Culling wisdom from time-honored traditions, Nina Planck, author of Real Food for Mother and Baby (Bloomsbury USA, 2009), offers four simple rules to conceive by:
1. Eat high–quality protein. Eggs and dairy offer key nutrients for fertility. Aim for animal foods as well, if your ethics allow. “Animal foods contain the ideal amount and proportion of amino acids, which are essential for human life,” says Planck. For vegetarians, make sure you get enough iron-rich foods, such as spinach, apricots, blackstrap molasses, and brewer’s yeast. “Everyone should also make sure to get plenty of vitamin C, which helps iron get more readily absorbed by the body,” says Planck.
2. Remember that fat is fabulous—and filled with nutrients that can help boost your odds of getting pregnant. Good sources include butter, eggs, liver, crab, milk, avocado, and, yes, even ice cream.
3. Seek out seafood. Rich in iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, fish is one of fertility’s best friends. Iodine prevents hypothyroidism, a common cause of miscarriage. Fish oil encourages blood flow to the uterus and may support embryo implantation. Your safest bets are fish low in mercury, such as sardines, herring, anchovies, and wild Alaskan salmon.
4. Junk the junk food. Refined grains and white flour don’t do your ability to conceive any favors. Both lack B and E vitamins, which are indispensable for conceiving a healthy baby. They also fill you up on empty calories.