The best foods for fertility according to a nutritionist and doula
Words: Emma Vidgen // @emma_vee
Anna Maria Boelskov knows a thing or two about reproductive health. Not only is she an incredible nutritionist and herbalist she’s also a doula, host of the Mumspire podcast, and mum to three gorgeous girls. “I am a big believer in using food as medicine,” Anna Maria says. “If we have a healthy and diverse range of good bacteria before conception, there's a much more beneficial fertile ground for the foetus to thrive and get ready for life outside the womb.” We asked her to share the fertility foods she prescribes to clients who are preparing for pregnancy.
The importance of gut health has been big news in the wellness world for years now, but what you may not know is that it’s super important when it comes to our reproductive systems. “When it comes to making babies, we need to lay down a healthy digestive tract and support a diverse gut microbiome. Fermented foods are my number one for supporting this,” says Anna Maria. “Sauerkraut and other fermented foods are a great addition to the diet if you are considering falling pregnant due to the natural content of good bacteria (probiotics),”
Oysters have long been associated with virility but what you may not know is that they’re great for women too! “Oysters are a little fertility package. There are many reasons why oysters are great, but the particular reason I love them for fertility is due to the zinc content in oysters,” says Anna Maria. “For both men and women, zinc is crucial. In men, the sperm requires available zinc to make healthy sperm, and in women, zinc is needed for healthy ovulation.” Oysters are super potent, so you don’t need to down a dozen to get the benefits - good news if you’re not a huge fan! “A few goes a long way so don't think you need to eat oysters daily three oysters every few weeks can do the job,” Anna Maria says.
Herbals teas are a secret weapon when it comes to preparing your body for pregnancy. “Withania tea is a beautiful, supportive herb that has a positive effect on both male and female reproductive health,” says Anna Maria. “In women, Withania can be used to encourage healthy follicle size. Aim for three cups of Withania tea daily to achieve a therapeutic effect,” says Anna Maria. And while the kettle’s boiling, it’s also worth making your partner a cup too. “Withania improves the overall health and viability of sperm, supports healthy testosterone levels, and decreases the impact of toxins in both sperm and ovaries.”
Another beautiful tea for optimising your body for pregnancy is nettle. “Nettles (aka stinging nettle) is natures version of a multivitamin,” says Anna Maria. You can find it in most health food stores either in tea bags or as dried leaves which can also be used in soup. “Nettle is also particularly beneficial for urinary tract health, iron levels and is an overall anti-inflammatory. So consuming nettles on a frequent basis can cover a lot of fertile ground,” Anna Maria says.
There’s a lot of information around about what kinds of fish are safe pre and post conception, but sardines are definitely on the good list. “Many types of fish can be tricky to eat during conception due to the risk of heavy metal levels such as mercury - such as tuna - but sardines are known to be very safe to eat during conception and pregnancy,” Anna Maria says. “Sardines are multi-dimensional in their fertility benefits due to the natural levels of omega 3, calcium and vitamin D. All of these are so essential to be addressed before conception and during pregnancy,” she says.