Fertility or being a body conducive to fertilize a baby comes naturally to humans. But due to modern lifestyle changes, one in every four couples in developing countries like India suffer from infertility or in basic terms unable to conceive a baby. As per NHFS here in India, infertility is rising almost 20-30 percent over the last ten years. It is no longer a phenomenon found in urban India or confined to women. These days men and women from Tier 1 or 2 cities in India find it difficult to bear a child.
There are numerous reasons that affect your ability to get pregnant. One such reason is your diet. Part of ways to lead a healthy lifestyle is to eat proper food. But if you are trying to conceive then it becomes even more necessary for your body to receive the right kind of food. So to help you take stock of what you are eating, we have made this compilation. These are every day yet shocking foods that may be killing your fertility.
Don’t worry if you have already been consuming these items. We all have unknowingly or sometimes even knowingly but there is always time to change.
1. Fertility is killed instantly by all Soy based foods
Yes, you read that correctly. All soy based foods such as soy milk, soybean flour, soy nugget (Nutrela), tofu etc are killing your fertility or ability to conceive. It affects both men and women equally but more towards women. The reason being soy contains compounds that imitate estrogen in the body. Estrogen is a female hormone that if produced in excess quantities can inhibit fertility. It can also cause issues for a developing fetus. In fact, excess levels of estrogen cause the deficiency of other hormones in the body.
Not to scare you but if you are taking soy milk regularly that is equivalent to taking birth control pills. Yes, soy is that deadly when comes to fertility issues.
2. Canola oil
Canola oil is an edible oil that is produced from rapeseed. It is promoted as a healthy plant derived oil that is low in saturated fats. However, to prevent diseases to rapeseed during cultivation there are GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Rapeseeds that are tolerant to an herbicide. GMO derived foods are another type is killing your fertility. GMO basically modifies the natural genes of a food to make them stronger or high disease resistant. But the consequence of having GMO derived foods is greatly impaired fertility. Canola oil that is derived from organic rapeseed have known to be healthy but the GMO ones should be avoided to stay fertile. THere are a lot of foods that are GMO, and it can be difficult to spot them. Thus it is best to try organic varieties.
I know sugar is the bad boy of food. Almost all people above 40 years avoid sugar. But the one I am referring to is more of the processed variety. Sugars exist in both natural and processed forms. It is the processed ones that cause the most damage. Processed sugars have high fructose levels such as corn syrup, white sugar, corn sugar etc. Honey and Maple syrup is the lesser of the two evils but again the honey that you get in shops is processed. Go for the natural ones to be sure to avoid processed sugar.
So what exactly happens when you consume sugar? When you consume sugar, there is an instant spike in blood sugar levels causing the body to defend and release more insulin. Over time when we consume sugar day in day out, the body basically gets tired of producing insulin and becomes intolerant. This situation may give rise to PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PCOS basically affects ovulation, implantation of ovum etc. Essentially it is the main cause of miscarriage in women. So avoid processed sugar to improve fertility.
So do I completely ban sugar?
Yes, in fact avoiding processed sugar completely is the way to go, not only for fertility but general health as well. Now do not go and switch to sugar-free items. Those are a menace on their own and out of the scope of this article. But what I am recommending is to look for healthy alternatives. Here are some alternatives to sugar
- Honey – In moderate amounts as a sweetener
- Jaggery – Jaggery is a good alternative to processed sugar.
- Dates – Dates are great as an alternative as along with being sweet they also contain essential minerals.
- Maple Syrup – Just like honey choose natural ones
4. Plastic Bottles
Well, these are not really foods but nonetheless, they are used to drink water by every household. It is best to avoid water sold in plastic bottles or use these bottles at home. Reason being when the water is stored in these bottles. The bottle leaks a chemical called xenohormones into the water. This Xenohormones basically mimic estrogen in the body causing its level to increase so much that it causes the deficiency of other hormones in the body. In men, it may lead to lower levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone. In women, it can lead to lower levels of progesterone. This, in turn, causes hormonal imbalance and thus leading to fertility issues.
Though there are other pollutants and toxins that produce xenohormones, the bottled water is the most easily available, which incidentally is used by almost everyone every day.
Alternatives to avoiding plastic bottles are to use BPA free ones. BPA free bottles are more tolerant and do not react to water or other liquid substance to produce xenohormones. But the best alternative will be to use steel bottles. Though cleaning them regularly can be cumbersome but the metal does not produce chemicals that hinder fertility.
5. Atlantic Salmon
Atlantic salmon has been known to be the most contaminant fish among the wild ones as well as the most overfished. This fish contains high levels of mercury which when consumed regularly can cause severe health issues including fertility. Mercury in high dosage is known to cause problems with kidneys, nervous system. Eating high mercury levels foods such as the Atlantic salmon can cause stores of mercury to build up in the body thus affecting the development of the fetal nervous system. Mind you the fetal nervous system starts to build even before you know about your pregnancy.
Alternative to the salmon? Use domestic salmon as much as possible as these are bred in captivity and thus mercury contamination can be avoided.
6. Soda or Carbonated Beverages
Just like sugar carbonated beverages are best avoided if you are trying to conceive. These contain not only high dosage of sugar but other chemicals such as BPA that are again a source for Xenohormones to transmit in the body.
7. French fries
French fries contain trans fat from the oil used in cooking them. This can cause inflammation and insulin resistance which in turn affects fertility. Men you also need to go easy on those portions of fries at the McD as it really helps in reducing the sperm count dramatically. So if you are trying to get your wife pregnant then avoid the fries.
Alternate to french fries would be home made potato wedges or better still wedges baked that way you can avoid frying them.
8. White rice
India is a rice consuming nation especially the white super polish rice. Though we have been consuming this variety since time immemorial the effect in fertility was next to nil back then due to an active lifestyle. Now with our sedentary life style and GMO derived seeds the humble rice is the new villain in causing infertility. Try to use brown rice or unpolished rice that comes with the husk. Yes, consuming them can be tough in the beginning but you will get used it.
9. Sandwich Bread
Ah! the good old bread that we all have for breakfast with jam and butter. Well if you want to reproduce then avoid the white sandwich bread. Why? Well, it has high glycemic index, which basically means high sugar glucose levels that can lead to insulin resistance int he body thus impairing fertility. If need to have bread then do have whole wheat or multi grain bread.
10. Low-fat milk
Ok now don’t kill me for saying this but all you health conscious men and women who are consuming low-fat milk. You will find it hard to reproduce a baby. The reason being the process employed to create low-fat leaves androgens, a type of male hormone in the product. The androgens, when consumed by women, can cause havoc with your menstrual cycle thus affecting fertility.
Well, they say alcohol is the best remedy to spur you up when down. But we say that it is also the best to spur down your fertility. The reason is like mercury, alcohol depletes the body of Vitamin B. Vitamin B is essential if you are trying to b pregnant.
12. Unpasteurized cheese
Cheese such as Gorgonzola, Brie, Camembert contains high amounts of listeria. Listeria is a type of bacteria that is known to cause miscarriage. Instead of using cheese slices, blue cheese etc is recommended as these as pasteurized.
I am so sorry but I have to mention that hot dog would be a no-no if you are trying to get pregnant. It is not the bun but more for the sausage inside it. Processed meat used to make the sausage are prone to listeria contamination. If you really need to have that dog then the recommendation is to heat it up or steam it so that the bacteria dies.
All you sushi lovers, it is sad to say that you need to avoid this delicacy if you want to increase your chances of pregnancy. The reason being sushi or raw animal meat food contains salmonella, coliform bacteria that are known to infect the fetus.
15. Lays and other chips
Chips are another food item that is high on trans fat that as we mentioned earlier are known to cause insulin resistance int he body thus leading to infertility. Instead of processed chips do make your own which will not only help your fertility but is also a healthier option.
Coffee is the main beverage of choice for many people across the globe. That morning cuppa of steaming hot coffee can make your day. Coffee is acidic and any acidic food may make a women’s cervical mucus hostile to receive sperm thus decreasing your chances of conceiving. If coffee cannot be avoided at all then do limit it to one cup a day. But lady if you know your ovulation cycles then you will know when to start avoiding coffee altogether.
So there you are, a long list of food and non-food items that may be killing your fertility and best avoided if you are planning for a child. I do hope this article was an eye opener. In the end, I would like to ask you comment if you are willing to avoid these items to become more fertile?