Top 3 natural strategies to boost fertility after 30
When it comes to your fertility, your age is not the be-all end-all.
There are steps you can take - at any (pre-menopausal) age- to improve your egg reserve and boost chances of conception, whether going au-natural or getting some assistance via IUI or IVF.
Yes, advanced age does increase the risk of fertility struggles. However, the operative word here is risk. Turning 35, 40 or even 45 years old is not an infertility diagnosis.
So, let’s dive into the things within your control to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
the top 3 natural strategies to boost your fertility:
Eat Your Antioxidants.
First, a primer on egg reserve.
In the most simple terms, egg reserve describes both the quantity & quality of eggs you have available for baby-making. While the quantity of eggs does decline with age, the quality (i.e. the viability of those eggs for fertilization) of the eggs is something you have influence over. How? By protecting those eggs through a high antioxidant-diet.
Second, what you need to know about antioxidants.
As a buzz word that gets thrown around to qualify something as healthy, few people fully understand why we care so much about antioxidants. I’ll spare you a biochemistry lesson and boil it down this:
FREE RADICALS* ARE THE BAD GUYS, or in slightly more technical terms, they are unstable atoms that cause cellular damage. Out-of-control free radicals can lead to scary conditions like heart disease and cancer. In the fertility context, free radicals can damage the chromosomal structure of the DNA within your follicular cells. At its worst, this chromosomal damage can render eggs infertile or, if they do get fertilized, lead to miscarriage.
ANTIOXIDANTS ARE YOUR SUPERHEROES. Antioxidants come to the rescue by neutralizing free radicals. They not only prevent free radicals from causing harm, but they can even repair damage already done, restoring the quality of your egg reserve. In case you were not already aware, your body is amazingly intelligent and resilient!
*Although some exposure to free radicals is unavoidable and a natural part of many metabolic processes, there is A LOT you can do to prevent excess free radicals by avoiding environmental toxins - like the chemicals in cosmetics and the pesticide residues on your produce. Our Prepare for Pregnancy Program breaks it down into simple steps to prevent excess free radicals.
finally, the take home, eat colorful plants.
Antioxidants can boost fertility* by improving your egg quality.
You get antioxidants primarily from plant-based foods, particularly in the pigments that give fruits & veggies their beautiful colors. Essentially, the purples and blues found in blueberries, purple cabbage and beets provide a different category of antioxidants than the reds found in raspberries, red bell peppers and watermelon, which in turn, have different antioxidant benefits than the greens found in kale, broccoli and spinach, as examples.
If you’re wondering what you can do to naturally boost your fertility and improve your egg reserve, here’s your answer:
Eat 8-10 servings of veggies and fruit every day (yes, 8-10 servings is A LOT! Batch Cooking is how you make it happen.)
Eat a rainbow every week - get a source of red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple and whites (i.e. cauliflower, garlic, onion) fruits and veggies each week. Make each plate full of beautiful colors to enjoy with all your senses.
Want more structure and guidance?
*Here’s the research with over 100,000 women showing that a high antioxidant, plant-full diet can help prevent ovulatory infertility.
2. Balance Your Blood Sugar.
Keeping your blood sugar balanced is a big deal. On the day-to-day, you want steady blood sugar to stabilize your mood, energy and weight.
Blood sugar balance is about:
Preventing irritability and moodiness;
Keeping your energy up through those 3 p.m. slumps; and
Normalizing your appetite (i.e. prevent those out-of-control p.m. snack-attacks).
Chronically elevated blood sugar levels is associated with excess weight gain, diabetes, and, you guessed it, ovulatory infertility.
The long and short of it is that elevated blood sugar results in insulin resistance and thus, excess insulin circulating in your blood stream. Insulin is a hormone that signals your ovaries to produce more androgens (a.k.a. male sex hormones, like the infamous testosterone). This is just the beginning of a cascade of hormone imbalances that can ultimately inhibit ovulation and embryo implantation.
Here’s the two most important steps to boost your fertility by keeping your blood sugar levels in balance:
NO “NAKED” CARBS. As Megan explained in her Defense of Carbs, carbs are not the problem in-and-of-themselves. The key for blood sugar balance is pairing carbs with proteins or fats. This means:
If you’re eating an apple, include a Tbsp or 2 of peanut butter;
If you’re munching on popcorn, include some jerky or nuts;
Oatmeal is great, but be sure to add Greek yogurt, nuts/nut butter or eggs on the side; and
Why eat just toast when you could eat avocado toast?!?
CHOOSE FIBER-FULL CARBS. Fiber is your best friend. Non-processed, whole grain carbs are full of fiber (and nutrients) that slow digestion and thus prevent blood sugar spikes. In contrast, simple, refined carbs are the enemy of blood sugar balance. Again, Megan gives you the need-to-know nitty gritty in her Defense of Carbs, but it boils down to:
Choose 100% whole grain bread over the white ciabatta;
Expand your palette to include a taste for lentil, quinoa, brown-rice or chickpea pasta over plain-old white spaghetti. The selection of delicious whole grain pastas is SO much better than it used to be.
When making baked goods, include some whole grain flours, or better yet, nut-based flours like almond or coconut.
3. Prioritize R&R.
If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you know we talk A LOT about self-care. Why? To put it most simply, stress hormones, like chronically elevated cortisol and adrenaline, can suppress sex hormone production and prevent ovulation.
Now, no need to start stressing about stress.
Feeling worried, anxious, tense - it’s all a natural part of having a meaningful life. It means there are people, pets, projects in your life that are worth giving a sh** about.
The best thing you can do is start to recognize that your well-being is just as important as all those other things on your to-do list.
This means, if its a choice between catching up on emails or getting some extra Zzzzzs, hit the pillow. (For stress management & fertility, we’re talking a solid 8 hours of sleep each night… no, 6-7 hours is not enough.)
Seriously consider, what extra obligations can you cut out to take the load off (see What a Mom Boss Does Not DO).
Maybe you don’t need to host a dinner party if its more stress than fun.
Maybe Fridays are for leaving work early to get a massage.
Maybe you simply give yourself 3 minutes to rest & breath before diving into the next meeting or rushing to the store to pick up dinner.
We have a lot more strategies to help you make self-care a reality. Dive in:
To get a full dose of how you can take control of your fertility, be sure to check out our Prepare for Pregnancy Program.