So you’ve read the stats on likelihood of falling pregnant after 35 or 40 (or 45) years old. You’ve been trying for a while, have regular periods, have checked that you’re ovulating regularly, cut the alcohol, smoking and have a healthy BMI. What next? If you’ve been trying for 6 months or more, it’s time to see the GP to check your hormones, have a pelvic ultrasound and a semen analysis for him.
The best we can do is focus on what we can do to improve our chances. Not focus on what we can’t do, like turn back time..
We know that what we eat can have a huge impact on our health. But what about our reproductive ability after 35 yo. Much of the standard diet advice won’t apply. Why? Because our hormones start changing after 35. And some highly nutritious foods optimise our ovarian reserve (egg count), while others work the other way. I’ve found in 21 years of private practice that many women aren’t aware of this.. let’s go through it..
Standard diet advice when TTC
- Avoid processed foods. This includes highly processed bread, cereals, packet foods. Take a look at those labels. Are there more than 5 ingredients and a bunch of numbers? If so then it’s highly processed and you’d be wise to look for alternatives.
- Eat loads of fruit & vegies. Green vegies, yellow ones, red ones and purple vegies. Ideally all in the same meal. Fill yourself up on vegetables rather than carbs. You can’t really go overboard here, unless you have issues with salicylates or fructose.
- Eat whole, recognizable food.
- Raw food is generally not well digested, so mostly cooked foods is best.
Low intake of trans-fat, with a simultaneous greater intake of monounsaturated fat. Less potato chips and fried foods, more avocadoes and coconut oil.
- Low intake of animal protein with greater vegetable protein intake.
High intake of high-fiber, low glycemic carbohydrates
Greater preference for high-fat dairy products (over low-fat products
High non-heme iron intake (mostly found in plant foods such as dark green leafy veg)
Foods that contain phytoestrogens such as soybeans, walnuts, soybeans, cereals (oats, barley, wheat, and rice), legumes, berries, apples, carrots, ginseng, fennel, and anise. In contrast to men, women may actually benefit from consumption of phytoestrogens during infertility treatments.
Specific diet advice when TTC over 35 years old
- Avoid genetically modified food
- Avoid plastics (which we eat & drink from), store food in
- Avoid artificial sweeteners and refined sugar
- Eat Organic. Including any animal products and their feed. Yes it’s worth it. You can reduce the cost of organic food by growing some of your own. Even sprouts on a window sill. There are specific affects of environmental toxins on our fertility, but I already sent you that info in the 10 Ways to Boost Fertility Guide.
- If you have indicators of a low egg count: Eat carrots, sweet potato, tomato, liver, beets, apples, avocados, purslane, kiwi fruit, parsnips, dill, celery, coriander & parsley. These foods aid the recruitment of your follicles (to become an egg to ovulate), and improve cellular function related to energy production and anti-ageing processes.
- Spinach, whole eggs, poultry and lamb help improve egg maturation and follicular recruitment. Blueberries, bilberries, black berries and raspberries are also helpful.
- Avoid cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Interestingly, some of the best anti-cancer vegies can work against getting pregnant when you’re older.
Start with cutting out one thing, the most damaging to fertility, which is either alcohol or refined sugar. The thing to remember here is that it’s not forever. 5 months tops if you have egg quality issues. And that eating well improves your health, and the health of your pregnancy, your potential child and their children. It’s worth it. And it’s easy once you get the hang of it.
Remember than Gut Health also comes into play, and it’s bidirectional: your gut controls your hormone levels and your hormones strongly influence your gut function. The gut/brain axis puts your gut function at the center of any mood, weight, and energy issue that a woman faces. For example, excess stress and cortisol pokes holes in the gut, leading to symptoms like constipation, gas, bloating, loose stool, diarrhea and making you feel more tired and foggy. Nutrient deficiencies can show up, leading to moodiness, weight gain, even autoimmunity like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the primary reason for hypothyroidism.
Drop us a line if you need help with your Gut Health or Managing Stress. There is much we can suggest and do for you.
Dr Elaine Hickman
B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)
Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China. She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems. Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable. Elaine has particular expertise in Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Family Medicine and Wellness promotion. She brings extra understanding and knowledge to the table having been through infertility.
Elaine is available