Could it be true? Could it be that easy? Just change your diet and boom, get pregnant? Most people are aware that once you become pregnant it is advised to eat certain foods and avoid others. But what about those who are struggling to get there and happily give up the wine and sushi for 9 months? Well I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist but it’s a good thing I know one. In continuation of our interview series, following is an interview with Lana Masor, owner of Just For Today, Nutrition and Yoga For Life in NYC. Lana has a Masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University, and a Bachelors degree in Psychology. She is a nutritionist with a unique approach to how a person should relate to and appreciate their food.
When it comes to getting pregnant, the old adage “You are what you eat” rings true. What you eat affects a lot in your body including your blood, cells and hormones. According to the American Pregnancy Association, you should allow three months to a year for dietary changes to take root. But if you’re already well into baby-making, don’t fret – it’s never too late. Studies have shown that specific changes to the diet can increase the chances of healthy ovulation, prevent recurrent miscarriage and support a healthy pregnancy. (*Please note that if you are battling infertility please see a medical professional and don’t expect a change in your diet to be the panacea for all your issues – infertility and otherwise)
So here is everything you ever wanted to know about how a few tweaks in your diet could help you with your infertility struggle.
Me: What is a fertility diet?
Lana: I believe that rather than looking at this as a diet to improve one’s fertility, it should be a way to eat promoting fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and an overall way to eat to instill good habits for your children. This is a way of life, not just a diet.
Me: How can a specific diet help people struggling with infertility? How long should one expect for the diet take “effect”?
Lana: Healthy eating helps to prepare your body to be the best host possible for an embryo. If you are radically changing your diet, you probably have a little more work to do, in order for your body to be at its best.
Me: What about the idea out there that you have to eat a full fat diet? Most women battling infertility already feel the bloat due to the hormone medications … Will that diet just make one bloat that much more? Or do they get to indulge in ice cream?
Lana: Healthy fats should be an integral part of any diet. In general, fat is important because it helps us absorb fat soluble vitamins. Those being vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamin A for example, in addition to helping the eyes adjust to light changes, plays an important role in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell division, gene expression, and regulation of the immune system. Sources of healthy fats are nuts, olive oil, avocados, and fish high in omega-3 such as salmon. These foods may even reduce bloat due to the fact that fat acts as a lubricant in the digestive tract, therefore helping with more regular bowel movements.
Me: Can a fertility diet work if you’re a vegetarian or vegan? Or let me reverse that – what about the meat lovers?
Lana: Yes. If you are vegetarian, vegan, or a meat lover, it is necessary to have a balanced diet. Meaning, make sure you are eating enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates. When possible, try to eat meat that is hormone, and antibiotic free. That doesn’t mean that a trip to a steakhouse where you don’t know the source of the meat is going to be a major setback. When you do have control over the situation, make the effort to buy organic. In addition, minimize the amount of fish in your diet that is high in mercury such as Chilean sea bass, Ahi tuna, and swordfish.
Me: What about the men? Can changes in their diet affect their fertility issues?
Lana: Foods high in zinc can help increase the production of sperm and testosterone, which are key baby-making ingredients. Oysters are very high in zinc, but if your significant other is not a fan, you can find zinc (but not as much of it) in poultry, beef, nuts, dairy, eggs, bean and pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help stimulate blood flow to sexual organs and help to improve sexual function. Foods that are high in antioxidants, for example pomegranate seeds and juice, blueberries, and cranberries, help protect sperm from cellular damage and keep them strong and speedy.
Me: Is there any reason someone shouldn’t make changes to their diet?
Lana: You should always consult your doctor when considering making any major changes in your diet.
Me: Infertility issues are stressful. Can a change in one’s diet affect one’s stress level?
Lana: People feel better about themselves when they know they are doing something to improve their overall health. There is an improvement in self-esteem, which can help to decrease stress. Exercise is another way to help decrease stress, and should be low impact, such as yoga and pilates.
Me: What about if people are lucky to get pregnant, should they continue with this new way of eating throughout the pregnancy?
Lana: Absolutely! Eating healthy is extremely important during pregnancy and beyond! What you eat during pregnancy is feeding your growing fetus. What you eat while nursing is transmitted through your breast milk. Eating well will help to influence good eating habits in your growing children.
Me: So in conclusion, there is no truth to the notion that oysters, champagne and garlic are fertility foods? I want my readers to know that they don’t need to plan a romantic dinner out with their husbands and expect a raw bar feast 🙂
Lana: I don’t believe that there is a food or foods that can be considered fertility foods. A combination of eating well, exercising, minimizing stress, and getting the rest you need will help you be the best version of yourself…and that is what we need to be as parents.
Even if the changes to your diet don’t directly lead to you getting pregnant, you can’t argue that living a healthy lifestyle is a bad way of life. You’ll feel and look good and maintain your energy … because once you get pregnant and/or become a parent – you’re gonna need it.
Just For Today is located at 201 E. 56th Street, NYC; (917) 207-2531