Even if you aren't thinking about having children yet, taking care of your reproductive health now is incredibly important if you want to get pregnant later. But how is taking care of your fertility any different to the other parts of our body? Well, it turns out, there are a few things that can impact it. Of course, a healthy diet that's low in processed foods and sugar is always recommended, but according to Anna Cabeca, DO, FACOG; Emory University–trained gynecologist, hormone, and integrative medicine expert; and creator of Women’s Restorative Health Boot Camp and Women’s Sexual CPR Workshop, there's more to enhancing your chances of conceiving than just diet alone.
While fertility can be an easy issue to dismiss, especially when you're young, now is the time to create the healthy foundation for later on. Not sure how to increase your fertility? Ahead, Cabeca outlines a few key things we need to start taking care of now (and always) along with the foods we should be eating.
Ensuring a healthy diet is part of your lifestyle, and not just a fad, is key to improving reproductive health. This will help your weight in check, which Cabeca says is a vital step in the fertility process. "A BMI of less than 25 is highly recommended as is eating a diet that includes healthy proteins and fats, and is rich in alkalizing food choices such as pesticide-free vegetables," she advised.
If you want to boost your fertility and ensure you conceive with ease, Cabeca recommends you keep your body alkaline and detox regularly to keep toxin exposure levels low and maintain optimal bodily functionality. "This is also a great way to keep certain foods in check that may act as stressors for your body," she said. "Focus on eating a whole foods–based diet and on reducing processed food consumption. This is always recommended."
Not sure what these are? Don't worry, we weren't either. But according to Cabeca, we should avoid them at all costs. "These can be found in a lot of over-the-counter products as well as in plastics," she said. "Do your research and empower yourself with the knowledge of how to reduce toxin exposure in your daily life." Cabeca also notes that avoiding birth control pills can helpful. "It’s a win for women up until seven years of use in terms of decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer, but beyond that the high-levels of synthetic progestin hormones can have a negative effect on a woman’s vascular system."
Did you know your skin absorbs most of the products applied to it or that it comes in contact with? It's because of this statistic that Cabeca urges women to use organic and natural products on the skin. "It’s important to select only products with high-quality, all-natural or organic ingredients to help keep your toxin exposure to a minimum," she stressed.
After reading about our senior editor's experience with vitamin D deficiency, we're all aware of the importance this nutrient has on our health. But Cabeca says it's even more important for your reproductive health. While it's easy to turn to the pill form, she advises we all seek it first from safe sun exposure and spending time outdoors. "Make it a regular practice to be outdoors enjoying long hikes, walks, or spending time in nature," she prescribed. "Doing so does two things: It boosts your vitamin D levels, and it helps to reduce your stress levels, which is an important part of boosting fertility."
Dr. Anna Cabeca's Top Five Fertility Foods
2. Coconut Oil
3. Wild-Caught Salmon
5. Brazil Nuts
Are you surprised by these findings? What else do you want to know about women's health? Share it with us. Up next, what to do when your period goes AWOL.