1. Whole-fat dairy
For some, dairy may be a food sensitivity or autoimmune trigger; however, if you do not suspect a dairy sensitivity, full-fat, organic and grass-fed dairy products have been found to support fertility and a healthy pregnancy. The dairy that our ancestors consumed was unprocessed, unhomogenized, grass-fed and unpasteurized, also known as “raw”. However, the conventional dairy we consume today often contains antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals. When selecting dairy products, it is very important to always select organic and grass-fed to avoid unnecessary exposure to toxins. In addition, grass-fed dairy contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory. Grass-fed dairy is also richer in nutrients such as vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. In addition, research has found that women who consume low-fat dairy products are more likely to suffer from anovulatory infertility, compared to women who consume whole-fat dairy.
If you have noticed a dairy sensitivity, you likely have an inability to properly digest a milk protein known as A1 beta-casein. However, most of our ancestors drank milk from cows who produced A2 beta-casein milk. A2 milk is produced by goats, or cattle breeds including Guernsey, Jersey and Asian or African breeds. If you are someone who is sensitive to dairy but would like to experiment with keeping it in your diet, you may do better by switching to goat's milk or milk produced by the aforementioned breeds. Most supermarkets now sell a brand of milk and yogurt called “A2.”
If possible, search for milk products that are labeled “unhomogenized” or “cream on the top.” The homogenization process increases the surface area of the milk molecules, causing the milk to become more easily oxidized. Consumption of oxidized fats and cholesterol is linked with inflammation and heart disease. Inflammation also has negative effects on ovarian function.
Lastly, raw milk products naturally contain beneficial bacteria and enzymes that may make dairy easier to digest. However, consume at your own risk and always from a reputable source, as there is the possibility of contamination. If you are pregnant, I recommend avoiding raw dairy products as the risk outweighs the benefit.
Eggs are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. They are also a great source of protein and cholesterol, which are essential for the production of your sex hormones. Finally, eggs are one of the highest food sources of choline. Choline is an important nutrient involved in the development of a baby’s brain in utero. Always opt for pasture-raised eggs whenever possible, as they contain a higher micronutrient profile than conventionally laid eggs.
Seafood is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids including DHA and EPA. Studies have found that omega-3 consumption improves egg quality and reduces inflammation which can interfere with
the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. In addition, shellfish contains zinc and iodine, which are important minerals for thyroid function, the menstrual cycle and ovulatory health.
4. Bone broth
Bone broth improves the health of your gut lining (the lining of your GI tract). This is important because women with gut-health problems such as IBS and Crohn’s disease are more likely to have abnormal menstrual cycle patterns such as delayed ovulation, abnormal cervical mucus, and irregular bleeding. In addition, bone broth contains glycine and glutamine which are important amino acids in the production of glutathione, one of the body’s most potent antioxidants. This is important because oxidative stress plays a role in infertility by impairing ovulation and reducing egg quality. Glutathione is helpful in mediating this negative effect.
5. Fermented foods
Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, yogurt, kefir, tempeh etc. These foods help to promote healthy gut bacteria, and thus, a happy immune system.
6. Fresh fruits and veggies
Leafy green veggies and dark colored berries are high in plant nutrients and antioxidants which helps to maintain a healthy menstrual cycle and improve your fertility by decreasing inflammation and keeping your gut microbiome balanced. These foods are high in fiber, which is important to keep your GI tract moving and excrete excess estrogen from the body, especially if you’re someone who suffers from estrogen dominance.