We’ve teamed up with Nutritional Therapist, Charlotte Watts, to make it easy for new parents and parents-to-be to shop for nutritious food and drink.
She’s helped us come up with special aisles full of tips and healthy produce. And now, in a series of blogs, Charlotte gives her advice for what to eat at each stage.
First up, getting pregnant…Preparing for a healthy pregnancy is a great run-up to the care needed during pregnancy and beyond. The focus is on increasing the nutrients needed for egg health for the woman and healthy sperm production for the man – but we should also think about lowering any factors that cause damage.
This is important for the health of the mother-to-be’s womb, but is also important for men, whose sperm production is affected by dietary patterns over the previous three months or so.
Vitamins A and C and other antioxidants found in a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, garlic, green tea and the odd bit of dark chocolate protect against harm from chemicals and pollutants. The more varied the colours of your fruit and veg, the better the spread of protective factors, so include berries, carrots, beetroot and dark green leaves as often as possible.
Zinc is needed for fertilisation, and folate levels need to be high before conception for the best health of your baby. B vitamins are crucial for energy in cells for growth and development, and folic acid is known as a key conception B vitamin. The following foods offer combinations of these, plus the other nutrients they work with.
Key foods for fertility
The good dietary protein and omega-3 oils found in oily fish like sardines, trout, Young’s Scottish Smokehouse Organic Smoked Salmon and Ocado Plain Smoked Mackerel have been shown to be necessary for conception.
Eggs like Stonegate Organic Large Eggs are a perfect fertility package, containing the best sources of protein to support both egg and sperm health, as well as healthy fats including omega-3 oils and B vitamins for fertility hormones. They provide some folic acid, so when eaten alongside plenty of green leafy veg help optimise levels alongside a supplement of 400mcg a day.
Seeds and nuts make great snacks to replace damaging sugars. They contain lots of Vitamin E, whose chemical name tocopherol comes from the Greek ‘tokos‘ (offspring) and ‘pherein‘ (to bear or to carry) – its importance for pregnancy was discovered in the 19th Century.
Pumpkin seeds have particularly high levels of zinc and with walnuts and linseed, the best omega-3 oil levels. Try Clearspring Organic Tamari Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Crazy Jack Organic Walnut Pieces and Linwoods Milled Flaxseed Almonds Brazil & Q10.
All of the cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, pak choi and kale – contain sulphur-based chemicals called glucosinolates, which help rid the body of harmful substances like pollutants and toxic metals, as well as providing folic acid and Vitamin C.
Meal ideas for a quick nutrient boost
- Add Waitrose Love Life Fruit Nut & Seed Mix to your morning porridge, cereal or yoghurt for a protein boost.
- For convenience, add extra greens to a prepared soup like Yorkshire Provender Chicken & Butternut Soup with Lentil & Cumin or Glorious! Skinny Goan Spiced Tomato & Lentil Soup by stirring in spinach leaves whilst heating.
- Make an omelette with plenty of veg like leeks, red peppers and rocket.
Protecting sperm and egg health
Some foods are better than others – here’s what to avoid and what to swap…
- Use organic butter and olive oil for cooking and dressings and avoid polyunsaturated oils like sunflower oil, as their fatty acids are easily damaged by heat.
- Cut out overly cooked meats and charred barbecue food as burnt fats contain high levels of free radicals.
- Choose meat, dairy and eggs from organic sources where possible. This is not just for their higher nutrient content, but also to avoid unwanted hormones. Also, choosing free-range helps provide a better healthy fat profile for fertility health.
Browse the Ocado Nutrition for Getting Pregnant aisle for all sorts of tasty produce to choose from.