My fertility clients often ask me, “If you could choose foods that I should be absolutely avoiding while trying to get pregnant, what would they be?”. The most important foods to avoid are those that we call Anti-Nutrients.
Why is your diet important?
I want to say that if the word DIET has any negative connotations to it for you, please consider I’m only using it as a means of referring to a general way of eating, not a restrictive plan. The definition of DIET in this sense is, the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group. Our particular group are the women and couples whom successfully achieve an incredible pregnancy and a gorgeously healthy baby. If you like, consider it Fertility Nutrition!
While trying to conceive, a healthy diet will guarantee a reproductive environment optimal for conception. It will eliminate toxin exposure in your foods and replenish nutrient deficiencies. Your nutrition is important because…
- Hormones are incredibly influenced by what & how we eat
- The entire process of digestion is mediated by hormones!
What are Anti-Nutrients?
Anti-Nutrients are foods that will deplete storage of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the body and detract from our goal to be fertile. Some of them will contribute some nutritional value while also depleting the body, while others will contribute no nutritional value at all while depleting nutrients (toxic!).
Anti-nutrients that contribute LITTLE TO NO nutrients while depleting nutrients:
- Frankenfoods (i.e. MSG, additives, preservatives, artificial colouring and flavouring)
Anti-nutrients that contribute SOME nutrients while depleting nutrients:
- Legumes (beans, chickpeas, soy)
- Grains (all gluten containing grains FOR SURE!)
- excessive phytates
I know what you’re thinking. How can legumes be bad? Well, think. Have you ever been bloated by beans and lentils? I know I have, and being a vegetarian it is BEYOND frustrating. When it comes to fertility, we must consider that legumes are high in carbohydrates relative to protein. This will stimulate more of an insulin response (not very great for any of you trying to lose weight, battling PCOS or Diabetes). They are also high in 2 completely indigestible compounds (stachyose and raffinose). Legumes are also high in lectins, another thing we humans have a hard time digesting. Lectins in high amounts damage the lining of the intestine (they are “sticky” which makes them prone to attaching to the intestinal wall), causing gut permeability which can cause autoimmune conditions. In fact, they are highly resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes, and can easily pass through the stomach unchanged. EEK!
A note on Grains!
- High in carbs, extremely low in protein, and even nuts and seeds
- High in Lectins
- Some contain gluten, which is a tremendous insulin stimulator and very inflammatory as well as hard-to-digest
Does this mean that you should completely eliminate grains and legumes from your diet?
Of course not, they do offer some nutritional value, you just want to be sure that they aren’t depleting your body of essential nutrients too much (especially if you aren’t digesting them properly). If you are bloating after having grains, beans, nuts and seeds, be cautious with them and minimize. Your body is telling you something!