Fertility Diet Tips for Vegans: Foods to Eat -- and Those to Avoid

Fertility Diet Tips for Vegans: Foods to Eat -- and Those to Avoid

By Cynthia Thaik, M.D.

Under most circumstances a vegan diet can lead to a notably healthy lifestyle, however, when you’re trying to become pregnant, you have to be a bit more mindful of the food choices you make.

The good news is that a vegan diet can be incredibly beneficial towards improving fertility, so long as you’re eating the right foods encompassing all the essential vitamins and nutrients required for a successful pregnancy.

The Link Between Diet and Fertility

According to research conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, diet has a strong effect on fertility for people who are attempting to become pregnant naturally. This study demonstrated how some foods have a positive impact on fertility whereas other foods affect the ability to conceive negatively.

Foods that are known to have a positive impact include folic acid, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and those comprised in healthy diets such as the Mediterranean. Foods considered to have a negative impact on fertility are red meat, processed meat, potatoes, sugary beverages and sweets.

Some of the ingredients revealed to carry neither a positive or negative influence include caffeine, soy, dairy products, vitamin D, alcohol and certain antioxidants.

Carefully Select Vegan Food Sources

It is important to note that not everything about a vegan diet is helpful for fertility. Just because a package is labelled “vegan” or contains no animal products doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. Sugary soda drinks and potato chips are often vegan, after all.

You should also be sure to read the labels on pre-packaged products. Like many non-vegan packaged food, ready-made vegan products can also be filled with harmful chemicals. It’s always better to choose all-natural foods over pre-packaged or processed foods.

Tips for Vegans Trying to Get Pregnant

It is essential for both men and women to maintain a healthy weight. While being vegan typically results in a people eating better, some vegans are still overweight. As you work to follow a vegan diet, be sure to be mindful of your calories and that you’re exercising regularly.

Obese and overweight women are more prone to health complications than women within a healthy weight range. Avoid fad diets as they can often cause more harm than good. Stick to exercising, eating right and calorie counting.

Be sure to meet with your doctor to discuss the best ways to optimize your fertility, such as changing certain prescriptions or limiting certain vitamins like vitamin A, while increasing others such as prenatal vitamins and folic acid.

If you are not consuming meat or dairy, it is essential to select alternative food sources high in iron, B12, vitamin D and calcium. As you select fruits and vegetables, it’s also a good idea to choose organic over non-organic, particularly when you’re purchasing any of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables.

Vegan Foods to Avoid

If you are following a vegan diet in the effort to become more fertile, you should avoid certain foods as they can have a negative effect on fertility. Studies have shown that soy has no direct correlation to fertility issues, however, you should still proceed with caution as it pertains to soy.

It’s important to select soy made from whole soybeans that are fermented, GMO free and organic. You should also be fine to eat tofu a few times a week. Tempeh is also perfectly safe.

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that infertility might be related to carbs, trans fats and animal proteins. Some foods high in trans and saturated fats include biscuits, cakes, candies, crackers, donuts, fried fast food, frozen pizza, margarine and microwave popcorn.

You should also avoid the refined and simple carbohydrates found in desserts, ice cream, pastries, sugary cereal, sugary drinks and white bread. Sources of animal protein consist of dairy, eggs, fish, meat and poultry.

Vegan Foods with Proven Benefits

A study shows that you can reduce your risk of ovulatory infertility by over 50 percent if at least 5 percent of your daily calories are sourced from vegetable rather than animal protein.

The following are vegan foods both men and women can increase in their diet in order to improve fertility.

Focus on iron that comes from beans, fortified cereals, long-grain and enriched rice, lentils, spinach and whole grains. To improve the absorption of iron, be sure to incorporate more vitamin C from sources such as bell peppers, berries and citrus fruits. Avocados have been proven to improve the uterus and implantation. They may also help to regulate hormones, as stated by Revive Life Clinic.

Nuts and seeds will provide you with essential omega-3 fatty acids known to promote ovulation, improve cervical mucus production, regulate hormones, and improve the flow of blood to the reproductive organs. Furthermore, don’t forget about black beans as they’re chock full of phytoestrogen that catapult your estrogen levels to help produce strong, healthy eggs.

If you just can’t give up meat or fish entirely, it’s recommended that you substitute them for chicken, turkey and salmon as they’re loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients like iron and omega-3.

At the end of the day, every woman’s body and dietary needs are different, meaning that there is no miracle formula to boost infertility as a whole. However, pursuing a healthy diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables and plant-proteins can improve your body’s overall health, which is a huge positive for women trying to conceive.

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D. is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact staff@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.