Over recent generations, we have lost our connection with fertility foods that optimize conception, successful pregnancies, and healthy babies. Combined with toxic environments and high stress levels, it is not surprising that infertility rates are in the millions and just under one third of children in the US have chronic illness. 
Food is a powerful tool in the quest for fertility. Whether the quest is preparing for conception, finding answers to infertility struggles, understanding multiple miscarriages, or empowering a child’s future health, diet and fertility foods can play a critical role in it’s success.
Traditional Fertility Foods
In many cultures, the most nutrient dense foods were saved for those in their reproductive years. And those in their reproductive years were expected to eat nutrient dense diets in preparation for pregnancy and new life. Traditional cultures understood and respected the body’s need for nutrition for successful conception, pregnancy, and infant and childhood health. Weston A. Price shares stories of these traditions in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
The indigenous peoples of Peru living in the Sierras did not have access to the sea and it’s high quantity of iodine. Knowing that iodine is essential for human growth and development, the Peruvians made dried fish eggs available in every market and depot across their land. When asked about this, Dr. Price was told that the eggs were required “to maintain the fertility of [our] women”.
The Masai tribe in Kenya had dietary requirements for men and women planning to marry. Before marriage, they were required to spend several months drinking cow’s milk during the wet season, when the grass (the cow’s food) is lush and nutrient dense.
The concept of nutrition to support fertility is nonexistent in our mainstream society today. It’s heartbreaking to think of the information lost over generations, especially in light of today’s fertility struggles.Foods is a powerful tool for optimizing conception, successful pregnancies, and healthy babies. Click To Tweet
The Importance of Diet for Conception and Pregnancy
A nutrient dense diet based on whole foods is foundational to fertility. When we combine our knowledge of traditional cultures with we know about physiology from modern science, we can easily see how certain foods promote fertility health. For example, let’s look at probiotic foods.
Probiotic foods are foods that contain live microorganisms, the ‘good’ bacteria that live in the gut. Continually eating a diet rich in probiotics helps ensure that we maintain a healthy, balanced gut. These good bacteria play many beneficial roles in the quest for fertility, including:
- Aiding in digestion. Proper digestion helps us absorb and assimilate the nutrients available in our food. Fertility requires many vitamins and minerals that the body can not produce on it’s own and that we must obtain from food. Read here to understand the importance of proper digestion, and how eating high quality food does not necessarily mean we benefit from the nutrients.
- Producing nutrients required for fertility. Probiotics help produce vitamins K2 and B12 in the gut. Recent studies have shown the importance of K2 on embryo development, and B12 deficiency has been linked to miscarriage. 
- Protecting the gut lining and improving immune function. There is a correlation between inflammation in women and reduced fertility; endometriosis often leads to trouble conceiving and pre-eclampsia and preterm birth may be associated with systemic inflammation.  In men, inflammatory stress can be a factor in poor sperm quality.  An intact gut lining and improved immune function reduce the amount of inflammation in the body.
Fermented and cultured foods are traditional probiotic foods. Fermenting foods not only provided rich sources of good bacteria, but also allowed for the preservation of vegetables prior to freezers or canning.
Examples of traditional fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kvass; cultured foods include yogurt (full fat only!), kefir, and buttermilk. These foods are easy and often inexpensive to make at home, and a little goes a long way. Outside of food, a probiotic supplement also helps increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut.
Parental Nutrition and Childhood Health
Fertility health is more than the ability to conceive and carry a baby to term. Recent studies show that the diet and lifestyle of both mothers and fathers has multigenerational health effects. For example, the sperm of obese fathers can increase the risk of their offspring becoming obese and having diabetes like symptoms for up to two generations. 
As we continue to learn more about epigenetics, and the ability of factors like diet and lifestyle to influence the expression of genes, we learn that we are more in control of our destiny (and that of our offspring) than we ever thought possible. A return to nutrient rich diets, especially in the pre-conception and pregnancy stages of life, is one way we can secure the healthiest future for the next generations.
Are you interested in learning more about the importance of nutrition for fertility? I am excited to share that I am now offering a six-week program to explore this topic with couples and individuals who are interested in building fertility. The Feed Your Fertile Body™ program is a ‘food-positive’ program, with a focus of adding deeply nourishing foods to your diet that will bring you health and happiness.