one of the best ways we can control our preconception odds is through boosting key nutrients in our diet through fertility friendly superfoods and wholesome nutrient-rich meals.
To share the best foods that will support you in getting a baby-ready body, Sporteluxe spoke with leading nutritionists Brittany Darling and Jacqueline Alwill to find out the fertility foods they love.
While all of the nutrients play various individual and collective roles in reproductive health, according to Darling, there are a few that stand out as key nutrients for fertility (for females and males). Her top three are…
“Wild, sustainably caught oily fish are swimming in fertility-boosting benefits, thanks to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and iodine,” says Darling. “Omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is important in pregnancy as it supports growth and development. Zinc helps with the formation of sperm and the embryo while iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones (as thyroid activity increases during foetal development),” says Darling.
Note: “It is important to be mindful of mercury contamination. You can enjoy up to two serves per week of fatty fish with low-mercury (sardines, herring, salmon, trout, anchovies and halibut).
“Leafy greens are a valuable source of folate, which is probably the best-known preconception and pregnancy nutrient. Folate is required for the production of new DNA and red blood cell production and without sufficient folate, during the preconception and first trimester period it can be associated with a higher risk of neural tube defects,” explains Darling.
“Also, leafy greens are not only packed with vitamin K1, vitamin C and magnesium but are a great source of fibre which helps support the digestive system and detoxification pathways, both essential for hormone health and therefore reproduction.”
Note: “When choosing leafy greens try to buy organic and eat a variety of different greens. For maximum nutrient absorption consume greens with fat (extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil),” says Darling.
“Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are extremely rich in an array of fertility-boosting nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, vitamin K2 and B12,” says Darling.
“However, the key nutrient found in eggs that’s many people haven’t heard of is actually Choline. Choline isn’t talked about much but is, in fact, one of the most important nutrients for pregnancy as it is essential for foetal brain development, placental function and the prevention of neural tube defects. Egg yolks are the highest food source of Choline, with one egg yolk containing approximately 115mg!”
Note: “Not all eggs are equal, the nutritional value varies greatly between eggs (especially levels of omega-3 fatty acids) and is very dependent on the life of the chicken and what it has been fed. Always go for organic, free-range, pasture-fed eggs and try to buy them locally,” says Darling.
A fertility-friendly recipe to try:
Recipe from Jacqueline Alwill, Brown Paper Bag.
“A deliciously, wholesome loaf and a wonderful source of plant-based protein, essential fats and easily digestible carbohydrates and gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan…”
Makes 1 loaf
2 cups quinoa
1/3 cup chia seeds + 2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/4 cup linseeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
Note: Before beginning, soak quinoa in water overnight, then the following day rinse and drain. By soaking the quinoa it supports the uptake of nutrients in the bread by removing the anti-nutrients (which block nutrient absorption).”
1.Preheat oven to 160C and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
2. Combine chia seeds with 2/3 cups water and set aside to become a gel for 10 minutes.
3. Once gelled, place quinoa, chia gel, 2/3 cup water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, bicarb and sea salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Be careful not to over blend or it will become too thick. You only want to pulse a few times so that most of the quinoa grain is quite visible.
4. Transfer to a bowl and add linseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame and hemp seeds and store to combine.
5. Pour into lined loaf tin and bake 90 minutes in the tin, then remove from tin and bake on the rack for a further 30-40 minutes so it becomes lovely and crispy on the outside also.
6. Cool completely, then slice and serve with the below toppings!
“The key to the bread in the preconception phase is what you top it with! Top with foods and ingredients that support fertility and preconception such as…”