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7 Foods to AVOID when trying to get pregnant!

As a fertility nutritionist one question that I am always asked is what foods do I need to avoid when trying to get pregnant. One way that I like to reframe this question for my clients is to get them to think, eat and act like they are already pregnant. Why is this a good practice? Well firstly because the preconception health of both parents can impact not only their ability to conceive but also the future health of their child. Secondly lots of women fall pregnant quicker than what they thought they would, so eating like they are already pregnant is safer for themselves and baby.


Alcohol can have a negative impact on both male & female fertility. In female’s excess alcohol consumption can cause menstrual cycle irregularities, hamper ovulation, alter reproductive hormones, lead to chronic health conditions and delay the time it takes to conceive. In male’s excess alcohol consumption can lower their libido and decrease their sperm quality. For these reasons alone I recommend staying away from alcohol all together during the preconception period if possible.


Caffeine is a stimulant found in varying amounts in coffee, tea, some soft drinks and chocolate. Whilst more research is needed, there are some studies which have found high doses of caffeine may affect the quality of a male’s sperm. It is less understood the impact on female fertility. The current recommendations are that women limit their intake to no more than 200mg per day, which is around 2 cups of coffee.


Sugar sweetened beverage such as soft drink can have an adverse affect on fertility. In males their consumption has been associated with poor semen quality and in women they have been linked with lower fecundability (probability of achieving a pregnancy within one menstrual cycle). For my couples trying to conceive I recommend switching to sparkling water & adding the juice of a lemon or lime for flavour.


Whilst eating fish is beneficial for numerous reasons, especially for those trying to conceive. It is important to limit our exposure to mercury as this can actually have a negative impact on our fertility! Mercury is a highly toxic environmental pollutant that represents a huge concern for human health. Mercury exposure impairs the reproductive function. In males it induces sperm DNA damage, causes abnormal sperm morphology and motility. In females it can impact fertility and some studies suggest it can lead to spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. So it’s a good idea to limit your intake of high mercury foods such as shark, swordfish, marlin.


Trans fats occur when liquid vegetable oils are hardened during processing to create spreads such as margarines or when you cook fats during deep frying or other high temperature cooking. Trans fats are terrible for our health as they increase our LDL cholesterol, decrease HDL cholesterol and also impact our fertility. In females trans fat consumption increases the risk of ovulatory infertility and in males it causes adverse effects on sperm morphology. So bottom line limit your intake of deep fried foods & stay away from margarine.


Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars can negatively impact your fertility.Highly refined carbohydrates have a high glycaemic load which means they cause your blood sugar to rise faster than those with a lower value. One study looking at 18,555 premenopausal women found that the women that consumed the highest glycaemic load carbohydrates had a higher risk of ovulatory infertility. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy carbohydrates but instead opt for wholegrains and low GI carbohydrates as they are more fertility friendly foods. Some examples include legumes, starchy vegetables, fruit, full fat dairy etc.


Processed meats are definitely not a fertility friendly food. Processed meats contain trans fats which affect sperm quality. The consumption of processed meats was also associated with ovulatory dysfunction. Therefore, I would give foods such as ham, salami and bacon a miss.

If you would like more personalised advice of what to eat to optimise your fertility chances please get in touch! I offer individual consultations for singles and couples preparing for their fertility journey naturally or via IVF . I also offer 3 month Metabolic Balance packages which include a personalised nutrition program based on your unique pathology results & regular support!

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